Think about it before you need to think about it.

Middle-aged couple

“The key to purchasing long-term care insurance is to do so when you’re still healthy to qualify.”

Sure, it seems crazy to start thinking about a possible future when you’re infirmed and need long-term health care if you’re only in your 50s. You’re young, or relatively young, and healthy. But that’s the point.

You don’t want to someday be unable to take care of yourself and wish that you had done some pre-planning. If you’re in your 50s, and you’re not thinking about long-term care, these are some reasons you should be considering it.

You have plenty of time. That’s why planning for long-term care now is a good idea. If you wait to plan for long-term care in your 60s, 70s or beyond, you’re going to find that certain strategies aren’t available (or practical) any longer.

There are generally three approaches people take to long-term care, according to Sam Price, an independent broker and agent with Assurance Financial Solutions in Birmingham, Alabama. You can:

Pay for the care yourself. That is, no insurance, no government help – just you. You could research how much you’d likely spend if you became chronically ill, Price says. He also adds that this really isn’t realistic for many people.

“The problem with self-funding is that people may find themselves needing that money10 to 15 years into their retirement just to make it. So people who are intent upon self-funding might find themselves without options later on,” he says.

Let Medicaid pay for it. Not Medicare, which won’t pay for long-term care. “But Medicaid was created to do just that,” Price says. “For persons with typically less than $150,000 to $200,000 in retirement assets, Medicaid may make more sense.”

But he advises talking to an elder-care attorney, who can guide you through the ins and outs of Medicaid.

Let insurance pay for your care. After you pay for the insurance, of course – such as long-term insurance or a hybrid life insurance and long-term care policy.

“Clients who find insurance appealing need a competent broker that can walk them through the myriad of options available,” Price says.

There are other things to consider, too, says Karen Lee, a certified financial planner with her own firm, Karen Lee & Associates, in Atlanta.

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