As my anniversary approached last year, I considered many different gifts for my husband. But after facing a personal medical crisis, I knew the best way I could show my love and devotion was to offer him something more practical than romantic.
So I purchased long term care insurance for our family.
(I can see you turning your head to the side and thinking, “Whaaaa?” )
I realize that not only is the idea of long term care insurance unromantic; it is one of those needs that seems far down the list of important family care items. Health insurance is critical, life insurance too – but long term care insurance? Is that really necessary?
It is, and here is why. While health insurance will cover medical bills incurred by a hospital or a doctor, if you need more extensive care once you leave the hospital you will discover that long term care is going to be incredibly expensive.
What do I mean by expensive? Well, a home care aid for just eight hours a day can cost from $40,000 to $70,000 a year – a staggering expense if you are too ill or injured to work, or if your spouse cannot work because they are caring for you. Nursing homes are even more expensive – almost $80,000 a year and even more if a specialized facility is needed. (Check out these other staggering costs.)
I watched this happen to a friend. Her mother-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and needed some in home care because she was no longer allowed to drive. At first a home health aid was only needed for a few hours a week, but after an incident of leaving a pot on the stove and nearly starting a fire, the mother-in-law was forced to move into a nursing home with a specialized Alzheimer’s ward.
Without the long term care insurance the mother-in-law had purchased in her 40s, my friend’s family would have been forced to make compromises in her care – the $250,000 the mother-in-law had in savings and stocks would have amounted to less than three years of nursing home care.
I do not wish that for my family. If I am sick, or incapacitated, I very much want my family to know that I am safe and secure and getting the best care available without burdening them with huge bills or debt.
While at my (delightfully young) age the prospect of needing long term care seems far away, I was shocked into acknowledging the necessity of it by a cervical cancer scare. When I thought about what would happen to my family without my income – with the additional burden of having to pay for my care – I was honestly scared. I began researching long term care insurance to make sure that never happened to those I love the most.
Here is what I discovered; first, long term care insurance can be a tricky bit of insurance coverage. People who have less than $300,000 in assets above and beyond the value of their homes might not find it cost effective; after all, those with limited assets are typically covered by Medicaid.
It is also not inexpensive; the price can range from $150 to $250 a month or more, as you age. Luckily, long term care insurance is considered a medical expense and is tax deductible, although it depends on age (for a breakdown of the tax code, this article is helpful).
If you decide to purchase a plan for yourself or a family member, a lot of research or a great (and trusted) insurance broker can go a long way to helping you make the best choice. I am so glad I took the time to choose the right plan for my family.
When I presented my husband with my gift, I knew I had married the right guy when he got it right away. He knew my gift was a sign that I wanted to care for him and the kids, and that I chose it because I love them. The most precious assets I have are my family, and I want them to be cared for, no matter what.