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More on Long Term Care Insurance

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LTCI

By Rick Kahler MSFS CFP®

Rick Kahler MS CFP

Knowing how long you may live is an important variable to consider in putting together a successful retirement plan. Many online sites can give you a scientific estimate of your life expectancy; one that I recommend is livingto100.com. When I retook the evaluation recently, I was surprised that my life expectancy had increased from 93 to 98.

In an instant I related to one of the greatest fears of older Americans: outliving your sources of income.

The greatest financial risk for depleting retirement resources is an unexpected and lengthy stay in a long-term health care facility, like a nursing home or an assisted living center. Not surprisingly then, “What do you think about long term care insurance (LTCI)?” is one of the questions I often hear.

LTCI is a difficult product to analyze and recommend. It has existed in some form for 40 years, but the industry seems to exist in a continual state of disarray. Low interest rates, low lapse rates, and rising longevity have driven premiums high enough that sales of the insurance have declined 70% from their high in 2002.

The “Guarantee”

Exacerbating the problem is that most LTCI companies issued policies with “guaranteed” premiums.

According to a report by Michael Kitces at kitces.com, just a small variation in actuarial assumptions can have a significant impact on premiums. He says “it’s estimated that as little as a 1% change in interest rates correlates to a 15% required change in premiums to keep an LTC insurance policy actuarially sound. Having a 1% lapse rate instead of a 5% lapse rate can increase future claims for an insurer by as much as 50%.”

As a result, Kitces notes, LTCI providers have struggled to be profitable. In some cases, companies were unable to honor their original prices and had to request permission from state insurance departments to increase premiums on existing policies by as much as 85%. Premiums for new policies have gone even higher.

Simply stated, a guaranteed premium LTC policy needs to be priced high enough to provide a cushion against these variables or the company may be unable to regain profitability with rate increases later.

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One way of addressing this challenge is to eliminate any aspect of a “guaranteed” premium and make long-term care insurance premiums more flexible. One flexible premium policy envisions paying dividends similar to a participating life insurance policy issued by a mutual insurance company. Kitces notes, “To the extent that future claims (or the insurance company’s investment returns) turn out to be better than the original (conservative) projections, the ‘excess’ results will be returned to the policy owner in the form of either an “Insurance Credit” or an “Interest Credit”, to help reduce future premiums.” One such policy is currently priced 20 to 30% under traditionally priced policies with “guaranteed” premiums.

Naturally, there is no guarantee a flexible premium policy will end up costing less than the traditional polity with a guaranteed premium. Probably the biggest concern is the conflict of interest a shareholder-owned company will face in deliberately refunding any savings in the form of dividends to the policy holders. This conflict does not exist with a mutual insurance company, where the owners of the company are the policy holders.

Assessment

Still, the potential benefits look interesting enough that taking a hard look at a flexible premium LTCI policy makes sense. Long-term health care is one of the aspects of aging that most of us don’t want to think about but many of us will need. While LTCI is not for everyone, considering it is a worthwhile part of financial planning for retirement. 

Conclusion

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Newer Thoughts on Long Term Care Insurance

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Most LTCI policies are SOLD… not Bought!

DEM white shirt

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP

To be sure, physicians and Financial Advisors are aware that there is a sometime need to recommend a LTCI policy to clients. Of course, in such cases, it is a good idea to work with a low load provider (or the physician or client’s agent).

The Need?

Yet, most LTCI policies are sold by insurance agents for big commissions; not bought, and that most statistics used to sell LTCI policies are fear-based and half-truths. I know, as I was a licensed insurance agent for more than a decade.

Even the Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS] gets into the fear mongering on their website quoting that “about 70 percent of people over age 65 require some type of long-term care services during their lifetime”

Source: http://www.longtermcare.gov/LTC/Main_Site/Planning/Index.aspx

Department of Health and Human Services

This may be a deceptive statistic as it omits the length of long-term care needed in these 70% of cases. And, it is not 3+ years in all these cases [our estimate is closer to 2.5]. With the stamp of approval by the Supreme Court of the United States SCOTUS on the PP-ACA, we may be looking at social LTCI in the US like other social medicine countries and give up on private LTCI insurance altogether.

Other Countries

Germany introduced mandatory long-term care insurance in 1995. Japan and France also have a LTCI tax funded insurance plan. And, the poor utilization and growing risks associated with long-term care insurance, are leading a growing number of insurance agents, financial advisors and Certified Medical Planners™ to recommend alternatives to their clients.

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elderly

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Assessment

To be a thought-leader ahead of the curve, the newest aging trend is away from LTCI and toward sheltering at home – living at home and dying at home. Perhaps, this is the way it should be.

Dying should not be a for-profit industry.

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[Dr. Cappiello PhD MBA] *** [Foreword Dr. Krieger MD MBA]

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Superannuation Demographics for Financial Advisors

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“Live Long and Prosper”

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

By Thomas A. Muldowney; MSFS, CLU, CFP®, CMP™

By Hope Rachel Hetico; RN, MHA, CMP™Senior Citizens

The words of Mr. Spock!

Recently, during my promotional speaking tour for the summer of 2009, I had the occasion to visit a few nursing and related homes for the elderly, sick, infirmed and aged. This harkened warm thoughts back to my time at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA as a young medical student. So, as a health economist and former certified financial planner, I recruited some folks and did some research on the domestic aging population to refresh my understanding of the facts and figures; especially in light of the current healthcare reform political debates [DEM].

Just the Facts  

According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, there were almost 49 million people in the United States who were over age 60 in 2001. There are approximately 4 million people over the age of 85 living in the US and there are over 60,000 people older than age 100 estimated as of July 1st 2004. For every100 middle aged persons in the United States there are at present about 114 persons over the age of 65. This statistic will change as we move forward through time. In the year 2025, there will be about 253 people over age 65 for every 100 middle-aged people.

Enter the Baby Boomers

Beginning on January 1, 2006 at midnight and every 12 seconds thereafter for fifteen years, a baby boomer will have a birthday and cross over the age threshold of age 60. In the next 30 years, the 60+ age group will more than double, becoming 25% of the total population, and will have to be supported by a proportionately smaller workforce. Research published in June 2005 by AARP (based on data from 2002) estimates that: ‘‘In 2002, roughly $140 billion was spent on nursing home and home health care, with 24% of these costs being paid out of pocket” (O’Brien and Elias, 2004).

Aging Boomers

As the baby boom generation ages, the care needs will expand precipitously. Add to this, scientific and technological improvements in healthcare. These very same people will need more expensive healthcare and more expensive custodial care, and they will need it for an even longer period of time. Who will pay for this expanded need is not so clear. What is clear is that it will take money and lots of it to make these payments.

Money Preservation Variables

There are only three variables associated with the accumulation or preservation of money: ‘‘time, money and rate of return.’’ Time is reduced to the following two questions ‘‘How long until I will need my money?’’ and ‘‘How long will I live?’’ an uncertainty to be sure. Rate of return is either a function of the financial markets or the successful maintenance of a Long Term Care Insurance [LTCI] plan. Because of the volatility in the financial markets, the ‘‘money’’ question is equally as uncertain. In order to accumulate sufficient assets; an aging physician must ’tradeoff’ many other alternatives such as ’lifestyle.’

Assessment

What is certain is this—financial planning is important. More important is the implementation.

Conclusion

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Long-Term Care Insurance

A Review for Doctors and Advisors

By Gary A. Cook; MSFS, CLU, ChFC, LUTC, RHU, CFP®, CMP™ (Hon)

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Long-term care (LTC) insurance is considered one of the newest forms of personal coverage insurance.  LTC insurance is designed to transfer the financial risk associated with the inability to care for oneself because of a prolonged illness, disability, or the effects of old age.  In particular, it is designed to insure against the financial cost of an extended stay in a nursing home, assisted living facility, Adult Day Care Center, hospice or home health care.  It has been estimated that two out of every five Americans now over the age of 65 will spend time in a nursing home.  As life expectancy increases, so does the potential need for LTC. One unfortunate consequence of being the “new kid on the block” is the lack of actuarial data specifically collected for this style of policy.  This results in policy premiums being underpriced to sustain the claims currently being experienced.  During the first half of 2003, at least three insurance companies stopped writing these policies because of their losses.  Those insurers remaining in this market are expected to increase premiums quickly.  Unless these policies can be profitable for the company, their future will be an uncertain one.

Medicare

Any discussion of LTC must begin with an understanding of what Medicare is designed to cover.  Currently, the only nursing home care that Medicare covers is skilled nursing care and it must be provided in a Medicare-certified skilled nursing facility.  Custodial care is not covered. Most LTC policies have been designed with these types of coverage, or the lack thereof, in mind. To qualify for Medicare Skilled Nursing Care, an individual must meet the following conditions: 

  • Be hospitalized for at least three days within the 30 days preceding the nursing home admission;
  • Be admitted for the same medical condition which required the hospitalization; and
  • The skilled nursing home care must be deemed rehabilitative.

Once these requirements are met, Medicare will pay 100 percent of the costs for the first 20 days.  Medicare covers days 21 to 100 along with a daily co-payment, which is indexed annually.  After the initial 100 days, there is no additional Medicare coverage. Medicare Home Health Services cover part-time or intermittent skilled nursing care, physical therapy, medical supplies and some rehabilitative equipment.  These are generally paid for in full and do not require a hospital stay prior to home health service coverage.

biz-book

Critical LTC Policy Features

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Health Insurance Association of America, there are seven features that should always be included in a good long LTC policy: 

  • Guaranteed renewable (as long as premiums are paid, the policy cannot be canceled).
  • Covers all levels of nursing care (skilled, intermediate and custodial care).
  • Premiums remain level (individual premiums cannot be raised due to health or age, but can be raised only if all other LTC policies as a group are increased).
  • Benefits never reduced.
  • Offers inflation protection.
  • Full coverage for Alzheimer’s Disease (earlier contracts tried to eliminate this coverage).
  • Waiver of premium (during a claim period, further premium payments will not be required).

In addition, there are another seven features considered to be worthwhile and are included in the better LTC policies: 

  • Home health care benefits
  • Adult day care and hospice care
  • Assisted living facility care
  • No prior hospital stay required
  • Optional elimination periods
  • Premium discounts when both spouses are covered
  • Medicare approval not a prerequisite for coverage.

ADLs

Most LTC policies provide benefits for covered insured’s with a cognitive impairment or the inability to perform a specified number of Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). These ADLs generally include those listed below and the inability to perform two of six is generally sufficient to file a claim:

1. Bathing:  Washing oneself in either a tub or shower, or by sponge bath, and includes the task the getting into and out of the tub or shower without hands-on assistance of another person.

2. Dressing:  Putting on or taking off all necessary and appropriate items of clothing and/or any necessary braces or artificial limbs without hands-on assistance of another person.

3. Toileting:  Getting to and from the toilet, getting on and off the toilet, and performing associated personal hygiene without hands-on assistance of another person.

4. Transferring:  Moving in and out of a bed, chair or wheelchair without hands-on assistance of another person.

5. Eating:  The ability to get nourishment into the body without hands-on assistance of another person once it has been prepared and made available.       

6. Continence:  The ability to voluntarily maintain control of bowel and/or bladder function, or in the event of incontinence, the ability to maintain a reasonable level of personal hygiene without hands-on assistance of another person.

Other Issues

Another issue concerning ADLs is whether the covered insured requires “hands-on” assistance or merely needs someone to “stand-by” in the event of difficulty.  Obviously, LTC policies that read the latter are considered more liberal.

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Long-Term Care Taxation

Some LTC policies have been designed to meet the required provisions of the Kassenbaum-Kennedy health reform bill, passed in 1996, and subsequently are “Tax Qualified Policies”.  Insured’s who own policies meeting the requirements are permitted to tax deduct some of the policy’s premium, based on age, income and the amount of total itemized medical expenses.  The major benefit of the tax-qualified LTC policy is that the benefit, when received, is not considered taxable income.  There are several initiatives in Congress, however, which would expand and simplify these deductibility rules. 

Assessment

Regardless, the medical professional or financial advisor [FA] should investigate the opportunity afforded them through their current form of business, or client use, for any purchase of a LTC policy. And, small businesses may be permitted to deduct LTC premiums on a discriminatory basis.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. What have we missed, and who might wish to update this post?

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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Selecting an Assisted-Living Facility

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Checklist for Financial Planners

[By Staff Reporters]

Thousands of boarding homes cater to the elderly. Their operators promise to provide at least a place to sleep and food to eat. Beyond that, the services and assistance offered will vary from facility to facility. This checklist will help the financial planner or his or her client find a facility that is appropriate in all respects to the client’s resources and needs. Unlike nursing homes, assisted-living facilities often operate without any scrutiny from public agencies. Furthermore, Medicaid often will not be a source of funds.

The Checklist

The items the financial planner and client should consider when selecting a facility are listed below.

      1.   Determine the client’s willingness to live in a group environment.

      2.   Avoid unlicensed facilities, particularly if Medicaid-provided services may be needed in the future.

      3.   Review the facility’s inspection report.

      4.   Review the facility’s service contract and house rules. Look for answers to the following questions:

            a.         Where will the resident live?

                        Are there any types of ownership rights?

                        What flexibility is there with respect to furnishings?

                        Will the same unit be available after a hospital stay?

            b.         What meals are included?

                        Will the facility provide appropriate meals and a special diet?

            c.         What form of transportation does the resident currently use?

                        What transportation is provided by the facility?

                        Can residents shop, dine, attend services or visit doctors?

            d.         What help does the facility provide during a medical emergency?

                        What type of staff training is provided or required? Is there 24-                        hour-a-day staffing?

            e.         What provisions are there for privacy? When are rooms cleaned and when can staff access the rooms?

            f.          What is the basic cost and what are the costs for extras?

                        What is included in each?

                        What provisions for fee increases are there?

            g.         Can a resident see his or her own doctor?

                        Does the facility offer transportation for appointments?

            h.         Who’s in charge of administering and scheduling medication?

                        Can medication and other supplies be purchased at the facility?

            i.          What happens if the resident’s health begins to fail?

                        Does the facility provide additional services to help with ADLs?

            j.          What is the procedure for transfers from one unit to another?

                        Does the resident have any opportunity to express an opinion?

            k.         What’s required if a contract is terminated by facility or resident?

                        What is the provision with respect to refunded fees?

                        Is there a required minimum stay?

Assessment

What have we missed?

Conclusion

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Re-Examining Medical “Do Not Resuscitate” Orders

Information for Financial Planners and Advisors

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CPHQ, CMP™

By Hope Rachel Hetico; RN, MHA, CPQH, CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief and Managing Editor]

dave-and-hope11

According to the Rev. Chuck Meyer, former Vice President of Operations and Chaplain at St. David’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas, a new designation for Allowing a Natural Death (“A.N.D.”) would eliminate confusion and suffering when patients are resuscitated against their wishes.

Defining Do Not Resuscitate [DNR] Orders

As medical professionals, we know that a Do Not Resuscitate [DNR] order does not mean that medical care has stopped. It simply means that the goal of treatment has been changed. But, to FAs, patients and family members who are emotionally involved in the situation, this truth may not be apparent www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Terminal versus Healthy Patients

While a completed DNR tells physicians not to start Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation [CPR] if the patient suddenly goes into cardiac arrest, the order does not differentiate between a terminally elderly ill patient; and a potentially healthy younger person who may die due to current circumstances. A non-terminal patient may be in a DNR category and continue to receive aggressive or supportive treatment aimed at a cure; or at supporting him through this medical crisis. If symptoms start to respond, then the DNR category might even be changed to a full code.

insurance-book5

Assessment

Should financial advisors become involved in this issue? If not, why not; and if so; to what extent? MD-CFP® subscribers please chime-in with your unique experiences.

Conclusion

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