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One Bad Car Accident: LTCI Insider

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What You Need to Know

  • Healthy people can end up needing long-term care, too.
  • Caregiving without adequate financial resources is a nightmare.
  • When an AARP caregiving expert actually became a caregiver, she ended up in bankruptcy court.

George, a judge, had just dropped off his car to be serviced and was crossing the street to go to his office. Unfortunately, he didn’t look both ways.

A car hit him.

In the ambulance, he coded. They were able to revive him. His injuries were severe. Many of the bones below his waist were broken. He also broke his spine, a shoulder and a number of ribs.

First there was a hospital stay. Then he went to a rehab facility. He returned to the hospital for more surgery, and then headed back to the rehab facility.

Five months later, he has just returned home. His wife is now his primary caregiver.

Why am I sharing this with you?

George is the husband of Betsy, my best friend and college roommate. They are family. Even our sons are best friends.

Here’s the scary part — they don’t have long-term care insurance.

When I mentioned this protection to them many years ago, they decided not to buy it, thinking they had sufficient assets.

Caregiving

I don’t think people who aren’t caregivers understand how difficult caregiving is, and how expensive.

Consider “Constant Drumbeat of Costs Often Overwhelm Caregivers,” an article about caregiving that recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal. The article is about Amy Gower, AARP’s family and caregiving expert, and the challenges she faced taking care of her parents

Here are some of the key points in the article:

  • Caregiving is becoming more expensive, because people are living longer with more complicated medical needs, and hiring help costs more.
  • The average caregiver is a female age 49.
  • Family caregivers are the backbone of the nation’s long-term care system and provide an estimated $470 billion worth of free care — often at great personal cost.
  • On average, caregivers spend 26% of their personal income on caregiving expenses, according to a 2021 AARP study, with most personal spending going to housing, including home modifications.
  • A third of caregivers dip into their personal savings, like bank accounts, to cover costs, and 12% take out a loan or borrow from family or friends.

Here are two messages that I want to leave you with.

  1. I congratulate you if you have a long-term care insurance policy. You have absolutely made a great decision . . . both for your children and for you, if and when you need to become a caregiver — or need care yourself.
  2. If you know somebody who has not purchased this protection, and you are not a long-term care planner yourself, please send them this article..

I talk to Betsy every morning at 8 a.m. And every morning, I regret that she didn’t purchase this protection years ago — even if just for herself.

With all of the money she is going to have to pay from their savings for George’s care, I’m very concerned that there won’t be enough money left to pay for her care in the future.

And now it is too late to apply, both for her and her husband.


Margie BarrieMargie Barrie, an agent with ACSIA, has been writing the LTC Insider column since 2000. She is blogging about long-term care planning with Chris Petillo, and preparing to launch an LTC podcast series, at Faegre Drinker’s LTCi Summit website.

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(Photo: Clari Massimiliano/Shutterstock)