San Antonio — The National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) is trying to help insurance agents and brokers play a role in efforts reshape the U.S. long-term care (LTC) finance system.

Sally Leimbach, chair of the NAHU Long Term Care Advisory Committee, is here this week to promote NAHU’s LTC finance proposal at the Intercompany Long Term Care Insurance (ILTCI) Conference.

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NAHU has been trying to help members compete with the upheaval the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has caused in the major medical market by emphasizing activities related to the sale of health products other than major medical coverage. In connection with that effort, NAHU has created the LTC Advisory Committee, equipped it with its own Web portal, and starting sending members a quarterly LTC planning newsletter.

Leimbach showed up as an audience member at an LTC finance alternatives session that featured speakers from AARP, the Urban Institute, the SCAN Foundation and the Bipartisan Center.

“I was delighted this session was held,” Leimbach said.

The NAHU LTC finance proposal calls for the government to let taxpayers use the money inside Section 125 plans, 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans and individual retirement accounts (IRAs) to pay for LTCI.

NAHU wants retirement account holders to be able to use account assets to buy LTCI without paying income taxes or penalties on the cash spent on LTCI.

NAHU also wants state and federal Medicaid managers to do a better job of keeping middle-income and upper-income people from intentionally spending down assets to qualify for Medicaid nursing home benefits.

“The American Medicaid system is very generous,” Leimbach said.

The United States lets families protect $580,000 in home value and has a lookback period of five years when looking for signs of Medicaid planning. Germany, meanwhile, imposes a 10-year lookback period, and the United Kingdom has a $36,000 home equity protection cap for government LTC benefits users, Leimbach said.

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