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Understand long-term care before there's a need, says panel

Adopt a "retirement mindset now," say panelists who participated in a recent webcast focusing on long-term care.

Last week's webcast panel, sponsored by the Lincoln Financial Group, urged consumers to adopt a retirement perspective and understand the funding options available well before a need arises.

The media webcast was titled "Understanding Long-Term Care Risks and the Funding Options Available," and shared ideas consumers should consider to be financially prepared if the need for long term care develops during retirement years.

Panelists on the webcast were Andrew Bucklee, head of Lincoln MoneyGuard(r) Solutions Distribution; Steve Moses, president of The Center for Long-Term Care Reform; Bill Moss, director of Home and Community Services for Washington State; and Suzanne Schmitt, senior consultant for Lincoln Insights.

"Long-term care comes in many different forms, including nursing homes, in-home care and hospital care," said Bucklee. "If people don't plan for this possibility before experiencing a major illness the financial consequences can be severe not just for the individual, but for an entire family."

According to figures provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, at least 70 percent of people over the age of 65 will need long-term care services at some point.

"You can't buy fire insurance when your house is in flames," Moses observed. "Likewise, you can't buy long-term care insurance when you already have Alzheimer's Disease."

He suggests consumers need to look at long-term care before it's needed to understand the future risks and plan accordingly.

Bucklee agrees.

"Starting to plan financially for long-term care is more about mindset than a specific age," he says.

Bucklee adds, "Once a person starts hitting retirement age the risk of long-term care becomes much more relevant. Unfortunately, at this point it often is too late."

Moss notes that the state caseload of long term care patients is expected to more than double over the next 20 years due in large part to the increasing age of Baby Boomers.

"Unfortunately, I am not aware of any revenue forecast that is predicting anywhere near that kind of growth," Moss continued.

"Consequently, Washington and other states will need to modify their programs in a way that assist individuals in taking charge of their future and responsibility for funding their long-term care needs," Moss said.

Schmitt says Lincoln's own research backs up the need for individuals to take control of long term care costs in retirement.

"Many felt having the conversation about long term care and putting a plan in place helped them to ensure greater control over when, where and how they wanted to receive care, should they need it," she said.

In summary, Moses pointed out the benefit of planning ahead for long term care, instead of relying on a state-funded system.

"The good news is that when you do pay privately you command red carpet access to top quality care in your own home or the very best care facilities," said Moses. "That cannot be assured if you rely on Medicaid, which often pays nursing homes and other long-term care providers less than the cost of providing the care."

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