ST. PAUL, Minn. - If you're between the ages of 40 and 65 you'll soon get a letter from Gov. Mark Dayton, urging you to think long-term about where you'll spend your golden years.
The letter announces the Own Your Future initiative, and directs consumers to the Minnesota Department of Human Service Own Your Future website. It's accompanied by a colorful pamphlet detailing different facets of planning for the post-retirement phase of your life.
"Right now we just want people to start thinking about, do I have a plan? How am I going to pay for it? And what steps do I need to take now?," Loren Colman, assistant DHS commissioner, told KARE Monday.
The site covers issues as varied as long-term care insurance policies, reverse mortgages, annuity plans and housing designs that enable people to live in their own homes longer and more safely.
"Own your future is asking people to start having those conversations with their family members, with their financial planners and others in their lives," Colman added.
A sampling of opinion on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis found that most people support the concept of getting people to focus earlier on how they'll spend their later years.
"I'm not sure if it needs to come from Mr. Dayton, but it's a good idea for people to think about long-term care," Larry Rogers of Lino Lakes said.
He said he took out an annuity-style plan when he was younger, and the payments are built into his monthly budget so he doesn't think of it as a drag.
"I wanted to do that to take care of my family in case I was hurt, or had a stroke, or whatever," Rogers said. "I mean, that's what it's there for."
Jean Nelson said she has a health care directive put in place, but could not afford a long-term care insurance plan.
"If you can get it through a group, if your employer offers it, you get a discount," she said. "But it's really unaffordable. For the policies I looked out the cost was exorbitant."
Colman conceded that those policies can be expensive, and the longer one waits to enroll, the costlier the premiums are. He said the second phase of the Own Your Future program, set to be launched in 2013, will focus on developing more affordable long-term care insurance plans.
"We need people to understand that Medicare does not often times pay for ongoing long-term care supports," he said.
"People think, 'I've got Medicare. I've got Social Security. I have these programs already available to me'."
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