What have you been reading lately about long-term care insurance?

“Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.” I’m sure Mark Twain wasn’t thinking long term care or today’s news media when he said this a long time ago. These days it is very easy to post a news item for people to consume. Between traditional TV and radio, an extensive 24/7 cable news cycle has plenty of information available. The biggest difference today, like back in the day when anyone could print anything they wanted with a printing press, now all you need is a computer to create a news story. It seems that almost everyone has a computer or smartphone and is not afraid to use it.

The topic of long-term care has become a big theme in aging America. By 2030, 1 in 4 Americans will be over the age of 50. By 2050, 1 in 5 Americans will be 65+ according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It seems that once you’re around 50, the conversation about long-term care gets going. In today’s world, that means going on the internet and seeing what information you can find. However, some articles provide misleading or even completely false information about long-term care insurance.

We’ve heard the term fake news, but perhaps the best way to define what is written about long-term care is simply “lazy news” or “important news”. It seems like everyone with a computer, including myself, has an agenda. How much of this is “truth” is a matter of debate.

In general, there is more to a story… and the things that are left out are usually very important. The stories about the Wlz insurance premium increases are very misleading. They usually leave out a lot of details. The reporters or “professionals” who write these articles often have an agenda to push the public in one direction or another.

The other thing to remember is that the internet is also “old news” as nothing on the internet gets deleted most of the time. You may find and read something that is old, but that story may have been updated numerous times since the first story was published, making the information you are reading outdated. You need to do more due diligence today to see if you are getting accurate information.

Since the issue of planning for the financial costs and burdens of aging is so important for American families, you need to know the facts. Often the articles talk about premium increases to scare the consumer. Perhaps the writer wants the government to pay for all long-term care (not going to happen because too many people need care and budgets are tight as it tries to care for people with little or no savings). Perhaps the writer wants the consumer to spend large sums of money on a particular type of financial product that he sells. Consumers need to understand the truth so they can plan ahead with greater peace of mind.

These increases being reported mainly relate to “legacy products”. These are older plans that were priced well before the interest rate crash and rate stabilization rules.

Today, all subscriptions are priced considering the very low interest rate environment (interest rates in the United States have been low for the past decade). These older plans with increases were based on a number of factors:

· Interest rates

Expiration rates (i.e. how many people drop their policies. In practice very few do, but this was not factored into the premium prices on many older plans)

· Damage claims and underwriting experience

These policies also provide huge benefits. In 2017, more than $9.2 billion was paid in benefits to American families to protect their assets and ease family burdens.

The fact is, these older policies were underpriced to begin with, and even with increases, they still have excellent value and huge benefits. Nobody likes an increase, but you have to put that increase into perspective. Many of these people I speak to have huge benefits that have increased by 5% each year since they had the policy. Many also have unlimited lifetime benefits. Because they have these huge benefits, many can reduce the benefit or inflation factor to keep the premium the same. Because their benefits are much greater compared to the cost of long-term care, they remain in an excellent position.

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Current long-term care insurance plans remain very affordable as people begin to buy plans before they retire. Takeover is more conservative, but since consumers are younger, most people can still find a suitable plan.

Experts say the risks of increases are small, but as with anything there is always a chance of an approved increase. However, if you read some of the articles that are published, you would think that the industry is dead and consumers have lost interest in the product.

The fact is that there are still plenty of insurance companies that market long term care insurance. Consumer interest has never been greater. As I speak to other long-term care insurance specialists like myself, we’ve all noticed a big increase in both consumer awareness and interest. Consumers are younger, better informed about the risks (often with first-hand experience with an older parent or other relative), and we are bombarded with requests for information and quotes.

Consumers seek help from long-term care specialists, as most financial advisors and non-life insurers have limited knowledge and experience of the products, underwriting, policy design, benefit options, and federal/state partnership program available in most states. That’s why some of these professionals are forcing consumers into options they feel more comfortable with, despite the fact that they may not be the best and most affordable way to deal with the costs and burdens of aging.

Long term care insurance, despite what you read, is very affordable for most people. With regulation and better pricing, consumers enjoy added peace of mind knowing they have a plan they can count on for decades to come and will remain affordable once they retire and age.

Many people can get excellent coverage for less than $150 a month, some even less than $100. Premiums are based on your age at the time of getting a plan, your health and the number of benefits you wish to have . Most of the people I speak to across the country are between the ages of 45 and 60.

A true long-term care specialist will ask you numerous questions about your health, family history, and retirement plans to make the right recommendation. Anyone willing to give you “quotes” without asking a lot of questions should be avoided.

Long-term care insurance is tailor-made. In addition, each insurance company has its own acceptance criteria. A true long-term care specialist will represent most or all major companies. They will have a good understanding of underwriting and policy design. They had a lot of claims to process so they know firsthand how these policies are being used at the point of claim.

Finally, a true long-term care specialist will not steer you toward a particular type of policy without spending time talking to you to determine what type of plan is right for your specific situation. When you work with a long-term care specialist, you get the right information you’re looking for. There are several research reference websites:

LTC News offers articles and resources: http://www.ltcnews.com

US Department of Health and Human Services: https://longtermcare.acl.gov/

The biggest concern for most people is understanding that caregiving is difficult. An elderly spouse cannot be expected to be a caregiver without consequences for his own health. Adult children and their own family, career and responsibilities. Paid care is expensive and depletes savings and affects lifestyle.

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For many, long-term care insurance is convenient, affordable, stable income and asset protection. It reduces the burden that aging will have on your family. However, talk to a real specialist. There aren’t many long-term care specialists with extensive experience, but I help people all over the country and a number of others like me do too.

This will give you and your family tremendous peace of mind and that is not fake news.