The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we plan for a lot of things.
Gone, at least temporarily, are the happy-go-lucky quick runs to the grocery store to pick up a missing ingredient. When we venture out to get groceries, we understand that the less time we spend there, the healthier we’ll likely be.
Vacation plans? Poof— no more!
Hopping on a plane to see a friend or a new grandchild? Not now!
But, when I consider these new trends, here’s what I find intriguing: not all the changes due to COVID-19 have been negative. Why, for instance, should we drive to or arrange to be transported to a doctor’s office for routine matters which can be handled over the phone? Telehealth is a welcome, efficient, healthy option for many that has only now seen an incredible boom when routine doctor’s appointments have been forced to go online or over the phone, lest they not happen at all.
Clearly, though, whether we like all of these changes or hate them, we’ve been faced with a lot of them recently, which leaves us trying to get our minds around what the “new normal” will look like for the next 12-18 months as we wait for an effective vaccine to be widely distributed to help constrain COVID-19.
Consider, for example, the new questions that will now likely arise when planning for long term care: Are those beautiful large dining rooms at high-end facilities, traditionally considered an attraction, now a detriment? Will long term care workers, a shortage of whom has been predicted for years, be more inclined to want to work in private homes than in congregate communities? Will tightening immigration policy exacerbate the shortage of workers?
Medicaid, the means-tested government program funded by both federal and state dollars, will likely be further squeezed as a result of falling tax receipts caused by the pandemic. Although only 5.9 percent of Medicaid enrollees currently receive the program’s long term care benefit, these beneficiaries consume 41.8 percent of Medicaid’s budget. Since Medicaid is by far the largest funding source of long term care in nursing homes, any change in Medicaid funding sends a shock wave through the nursing home industry.
Nursing homes, as we discussed last month, are bearing the brunt of Coronavirus deaths. Although they were never places most people actively plan on moving to, the double blow of resident deaths and Medicaid funding pressure are sure to have significant ramifications. Many people may now be motivated to do long term care planning with one goal in mind: staying out of a nursing home.
Not to mention the jarring prospect possibly facing many people who thought they were all set financially to weather the cost of long term care: simply put, stock market losses may have pulled the rug out from under their retirement plans. Consequently, those affected by such losses may now appreciate the lack of volatility that a long term care insurance policy can bring to their portfolio.
Apart from market forces and health realities, there’s also a very personal side to long term care planning. As we think of where we would want to receive our care, we may naturally think of family and friends. What’s also become clear as a result of the pandemic, though, is that certain people may be fun to visit— but we wouldn’t want to live with them! In some families, the pandemic could be viewed as a dress rehearsal for what life may look like when someone needs long term care.
In summary, there’s a lot that has changed in a short time. That’s certainly true for the long term caregiving industry.
What hasn’t changed is long term care insurance. Policies are still available at the same price and with the same benefits as pre-pandemic. Is now the time to revisit long term care planning for yourself and for those you love?
Baygroup Insurance is working virtually and easily reachable by email or phone. Should you or anyone you know have questions about long term care planning and long term care insurance policies at this time, please do not hesitate to reach out. Baygroup Insurance can be reached at http://www.baygroupinsurance.com/forms/contact-us or call us at 410-557-7907 for more information.