What is the most important word in your vocabulary? Love . . . money . . . family . . . success?
If someone asked me the most important word in the English language to me, I’d have to say “independence”. At five years old, I was taking care of my best friend, aka my blind grandfather, while my mother went to the grocery store and my dad was at work. I knew how to get him to the bathroom, how to get him a drink of water, and how to get him out of the house if there was a fire. I knew how to make long distance calls, and that’s when you had to do it through a live operator. It felt so good to be taking care of someone else at such a young age, instead of having someone take care of me. That sounds like a lot of responsibility for a five year old by today’s standards, but my mother was very independent and I guess she thought I should be too.
It’s a really good trait for women. This point was really driven home to me as I was reading the latest report from the Society of Actuaries (SOA) on how to plan for a very long life.* It said:
- 2/3 of people over 85 in the US are women
- Nearly half of all women age 75-84 and three-quarters of those 85+ are widowed
- At age 65, a woman has a 31% chance to live to age 90 (42% if really healthy at age 65)
- Only 18% of women over 85 are married
I’m calling to single women in this post but the above information says that most women who live a long life will wind up single.
The SOA report is mostly about the probability of outliving one’s savings. Unfortunately the authors don’t understand long-term care insurance very well because the models they used didn’t include inflation coverage for the long-term care benefits. A plan which will pay $250,000 in benefits at age 60 will double at 5% compound by age 75 and will double again by age 90 to $1,000,000! What would it mean to know there’s a million dollars somewhere waiting to pay your LTC if you are one of the 42% of women who make it to age 90?
But single women – hear me. You have to act fast for three reasons:
- There are only two companies left that aren’t gender-rated, meaning they aren’t charging women a LOT more.
- Those same two companies are the only ones left that will allow you to buy a “facilities-only” policy for those women who want to use their premium dollars to be sure they can afford a “country club” assisted living facility (see my earlier post about this)
- The 5% compound inflation factor which has been the gold standard in long-term care insurance is virtually unaffordable in newer policies. Most policies push 3% compound which takes 24 years for benefits to double, vs. 15. That means in 30 years, the benefits will be just a little over half of what they would be with 5% compound.
The two companies that haven’t introduced a new policy that charges more for women are Massachusetts Mutual and New York Life. They are both mutual companies which means they are owned by their policyholders, not stockholders. Both can pay dividends to offset the premium for the people who live long enough. Both still offer Facilities-Only. New York Life offers 4% compound inflation in most states which will double the benefits in 18 years, much faster than 3% compound.
Both of these companies will stop selling these policies soon and will introduce a new policy that is gender-rated and costs more overall. So all you gals who don’t have long-term care insurance yet, ask your financial advisor about these two fine companies, both of which were founded in the mid-1800s. If you don’t have access to a financial professional who is knowledgeable about planning for long-term care, please take a minute and complete the short questionnaire at https://www.gotltci.com/contact-us/ so I can help you. Single or married, planning for long-term care is essential for women. Women who are part of a couple, ask yourself when was the last time you picked up your husband/partner? Do you really want to be responsible for someone else’s care 24/7 without help?
In the next post, I will discuss how to pay LTC insurance premium much more cost effectively by setting up an annuity to pay the premium without losing access to your principal.
*Bajtelsmit, Vickie, Anna Rappaport and Tianyang Wang. “Challenges and Strategies for Financing an Increasingly Long Life”, Society of Actuaries, 2015.