Nearing Retirement? Why You Should Start Thinking About Long-Term Care Now

Today, seven in 10 nursing home residents are women. Since women generally began to outlive their male counterparts, it got a little more urgent to plan ahead for long-term care. And while longevity is a beautiful thing, there’s no denying the increased likelihood of health problems that can make taking care of yourself difficult.

Currently, women represent 76 percent of assisted living residents as well as two-thirds of all homecare recipients. This care is rarely affordable. But, giving yourself plenty of time to prepare during pre-retirement years can lead to the discovery of assistance like the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP).

“Like other forms of health care, long-term care is expensive, and costs continually increase,” says Paul Forte, CEO of Long Term Care Partners, which administers the FLTCIP. The program is specifically designed to help current and retired federal employees preserve their retirement income and savings without sacrificing their independence or relying on their children.

These days, the national cost of a licensed home health aide is $20 per hour on average, with private and semiprivate nursing home rooms going for $235 and $207 per day, respectively. Those costs aren’t generally covered by health plans such as Medicare, the Defense Department’s TRICARE, TRICARE for Life or even the regular Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. As for Medicaid, Forte notes, “it covers long-term care only for those with very low income and assets, so the responsibility for paying may fall on you.”

As a woman who is eligible for the FLTCIP, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:

Considering your health and family history, might you live a long life with health conditions that could hinder caring for yourself?

Do you live alone? If you don’t live alone, how might tending to you disrupt the professional and personal lives of others, and do you wish to be dependent on them?

If you do live alone, will you have the resources not just to pay for care, but also to maintain a comfortable lifestyle?

The FLTCIP is designed to meet the lifestyle needs of what’s known as “the federal family,” so it’s meant to be affordable. How affordable, you ask? Well, there are four prepackaged plans that combine the most popular program features as well as customized plans.

For example, if you’re a 45-year-old woman who chooses the FLTCIP’s most popular prepackaged plan (Plan B with the 4 percent inflation rider). You’d pay a biweekly premium of $33.90, which amounts to less than less than $68 per month—slightly more than $2 per day—for protection that may save you thousands of dollars in future care costs.

To calculate the best rate for your age and choice of plans, go online to www.LTCFEDS.com/rate. The program’s consumer-friendly website offers all kinds of advice, even current and past informational webinars (www.LTCFEDS.com/webinar). Personal consultants will walk you through the entire application process, including plan design, when you call 1-800-582-3337 or 1-800-843-3557.

Remember, not everyone is eligible for FLTCIP, and certain medical conditions or combinations of conditions will prevent some from being approved for coverage. While the group policy is in effect, OPM must approve an increase in premium.

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