The state of Washington has passed the first of its kind government-run LTC insurance program for working residents of the state.
The plan will provide $100 per day of benefits which will increase with inflation for a maximum of 365 days (1-year). Each day of benefits is considered a "unit" of coverage and units can be combined to pay for care services above $100/day, but that would also shorten the total benefit period. The benefit can be used to pay family members to provide care after they have completed a minimum amount of mandatory training.
Every employee in the state will have a payroll tax withholding to pay for the plan. The tax is 0.58%, or $0.58 for every $100 in payroll income. A person earning $4,000 per month would pay $23.20 per month.
The plan does not cover people already retired or who will retire in the next 6 to 10 years. It also is not portable if an employee leaves the state of Washington.
Payroll deductions will not begin for 3 years, and no benefits will be paid for at least 3 years after that as the plan requires that employees pay in for a minimum of 3 of the previous 6 years to be eligible. To be fully "vested" in the plan an employee must pay in for at least 10 years.
"Self employed" people will not be automatically covered, but can opt-into the plan at the same payroll tax rate.
Employees who have private LTC insurance can opt-out of the tax and coverage.
Read more details by clicking here:
This week the news media lost its collective mind over a silly, old social media trope about a guy who says he won't live out his days in a nursing home, rather he'll simply stay at a Holiday Inn. It's cheaper, and the service is better, so it says. But it's a false narrative.
I wrote an extensive blog on this in 2016. The e-mail I copied into that post from three years ago and the "new" Facebook post getting all the current attention are identical, word-for-word. It's certainly not original, it's specious and misleading, and the numbers are (still) way out of date.
A TV station in Houston, KHOU, even found an internet post from 2004 with nearly the same wording as this old-is-new-again misleading social media joke.
You can't compare "independent retirement living" with CARE in a nursing home - or an assisted living facility. Hotel staff - nor cruise ship staff - will bathe and dress you, help you to and from the toilet, nor will they make sure your dementia doesn't lead you out the front door into traffic - or over the rail into the ocean - in the middle of the night. Once you need CARE, you'll be on the curb - or the dock.
CLICK HERE to read my 2016 blog post for more details on why this is a ridiculous idea.
Comfort LTC owner, Bill Comfort, is featured on a new website for insurance agents and financial advisors seeking to learn more about LTC insurance and other care-planning options.
Licensed agents and advisors can access the new NAIFA Center for Limited and Extended Care Funding at: https://naifa.lifehappenspro.org
Watch Bill's video promoting the CLTC designation training program here:
Good advice from Kaiser Health News: Hold off on genetic testing until AFTER you buy LTC insurance (or life or disability). You must disclose the existence of the testing and any known results on an application and results can be used to deny or limit coverage.
Looking forward, LTC insurance is more secure and reliable than ever.
CLICK HERE to read my new article on why LTC insurance remains a valuable insurance product with a future that should be much more stable than in the past.
Here is a link to an excellent article from Forbes.com that provides valuable, even critical, context to any discussion of long-term care planning and funding your plan with LTC insurance.
In many ways a recent Wall Street Journal article simply re-packages old news in a new emotional wrapper since LTC insurance rate increases have been under way across the industry for more than 10 years. It also gets a couple of very important things wrong - including the fact that there are many options for dealing with a rate increase other than just walking away from the coverage.
"The WSJ piece essentially falls into the 'bad news sells' category of reporting ... Its “Woe is me!” theme actually pushes people away from doing quality long-term care planning. Instead of lamenting past missteps, the article could have emphasized some of the new techniques for building effective and sustainable solutions to the budding long-term care crisis."
"Aging in place" is an oft-quoted ideal for seniors of all ages and stages. But it takes a lot of personal, professional, and community resources to do so. The Villages movement seeks to expand the idea by helping people "age in community".
NPR looked at the "village" movement for seniors last month in a four part series. Villages are groups of seniors living in the community who come together to offer support and companionship to each other as they "age in place".
For an annual fee, Villages provide volunteers and vetted professional services like handymen, as well as sponsoring events, arranging assistance for members, and other services suited to each unique "village".
CLICK HERE to read - or listen to the stories!
“Long-term care, for most people, is a home care problem,” said Bill Comfort, who owns Comfort Long Term Care, a brokerage based in St. Louis and Durham, N.C."
Check out this excellent article on using Partnership LTC insurance to design meaningful and affordable LTC insurance coverage - especially for care at home. CLICK HERE to read the full article.
This is a fun ... and serious read about the importance of planning ahead for extended care (long-term care) needs! The five points:
Here is the link to the full article:
And remember, a little chocolate always helps!
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.
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