Long-term Outlook Is Expensive

Great article in the Star-Advertiser last Wednesday. It’s a very important article for middle-aged people in Hawaii coasting alone, having a good time in paradise, to digest. It’s a topic no one really wants to talk about, and that’s understandable because it’s about how much long-term care costs in Hawaii.

I’ve always thought “long term care” was a personal, family issue, moderated by the oldest sibling over coffee after dinner. The well-written article by Kristen Consillio is something every family should read very carefully. Here’s what it says in a nutshell.

The cost of long-term care in Hawaii is higher than the national rate, sometimes by more than 50 percent! This information was honed from a survey by Genworth Financial Inc., a Virginia-based insurance company that sells long-term care insurance. The AARP’s state director Barbara Kim Stanton contributed to the article and localizes it quite nicely.

The report says the price for a year of private-room nursing home care in Hawaii is $122,640. The national median is $77,000. In 10 years, the projected cost will be nearly $200,000 a year. Combine that with Hawaii’s growing senior population and increased longevity, and you have a very scary picture of life in Hawaii.

The reason I think this article is very important is because many people believe they can handle the question of long-term with insurance. Long-term care insurance can help, but the people who think that are in for a big shock, because navigating through reams of insurance forms, medical prescriptions and doctor’s appointments is daunting. Many of these medical services are done through websites, email or some long distance phone number that begins with 1-888.

Asking a question could take a week to answer. Press 2 for assistance, 9 for medical prescriptions, 8 for menus, 7 for movie and other recreational opportunities, 6 for Handi-Van service, or press 0 and stay on the line for an assistant. The No. 1 response is usually, “What, say that again,” or “Is that covered by the policy?”

The way to prepare for this eventuality is not just planning for the situation – it’s family planning, including everyone in the family doing a little. One senior citizen in a care home can drive a family member into a nervous breakdown. You just cannot keep up with all of their demands and needs. It’s a 24/7 chore. Just getting them to take the right pills on the right day at the right time is a major accomplishment. Been there, done that, it’s almost impossible to do alone.

The people who run the nursing homes have seen it all. They can tell you which families have their act together and which families are dysfunctional. They are just too nice to make it public.

When you look at paying $200,000 a year in 2030 to care for a loved one, you have just about enough time to prepare.

An insurance policy by itself without a sound family plan is probably not worth the paper it’s printed on.