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Happy New Year! How will you end 2014 more prepared than when it began?

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AOL Daily Finance: Do You Need Long Term Care Insurance?

Interesting article exploring the different reasons why so many Americans are exploring how they will manage the cost of changing needs, either from normal aging or an accident or illness.

Read the article here.

LTC Premiums – Rate Increases and the Press

No one ever wants to hear they are experiencing an increase in their long term care insurance premium…or any premium, for that matter. There’s a few things, however, that recent media reports don’t always explore that are important to point out:

1. A rate increase must be substantiated. Carriers do not want to increase, it’s bad PR and not in their interest. An increase in rates underscores the need for their coverage. People are living even longer, becoming even sicker, with conditions that are even more chronic. And the costs keep rising.

2. The increases are usually based on much older issue ages. The average age of a new policyholder has gone from 72 to 56. So increases, even modest increases, are felt much more harshley. The fastest growing group of new policyholders are 45-54. If they are subject to rate increases in the future, the difference will be much more manageable, since it will be based on a much lower number.

Just a thought…

LTC Insurance Association Head to Consumers: “Watch out for these Mistakes”

The founder and head of the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance is redoubling efforts to help consumers avoid some costly mistakes.

Among them: assuming their group coverage is a better deal than an individual plan (it often is not, especially for married couples), working with an agent who can only show one carrier (potentially ignoring companies that can offer better coverage for less money) and not taking advantage of their good health (carriers with stricter underwriting tend to have better value).

FOR MORE:
http://www.expertclick.com/NewsReleaseWire/Long_Term_Care_Insurance_Expert_To_Address_Buyer_Mistakes,201239492.aspx

Suze Orman Continues her promotion of LTC Planning

This video, from Suze Orman’s Money Class (and featured on the OWN network) is just the latest example of the financial guru’s promotion of long term care insurance. We are so pleased that she is continuing her effort to make people aware of the need to plan ahead. What’s even better is she has changed her tune about when to begin investigating (she used to say 60, now late 50s – I suggest ages, 45-54 the fastest growing age bracket).

I would amend one piece of her presentation – she does speak a lot in this video about nursing home care. She’s right to mention it, but part of LTC awareness is helping people understand long term care insurance is the most potent tool people have to never darken the door of a nursing home and to age safely in place. Thanks, Suze!

See the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPUo8CivUz8&feature=share

Great New Video from CNN RE: Long Term Care

Genworth’s new spokesperson, 1976 Olympic gold medalist Wendy Boglioli, conducts an insightful interview that shows the toll long term care has on families, particularly women of the “sandwich generation”.

CNN iReport – Long Term Care

Planning your benefits for 2012? Think long term care!

This article, featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, briefly details why business should be thinking now about offering long term care as a sponsored or voluntary benefit.

It’s a low-cost or no-cost way to attain recruitment and retention while maximizing long-term productivity.

AFLAC no longer offers the coverage, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still “ask about it at work”! We’re happy to help.

Read the article: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2012/01/20/prweb9123787.DTL

Marion County, TN to Offer Long Term Care Insurance

After some hand-wringing to account for the cost of payroll deductions, the Marion County Commission has unanimously voted to allow their workers to purchase the long term care plan from the State of Tennessee.

This is just the latest in a series of government and other very large employers’ recognition that long term care insurance provides an invaluable tool for recruitment and retention and ensures future productivity. Every year, billions of dollars are lost by businesses and governments due to long term care costs. It makes sense to offer this coverage since it can be done at little or no expense to the organization!

The State of Tennessee plan is a wonderful option for those who cannot be approved for coverage on the individual market and we applaud Marion County’s decision. However, for those who are healthy (and especially those who are married) it is vital to first understand your options on the individual market vs. buying into the group. Often times, a custom-built plan can provide much more coverage per dollar. We are well versed in the top carriers as well as the State’s offering and are happy to provide an independent expert comparison.

For More: http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/jan/29/marion-offers-workers-long-term-care-insurance/

John Hancock Releases 2011 Consumer Survey and Quiz Results

John Hancock Life Insurance Company conducted a survey last fall of Americans between the ages of 21-75. The survey found some shocking results:

1) 52% said it was “irresponsible” not to plan for their own long term care, but 85% of respondents said they do not have a plan for long term care
2) 70% agreed that a year in a nursing cost $30,000 (the real figure is around $85,000.00, nationally). When confronted with this, 62% responded they could likely not be able to afford a full year of nursing-level care.
3) 46% were not aware of the spend down requirements to get Medicaid benefits
4) 61% said they would prefer to pay for long term care with insurance, but 89% did not have coverage.
5) While 80% mentioned cost as a reason for being uninsured, 70% claimed to have at least $14,000 per year available to pay for care (500-750% the cost of a typical new premium).

This shows we all have a ways to go in getting the message out about long term care planning. We will work in the coming year to improve public knowledge so that everyone has the opportunity to plan ahead with current and unvarnished facts.

AP: Make Long Term Care Planning a Resolution for 2012

Dave Carpenter, Personal Finance correspondent for the Associated Press, tried this week to list a few important agenda items for retirees to “resolve” to accomplish in the new year. Among them is to investigate long term care insurance options.

We couldn’t agree more – there is no greater risk to one’s retirement portfolio than the need for long term care. I would also add that pre-retirees are the ones most able to take advantages of low premiums and high acceptance rates. In fact, couples who plan ahead wisely can have premiums much lower than what Dave suggested for the exact same coverage. Since LTC is such a big part of the retirement agenda, it should be explored as soon as retirement planning goes into full-gear. Thanks, Dave!

Check out the article here:

Smart Money Article Sheds Light on Planning for LTC

An article featured this past week in SmartMoney magazine describes why long term care coverage is necessary and appropriate for anyone who is concerned about the costs associated with changing abilities due to age or illness. Even for those who may not be able to afford a “Cadillac” plan, some protection can help to secure lifestyle, remain at home, and protect assets.

After all, every dollar of coverage is a dollar that a family does not have to provide, either in the form of direct caregiving or hiring caregiving services.

Check it out here: http://www.smartmoney.com/retirement/planning/some-longtermcare-insurance-is-better-than-none-1323801701961/

LTCI Watch: Will the Grandchildren Have First Cousins? | LifeHealthPro

Great article depicts how the changing demographics of America’s families heightens the need for long term care planning:

 

LTCI Watch: Will the Grandchildren Have First Cousins? | LifeHealthPro.

2011 Walk to End Alzheimer’s Kickoff!

We were pleased to enjoy such an inspiring luncheon with those who really make this annual walk such a success! Thanks to Cindy Lowery and Amy French from the local association!

One of the great things about the Alzheimer’s Association is the chance to hear the stories of such great people. This is a family with whom Gail had a wonderful conversation. The family’s matriarch, Betty Tate, cared for her husband after his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. She recalled going from a large world living with a man who served his country in the military and operated a large cattle ranch to the very small world of the Alzheimer’s mind. It was beautiful to see how supportive her family was in her efforts to support the Alzheimer’s Association in his memory.

Betty Tate and her family.

Medigap Plans Under Siege!

People on Medicare with supplementary insurance, known as Medigap, need to know that many in Congress are proposing that changes be made to their plans as part of a deficit reduction package.

The premise of the proposed changes is that those with Medigap coverage are more likely to use their Medicare benefits. Therefore, higher deductibles and co-pays will discourage unnecessary medical care.

This is an argument that is also sometimes made regarding standard health insurance. “If more people had high deductible health plans they would use less coverage”. This is true. However, it does absolutely nothing to address the underlying problem in Medicare, which is the high cost of health care. Putting seniors into situations where they will be less vigilant in pursuing care will only lead to more severe issues that cost more money. “A stitch in time saves nine.”

People have purchased Medigap coverage to be responsible – they wanted to have predictable health care costs at an age when incomes are largely fixed. In my opinion, that sort of prudence should be celebrated in America – not punished.

To learn more, go to www.protectmedigap.org

Jason Hillner

The Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Act – Real Hope for a Real Fight

Congratulations and thanks to Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Ed Markey (D-MA) for introducing the Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Act, which will raise the focus of national funding toward finding treatments for Alzheimer’s that will cure the disease or slow or stop its progression.

This is such an imperative need for all Americans, not just those affected by Alzheimer’s. As we wrangle over our budgetary issues, finding a way to control Alzheimer’s is key to the stability of entitlement programs. See this excerpt from a press release from the Alzheimer’s Association on the Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Act:

“According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2011 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, total payments for health and long-term care services for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias amount to $183 billion, with Medicare and Medicaid making up the overwhelming majority of these costs. In fact, for every $28,000 Medicare and Medicaid spend on care for individuals with Alzheimer’s and other dementias; the NIH spends only $100 on Alzheimer’s research.

This disproportion underscores the need for a greater commitment to Alzheimer’s research in order to find effective interventions that will reduce care costs. A treatment that delayed onset of Alzheimer’s by just five years could reduce the government’s spending on caring for those with the disease by 45 percent in 2050.”

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