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Worried about paying for health care in retirement? Here are some tips

No matter how responsible we are with our financial planning or how healthy our lifestyle, most of us will face a costly health care crisis in our lives, if only the expenses associated with old age.

The cost of health care is one of the biggest threats to retiree savings and may become one of the most substantial expenses threatening your quality of life in retirement.

How do I pay for care in my retirement? It’s a question we all should be asking.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 40% of those older than 65 receive some form of paid in-home care. Medicare and Medicare-approved insurance options can cover a portion of traditional medical expenses in retirement, but they most likely won’t take care of the entire cost.

Determining how to potentially cover long-term care expenses is an important decision, but just as important is the question of when you should begin to plan for what would happen to you and your family should someone in your immediate family need long-term care.

While there’s no set age, you certainly shouldn’t wait until your time of need.

The truth is, it’s never too early to start the process of planning for the health care costs of the future.

Fortunately, there are many different options to help pay for potential long-term care expenses while protecting what has taken you a lifetime to accrue.

For example, you can self-insure by working with a financial professional to determine if your retirement strategy takes into account the costs of long-term care expenses. Traditional long-term care insurance has been the primary way to insure against such expenses, and is still available. One concern with traditional long-term care, insurance, however, is premium increases and carrying insurance you may not ever use.

An additional option for long-term care payment is combining features of life and long-term care insurance, such as hybrid/linked benefit insurance, with long-term care/chronic illness riders. That option can provide for a long-term care needs by accessing the death benefit of a policy early and, in the case of hybrid policies, could even provide for long-term care needs over and above the value of the death benefit.

An important note is that hybrid policies also provide the traditional life insurance death benefit if long-term care services are not needed.

Each of those options has different features and trade-offs that may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your specific situation. It is crucial to know and understand the specifics of each of those options and how they would fit your needs.

Consider the impact long-term care expenses could have on your life savings. Decisions on how to prepare for long-term care affect not only you, but also family members who may be caring for you in the future. While some health care costs may be beyond your control, you can control how you prepare, which includes a strategy for covering traditional health and long-term care expenses.

Join MidMichigan Health Foundation’s Planned Gifts Breakfast Briefing program for a panel discussion on the specifics of health care in your retirement. Paying for Care in Retirement will be offered on Thursday, Oct. 24, at 7:30 a.m., in the MidMichigan Medical Center-Alpena Auditorium. Professionals Dylan Wallace, Cheryl Kranzo, and Rob Golding will offer valuable information on the topic and answer questions from the group.

For more information or to register, visit midmichigan.org/breakfastbriefings or contact the MidMichigan Health Foundation at 989-356-7738 or ann.diamond@midmichigan.org.

Matt Bredow and Rob Golding are financial professionals and members of the Planned Gifts Committee for the MidMichigan Health Foundation’s Development Council serving Alpena.