Imagine for a moment that your elderly mother slips and falls and breaks an arm and a leg. She is hospitalized and undergoes rehab — for 12 weeks. Most people think of chronic illnesses when they think of long-term care, but accidents can also trigger the need for extended nursing care, as well as physical and occupational therapy.
Compounding the problem of these frequent accidents (see our accompanying sidebar article), health insurance plans only cover about three weeks of care. As hard as it is to imagine a life of disability or declining health, long-term care (LTC) is an issue of growing urgency for an aging population. Just as health care costs are rising to eye-popping levels, the market for long-term care insurance has been in free fall. Premiums have largely doubled, and buyers are paying more for less coverage. What does extended long-term care mean for your financial picture, and for your family? What are your options? Here’s a short primer to help you weigh your options.
The best way to plan for an unexpected health issue that could last as long as eight or 10 years is to have amassed great long-term wealth. But this option is only realistically available to high net worth or ultra-high net worth investors.
LTC and hybrid plans
A traditional LTC policy is harder to find and expensive but is worth it if you can afford it. An LTC policy will pay up to a certain maximum daily benefit in case you are hospitalized or require in-home or rehab care above what your health insurance policy will cover. Hybrid plans are where the LTC market is becoming more attractive. Hybrids are life insurance policies that include a certain amount of LTC coverage and usually have premiums that are guaranteed not to rise.
Another LTC-like option that may be attractive for some middle-income earners is a fixed annuity*. You make a lump sum payment in exchange for guaranteed regular payments as specified under the contract with an insurer. Some hybrid annuities offer multiplier rider options that pay out higher interest if long-term care is needed.
Long-term care is a difficult issue for families to tackle, but a major financial risk. The range of insurance-based products on the market may offer a solution, but as always, it’s advisable to consult with a qualified insurance and tax professionals for the best course of action to take for someone in your situation.
Slips, trips and falls — by the numbers
Slips, trips and falls make up the majority of general industry accidents, according to the Department of Labor statistics. This category of accidents, which includes sprains and strains, bruises and contusions, fractures, and abrasions and lacerations, not only create pain, possible temporary or permanent disability and reduced quality of life, but also occur with surprising frequency**:
• 15% of all accidental deaths (roughly 12,000 per year) can be attributed to slips, trips and falls (second only behind motor-vehicle accidents)
• Approximately 25% of most frequently reported injuries are due to slips, trips and falls
• More than 17% of disabling occupational injuries result from falls
Most falls can be avoided by recognizing the human factors that increase the risk of trips and slips, such as carrying or moving cumbersome objects, or moving too many objects at one time; not paying attention
to surroundings or walking distracted (read: texting!); taking unapproved shortcuts; and being in a hurry and rushing. You can prevent falling by maintaining a clear, tidy work area free of clutter; following safe walking routes; wearing proper footwear with good traction; and learning to fall “properly.”
You can help foster a safer workplace by notifying supervisors and maintenance crews of slip, trip and fall hazards when they are present, and making sure that your company includes slips, trips and falls as part of its ongoing employee safety training program.
* Fixed annuities are not FDIC insured. Guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the issuer. Withdrawals made before age 59½ generally trigger a tax penalty.
**Source: www.osha.gov. https://www.google.com/search?q=slip+trip+and+fall+tips&oq=slip+trip+and+fall+tips&aqs=chrome..69i57j0.4473j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=U TF-8