If an insurance agent tells you to replace your long-term care (LTC) insurance, be careful! Take your time. Get a second opinion. It's probably a mistake, and the agent pushing a replacement may be breaking the law.
It is almost NEVER a good idea to replace an in-force LTC insurance policy.
We are hearing stories almost daily of unscrupulous agents urgently telling their clients to immediately replace their in-force long-term care (LTC) insurance for a variety of reasons, all bad:
A huge mistake that many people make when considering LTC insurance is "over-quoting".
Most people do not need to buy coverage for 100% of the cost of the highest-possible cost of care (skilled nursing home), and even shorter benefit periods (3-4 years) will cover the vast majority of care needs. It's kind of like thinking, "If I can't afford a Mercedes, then I'll just wait for the bus." It shouldn't be a zero-sum, all-or-nothing decision - that's a HUGE mistake. A Malibu with cloth seats and a 4-cylinder is great transportation ...
$3000 a month of LTC insurance benefits will pay for five hours of home care seven days a week, or 10 hours every-other day. It will cover more than 1/2 of a good Assisted Living Facility in most of the country, and provides a 33% "discount" to a $9000/month bill in a nursing home.
LTC insurance claims data show that 60%+ of claims start at home. Guess what, about 60% of claims also END at home. Only about 20% of LTC insurance claims end in a nursing home.
The average LTC insurance claim is less than four years, even less than three years for men. Cover that first before you worry about Alzheimer's care for 6+ years. If you only buy a 3-year policy (couples can "share" up to a total of 6 years for the price of 3 each), and if you do get Alzheimer's, you will still have much more private-pay flexibility than having nothing.
We need to stop worrying about the cost of care in a facility where most of us are NOT likely to end up (especially with reasonable - and affordable - planning). We do need to worry about where we will get an extra $3000-$4000 a month to pay for part-time home care so our spouse can have a life, get a good night's sleep, stay healthy, etc., and so our adult kids can be care managers not caregivers. Home care comes first. Always. And this is also where families are personally and financially most at risk when someone they love needs care.
Solve the part-time home care problem first.
China Oceanwide will buy Genworth in a $2.7-billion deal which includes a $1.1-billion capital commitment to pay off debt and invest in the US life insurance business.
“China Oceanwide is also aligned with Genworth’s long-term goals of serving the aging population in the U.S., and providing financial capabilities to those seeking home ownership.”
I believe this is good news for Genworth policyholders and the LTC insurance marketplace overall. Readers should note that two other active LTC insurers are also now foreign-owned. John Hancock is owned by the Canadian insurance company Manulife, and Transamerica is owned by Dutch insurer AEGON.
The US life & LTC biz must and will remain a US-based subsidiary of China Oceanwide, subject to US federal and state regulators. In-force policies must all be honored by law.
Click here for a link to the company's full press release:
As an insurance broker who has sold LTC insurance since 1992, and who has focused exclusively on LTC insurance since 2000, I have been following the FLTCIP rate increase news since it is such a large player in the marketplace. The "average" increase for current policyholders is over 80%, with some as high as 125%!
Here's my take: Welcome to LTC insurance.
The FLTCIP is basically having to realize the same increases, for the same reasons as the rest of the private LTC insurance marketplace. 125% is NOT an outlier. Several other companies including some of John Hancock's individual policies, and Genworth’s have had 80%-100%+ increases. Others have had those amounts as well cumulatively over 2 or 3 increases in the past 10 years ..........
Another article on the high cost of health care in retirement, and again, these numbers all exclude the cost of long-term care.
The Motley Fool does a good job of examining a couple of different studies on what we should expect to pay out of pocket for health care in retirement, and how even with estimates exceeding $240,000 over a 20-year retirement we may still be UNDER-estimating the cost.
MOST of the costs are monthly premiums for Medicare Part B and Medicare Supplement insurance, plus an average of Medicare deductibles and co-payments.
None of the studies cited include the cost of long-term care services.
The Fool's advice:
This is a well-done article that lays out facts and ways to approach the planning issues without relying on scare tactics.
Read the full article on-line by clicking HERE.
Here's an excerpt from a Money magazine article about the cost of health care in retirement, and again, it is noted that the staggering numbers DO NOT include long-term care costs.
"Total retirement health care expenses for that 45-year-old couple planning to retire at age 65 will come to $592,275 in today’s dollars and $1.6 million in future dollars ... "
Click here for a link to the full article:
For about $160 a month that same 45-year-old couple can buy a LTC insurance policy that covers up to $432,000 of long-term care costs at age 69.
1. Is the agent "Partnership" certified?
2. Does the agent sell "linked-benefit" LTC insurance?
3. Is the agent "captive"?
4. Does the agent represent or "broker" multiple companies?
5. Will the agent commit to a "free" (sales-free) initial consultation?
Click below to READ MORE
It's time to review your Medicare coverage. Medicare's "open enrollment" starts October 15th and runs through December 7th for coverage in 2016. Officially called the Annual Election Period (AEP), this is the only time (with only a few special exceptions) you can make changes to your Medicare coverage.
Most people on Medicare will benefit from an annual Part D Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) review. Your prescriptions may have changed in the past year, and the way your current plan covers your drugs (the "formulary") may be changing for 2016.
If you have a traditional Medicare Supplement (Medigap) policy with Original Medicare benefits be VERY CAREFUL about replacing it with a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan. While a Medicare Advantage plan may offer very low monthly premiums, your coverage options - especially the choice of doctors and hospitals - will be very limited compared to Original Medicare with a full-coverage Medigap policy.
During the AEP, you may:
REMEMBER: Medicare does NOT cover long-term care.
If you don't have LTC insurance, this is also an excellent time to consider all of your retirement health care plans.
Chicago Tribune financial columnist Terry Savage has some good basic information on LTC insurance and why to buy.
Click here for the link to go to the article:
The LTC insurance business was never for sale, and I see this as good news for policyholders as Genworth refocuses on its core business strengths. Even though the market knocked Genworth down after the announcement, remember that there is a difference between being a sharholder and a policyholder. Short-term changes like these in the stock price are often at the cost to shareholders, but are a benefit to policyholders.
From an article today in the Richmond Times Dispatch:
“Genworth Financial Inc. confirmed Wednesday that it reduced about 220 positions in the first six months of this year as the [Virginia-based] insurer looks to cut costs... And Genworth executives told analysts that the company is no longer looking at selling its life and annuity insurance businesses..."
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