Q. You have been writing this column for almost 14 years. Why are you so passionate about the need for long-term care (LTC) insurance?
A. Those of us in the LTC trenches — with the challenge of selling this protection — understand how important this protection is. And to further reinforce the value of these policies, a claim happened in my family.
Nothing brings home how important LTC insurance is than having your own mother go on a claim. Stressful? Yes! Frightening? Yes! Overwhelming? Yes!
When my mother, then 90, was hospitalized with double viral pneumonia, she was treated with an antibiotic that resulted in her becoming paralyzed in the groin. She was then admitted to a rehab facility to learn how to walk again and in six weeks returned home with around-the-clock home health care. As she improved at home, we were able to cut back the care to seven hours a day. Before her illness, she walked a mile every day; now she is dependent on a walker and sometimes a wheelchair. To complicate the situation, I live 1,000 miles away.
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So what did I learn from this experience? I realized that these policies offer the following gifts:
- I can supervise the care rather than be forced to provide it hands-on. My mother doesn’t want me to bathe her. We now have an aide who does it.
- When she went on claim, I didn’t have to worry about where to find the money to pay for her care. What assets should I liquidate? Where is her money? Which financial person should I contact? Her stock broker? Her accountant? Instead I just called the carrier’s claims department.
- My mother has two policies — a nursing home policy and a separate home healthcare policy. Both are with companies no longer writing long-term care. Did I have a problem getting the checks? Absolutely not. It was easy, and the follow-up has been excellent.
- My mother lives in Baltimore; I live in Florida. Her policy has enabled me to be a successful long-distance caregiver.
- Care coordinators are wonderful. The guidance she provided included recommending that I use a specific home healthcare agency whose aides were going to nursing school. These aides are bright, caring and, most important, my mother loves them.
- My mother worries about money. The insurance is paying 80 percent of her home healthcare bill. It means that she can afford to stay at home and still have sufficient funds to maintain a pleasurable lifestyle.
These policies work. It has provided my mother with the care and support she now needs. And it provides me with peace of mind.