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Insurance Considerations for the "Sandwich Generation"

Are you in the "sandwich generation?" I'm not talking about that group of people who take their lunches at Subway. I mean that group of mostly 50-somethings who find themselves both supporting, at least in part, young adult children and elderly parents. 

If so, you are probably not only dealing with the social, emotional and interpersonal issues that come with extended families, but also with some very real and often pressing financial concerns. And those financial considerations include questions about life insurance, health insurance, long-term care, disability coverage and life annuities. As California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones says, "Increasingly Californians are feeling the emotional and financial strain of caring for their adult children and aging parents. It is important to know your options and take steps to safeguard your assets to safeguard your long-term financial well-being."

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has created a web-page that will help "sandwichers" think through their insurance needs - including what insurance coverages they might be able to reduce at this stage of their lives. The page can be found at insureuonline.org. The site includes a list of questions that will help you think critically about your situation and your options, and an action checklist to make sure that you are not missing anything.

Among the recommendations:

> Middle-aged parents should discuss health insurance with their post-college children, including who will cover copays and deductibles. If the child lives at home, there should also be a discussion about automobile insurance.

> Care-givers should make sure their parents enroll in Medicare before they turn 65, and if there are potential gaps in coverage should also consider Medicare Supplement Insurance to cover the gaps. Check out whether parents requiring nursing home care qualify for MediCal.

> Depending upon financial resources, for some elderly parents it might make sense to purchase an annuity that will minimize long-term financial concerns. 

> If your child is off to college, consider whether satisfactory health insurance can be obtained more economically through the college than on your policy. And if your children have completed college and any other educational goals that they may have, consider whether it is desirable to reduce your life insurance policy to reflect this achievement and the resulting reduction in your financial obligations.

The point is that as your financial obligations to your children and your parents change - as they inevitably will, you should consider whether your insurance requirements (and those of your children and parents) need to be adjusted accordingly. The web-site mentioned above will help you think about these questions. In my opinion the "Take Action Checklist: 10 Insurance-Smart Things To Do As You Turn 50" is especially helpful. 

Or feel free to call or email me to discuss your specific situation. 

Alex Pfeifer, Pfeifer Insurance Brokers, 650 762-8070, or alex@pfeiferins.com.
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