Obama Leads Poll on Support on Long Term Care Insurance

In a tight presidential race, voter sentiment on religion, race, jobs or contraception could tip the balance. Or “the decisive issue just might be a health problem that jeopardizes almost every American family,” says Jonas Roeser, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Operations for LTC Financial Partners LLC (LTCFP), one of the nation’s most experienced long term care insurance agencies.

“Almost 3 in 4 people over 65 will need long-term care at some point, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,” he says. “But most don’t have a plan to pay for this care, meaning their close relatives could be hit hard in the pocketbook. That includes just about everybody.”

So far the candidates have been mute on the long-term care insurance (LTCI) issue, and it’s high time for them to speak out, according to Roeser. So, to gain attention, his organization launched a straw poll on March 26. It asked just one question:

* Which candidate (President Barack Obama or the Republican choice) is more likely to promote new federal incentives to help Americans afford private long-term care insurance?

About a third, 33 percent, picked President Obama, while two-thirds, 67 percent, picked the Republican candidate, whoever it might be. “If this reflects the feelings of the broad population,” says Roeser, “it could be a wake-up call for President Obama and his people. And it could be something the Republicans can make hay with.”

President Obama might have been seen as the champion of long-term care insurance, since his Affordable Care Act included a public option for LTCI, the CLASS Act. But in October, 2011, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that her department was halting implementation of CLASS since a way could not be found to make it self-sustaining. “Now we need to rely entirely on the private sector,” says Roeser, “but the government can still help by introducing new tax breaks or other incentives to make it easier for people to protect themselves.”

Both candidates have an equal opportunity to work with Congress to make it happen, Roeser asserts. “Both can and should state their intentions now and frequently during the campaign. Doing so can be good for the country, and who knows? It just might determine who makes it into the White House.”

The straw poll will be kept open right up until the presidential election on November 6, tracking change in voter sentiment. “It will be an interesting horse race,” says Roeser. “Will the Republican candidate stay way ahead, or will President Obama close the gap and maybe win by a nose?”

Votes may be cast at either of two locations: http://www.ltcfp.com/2012poll or http://ltcguild.ning.com/page/election-poll . After voting, the visitor may view the latest, updated percentages and find other information about the LTC issue.

The straw poll is supported by the Long Term Care Insurance Guild, the social network for LTCI and allied professionals.

Genworth’s Annual Cost of Survey for In-Home Care

 According to Genworth’s (NYSE: GNW) 2012 Cost of Care Survey, the cost to receive care in the home remained unchanged from 2011 to 2012 and home care costs have also risen less dramatically over the past five years than for other types of long term care  services.

“Overwhelmingly, Americans prefer to receive long term care in the home and the relatively muted increase in home care costs over the past few years can be viewed as a positive for consumers,” said Steve Zabel, senior vice president of Long Term Care at Genworth. “Consumer demand for home care services has led to a proliferation of home care services providers and more choice for consumers. This competition has kept home care costs relatively stable, especially when compared to the cost of care in a nursing home or assisted living facility.”

Nationally, the median hourly cost for homemaker services and home health aide services is $18 and $19, respectively. While these costs remain flat from the previous year, costs for homemaker services have risen just 1.2 percent annually over the past five years, while home health aide services have risen 1.1 percent a year over the same period of time.

By comparison, the median annual cost for care in an assisted living facility is $39,600 nationally. This represents an increase of 1.2 percent since 2011 and a 5.7 percent annual increase over the past five years. The comparable cost for a private nursing home room rose 4.2 percent from 2011 to 2012 to $81,030, or 4.3 percent annualized over the past five years.

Then and Now: Increased Options Benefit Consumers


Consumers have more long term care options today than ever before as seen by the increasing number of home care agencies. According to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare, there were approximately 9,200 Medicare-certified home care agencies in the U.S. at the start of 2008. Today, there are slightly more than 11,000, representing an increase of 20 percent. Conversely, during this same period of time, the number of Medicare-certified nursing homes has increased less than one-half of 1.0 percent from just over 15,000 to 15,100. The number of nursing homes is increasing at a slower rate and is no longer the only option.

While consumers’ options have increased dramatically, creating a tangible plan for long term care is a critical step many overlook. According to Genworth claims data, the youngest claimant ever was 27 years old. Although that is not the norm, it underscores the necessity for a care planning roadmap. Consumers can create a long term care plan and learn more about the cost of care in their local market and nationally by visiting Genworth . The site is rich with a range of educational and planning tools such as free long term care quote to help consumers compare costs across geographies, project future costs and share comparisons and calculations with family, friends or a financial professional.

“Understanding long term care insurance costs in your local market and how these costs tend to change over time is vital to developing a plan to cover expected future costs,” Zabel said. “Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey is the most comprehensive of its kind and provides invaluable information on long term care costs that enable family members to conduct informed discussions with loved ones about future long term needs and preferences in order to be more informed consumers of long term care services.”

Now in its ninth year, Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey provides Americans with both national and local long term care cost data, as well as information on cost inflation over time. Resources include an interactive long term care map (also available as a free downloadable iPhone and iPad App) of long term care costs in 437 regions across all 50 states.