The Clock Is Ticking on Long-term Care Insurance

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Physician's Money Digest, September 2006, Volume 13, Issue 9

So you're a doctor. You take care of people for aliving. You wake up early, get home late, andthe entire time you're on the go—you concentrateyour attention on looking out for the health ofothers. But amid all the commotion of daily life, whois taking care of you? Do you have a plan in place foryour own potential long-term care needs?

According to the Americans for Long-Term CareSecurity (www.ltcweb.org), more than half of the USpopulation will need long-term care (LTC) at somepoint in their lives. And when that time comes, youwill feel much better knowing you have arrangementsprepared in advance to cover your needs.

Needs and Cost

LTC refers to an extended period of time that aperson (ie, hired or family member) tends to someonewho cannot perform any two of the six activities ofdaily living, which encompass basic functions such aseating or getting dressed. It can also include care providedto a person who suffers cognitive impairment,as is the case with Alzheimer's. Sometimes care isgiven in a nursing home or assisted living facility, butoften LTC is provided in a patient's home. Regardlessof location, the high cost for this service remains constant—nearly $71,000 per year for a private room ina nursing home and more than $46,000 per year forin-home assistance at 40 hours a week, according toCareScout (www.carescout.com).

The price may be expensive, but the need may bevery real. This situation warrants a look at LTCinsurance to cover the expenses for this type of assistance.In doing so, you will help protect your assetsfrom being used for this purpose. If you do not haveLTC insurance, you are responsible for paying yourown way for your LTC or relying on family membersto provide this service.

You're Never Too Young

You may think, "I'm too young to consider long-termcare insurance." But you're probably not. Aswith the cost of life and disability insurance, the costof LTC insurance rises with your age—the sooneryou have it, the better. The generally recommendedtime to purchase a policy is when you turn 50; if youwait too much longer, you may be uninsurable. Infact, according to LTCWeb.org, one of fiveAmericans over age 50 is at risk of needing LTC inthe next year.

You'll be a caregiver to thousands of patients overthe course of your career as a physician, but one dayyou may be the one in need of LTC. And if you do, youmight be glad you prepared for it way back when youdidn't think you needed to worry about such a predicament.Have a discussion with your insurance agent anda financial planner to see how LTC insurance may fitinto your overall financial goals.

Katherine B. Paal, MBA, CFP®, RFC, CTFA, is a Certified FinancialPlannerpractitioner at Heritage Financial Consultants inLutherville, Md, and is an investment advisor representative,registered representative, and licensed insurance broker withLincoln Financial Advisors, a registered investment advisor andbroker-dealer (1300 York Road, Lutherville, Md; 410-339-6675). She welcomesquestions or comments at kpaal@LNC.com. This information should not be construedas legal or tax advice. You may want to consult a tax advisor regarding thismaterial as it relates to your personal circumstances.