Long Term Care Insurance - CR investigates


Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Feb 22, 2003
The new November 2003 issue of Consumer Reports magazine has a five page article on Long Term Care Insurance. It is an investigative-type article. Do you need it, when should you get it?

I haven't read it all yet. Looks like a lot of good info I have not seen anywhere else. A couple sentences did jump out at me...

"Insurance agents, however, wax on about the policies' benefits, often pushing plans on people in their 40s. And no wonder. Agents can reap hefty commissions - 50 percent of your first year's premium and 10 percent of your payment for every succeeding year."

Now, this isn't a good reason to skip the whole idea entirely forever.

Should be an interesting read!
My wife and I decided to buy LTC coverage a year or so ago at age 49 & 50. It was a time consuming, complex decision, but we're glad it's done. The same year we dug up the yard and the basement floor and replaced the sewer. I think those two purchases were tied for "most painful way to spend a ton of money".
IMHO the best LTC info site is www.ltcfeds.com. Participants are paying all the costs (this is not taxpayer supported). Here you can look at features and costs, then compare to a policy offered by others.

LTC insurance is a choice, it may not be how you want to spend your resources. I am an advocate because I have had parents (including in-laws) who needed care. I have seen the good, and the ugly, of elder care. Good is better, good costs more. My mother-in-law was in adult foster care because with her Social Security, pension and savings that was all she could afford. There were no social activities, she couldn't communicate with many of the care givers because they didn't speak English. It wasn't fun. My my parents purchased modest LTC policies. It made a difference!
My grandparents all needed LTC. My parents now have friends who need it. One thing they have noticed is that the best care tends to be provided in small towns (and I'm talking really small - like maybe 2000 population). Why? First, in my area, the aides tend to be locals who have lived in the community for years and tend to stay on the job for a long time. They tend to be hard workers and take pride in their work. Second, their reputation hinges upon the quality of care they provide. They know everyone and everyone knows them. If you're caring for the parents of friends and acquaintances, it makes a difference.

We called a care center in a small town that we knew was excellent and inquired about prices. The cost was $110 per day for a large private room with maximum care (that was a couple years ago). Costs are higher in the metro areas. So we bought a policy based on rural prices.

But I agree with Brat. I personally wouldn't consider ER without having a plan for LTC in place. Insurance seemed our best option.
This is for Bob_Smith. I think I know of a more painful way to spend a "ton of money". You could check with Martha Stewart.

John Galt
I agree that quality elder care is much more afordable in small towns. However, quality of care is also impacted by the attention the resident receives from family or friends. A resident who no one cares about can be easily overlooked.

Moving many miles away from your support system for care is, generally, penny wise and pound foolish.

Many LTC policies provide for home care, you don't have to move to a facility. Almost all provide for assisted living facilities. In our area many new admits go to assisted living as all but those needing IVs or hospice care can live safely in a less restricted enviornment.

One frustration my husband and I had was the failure of a couple of our parents to visit care facilities before need and state their preferences. The hospital will keep you 3-5 days, typically. Then it is home or skilled nursing. If you can't be cared for at home and you haven't researched care facilities it is a scramble, the patient feels like they are being dumped because they are too sick to participate in the selection process.

Another problem is isolation from friends who themselves have limitations. For that reason a continuing care community interests me. If I move while I am healthy and sociable, the network of friends will be nearby.

My mother moved to an active retirement facility. When she moved to a nursing home nearby, but up a hill, some friends just couldn't get there.
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