It's one of the biggest challenges for today's retirees: how to afford an extended stay in a nursing home or assisted-living facility. With the tab steadily rising, sometimes hitting six digits per year, the solution requires real creativity.
A long-term-care insurance policy might appear to be the answer for some. Such policies are designed to help cover the costs of institutional or at-home care once a policyholder becomes unable to perform certain daily activities, such as dressing or bathing, or needs close supervision because of a cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer's.
But long-term-care insurance is often uneconomical -- for both insurers and consumers. A recent report from Moody's Investors Service concludes that, despite the apparent need for this health-related, nonmedical coverage by an aging population, the future of the product is "uncertain" and the viability of the market itself is "now in question."
"The market is in flux, and we're finding out that there's no easy, clear-cut answer for anyone," says Carolyn McClanahan, founder of Life Planning Partners, a fee-only financial planning firm in Jacksonville, Fla.
Folks with less than $250,000 in savings aren't thought to be candidates for long-term-care insurance because they are the most likely to turn to Medicaid for such needs. Those with in-between levels of wealth -- up to $1 million or $2 million in assets, say -- arguably need long-term-care insurance the most but, as we will see, they are increasingly being priced out of the market for traditional long-term-care insurance policies.
Those most able to afford long-term-care insurance, people with more than $2 million in assets, are the least likely to need it,because they are in the best position to self-insure, or set aside money to cover potential long-term-care costs. Yet even they sometimes look to insurance to, for example, protect bequest amounts for