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Long Term Care: Are You Prepared?

by Mike Westling on November 5, 2012

One of the main goals at Epilawg is to help you plan your own epilogue to your life. Many of the posts here discuss passing on what you’ve accumulated during your lifetime to your loved ones. However, what if everything you accumulated throughout your life is lost because of your health? Because you did not plan for your long term care?

The Importance of Long Term Care

One of the biggest reasons most consumers don’t create long term care plans is because they believe the government will pay for it. In reality, Medicare only pays for short-term, skilled nursing home care following hospitalization and state Medicaid programs require recipients to spend down to the poverty level in order to qualify for assistance. Under 2012 federal guidelines, to qualify for Medicaid, your assets must be spent down to $3,000 (this includes all income and retirement accounts) and a “healthy” spouse can only have up to $113,640 in resources (as well as a home, car and personal belongings) and up to $2,841 in monthly income.

Other than these limited programs, the financing options for care include long term care insurance, reverse mortgages, or paying out of pocket. Long term care coverage is a suitable option for those who can afford insurance premiums but do not have sufficient funds to pay for care without putting their assets at risk. Long term care coverage is one of the only safety nets that will protect people from the financial risks of needing long term care.

This November, during Long Term Care Awareness Month, it’s important to discuss with your family the importance of long term care planning. Now is the perfect time to speak with an insurance agent or financial advisor about how long term care protection can be added affordably to any financial plan. In addition, for Minnesota residents, there is a statewide program called Own Your Future, which will help Minnesotans plan for future long term care needs. Visit the Own Your Future website to find information on how to prepare, plan, save, invest, and pay for long term care services.

Photo by: kenteegardin

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Article by Mike Westling

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Mike’s passion about the need for extended care insurance comes from personal experience. In 2004, his parents were involved in a serious auto accident. His stepmother spent 4.5 years in a nursing home and his father requires home-care. Mike has watched his father spend over $300,000 on extended care so far. Mike describes himself as a zealous advocate for the protection of the unaware, unsuspecting, & overwhelmed family caregiver. “I love what I do, because serving my clients, protecting their families, is a very rewarding experience and I know I'm making a difference in their lives”. As a Specialist, he assists clients by providing education and an understanding of the consequences to the family and their retirement lifestyle if they would need extended care. He assists business owners with the tax considerations of purchasing a policy through their business utilizing discrimination discretion. He has created a strategic alliance with Estate Planners, Financial Planners, CPA's, and Insurance Professionals that look to a trusted specialist for guidance through the LTC Insurance maze. Mike continues to educate himself through Continuing Education classes. Last year he doubled the number of credits required by the state of MN. He attended the University of Minnesota pursuing a degree in business administration. He is a graduate of the LILI leadership program offered by NAIFA. He is the President of St. Paul (NAIFA) the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, past Board Member of the (FPA) Financial Planning Association, and is a (CLTC) Certified Long Term Care Specialist. He lives with his wife and two college students in Eagan, Minnesota. Check out Mike's website. Mike can be reached at mike@assuredltcplanning.com.

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