Now let's move on to review some strategies for addressing the threat of potentially ruinous long-term care expenses. You can adopt one or more of the following strategies:
- Buy long-term care insurance.
- Set up a separate savings account that's dedicated to long-term care expenses and won't be tapped to pay for ordinary living expenses.
- If you have a substantial amount of home equity, avoid borrowing on the value of your residence until you need to pay for long-term care expenses. At that time, tap your equity through a home equity loan or a reverse mortgage, or simply by selling the home and realizing the profit. Avoid the temptation to take out a reverse mortgage or home equity loan to pay for ordinary living expenses or luxuries during your retirement years.
- If you have significant 401(k) accounts or other retirement savings, use only the interest and dividends to pay for ordinary living expenses. If you reach a time when you need long-term care, you can start tapping into the principal to pay for these additional expenses.
- Enroll in the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act (CLASS) government insurance program that was introduced by health care reform.
- Rely on Medicaid or other government programs.
- Hope that family and friends will take care of you.
And I'm guessing you don't want to be a burden on your family and friends. Note, however, that if you do nothing about the threat of long-term care expenses, in essence, you're choosing to rely on government programs or family and friends.
This leaves the first four strategies, and in my next post, I'll discuss their relative pros and cons of each. Regardless of the strategy you adopt, I highly recommend that you also adopt a lifestyle that minimizes the need for formal long-term care, and I'll write about these lifestyle possibilities in a future post.
Let me repeat: Everyone should have a strategy in place to address the potential threat of ruinous long-term care expenses. For your sake, for your spouse's sake, for your children's sake, don't put your head in the sand!