Retirement Healthcare - SafeMoney.com

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long term care partnership plans

It’s one of the things we like to think about the least: needing help caring for ourselves when we are older.

While living to a ripe old age sounds great—and statistics show that many of us might be headed in that direction—the idea of not being able to fully care for ourselves is so daunting that we put off planning for it, or perhaps never plan for it at all.

Yet it’s an issue that is much better dealt with now, when we are best equipped to explore our options.

Maybe it’s sticker shock that prevents some of us from taking action. The cost of long-term care, known as LTC, is well reported. Genworth, a provider in the long-term insurance space, has published its Cost of Care Survey for the last 15 years.

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retirement planning for long term care

Making a plan to cover your long-term care needs in retirement is one of the most difficult issues you will face. No one knows what will be required in the future.

Some experts, such as Christine Benz with Morningstar, believe the probability can be quite high. In one of its bulletins (in which it also interviewed Benz), AARP estimates a 50 percent chance of someone needing some form of long-term care (LTC) at age 65 and beyond.

Of course, these statistical forecasts might not end up reflecting your personal situation. The truth? The answer may range anywhere from a price tag of zero to the need of skilled nursing care that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars over several years.

As fuzzy as that picture is, you can still plan effectively for the future potential costs of long-term care, not to mention other healthcare expenses.

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lederman photo edited
Photo Credit: Associated Press. All rights reserved, source link.

Nobel laureates are certainly top achievers. In 1988, Leon Lederman won a Nobel Prize for his work in physics. Apart from award-winning research into subatomic particles, he is famous for coining the infamous name of the Higgs bosin: the "God particle."

Lederman passed away in a nursing home in Idaho on October 4. He was 96, according to the Associated Press. The AP describes him as a “giant in his field who also had a passion for sharing science.”

While Lederman’s contributions to science speak volumes, another striking story of him emerges from a past headline by NBC News.

And what happened? In 2015, the physicist was forced to auction his Nobel medal so he and his family could cover healthcare expenses. The medal sold for $765,000. It was a winning bid of $633,335 plus a buyer’s premium that drove the medal to its $765k sell price.

It’s yet another example of how high-cost retiree healthcare needs can change the financial situation of any of us.

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cost of healthcare in retirement

Have you heard that the average retiree couple may pay as much as $280,000 in total healthcare costs in retirement? That certainly is a big price tag to mull over. And as Vanguard notes in a recent report, cost-of-retirement-healthcare estimates as a lump sum often keep people in a stop-and-shrug zone.

Such a substantial sum seems hard to account for. Not only that, a number of national healthcare cost surveys leave out the costs of long-term care in their estimates. Others treat long-term care as a separate area of expenses from retirement health costs. Either way, many Americans don’t know where to even start with planning for potentially high-cost health events during their golden years.        

Well, here's some good news: planning for retiree health and long-term care costs is well within reach. In that Vanguard report, researchers found a more palatable way for educating people to take action about their retirement health needs: framing healthcare costs as annual expenses, not as a substantial lump sum.

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long term care planning why you cant ignore it

Long-term care planning (or LTC planning for short) isn’t perhaps the most exciting topic. But most people can’t afford to ignore it in retirement. In one of its bulletins, AARP observes "by the time you reach 65, chances are about 50-50 that you will require paid long-term care someday."

For Christine Benz, Director of Personal Finance for Morningstar, it’s the four-ton elephant in the room. "Long-term care is the unsolved problem for so many people," she told AARP. And probability of use might not be the only reason why. There’s also the hefty price tag to consider.

For years, Genworth has tracked the monthly national median costs of various long-term care services in its "Cost of Care Survey." Those nationwide costs swelled by double-digit percentages from 2009 to 2017, with some LTC services seeing a 30+% cost increase.

"What about state to state?" you may ask. Let’s look at the median expense for a common LTC need, nursing home care, and its cost depends on where you live. In 2017, the cheapest state for a semi-private room in a nursing home was Texas at $4,567 per month, while Connecticut was the most expensive state at $12,517 per month.

Here's another clincher to think about -- that is without factoring the cost impact of other healthcare needs in retirement as well!

AARP long term care planning

Source: AARP, Nicholas Rapp, AARP Bulletin, 5 Things You Should Know About Long-Term Care Insurance, Article Link. All Rights Reserved.

Knowledge is foresight, so it pays to understand the basics of long-term care and what it can entail for retirement planning purposes.

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 planning for healthcare expenses in retirement

How should you include the price tag of healthcare costs in your retirement plan? Many people underestimate what their healthcare expenses may be. At times, it’s even to a great extent.

In a March 2017 survey by Voya Financial, 69% of baby boomers said they expected to pay “$100,000 or less” for healthcare expenses in retirement. Among retirees, 66% also expected their healthcare costs to be $100,000 or below.

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The Growing Impact of Retirement Healthcare Costs

Last week we discussed the concept of “risk capacity” and its role in retirement financial security. Aside from retirement asset allocation, another part of income planning is accounting for expenses. Living expenses, long-term care costs, and healthcare expenses are three primary retirement cost drivers. It’s important to plan ahead and to have a strategic combination of volatile and conservative financial vehicles to meet these needs.

Just healthcare needs alone can impose a significant cost burden on your retirement lifestyle. In fact, research firm HealthView Services reports they’re one of the fastest-growing segments of retirement spending. Ensuring they aren’t neglected is a critical step. Otherwise they can be financially draining and greatly impact your standard of living in retirement.

What’s Going on with Healthcare?

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