Will Long Term Care Insurance Last?

A recent article in Investment News, a publication for investment advisors, examines the possibility that long-term care (LTC) insurance may go the way of the dinosaur. The article notes the recent mass exodus of insurance companies offering the product.
Over the last three years, Unum Group, Guardian, MetLife (MET), and Allianz have all exited the business. And Prudential (PRU) said in March it would stop issuing individual LTC insurance.

The problem for insurance companies is that they had little idea of what they would actually need to pay out since they had so little experience. Insurance companies collect premiums for years before the vast majority of the insured will become old enough to need the care. That problem is compounded by the low fixed-income returns insurance companies are making on the premiums.

Insurance companies that have stayed in the LTC business have had large rate increases. That naturally drives healthier plan members to drop coverage, making those who remain in pool more likely to need care. This happens year after year (the healthier leave and the sick stay) leading to an insurance phenomenon known as the “death spiral.” Eventually, the product or insurance company collapses under its own weight.

Is LTC insurance right for you?

For years, I’ve been somewhat agnostic on long term care insurance because of the uncertainty over premium increases. My first advice is that, if you can self-insure, don’t buy it. Yes, assisted living is expensive, but don’t forget the costs you will save by not traveling, needing a car, etc. On the other hand, I also think you don’t need such coverage even if you have little money set aside. Save the premiums and live a nicer lifestyle. If you ever need assisted living, just understand that Medicaid may not provide the most luxurious care.

If you do buy LTC insurance, buy a plan that allows fixed premiums over, say, 10 years that then fully pays all premiums. That way, the insurance company can’t raise your rates later. Consider partial self-insurance by buying longer wait periods and even skipping the inflation rider. Make sure it’s from a highly rated insurance company (although my confidence in ratings agencies such as S&P and Moody’s (MCO) is shaken).

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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.

3 in 4 Need More Long Term Care Saving Tips

Sales of long term care insurance (LTCI) policies gradually picked up following the much celebrated 3 in 4 Need More campaign, a long term care (LTC) program that was mounted by leaders in the LTC industry to inform Americans about the importance of planning their future health care needs to protect their finances.

However, a vast majority of uninsured folks were taken aback after checking their requested LTC quotes.

Before scrutinizing the reason that discouraged some people from moving forward with a policy, it’s better to savor the positive outcome of the event which is the fact that LTCI companies have managed to increase their sales after the program kicked off.  This is a clear sign of a big reduction in what would otherwise be a gazillion Medicaid beneficiaries.

Another good thing that came out of the event is that more people started requesting LTCI quotes.  Once a person shows interest in this insurance product, he has taken the fist step in acquiring an LTCI policy.

Now the problem at hand is the backing out of some individuals from a potential LTCI coverage.  This is almost like turning down a brand new house and lot or a luxury car just when you’ve gotten so close to it already.

Perhaps these individuals who, after seeing the figures in their requested LTCI quotes, concluded right away that no way are they going to pay that much money.  Someone must have missed out on explaining to them that those quotes were only supposed to give them an idea of how much a potential coverage will cost them.

Upon receipt of their LTCI quotes, consumers should peruse each and compare all the variables.  Everything in their quotes is still subject for negotiation.

Remember what elder care specialist Dr. Marion Somers said on television?  “You pay what you negotiate for.”

3 in 4 Need More LTC Advice

The youngest member of baby boomers will turn 65 in less than 20 years.  Hopefully he or she has already secured an LTC plan as the cost of care is predicted to rise fourfold around that time.

Just because they were able to survive the financial burden that came with their parents’ LTC, it does not follow that their own health care needs will be just as manageable.  Everybody has to keep in mind that the cost of care is never constant.  What comes in five figures today may be in six next year.

It is only by planning early that one can emerge victorious in his battle against LTC costs.  An individual does not have to wait for a specific age before he can start planning his health care needs.  In fact many people as young as 40 have secured a plan already so by the time they reach the age of retirement, they can simply spend their time on vacations, get together with loved ones and friends, and many other interesting activities.

Perhaps a little rehash on the topics that were tackled in the 3 in 4 Need More campaign will further increase the country’s insured population.

How to Buy Long Term Care Insurance

There are three options for people who are shopping for long term care quote and thinking about purchasing long term care insurance and they are: stand-alone long term care policy, fixed annuity with ltc benefits and policy with riders.

They are unique in their own way and the decision is left to the consumers, what kind of policy they think would perfectly suit their needs.

Stand-alone Long Term Care Policy

According to the nonprofit Insured Retirement Institute, there are four risks to a stand-alone LTC policy: They can be expensive, they acquire no cash value, the premiums may increase, and the underwriting can be time-consuming.

One of the biggest issues here is the long term care insurance costs. You may be able to afford paying for your premiums for a year or two but what about for the following years. It is important to think of the future and see if you can afford to finish paying for this and not simply give up on this once you’ve out of cash.

Experts say that it is ideal to have a smaller policy rather than be ambitious and opt for the expensive one but can’t finish paying for it.

Fixed Annuity with LTC Benefits

This option is actually more affordable than the traditional long term care policy and aside from that you are also entitled to other benefits. It gives you  access to your money but with nominal fee, the cost of the LTC rider may be less than an LTC policy, and you can obtain coverage without health underwriting if you’ve been turned down for a stand-alone policy. There are disadvantages too like the steep upfront investment, the rider fee can eat into your annuity’s interest income, and you’ll be locking that money up today at a relatively low rate.

LTC Insurance with Rider

LTC experts suggest that if your need for long-term care is relatively short, meaning a year or two, consider a hybrid life product. But if your need is likely to be longer, you’re going to blow through the policy and be back on your own savings. Then you’re going to regret that you didn’t buy a traditional long-term care policy.”

Long Term Care In The News Updates

Since there is a big demand for LTC insurance in the present situation of those who are considered baby boomers, it is but right to be updated and be informed of the most updated happenings with long term care in the news.

This is one way for them to know the latest trends and issues concerning the LTC insurance industry and to also appreciate the fact that they have an LTC insurance plan that would help them pay for the high costs of LTC services that they are receiving or might receive in the future.

Sadly, not all “baby boomers” have shopped for long term care quote and secured themselves of an insurance plan. Some of them now face the harsh reality that they might not be able to use or get all their needed LTC services and facilities just because they hesitated or doubted the value of an LTC policy. Now, they have to depend and rely on whatever facility they could get with the use of their personal savings, which may not even be enough to pay for a year’s worth of staying in an assisted living facility.

Younger individuals have now the better chances of getting lower long term care insurance costs and they too, should be updated with the latest news about LTC insurance in the country. Not only would they know and be informed of what they can expect from owning an LTC policy, but they can also weigh their reasons and other factors on why they should go and buy one.

One of the latest updates of long term care in the news is about the cancellation of the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act or more commonly known as the CLASS Act. It is one of the biggest news before 2011 ended because the program was repealed 19 months after President Barack Obama signed it into law.

The Department of Health and Human Services stated that it was cancelled due to the lack of stable funds and because the conditions and guidelines for the first wave of policyholders who are supposed to receive benefits after five years are still unorganized.

This posted great concerns to those who have seen it as their last option in getting an LTC insurance policy. But the government has promised the public that they are still searching for more effective programs and laws that would benefit the LTC needs of the majority of the American population.

But there is also some favorable news for the insured individuals such as the latest tax deduction limits that are now being implemented to give more benefits and advantages to the LTC policyholders.

Insurance industry experts are happy with the newest tax deductions and they hope that this could encourage and convince those who are still uninsured to avail their own LTC plans. They are also hoping to continue having better tax limits in the future so that the insurance owners can feel how fortunate they are to have been able to purchase an LTC plan.

More particulars about long term care in the news would be available from time to time so make it a habit to check the different news sources such as newspapers, television, and the Internet for the latest information and details such as how to pay for long term care.

Younger Buyers Attracted to New Types of Long Term Care Insurance

The sale of asset-based long-term care insurance protection continued to grow significantly according to research by the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance the national trade organization. According to data gathered from leading insurers, premium increased nearly 20 percent and the number of covered lives increased 13.5 percent.

“We expect the sale of asset based or linked long term care insurance http://www.aaltci.org/long-term-care-insurance products will continue to grow as they offer some highly attractive benefits to a category of buyers shopping for long term care quote early and looking to protect their retirement savings,” states Jesse Slome, AALTCI’s director. “The growth of sales will only continue as more large players enter the marketplace.” Pacific Life recently introduced a universal life insurance policy that provides long-term care benefits.

According to the Association’s annual study of new policy sales, more than half (53%) of male buyers were under age 65. In the prior year’s study, only 48 percent were under age 65. The percentage of women buyers under age 65 also increased to 50 percent, up from 44 percent in the prior year.

“We are seeing two market conditions fueling growth,” Slome explains. “Younger buys facing a long time horizon before needing care favor the money-back provision of these policies and older buyers are being priced out of the market for traditional long-term care insurance making this a more attractive option.” “At a time when long-term care is increasingly top of mind, these life insurance-based solutions avoid the ‘use it or lose it’ risk associated with traditional long term care insurance,” says Chris Coudret, CLU, ChFC, Vice President, OneAmerica one of the nation’s leading insurers offering linked benefit solutions. “In most cases, people make a single payment, effectively removing the risk of future high long term care insurance costs.”

For 2011, the Association study found that the initial single premium face amount of policies purchased was $100,000 or greater for nearly three-quarters (73%) of new policies. In addition, the vast majority (96%) of new Life+LTC policies issued did not include a benefit increase option that bumped up available benefits to keep pace with inflationary growth of costs. By comparison, the Association’s study of traditional individual long-term care insurance policy sales, found that in 2011 some 96 percent included a growth option.

The complete findings will be published in the Association’s 2012 Long-Term Care Insurance Sourcebook. Founded in 1998, the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance is the national trade organization established to educate both consumers and financial professionals about the importance of long-term care planning.

Save On Long Term Care Insurance Premiums: Know The Chances

Although the number of insured individuals are still lower compared to those who still have to avail an LTC plan of their own, more Americans are still interested and are considering of getting one in the future. One proof of the increasing interest of the public is the numerous inquiries and questions about how they can save on long term care insurance premiums.

Now that majority of insurance companies offer online LTC assessment tools that can give immediate quotations to those who are interested in getting an LTC plan, the public are given more chances and time to consider their plan purchase.

By providing some important personal information that the insurance providers need to come up with the possible amount of their LTC plan, those who are interested in getting one may examine and analyze the result of their inquiry, therefore they can be more prepared and ready financially once they decide to finally avail their own LTC policy.

Other than this, an individual can always ask for his insurance agent’s advice and recommendations about the many possibilities of saving on high long term care insurance costs. He will be informed of the different considerations that insurance providers usually have in order to grant LTC policy cheaper prices and also give him suggestions and guide him on what type of insurance plan he can avail.

Unlike what many people believe, the rates and premiums of a particular LTC plan may still be cheaper than what they perceive it to be. They only has to know the different factors or aspects that can help them save on long term care insurance monthly premiums by remembering these basic details that insurance companies consider when obtaining how much an LTC policy would cost:

1. If it is possible, they should get or purchase their LTC plans at a younger age. Insurance companies generally give more affordable policy amount and higher levels of inflation protection if the person avails his plan immediately.

2. He must consider his preferred elimination period and benefit coverage period because these two factors directly affect and contribute to the price of a particular person’s LTC policy. Longer elimination or waiting period may mean cheaper monthly rates while longer or a lifetime-worth of LTC benefit coverage period may have more expensive rates. Whatever the person prefers, he must be ready to pay and shoulder any LTC expenses that he might personally shoulder.

3. Inquire about the rates of nursing homes and other adult day care facilities in the exact area where the individual opts to receive his plan’s benefits. He must keep in mind that the rates and amount of LTC plans vary depending on the state and location where he will use his benefits.

4. Know the most suitable type of LTC policy option for your LTC needs in order to maximize the advantages without spending too much money.

All of the above factors can help a person save on long term care insurance premiums. He may also contact his insurance provider for more important details and information that can further help him get affordable LTC policies.