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Long Term Care

Health (5).JPGLTC insurance can appear complicated but doesn’t need to be. In any case, I’ll be there to explain every step of the way and make it plain and simple for you to understand.

Besides having a well-designed policy, we only work with very strong companies. Most of my clients are with A+ rated companies which meet the criteria below:

WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A GOOD LTC COMPANY:

  • Strong Financial rating like A+ if possible. We also want companies with huge reserves to be able to weather the coming claims. (See my COMPANY RATINGS page)
  • A good reputation for paying claims with little or minimal hassle
  • As stable a premium rate history as possible. I try to use carriers that have had minimal rate increases to existing clients. Be sure to ask me about the “HYBRID” products that guarantee rate stability, if that is of prime importance to you.
  • They are committed to Long-term care insurance and have been in this market for at least ten or more years.
  • They have policies reflecting creative thinking and a good understanding of LTC trends and issues.

No one company’s policy is the “best” for everyone. Though all companies have many features in common, each one has its own unique niches as well. Let me discover what your needs are and then recommend the company that best fits your needs. Sometimes it’s one’s health record that directs me to a particular company that will accept that health issue.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A GOOD POLICY:

1. The BENEFIT AMOUNT: The best-designed policies today now show the benefit in monthly terms instead of daily terms ($4,500 a month benefit, instead of $150 a day benefit, for example). These figures are usually based on the amount you’d expect to pay for care in a facility, although it can also be used for care in your own home. For home care, you’ll probably end up being less out of pocket with a monthly benefit than with a daily benefit. Ask me to explain why when we talk. I’ll be sure to recommend your benefit amount based on your budget, family history and what costs will be where you plan to retire.

2. THE BENEFIT PERIOD: Though it’s impossible to know for sure how long one could end up being in long term care, we do have national averages, your family history – and of course, your budget. Let me explain how this works when we talk. You can buy enough coverage for just two or three years of care, or 4, 5, 6, years of care. It’s up to you! Your budget and expectations will come to bear in this discussion.

Most of my male clients are purchasing at least 2-3 years of care, and most of my female clients are purchasing at least 4-5 years of coverage, since women do use care more often and for longer periods of time. Many couples are buying the “shared care” option.

3. THE LIFETIME BENEFIT AMOUNT or “POOL OF MONEY” available for your care: This is the starting maximum amount of money you will have for your care in your lifetime. It is determined by multiplying your monthly benefit x the benefit period. It could be as little as $73,000 all the way up to $300,000 or $500,000 or even a million dollars. This pool of money usually grows with the inflation factor one buys (see #4). With most LTC companies I represent, what you don’t use during a period of care “stays in the pool” for future use.

4. INFLATION PROTECTION rider (also called “the Benefit Increase Option”): To keep up with inflation, most clients purchase a rider that allows their monthly benefit and lifetime pool to each grow by a certain percentage each year, like 3% or 4% or 5% per year. I help you decide what plan makes sense for you and your budget. You can also defer inflation options with some plans.

5. THE “ELIMINATION PERIOD”. This tells you HOW SOON the policy starts paying benefits to you. This is a little bit like a deductible, though not exactly like it. They call it the “elimination period” because these are the number of days that you have to pay for care before benefits begin (or days you must “eliminate” before benefits will be paid to you). For example, when you have a car accident, you can’t get your car out of the shop until you pay your deductible amount. The LTC “deductible” or Elimination Period is actually the number of days of care you pay for before the policy starts paying you. I’m not a fan of long deductibles beyond 90 days because they barely reduce the premium anyway. Most of my clients are buying the 90 day elimination periods – sometimes including a rider that pays for coverage from the first day, if care is given at home. Be sure to ask me why this could be a valuable rider.

6. AVAILABLE RIDERS: A rider is an extra feature you have to pay for. Be sure we discuss the ever popular “Shared Care rider” for couples. Restoration of Benefits. Waiver of Home Care elimination period. The various inflation options. Survivorship. Return of Premium riders (I don’t usually recommend this one as it can be very expensive). Only buy riders that make sense for your preferences – and your budget.

7. ATTRACTIVE INCLUDED FEATURES: Some companies will include an “extra” or “rider” for which others may charge. For example, some may include Restoration of Benefits as a built-in feature, while others have it available for an extra cost. Most carriers have their own unique feature. For one, it may be a built-in return of premium if death occurs before age 65. Another company may offer a 30-40% cash benefit.

 I will make sense out of all of this and make it easy to grasp and comprehend when we talk.