Long term care: Time for the talk?

Have you had the long term care insurance talk with your spouse or significant other, or your kids? How about with yourself, can you handle a reality check?

The opioid crisis and other factors have stalled the steady increase in life expectancy in many communities and with some groups. But generally speaking reasonably affluent people with good steady jobs, decent pay, good health care and retirement benefits are living longer — people like you and me.

But while living longer people in that group aren’t necessarily aging better. Many have trouble taking care of themselves as they age out. If you are counting on your health plan, or Medicare to handle the situation, think again! Not gonna happen.

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I’ve had long term care insurance for decades. I got it (early by many standards) while at The Washington Post on a group plan. They were good benefits, although no inflation at the time, and it was a reasonable price because of my age.

When I got my coverage there were dozens of plans offering LTC. Today there are only a handful because people are living longer but not necessarily better, or independently. Odds are good many of us will need help, either in a facility or more likely at home, with the daily functions of living:  Dressing, eating and toileting. It’s not a fun subject but there it is. Costs to insurance carriers have skyrocketed, meaning one of two things: Either they raise premiums a lot, or they get out of the LTC business.

My insurance plan stopped offering LTC a dozen years ago.  I was grandfathered in with the rest of my group but there were no new customers. We’ve had three relatively modest premium increases that I remember — the last was about 10% — with the option to reduce benefits to avoid some or all of the premium hike. I’m hanging in there, keeping what I have and hoping and praying that all my premiums will be “wasted.”  That is, I won’t have use any of them. Because I hope I won’t need them. Many who are already part of the government LTC program for federal workers agree, but the majority of feds still don’t have coverage while the numbers show that many will need it.

When the federal LTC program was launched years ago, Kay Coles James was director of the Office of Personnel Management.  She was the first person to sign up. At the time she said she was doing it as a gift to herself and her family, but mostly to her kids, to spare them the financial burden. Been there, done that.

My mother, a long-time fed, was super healthy all her life except the last couple of years. Fortunately for her, but mostly me, she got the LTC program offered at the time. When she needed it the coverage was a godsend both financially and emotionally for her, and me as the only child. It enabled her to stay in a top-notch and expensive facility in suburban Washington, D.C. It was a horrible situation but the best solution.

For information on the LTC program managed by Long Term Care Partners, click here, and there are other options for some feds. But how much do you know about coverage, and about qualifying for it?

  • 70% of people over the age of 65 with need some LTC help or care at some point;
  • Statistically speaking only one child among siblings will provide 100% of care, and this is usually a daughter or daughter-in-law. Fair? No, but realistic? Yes;
  • Caregivers spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care; and
  • Anywhere between 40%-75% of family caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression.

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to have and listen to the talk, so how about today? Tune in at 10 a.m. here on www.FederalNewsNetwork.com or 1500 AM in the D.C. area. to listen to this week’s Your Turn radio show. And if you can’t catch us live, the show will be archived on our webiste so you can listen anytime or refer it to a friend. Our guest today will be Greg Klingler, director of Wealth Management at the Government Employees’ Benefits Association. He’ll explain why you should check out their streamlined LTC plans which may be a better fit for many then the traditional federal LTC program. Also he will talk about how to bring up the sensitive but important program with your adult children, why this plan may be better for singles, or why its gender-based pricing may be better for many women.

Not, it’s not a fun subject, but it is one that could save you and your loved ones time, money and unnecessary grief.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

The Hass avocado was not just cultivated but also patented by a mailman in 1935. In the late 1920s Rudolph Hass of California purchased seedling trees for the purpose of developing two acres of budded trees of the Lyon variety. Hass’ children first brought the tree to his attention as they preferred the fruit to the Fuerte variety, which was the industry standard. Hass then patented it and ordered 300 trees propagated to this variety by H. H. Brokaw. But Hass didn’t plant these, rather he entered into an agreement that Brokaw grow and promote the variety in consideration of splitting gross tree income.

Source: University of California, Riverside