As women age, we encounter distinct challenges. We tend to outlive men by about seven years, according to the Population Reference Bureau. While a longer average life is a positive prospect, it increases the likelihood of needing long-term care. An AARP study revealed that over 70% of nursing home residents are women. Additionally, living longer can mean outliving a spouse. The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University reported that, in 2021, women comprised 74% of solo households aged 80 and over. These factors make long-term care planning essential for women.
Long-term care comes at a big cost. Here in The River City, the average cost of a private bedroom in Jacksonville is $9,673 a month, according to RetirementLiving.com. This is significantly more than the national average of roughly $13,000 a month, according to Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey. If you select a nursing home in Jacksonville, you can expect to pay somewhere between $225 and $344 a day for care. While costs are somewhat lower in Florida, with a private room in Naples costing around $11,000 per month, these figures can add up quickly, especially when considering that the average duration of care for women is approximately 1.44 years, as per the study.
Government Programs: Medicare and Medicaid
Medicare and Medicaid are government programs designed to assist with long-term care expenses, but their coverage is tricky. Medicare may cover some long-term care expenses for the first 100 days but does not pay for custodial care, such as at-home long-term care.
Medicaid does cover long-term care, but financial eligibility is required. Furthermore, most long-term care facilities have a limited number of Medicaid beds available.
Spending down an estate to qualify for Medicaid can be an option, but it’s not an ideal one. The risk of the desired facility not having Medicaid availability is a significant concern. Qualifying for Medicaid may also leave an individual financially destitute after a lifetime of hard work. Additionally, Medicaid rules can change over time. While it may be the only option for some, those with time on their side and available resources should consider proactive planning.
Exploring the Options
Like planning a road trip with a GPS, the first step in retirement and long-term care planning is determining your starting and destination points. When working with a new client, we always begin by reviewing retirement projections. We explore ideal scenarios, which could involve both spouses living long, healthy lives or not needing long-term care. Then, we run “what-if” scenarios. For example, what if a husband passes away early, or a female client lives to 100? What if a single woman requires long-term care for dementia, which can last for years and impact their financial stability?
Planning for Long-Term Care
The results of these projections guide our recommendations. If a female client has a high retirement success rate, even with long-term care expenses factored in, she may consider self-insuring her future long-term care expenses. This involves setting up a designated long-term care investment account exclusively for these future expenses. Such an account can be a brokerage account, an IRA, or a health savings account, if available, to counteract the increasing costs of long-term care over time.
If a female client has a modest degree of retirement success, she may need to adjust her planning. In this case, she could reduce current expenses to save more for the future and consider long-term care insurance. In such scenarios, a combination of self-insurance and a small long-term care policy might be recommended. Long-term care insurance serves as a backstop, preventing the complete depletion of savings in the event of a protracted illness.
Some states offer “partnership plans,” which are private insurance policies with unique benefits. These plans allow individuals to keep a portion of their nest egg while still qualifying for Medicaid, providing a safety net for long-term care expenses.
Proactive planning is vital, particularly for women, given our longer life expectancy. Given that November is National Long Term Care (LTC) Month and with InVestra’s commitment to women investors, I want to to offer people in my network an opportunity to have a candid, open dialogue conversation with a Long Term Care Specialist.
That said, please join myself and Financial Independence Group’s Care Planning Specialist, Alecia Barnette, on the 7th of November for a must attend educational event. My goal is that by the end of the session, you will gain insight into the importance of long-term care planning in preserving your wealth, learn what various options you have, and understand the potential impact on your financial well-being and your legacy. Click Here to Register.
This material contains only general descriptions and is not a solicitation to sell any insurance product or security, not is it intended as any financial or tax advice. For information abut specific insurance needs or situations, contact your insurance agent. In addition, state insurance laws and insurance underwriting rules may affect available coverage and its costs. Guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the issuing company. Securities are offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through InVestra, a registered investment advisor and separate entity from LPL Financial. LPL Financial and InVestra Financial Services do not offer tax or legal services.
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