The Sprint to FI

Don’t forget long term health care planning

One thing I don’t see in many FI planning scenarios is long term healthcare funding. Even if you live a super healthy lifestyle, it’s still possible that you or a family member will be involved in a catastrophic accident or get hit with an unpredictable chronic medical condition such as dementia (which doesn’t give a fuck how healthy you are otherwise) and need long term medical care.

This is top of mind for me right now as Tony has had to temporarily but indefinitely move to another country to care for his ill parents. They have socialized medicine there, and it fully covers end-of-life palliative care, but only contributes a small “allowance” towards daily home care visits or assisted living. This type of private care is very expensive and hard to find where they live; even if Tony can arrange it, we will probably need to pay for it since my in-laws rely on pensions for their income and never planned for this situation. But it would still be less expensive than moving there and providing care ourselves. Either option could change our planned retirement dates, perhaps significantly.

If their medical condition requires it, my in-laws’ national health plan will cover residential long term nursing care, but only after their financial assets have been exhausted. So if only one of them needs skilled nursing care, they will need to sell their home, leaving the other to find a place to live on a limited fixed income. This is similar to the Medicare situation in the US, where daily home care and/nursing home costs can be catastrophic to patients and their families. My aunt is 80 and can’t retire because she had to spend her own retirement savings on nursing home care for my grandmother, who also never planned for it.

We are in our 50s and approaching FI, but needing to care for Tony’s parents was never part of our plan, and it’s made me think long and hard about providing for our own long term care. I never want to impose this kind of a burden on my own kid (millennials are struggling enough as it is), so we are talking about adding long term care insurance to our budget. It may not be cheap, but still something to explore when considering how your financial needs can change over time, sometimes unexpectedly and though no fault of your own. If it’s something you can build into your plan, it may be worth it for peace of mind.

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