Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The "Sandwich" Dilemma: Caregiving Concerns Facing Female Baby Boomers

Thanksgiving has nearly arrived, bringing with it a much needed, calorie-laden respite for all. As you, your friends and your family count the things you can be thankful for (e.g. the thriving economy…), do not forget to include America’s caregivers. After all, November marked National Family Caregivers’ month, a celebration of the 34 million caregivers who provide $375 billion in unpaid help to friends and family.

According to Kelly Greene of the Wall Street Journal, the typical caregiver in the United States is a “46-year-old woman who works outside the home and spends more than 20 hours a week providing unpaid care to her mother.” Not only are these women not paid for the care they administer, but they also face “opportunity costs” such as lost wages and subsequent loss of employer-sponsored health insurance and retirement benefits. Some even pay out of pocket during the course of their caregiving; in 2007, caregivers spent an average of $5,531 of their own money when caring for those over the age of 50.

The current group of caregiving women is mainly baby boomer women born between ages 45 and 59, according to Tom Riekse, Jr., a managing principal at a brokerage general agency. This demographic often finds itself caring for their parents and their children. This “sandwich effect” has begun to cause women to start thinking about how to prepare themselves for the time when they may require long-term care.

There are many avenues to consider when thinking about financing one’s future circumstances. Medicare and Medicaid are examples of public resources that are in place to assist those requiring long-term care. Visiting www.longtermcare.gov, a website created by the Department of Health and Human Services, will provide you with information on financing care publicly. While these government options can prove invaluable, Rieske recommends that his clients also research private long-term care insurance…..and the sooner, the better.

There are a number of reasons why purchasing long term care coverage in advance can be a smart decision. For one, long-term care insurance is medically unwritten. As such, healthier clients obtain better rates. According to Rieske, while those ages 40 to 49 qualify for “good health discounts” 63.2% of the time, only 51.5% of those ages 50 to 59 qualify. Also in respect to age, the premiums and benefits change depending on how old you are. In this way, the premiums you pay over a longer period of time may can end up being less than what you will be paying if you choose to purchase an insurance plan later on.

There are many routes to consider when thinking ahead about long-term care. Whatever path you choose, it is important to seek out all available information on both public and private options. You may want to consider consulting with a financial advisor, especially if you choose to purchase long-term care insurance and are unsure which plan is right for you. Visit the WISER website and click the “Caregiving” where you can find more information.

1 comment:

Linda said...

Good information for caregivers. We should all realize that as medical technology and medicines can keep us alive so much longer that we need long term health care. But one should read those prospective plans very carefully.