Look around. According to census data, 54 million Americans are now age 65 and older, making up 16.5% of the total population. The country's 65-and-older population has swelled rapidly since 2010. As more Americans get older, more people will become dependent on the help of other people, often family members, to meet their everyday living activities.
As America gets older, we are becoming more dependent on family to be our caregivers, who are often untrained and unprepared. For many American families, affordable LTC Insurance is a solution to access quality care and reduce family stress.
Aging happens. After we reach age 40, we see declines in our health, mobility, and cognitive ability. With these changes, our chances of needing long-term health care services increase. Who will provide the care? Where will the money come from to pay for professional care?
Dependency on Family is Hard on Them
The dependency on others includes things most of us take for granted. These include bathing, eating, using the bathroom, and other activities that many of us will need, either due to an illness, accident, or the impact of aging.
Family members and care recipients often get embarrassed by the very personal nature of long-term health care. The job of a family caregiver is physically and emotionally hard and gets more challenging over time.
Also, more Americans need supervision due to their cognitive decline. There are many forms of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, and the risk of cognitive decline also increases with age.
The Baby Boomer generation (born between 1946 and 1964) has dominated American society for some time. Today we see Late-Boomers (born between 1957 and 1964) start their road to retirement and dependency.
The Age 65+ Population Grew Over 30%
According to the Census Bureau, the 65-and-older population grew by over a third (34.2% or 13,787,044) during the past decade. Between 2018 to 2019 there was a 3.2% increase (1,688,924). The nation's median age also has become older. The U.S. median age went from 37.2 years in 2010 to 38.6 in 2019, according to the Census Bureau's 2021 Population Estimates.
Dr. Luke Rogers, chief of the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Branch, said the first Baby Boomers reached 65 years old in 2011.
"Since then, there's been a rapid increase in the size of the 65-and-older population, which grew by over a third since 2010. No other age group saw such a fast increase. In fact, the under-18 population was smaller in 2019 than it was in 2010, in part due to lower fertility in the United States."
In 2019, one in five people in Maine, Florida, West Virginia, and Vermont were age 65 or older. Maine had the largest share (21.2%) of the population in that age group, followed by Florida (20.9%), West Virginia (20.5%), and Vermont (20.0%).
According to the census bureau, Utah had the lowest percentage (11.4%) of the population age 65 and older.
The 65+ population is growing faster than that of children and working-age Americans due to the aging of the Boomers. Many experts are concerned that as this group ages, the need for long-term health care will increase, and longevity will increase the stress placed on American families.
American Families Facing Crisis
This dependency will harm family budgets. However, since many Americans fail to plan for the financial costs and burdens of aging, families will be forced to become caregivers.
Family members are usually untrained and unprepared and don't often make great caregivers. Even if they do an outstanding job, the stress and burden on the caregiver and their family are tremendous.
Caregiving is more than just stressful for adult children, usually daughters or daughters-in-law. The caregivers face their health and financial issues as a result of their role as a caregiver, and many families will have conflicts over these roles as well.
For families with little or no savings, the end result will be Medicaid. You must have little or no income and assets to qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid has become the largest payer of long-term care services in the United States. Unless more people plan with private insurance, we could see tax increases in order to fund the high costs of long-term care services.
In fact, starting in 2022, the State of Washington is now taxing anyone who does not own a qualified Long-Term Care Insurance policy. Several other states are considering the same thing - Multiple States Considering Implementing Long-Term Care Tax | LTC News.
Federal Law Established Partnership LTC Insurance
The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) allowed states to authorize Partnership Long-Term Care Insurance policies. Those who own these affordable policies can enjoy dollar-for-dollar asset protection, otherwise known as "asset disregard."
American families can buy smaller policies that can still safeguard savings and reduce the stress otherwise placed on their family members. The plan enables a family to shelter part of their assets based on the total amount of benefits paid by the policy. If they exhaust their benefits, the policyholder can access Medicaid without being poor.
As more people purchase these insurance policies, the pressure on the Medicaid budget will be reduced. However, many people are either unaware, feel a policy is unnecessary, or wait too long to obtain coverage. These policies are medically underwritten, so it's best to obtain coverage in your 40s or 50s when you still have relatively good health.
In addition, premiums are based on your age and health at the time of application. Most states offer Partnership Long-Term Care Insurance plans underwritten by several insurance companies. Click here to see if your state is a Partnership state.
Caregiving is hard on your family, and professional care is expensive. Including long-term health care planning as part of your retirement plan will protect your savings and give loved ones the time to be family instead of caregivers.
About the Author
An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.
Contributor since August 21st, 2017
Most people would prepare to ignore getting older. We can’t ignore what happens to every human being each and every day. The consequences of failing to plan for the future costs and burdens of long-term care are too significant to ignore.
The good news is that when you plan ahead of time, you will not only safeguard your hard-earned savings but also give your family the gift of time. Instead of either being your future caregivers or managing your paid care, your family can just be family. There is less stress on everyone. You get to preserve your lifestyle and legacy.
LTC Insurance safeguards your income and assets so you can maintain your lifestyle and preserve your legacy. But, perhaps as important as anything else, Long-Term Care Insurance gives your loved ones the time to be family, reducing the stress and anxiety otherwise placed on them.
The time to obtain coverage is before retirement, ideally in your 40s or 50s, when premiums are lower, and your health is better.
Available Resources on LTC NEWS
LTC NEWS offers several tools and resources to help you in your research for a planning solution or help your family find the appropriate care for a loved one at the time of crisis.
To help you plan for the future costs and burdens of changing health and aging, LTC NEWS can put together several resources, including:
The LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator will show you the financial impact of long-term health care where you live. It will also show you state-specific information on tax benefits, care options, rules, and more.
The Ultimate Long-Term Care Guide is an outstanding read to help you get a good overview of the topic area.
Compare the major insurance companies that offer Long-Term Care Insurance products here - Top Insurers for Long-Term Care Insurance | LTC News.
A detailed tax guide that includes available tax incentives can be found by reviewing the Long-Term Care Tax Benefits Guide.
Find all the resources on LTC NEWS - Resources for Long-Term Care Planning | LTC News.
Seek Professional Advice
Experts suggest using a qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to help you navigate the many options available to you and your family. Insurance rates are regulated, so no insurance agent, agency, or financial advisor can give you special deals. However, premiums do vary over 100% between insurance companies for the same coverage.
A specialist who works with the top companies can match your age, health, family history, and other factors and find you the best coverage at the best value. A specialist will save you money, and you will have the peace of mind knowing they are making the appropriate recommendations - Work With a Specialist | LTC News.
Find Quality Caregivers and Long-Term Care Facilities
If your parent or loved one needs care now - or soon - you will need to find the appropriate care in the right setting depending on their needs.
Take a moment and read -
Get Expert Help Filing an LTC Insurance Claim
LTC NEWS provides free assistance with no obligation to help you, or a loved one complete the claim's process with your Long-Term Care Insurance policy. You can also support finding quality caregivers and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy or not. - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim | LTC News.
Benefits of Reverse Mortgages
Today's reverse mortgages for those aged 62 and older could be an ideal resource to fund a Long-Term Care Insurance policy OR even provide money to pay for care if you, or a loved one, already needs help and assistance.
Some people have much of their savings invested in their homes. With today's reverse mortgages, you can find ways to fund care solutions, care itself, even help with cash flow during your retirement.
Learn more by asking questions to an expert. LTC NEWS columnist and host of the TV Show "62 Who Knew" will answer your questions regarding caregiving, aging, health, retirement planning, long-term care, and reverse mortgages.
Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.
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