There are plenty of factors your clients need to think about when exploring long term care insurance options, but one that often gets overlooked is how improper coverage can impact loved ones.
According to a recent report from AgingCare.com titled “The Financial Impact of Alzheimer’s on Family Caregivers: 2014,” more than 25% of caregivers spend over $4,000 every month taking care of their loved one. These costs include paying for professional care services that would be covered through a comprehensive LTC insurance policy.
“Alzheimer’s caregivers face some of the most astronomically devastating financial costs,” Joe Buckheit, president of AgingCare.com, stated in a press release.
With November being National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, now is the ideal time for insurance producers to buckle down and help their clients understand the valuable benefit of proper insurance coverage.
“Every day, Alzheimer’s caregivers – many of whom are balancing the needs of aging family members with those of their own children – are confronted by impossible choices,” Buckheit continued.
Placing the burden on loved ones
Individuals who do not have LTC insurance often find themselves turning to family members for help with the costs of care. More than half of Alzheimer’s caregivers reported financial stress as part of the report. Meanwhile, nearly 30% said they were forced to reduce their working hours in order to attend to the needs of their loved one. A quarter had to quit their job completely.
As the population continues to age, issues like Alzheimer’s will only grow in importance.
“Millions of Americans have Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias,” stated the 2014 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report from the Alzheimer’s Association. “The number of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will grow each year as the size and proportion of the U.S. population age 65 and older continue to increase. The number will escalate rapidly in coming years as the baby boom generation ages.”
As of right now, an estimated 5.2 million Americans of all ages have the disease. Approximately 1 in 9 people age 65 and over have it, while nearly one-third of those age 85 and older do.
Of course, Alzheimer’s disease is far from the only issue that may lead to a client requiring long term care. The simple truth is, as people age, the everyday tasks they never used to think about become that much harder to accomplish without help.
Figures show that 68% of men will require long term care at some point in their lives. Unsurprisingly, since women tend to live longer than men, the percentage of women who will require long term care is even higher at 79%.
Men require an average of 2.2 years of care, while women require an average of 3.7 years. The time and money this requires of caregivers can be enormous, and chances are the last thing your clients want to do is shoulder their children, spouses or other loved ones with such a burden.
Dispelling LTC myths
One common hurdle that financial professionals may have to clear when talking with their clients about LTC insurance is the mistaken belief that Medicare and other government-sponsored programs will assist with long term care.
However, Medicare does not cover the costs of custodial care for elderly people. While Medicare can certainly be a huge help when it comes to medical issues, everyday assistance for things such as bathing, dressing and eating does not fall under its umbrella. It’s imperative for insurance producers to help their clients understand this.
According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, the best time for clients to purchase a policy is in their mid-50s, as they are typically in better health at this age than later down the line. Clients who are still reticent about investing in a policy should be made aware that they can receive discounts due to good health, and that once these discounts are locked in, they won’t be lost if their health should change. Additionally, premiums will likely be higher for those who apply for LTC insurance at a more advanced age.
In short, acting sooner rather than later is of the essence for clients who want to secure a more affordable deal. However, it’s up to financial professionals to drive this lesson home. This month gives them the perfect opportunity to do so.