Margie Barrie, a veteran long-term care insurance agent, marketer and educator, has been writing articles about long-term care planning and related issues for years.
Here, she handles a question about what to say to clients who are worried about LTCI headlines.
Question: I’m working with a number of clients in their 40s. They ask me: “Does it make sense to buy long-term care insurance now, or should we wait?” What should I advise them to do?
Answer: The current headlines make providing long-term care planning more important than ever. I will be advising my clients to buy insurance now and not wait.
Here are the 10 things I tell clients.
1. This protection is not for everybody.
It is for those who have sufficient assets or very large pensions and have good health.
It is not for the Have Nots, meaning those who know they will have to rely on Medicaid for their long-term care expenses. These people, and their families, will have a problem.
2. Will the need for long-term care disappear?
No! With people living longer, the need will continue to grow.
3. Will the government pay for long-term care, so we don’t have a need for private insurance?
No! This was attempted several years ago with the CLASS Act, part of the Affordable Care Act. Government actuaries ultimately determined they basically couldn’t come up with a successful formula to fund this eventual expense. Congress is not going to tread those waters again.
It was interesting to observe that throughout this tumultuous presidential campaign, you never heard either candidate mention having the government pay for long-term care.
4. What about state governments paying for long-term care?
No! Thirty states already have in their laws the Filial Responsibility Act. This legislation requires children to be responsible for repaying the state if Medicaid funds are used for a parent. To my knowledge, only two states so far are enforcing that – Pennsylvania and Maryland. But it would be logical to think that as Medicaid expenses balloon because of the increasing number of people needing long-term care and not having the funds to pay privately, more states will be activating this law for financial relief.
With people living longer, the need for long-term care insurance will only grow. (Photo: iStock)
More long-term care insurance questions answered
5. Will Medicaid pay for long-term care?
For the most part, it will pay only if you are in the nursing home.
Important fact: Most of the care is now being received outside the nursing home. A recent Genworth study found that only 18 percent of care is being received in the nursing home. Sixty-nine (69) percent of claims start at home, and 60 percent end at home.
Also, an industry trend is that an increasing number of nursing home beds are being changed to rehab. The result is that sicker people are going to assisted living facilities.
6. When you need long-term care, will your children take care of you?
Which child would you prefer to live with? Which child is willing to give up their profession and personal life to become your caregiver? Do you want them to bathe you and do the other personal care that would be needed?