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Life Health > Health Insurance > Health Insurance

LTCI Watch: Hearts and wallets

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A week ago, I suggested — based on my own personal experience — that plenty of people recognize the need for private long-term care insurance (LTCI), and would love to have private LTCI, but are simply broke.

You can’t pay LTCI premiums with money that’s already promised to the mortgage lender, or the mortgage lender gets peevish.

Many long-term care (LTC) policymakers outside the LTCI community seem to share that belief.

Those policymakers often refer to private LTCI issuers with utter disdain — partly, I imagine, because LTCI rates have gone up quite a lot (although, to be fair: the same low interest rates and improving life expectancies that have driven LTCI rates up have done equivalent financial damage to every other program that’s supposed to serve the baby boomers when they get old); partly because the LTCI community rained on the CLASS Act voluntary LTC benefits program party; and partly because of a sense that, realistically, all rage on behalf of the ghost of CLASS Act program architect Edward Kennedy aside, too few of the Americans who need LTCI have enough cash left over at the end of the month to pay for LTCI.

But Gene Cutler, a veteran LTC planner based in Manhasset, N.Y., wrote to say he sees in his own life evidence that plenty of people do have the means to insure against LTC risk, and the personal experience to understand that aging relatives have needed LTC services.

But, in many, many cases, even though those people could pay to protect themselves against the possibility that they might need LTC services, they “emotionally have hard time acknowledging that it could happen to them, and that, when they are younger and healthier is the time to plan,” Cutler said.

The secret is not to throw the private LTCI baby out with the policy bathwater, but to open up hearts and minds through candid conversations, Cutler said.

“We’re not selling buggy whips here,” Cutler wrote. “The need for this only becomes more apparent as we age. Everything else that was a priority on the ‘must do’ list slides down a bit, and this rises up.”

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