I get this situation frequently. Either there are budget constraints that mean a couple have to choose which spouse to insure and/or one spouse is simply not healthy enough to get coverage – I mean, what do you do in a situation like that?!
Insure the one you can – if it is a health issue so that only one spouse is insurable, get coverage on that person now. While you still can! Think of it this way: if you know you have to dog-ear the money for the spouse who already has significant health issues, you really then want coverage on the other one because you can’t afford to have the “insurable spouse” get ill and burn through the money you know you need for the other spouse down the road.
Insure the wife – this is for two reasons. First, women are statistically likely to be later in making a claim than a man. The wife often cares for the husband first and then needs the insurance to care for her years later. That said, if the wife does get ill first, the wife having an illness vastly increases the likelihood that the couple will divorce (see Why divorce is more common if the wife gets sick: The 'destabilizing' effect of illness (msn.com)) or the husband will more quickly put the wife in formal, paid-for care (see Women Receive Majority of Long-Term Care Insurance Benefits | LTC News). So if you can only insure one of you, get coverage on the wife.
Ideally, you would always want both of person’s in a relationship to have coverage. I think of it like a driver’s license. In general, we all want to have a license and the independence and confidence that comes with it. But if one of you can’t qualify for a license (or coverage), it is all the more crucial for the other spouse to have coverage.
Finally, if push comes to shove, you protect your wealth, your marriage, and your sanity more if the wife has a policy.
Stana Martin, PhD, founded Mrs LTC to provide a top-quality resource for clients and customers who need help with long term care claims or insurance comparisons.
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