Retirement Planning

Navigating Healthcare Gaps in Retirement

Retirement’s Number One Risk

The bad news: a combination of rising healthcare costs plus people living longer in retirement increases the risks of a medical event bankrupting one’s resources. The good news: specialists are available to help their clients understand the risks, refine their planning and greatly reduce or eliminate such worries.

Viewpoints, a blog from Fidelity, warns that healthcare costs have become a remarkably overlooked aspect within retirement. Their research shows that a couple reaching age 65 and retiring in 2021 can expect their total healthcare expenses in retirement to consume as much as $300,000 – or 15% of an average retired couple’s annual expenses. Large as those sound, these figures do not even account for the potential costs of extended long-term care (LTC), where a private room in a nursing home can easily top $100,000 per year. The net result, the report asserts, is that for a growing number of retirees, rising healthcare costs are leading to a “retirement cost gap.”

DL“Healthcare costs – costs that are not covered by Medicare– are the number one risk that we all face in retirement,” says David Landwehr, founder and Certified Long Term Care Specialist (CLTC®) at LT Care Solutions in Wichita, Kansas. “But not only do people often overlook these costs, when they do get a look the options available can be complex and confusing.”

It is for these and related reasons that Landwehr’s practice, where he is joined by his son Mark, president of the group, offers a holistic approach to retirement planning. So, in addition to working with clients to optimize their investments and cashflow in retirement, the two Landwehrs bring to bear considerable experience in helping clients to better plan for and make choices in healthcare. Here, their core focus includes guiding clients through Medicare and private insurance elections, supplemental and long-term health care needs, and even LTC programs for veterans and their surviving spouse – David is a VA accredited agent.

“Beyond core financial planning and investment, we are well acquainted with healthcare and, in particular, insurance issues in retirement,” said Mark. “Many who are coming to us have never had to worry about their healthcare or even purchase their own health insurance, when they get to retirement age, they often don’t know where to focus or what to do. This, we see is an underserved segment of the marketplace.”

Take Medicare for example. Here there are four principal options: A, B, C and D, with some parts mandatory and others conditional. And, there are many nuances. Mark provides private seminar and webinar updates for every client annually since many plans change annually. “The only constant in life is change.”

Overall, the many options across Medicare result in a range of tradeoffs,” says Mark. “The single largest healthcare planning mistake is the failure to put something in place to avoid catastrophic loss. The number one danger is a change in health not covered by Medicare for custodial home care, assisted living, or a nursing home. This can quickly become a $5,000 - $10,000 per month cost. So, you need to select and budget for the right insurance.”

An intriguing aspect of LT Care Solutions is the path by which the senior David Landwehr saw first-hand the need for greater focus on healthcare in retirement. Barbara, David’s mother-in-law had twenty-nine surgical operations before passing away. It was 1992 when his mother-in-law with no LTC insurance was forced to move in with David and Brenda four and a half years.

For David, it was an important object lesson and an inspiration for his practice. The experience also left an impression on his wife Brenda, who had been a Kansas State Representative since 1994 but who decided to join the firm in 1996 as a licensed LTC Agent. Giving her intimate knowledge of aging issues – both personal and legislative – Brenda provides valuable insight into navigating healthcare risks.

Today, the Landwehrs and the rest of their team view their work as a combination of focused planning on Retirement health care and education on health care decisions. “Either you decide or someone else will.”

Medicare450“Healthcare planning within retirement and particularly long-term care requires specialization. This is a specialty that is often overlooked by advisors and their clients. Most financial advisors focus on growing assets and lack expertise in extended care planning. But to make the best decisions, you need to work with a planner who knows the ins and outs. From there the role reverts to one of educator,” David said. “People are often surprised to hear that just one sudden turn of medical events could cost them several hundred thousand dollars. I feel to be in the financial services world you need to be a teacher, and that’s what we do – help our clients understand their risks and opportunities.”

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, this meant ongoing one-on-one sessions with their many clients and prospects. It also meant frequent participation in live presentations and seminars. Though live seminars are still taking place – such as a popular Medicare 101 workshop – the group has also expanded its use of digital live webinars. But no matter the medium, the issues can be complex, varying according to specific circumstances, meaning live interaction can be essential.

Overall, David and Mark see the pandemic as having improved the practice.

“We’ve been able to update our website to provide more client options. We’ve also put in a link where they can find our schedules to book one-on-one conversations – the client can schedule a time and date they want and they don’t have to play phone tag,” Mark said. “Digitizing the practice and improving organization and operations means we can better serve our clients, helping them to explore important solutions to problems often overlooked by most advisors.”

For more information on LT Care Solutions, visit:


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