Vail Daily column: Don’t wait until the last minute to plan for retirement |

Vail Daily column: Don’t wait until the last minute to plan for retirement

I recently read an article in Forbes that piqued my attention. The article was about long-term care insurance. While I have written about this before, I was rather shocked by the new information.

According to the most recent Genworth Annual Cost of Care Study (Genworth is one of the largest providers of long-term care insurance), “Nearly a third of Americans (30 percent) believe home health care expenses are under $417 a month.” Nationally, Genworth estimates the monthly cost to be $3,861 — that’s about nine times more than most people guesstimated.

According to Genworth, “Women are more likely to underestimate the cost of long-term care than men.” Genworth’s senior vice president of long-term care products, Beth Ludden, explains that, “women typically have been in caregiving situations for their children, which while somewhat intense, are for a very short period of time. Therefore, they are generally of the belief that whatever care is required is something that they would be able to handle themselves.”

In reality, caring for a loved is not something most people are prepared for as it can be all-consuming. Genworth’s estimate of $3,861 a month is based on 44 hours a week. Last I checked, there are 168 hours in a week. Who’s covering the rest of the hours and at what cost — monetarily and personally?

We all will need to consider what tools we can put in place to assist us in living the life we choose as we age. One tool is long-term care insurance. While many of us may be working to save for a home, our children’s education, health insurance, a car or a vacation, few of us give much thought to the expense associated with long-term care that may be 30 to 50 years away.

Many people assume that Medicare will provide long-term care. Medicare provides limited benefits that are mainly for brief rehabilitation stays in nursing facilities and limited medical oriented home care visits. Medicare does not provide for non-medical home care. So please, don’t get upset with your medical-home care provider when they explain that they cannot take you to the doctor or run errands; this is not their function.

Below are some points to understand about long-term care insurance:

• Long-term care insurance can provide coverage in the home or in an alternative facility (such as an assisted living facility, adult day care, and nursing home).

• Long-term care insurance is available with certain life insurance and annuity products (if you ever need care, you can use the money you’ve invested or pass it to your heirs).

• Long-term care insurance can provide a benefit for life so you won’t run out of coverage. Long-term care insurance protects against catastrophic risk. Many of us will need more than five years of care ($350,000 to $450,000).

• The cost of long-term care insurance continues to increase, but long-term care insurance can be bought with increasing benefit to help counteract inflation.

• The most distinct long-term care insurance risk is that rates exceed what you can afford. While insurer companies cannot raise rates on individuals, they may do so on a certain group of policyholders. It pays to research insurance providers that have sound financial statements and conduct significant business in your state.

• Long-term care insurance will allow you to maintain your independence without burdening your family.

This not a solicitation to purchase long-term insurance care, but it is a reminder of the benefits of long-term care insurance, and that the need for significant resources for your care in later life is real. Don’t wait until the last minute to learn how you can prepare for a healthy retirement and your long-term care needs.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. For more information, go to or call 970-328-5526.

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