Can You Afford Long-Term Care?

'Own Your Future' initiative urges Minnesotans to plan ahead

Next year, AARP Minnesota will encourage its 670,000 members to learn about Own Your Future, using direct mail, tele-town hall meetings, email and social media.

"If enough people save or purchase long-term care insurance, they reduce costs to the system, the government and taxpayers," said Michele Kimball, AARP Minnesota state director and executive director of the Own Your Future Advisory Panel.

Now is the time to plan

Prettner Solon wants constituents to realize that not planning means having fewer choices and less control in the final years of life, because not all facilities accept Medical Assistance. "You're at the mercy of the system once all your resources are used up, and you may not end up where you want to be," she said.

Prettner Solon shares her own story about long-term care planning on the Own Your Future website. Like many people, she bought long-term care insurance and set up a living trust only after her husband died without a plan 11 years ago.

"I don't think you're ever too young," she said. "It gives you peace of mind."

The state is working to develop more affordable long-term care options for people who don't qualify for public programs yet can't afford to finance their own long-term care, according to Knatterud. It's also evaluating possible changes to the state's Medical Assistance program to better align with and encourage private payment for long-term care.

Strom-McCutcheon has already done her long-term care plan.

"Because of my mom, my husband and I are really proactive," she said. "We talk about end of life, and we've got that written down. We both have long-term care insurance."

Mary Van Beusekom is a writer living in Excelsior, Minn.

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