Appeared in Health Aging,
December 2017

A Healthy Balance

It is said, “if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.”

With 50 now being the new 30, 60 being the new 40, and so on, that statement is more important than ever.

Though it probably gets the most attention, your physical health should not be your only concern. An integrated approach to health and happiness is the key to healthy aging with equal consideration to the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of one’s life.

Qualities of physical fitness include body composition, flexibility, muscular strength and cardiovascular and muscular endurance. Today, there are myriad options for working towards an optimal level in each of these areas.

Jogging, walking, swimming, aerobics, and weight training are a few of the many forms of formal exercise. And you don’t necessarily need a complete home gym. Use what you have and what you can afford.

Participate in a Medicare Advantage Plan?  Make sure you avail yourself of the free gym programs through SilverSneakers, SilverFit and other such programs.

Thoughts of all that sweating making you tired? Try any number of other activities – dancing, bicycling, skating, bowling, playing with the dog or grandkids. 

It’s understood that a well-balanced, healthy diet should complement your exercise efforts. In addition, there is a wealth of vitamin and supplement options from which to choose.

Bottom line, just get up and move. The more you move, the more you’ll begin to enjoy it and that’s a great start to becoming physically fit.

 

Mental health is closely aligned to our physical welfare. Exercise boosts one’s overall mood and helps relieve stress. Additional benefits include improved memory, concentration, and focus and a more restful night’s sleep. Good mental health enables us to better face life’s challenges, negativity, disappointments, and the day-to-day grind.

Mental activities – cards, chess, crossword puzzles, board games – though not scientifically proven to improve memory or delay cognitive issues, certainly can’t hurt and besides, their fun!

Both obvious, and easier said than done, maintaining a positive attitude is the keystone to your mental outlook.  Approaching everything with an open mind and willingness to make the best out of every situation should become your daily mission.

 

Have you ever seen the sign at the Craft Shows… Live, Laugh, Love?  That’s a good start for a sound emotional foundation, supported by a strong network of family and friends. Following The Golden Rule is a great way to stay morally balanced and emotionally fit.

Daily responsibilities, the stress that accompanies them, and unpleasant situations can drain us. The keys to good emotional health are acceptance and a deep sense of gratitude for what is good in our lives. Always remember that there’s someone out there that has it worse than you. Keeping one’s perspective promotes emotional well-being.

 

Since the beginning, man has sought to connect with something bigger than himself. For most, that is God, for others it might be nature, goodness, or humanity. Entering into a personal relationship with your entity, can provide you with a genuine feeling of purpose, well-being, and satisfaction.  Whether through weekly services, daily meditation or prayer, service work, a walk in the woods, or merely a one-on-one conversation, your eagerness and sincerity to connect with a positive presence can add joy and serenity to your life.

There’s one more piece to the puzzle – the main ingredient – you. You have to want it.

You have to want to be healthy, in all areas of your life.

Come on, what else are you doing that’s so important? Just an hour or so a day will make a world of difference.

What are you doing to ensure that you get to complete your bucket list… to enjoy that once in a lifetime trip, devote time to your passion, volunteer helping people or animals, or to dance at your grandchildren’s weddings?

 

Special to Health Insurance Underwriter | July 30, 2004

Stand out In A
Cluttered Marketplace

How to be more than ‘just another broker’

By Michael R. Ocilka

Employee benefits decision makers are bombarded by brokers and consultants who all claim the same thing – that they can offer better products, provide more service, and help control costs better than anyone else. Indeed, improvements in these areas are needed in many company-sponsored benefit plans.

Recent years of consecutive double-digit rate increases have employers and employees frustrated and looking for solutions.  But, according to industry studies, there is little relief in sight.  In the meantime, employers need to maximize their returns on every health plan dollar spent, both in terms of the effectiveness of their benefit plans, and in the service provided. 

Shopping Brokers, Not Carriers

The concept of shopping for brokers rather than for carriers or health plans is a novel concept for some prospects.  But the extent and impact of marketplace changes has obliged many to challenge the status quo, resulting in an increased level of competition among brokers and consultants. This level is even more heightened by the realization that many employers are not receiving the service that they expect.

A survey conducted last year by Ross McManus, an Albany-based business analysis firm, determined that a sizeable number of company executives do not hold their consultants in high regard.  More than 1,200 senior executives, representing more than 20 percent of the Fortune 1000 firms, indicated that consultants and professional service providers rated only a C+ grade for overall satisfaction.  And it’s probably safe to say that if some of the largest firms in the country are dissatisfied, the same sentiment holds true when it comes to brokers and consultants serving small and mid-size markets.

What do employers really want from a benefits consultant, beyond innovative ways to control spiraling health costs that transcend the immediate quick fixes of cost sharing and shifting?  In the Ross McManus survey, 96 percent of the senior executives said that the ability of professional service providers and consultants to understand their business was their most important satisfaction characteristic, while not understanding their business was the #1 reason for terminating them.  A 2003 phone survey, conducted by the strategic consulting firm ChapterHouse, likewise found that a majority (88 percent) of employers indicated that brokers had “significant influence” over their benefit decision.  But, let’s face it, no advice will be taken seriously and acted upon unless the employer feels that his unique situation is understood.  This is possible only when you truly are close to the client.

‘Just Understanding’ Isn’t Enough

Employers expect you to know and understand their business, its culture, their workforce, and the significant role that the health plan plays in an employee’s life.  Only by being  close to the employer and the employee – by understanding what aspects of the plan are important and why – can you determine what changes to consider and appreciate the true impact that any changes may have.  When changes are made, they require careful and proper rationale, positioning, communicating, along with an ongoing analysis of the impact.  The depth of this type of understanding and action goes far beyond simply gathering a census, reviewing claims histories, or the obligatory shopping for rates at renewal.

That understanding must be combined with the realization that there are three to four distinct groups within a company – owners, finance, HR, and employees – each with their own individual yet interdependent wants and needs.  Make the lives of the people in each of these groups easier and you differentiate yourself from everyone else vying for the business.

At best, there are probably three or four major carriers in most markets throughout the country from which a client can choose.  Therefore, brokers who can offer a menu of comprehensive and valued services, proactive solutions, and timely responses to any issue best demonstrate their specific worth to clients.  Three experienced and successful brokers share the following bits of advice about how to stay close to your clients.

“We probably have a 94 percent or better retention rate year-to-year,” says Richard Ramsburg, MBA, CSA, a senior account executive for EBD Financial in Herndon, VA.  “It’s an ongoing challenge to keep everyone happy.  But, as basic as it sounds, what you have to do is to stay in tune with your clients’ current and emerging business needs, as well as their overall strategic plans.  If we do lose a client, it generally is a surprise to us, usually due to a merger or acquisition, clients going out of business, or some radical change in the business model or benefits program.  If approached by other brokers, our clients tend to alert us.  That’s exactly what happened in two recent instances and, in both cases, we were able to demonstrate and reaffirm our value and retain those clients.”

Ramsburg emphasizes that it’s the “blocking and tackling” areas that are most important in keeping a client satisfied.  Whether it’s proactive meetings throughout the year, a monthly wellness newsletter, benefit surveys, carrier updates, or designing and assisting in worthwhile and ongoing employee communications, all of this and more can ensure that clients are receiving the attention they need and deserve.

At lease once a year, EBD Financial invites clients to an off-site seminar to learn what’s new, with presentations focusing on two or three timely topics, followed by a casual wine

and cheese get-together.  For example, at a recent gathering, EBD’s clients heard presentations about absence management and its impact on various facets of the company, received a HIPAA and COBRA compliance update, and heard an overview on HSAs.  Those who attended found the session both worthwhile and informative.  Clients who couldn’t be there were sent a complete summary of the proceedings.

‘What’s the big deal?’

Getting the right people on the account right from the beginning is how Randy Achenbach of Murray Insurance Associates, Inc. in Lancaster PA stays close to his clients.  “The first decision you have to make, and probably the most important, is who within your firm will be the best individual to sell, service, and retain specific accounts,” he says.  “The broker for a larger benefit client requires a different skill set than someone who may be working with a case of 25 lives.  You would think this is a fundamental strategy but I don’t believe that it automatically happens in many of the regional or local broker agencies.  Agencies that do not understand this will have difficulty retaining larger accounts, simply because they may not have the right team assigned to that client.” 

The differences in the skill sets is more than just understanding all of the available carrier options or appreciating the extent and detail of the decision-making process and the buy-in levels of everyone involved. He adds, “Some people may think that, with only three carriers in the market, what’s the big deal? The big deal,” Achenbach says, “is doing a discovery process of what your client really wants, what’s working and what’s not, and coming up with solutions that meet their needs and goals.  Everyone thinks that they’re doing that, and many of them probably are.  But some do it better than others and that’s what makes the difference.”

After all, the same persistent, consistent, and creative efforts that are made in acquiring a client are certainly needed to retain that client. What good is it if, while you’re bringing new clients in the front door, you’re losing existing ones out the back?  So a good client retention strategy should be to always proceed as if both the ongoing benefit plan and the broker/client relationship are constantly under review.  In the reality of today’s marketplace, they are.

“Because of the nature of the marketplace, carrier turmoil, and consistent and significant rate increases, brokers are having a more difficult time staying close to all of their clients,” notes Achenbach.  “There is a considerable amount of pressure created by needing to get quotes for every account each year, and unfortunately some things fall through the cracks.  But what’s most important is not just responding to your client’s situation, but rather anticipating what’s going to happen at the next renewal.  Each account is requiring a lot more service than it did five years ago.”

Not surprisingly, it’s the smaller companies that sometimes fall through those cracks.  Achenbach has met with more than a few who had that “deer in the headlights” look when he asked them how they complied with the new HIPAA requirements or if they’ve explored HSAs or other consumer-driven concepts.  “It was apparent that their broker had not discussed anything about this with them,” said Achenbach.  He added “these people are literally crying for information about what’s going on in the healthcare marketplace and how it relates to them. They are under severe financial pressure to handle rate increases and they want to know what their options are.” 

‘I let them use my credit card’

Olde Florida Benefits Group, Inc has been servicing clients in the Fort Myers area for more than 34 years, and Vice President Matt Dinkel likes to think they go above and beyond as a matter of business practice.

“You won’t get voicemail when you call our office; we answer our phones,” he says.  “And I give my cell phone number out and tell my clients to use it; I’m available for them when they need help or have a question.  If someone’s at the doctor’s office or even in the ER at 2 a.m. and doesn’t have their card, they can call me and I’ll help them.  It usually only takes a few minutes because I know what needs to be done; I do it every day.  We take a hands-on, frontline approach to any problems when they arise.” Dinkel has actually gone so far as to give a provider his own credit card number for an employee’s payment.  “I knew the coverage was there,” he says, “and I knew I would be reimbursed.”

Staying close also means that every client receives a courtesy phone call bi-monthly to ensure that there are no unresolved issues or problems.  Larger clients are seen in person. In addition, 60 days prior to renewal, Dinkel receives a census in order to market the group and have all viable options identified before the incumbent’s rates even arrive. Then, he can come in as soon as the client receives the renewal, and if there are changes to be made, there’s ample time to do it.

By providing extensive, no-charge support for COBRA, Section 125, enrollment, claims, any ongoing administrative issues, and even individual employee billing reconciliation, Dinkel wants his clients to think of Olde Florida as an employee that they’ve hired for HR. After the renewal process, all the company really has to do is write the monthly checks; everything else is handled seamlessly or with a phone call to Dinkel or his staff.  He estimates that assuming this role can save his clients 5-6 hours a week or more, allowing them to concentrate on more of their core responsibilities.

Think only a large agency can do all that Olde Florida does for its clients?  Olde Florida services more than 100 clients, ranging in size from 2 to 1,500 employees … and they do it with four people.

“We bring Fortune 500 service to smaller companies,” Matt Dinkel says.  “And, every once in a while, we take time to remind them of that.  What I discovered was that many employers didn’t even realize that employees were calling us directly or that so much of

the HR functions were being outsourced; they just saw a smooth-working program.  That’s good, but you also should make sure the client understands all of the value you provide.”

At a time when many companies rank customer loyalty close to the bottom of the “Reasons-for-doing-business-with-`em” scale, these brokers say that most of their clients let him know when they are approached by or meet with other brokers.  The reason:  even in the best relationships, some clients just want to get a different perspective or see if they are missing out on any information.  Many of them will talk to anybody, but they won’t move for just anybody.  Use some of the aforementioned tips to stay close to your clients and you may minimize the risk that they’ll switch.  After all, it’s the capacity to provide what others don’t or won’t that is your key differentiator, the fundamental means to acquire and retain clients, and what is valued above all else.

*****

ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Michael R. Ocilka is the Director of Marketing of PT Marketing Group, a telephone marketing and direct marketing agency that specializes in sales support for the insurance and financial services industry. For 12 years, PT has provided top producers with qualified appointments with business owners and decision makers.  The company’s specialty is qualifying business prospects and scheduling confirmed appointments, saving clients time from prospecting so that they can focus on closing sales and servicing their clients.  PT has the people, experience, resources, and systems to provide confirmed, qualified appointments for different concepts, including nonqualified deferred compensation plans and other tax-advantaged savings strategies, employee benefits, and strategic alliances with CPAs.  PT Marketing is based in Pittsburgh, PA.  Visit the website at www.ptmarketing.com.

Cutting Through the Clutter and Making Contact With a Prospect 

Based on more than 12 years of cutting through the clutter, reaching prospects and scheduling confirmed appointments, here is how we have successfully assisted hundreds of clients with prospecting.  When we make the call, these are some of the points we emphasize: 

#1 – This is a Win-Win Situation. Position an initial 30-minute meeting as strictly introductory, an opportunity to hear some innovative approaches and improve the current plan.  Not wanting to meet because of lack of time, the strength of the relationship with the current broker, complacency, etc., may be overcome by positioning the meeting as a win-win situation for both parties; at the very least they may hear that their current plan is being correctly handled, or they may find out that there really is room for improvement.

#2 – Not all brokers are alike. Not all brokers offer the same quality and level of service, marketplace expertise, and product knowledge.  Today, every company needs to know about all available options.  The meeting presents an opportunity to discuss the company’s healthcare environment, touch upon strategic plans for the future and other situations that the current broker should be looking into. Granted, there are some client/broker relationships that are extremely strong and cannot be shaken.  You can only hope that your clients echo those sentiments when they are prospected by others.

#3 – Just renewed?  No Problem. A better time to meet can actually be outside of the traditional review period.  This is when one can take the time to explore what the marketplace has to offer and determine what options best address specific needs. There is no pressure to make decisions within a specific time frame and a thorough review and comparison can be done in a stress-free environment.  This also fosters a better blueprint for long-range planning, rather than the implementation of quick fixes, which may turn out to be short-sighted.  The full impact of strategies under consideration can be thoroughly evaluated and, if decided upon, a well thought-out communication and education process can be developed.  Besides, this is an initial meeting, an opportunity to find some common ground for proceeding in the direction of improving the plan.

#4 – FYI.  Here’s Something You Might Find of Interest. It’s unrealistic to think that every objection to a meeting can be overcome during an initial contact.  Therefore, it pays to stay in touch with a good prospect by periodically sending them worthwhile information – summarized news about industry happenings, new approaches to various plans, etc.  By all means, know their renewal date and review period.  Regardless of the sound rationale offered above, some decision makers only want to deal with benefit issues when they absolutely have to.  Be there when they reach that point.

Long-Term Care Planning

The Need to Plan

The first in a six-part Long-Term Care Education and
Planning Program (LTCEPP®) Series

The four components of an informed planning process are:

  • Education
  • Discussion
  • Decision
  • Care Management

This is the first in a series of articles to guide you through this process.

Long-term-care planning isn’t just about the person in care.  It’s about the financial, physical and emotional consequences on our family in the event that care is needed.   The idea is to have a plan – period.

Let’s Begin

You begin the planning process by having the courage to have a candid discussion with your spouse, or with the entire family, on the need for planning in the event one or both of you need care.  This is never an easy conversation, but it’s the most important part of this entire process. 

When You Need Long-Term Care

It’s difficult for working-age adults and healthy seniors to imagine a time when they will need long-term care, it seems so far off. While many people do need this type of care as the natural result of aging, millions of Americans under the age of 65 need it as the result of a debilitating disease or injury. It’s important that everyone understands their options and the consequences of their choices regarding long-term care planning.

Avoiding addressing this important issue will have devastating effects.  If you think about it, the biggest financial risk we ultimately face is not dying but living a long life and needing custodial care (non-medical care that helps individuals with his or her activities of daily living, preparation of special diets and self-administration of medication not requiring constant attention of medical personnel).

Consider this….

  • Among adults ages 30-65, 71% are at least somewhat concerned about the possibility of requiring extended care services at some point in their lives.
  • 63% of Americans are not confident in their ability to pay for extended care if they need it today.

The fact is that 70% of individuals over age 65 will require some type of long-term care services during their lifetime. 

Including long-term care insurance benefits in your plan, is an appropriate part of an overall plan. 

Long-term care is difficult enough on its own; what makes it even more difficult is a lack of planning.   The topic tends to generate both questions and anxiety. Making decisions related to this important topic can be so challenging that it is easier to just put it off until another day, but therein lies the problem. Education is the solution.      

So start the process… have the conversation… and look for the next article in this series.To consult with a Long-Term Care Education and Planning Specialist, please contact Michael Ocilka, CLTC at 412-848-1065 or mocilka@LSinsure.com.

[1] Long-Term Care Insurance: A Piece of the Retirement & Estate Planning Puzzle, Prudential Insurance Company of America, 2011

[2] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2009

A Family Guide to Preparing
for Long-Term Care

Education • Discussion • Decision • Care Management

What Is Your Plan to Protect Your Most Important Asset—Your Family?

LTCEPP®

Long-Term Care Education and Planning Program

The Need to Plan

There are four stages within an informed Long-Term Care (LTC) planning process – education, discussion, decision, and finally, care management.  LTCEPP®, our comprehensive, common-sense approach to this life changing and challenging issue, encompasses all four.

LTC planning isn’t just about the person receiving care.  It’s about the financial, physical, and emotional consequences for the people you love most.  It’s not always easy to talk about long-term care with your spouse or family, but it’s an essential part of the planning process.  What’s your plan to protect your most important asset—your family? 


Will I Ever Need Long-Term Care (LTC)?

When we’re healthy, it’s hard for us to imagine a time when we’ll need LTC. The biggest risk we face isn’t dying—it’s living a long life and needing custodial care (non-medical care that helps an individual with the activities of daily living, preparation of special diets, and self-administration of medication not requiring the constant attention of medical personnel).

Here are a few facts to consider:

  • Among adults ages 30-65, 71% are at least somewhat concerned about the possibility of requiring extended care services at some point in their lives.
  • 63% of Americans are not confident in their ability to pay for extended care if they needed it today.

70% of individuals over age 65 will require some type of LTC services during their lifetime.  Many under 65 need care due to a debilitating disease or injury. It may seem easier to put it off thinking about your own plan for LTC, but what if you became part of these statistics?  Education is the best solution.      

What is LTC?

LTC is the need for 90 days or more of ongoing care due to a disability, critical illness, cognitive impairment, or aging.  It involves assistance for two or more activities known as ADLs (Activities of Daily Living), including bathing, continence, dressing, eating, toileting, and transferring.  Assistance can be hands-on or supervisory.

Examples:

1. You can’t walk for six weeks due to a sprained ankle.  This would not qualify. 

2. You were in a severe auto accident requiring 4-6 months of ongoing custodial care. This would qualify. 

An easy way to distinguish LTC from other care is to think of “curing” vs. “caring.”  Medical or rehabilitative care is “curing,” while assistance with daily custodial needs is “caring.”

Where Is Care Provided?

You might be surprised to learn that 51% of care recipients live in their own homes, while 29% live with their family caregiver. Community-based settings include adult day cares or family homes, which supplement in-home care.  Assisted living facilities are the next step when care can’t be provided adequately or safely in the home.  Nursing homes are best suited for when more skilled or medically necessary assistance is required. 

How Much Does Care Cost?

A 2016 cost of care survey found that the annual median cost of a private room in a nursing home in Pennsylvania was $116,800, while an assisted living facility was $43,200. Home health aide services for in-home care were $21 per hour, while adult day care was $15,600 annually. 

If those numbers seem high now, consider that care costs are expected to double every 15 years—that’s more than $226,000 for a Pennsylvania nursing home in 2030.  Paying out of your own pocket for this care can have a devastating effect on your finances. How does the healthy spouse maintain his/her lifestyle and ongoing financial responsibilities?  Other issues to consider are liquidity, unnecessary taxation, market timing, and income and estate preservation.  Are these consequences you’re willing to deal with?

How Will LTC Affect Your Family?

A major misconception about LTC is that it will be all about you, the one in care—but it’s also going to affect your closest friends and family.  More than 65 million people (that’s 29% of the U.S. population) provide care for a chronically ill, disabled, or aged family member or friend during any given year. These caregivers spend about 20 hours per week providing care for their loved one. 

Typically, a healthy spouse and/or adult children will try to provide care in order to save money.  This is extremely hard for someone who is juggling work schedules, multiple jobs, parental responsibilities, etc., and it can result in ill health, dysfunction, and deteriorating sibling relationships. The situation is often compared to caring for a child.  Think about how time-consuming it was to care for children who were not able to bathe, eat, toilet, and dress themselves.  If you or a spouse needs LTC, what are the financial, emotional, and physical consequences going to be for your loved ones? 

  • 47% of working caregivers use up most or all of their savings on caregiving expenses.
  • 40% to 70% of family caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression, with approximately ¼ to ½ meeting the diagnostic criteria for major depression.
  • The extreme stress experienced by family caregivers can take as much as 10 years off a caregiver’s life.

Women and TLC

As a caregiver, the family’s decision maker, or the individual in care, LTC is often a woman’s issue. Some men will provide care and many will invariably require it, but the reality is that women are more involved in every aspect of LTC:

  • 66% of family caregivers are women.
  • 37% have children or grandchildren under 18 living with them.
  • The typical family caregiver is a 49-year-old woman caring for her widowed 69-year-old mother who does not live with her. She is married and employed.

American women are now spending 18 years caring for their parents compared to 17 caring for children. In addition, 25% of female caregivers are part of the “sandwich generation,” caring for both parents and children at the same time.

The impact on women’s’ health, finances, career, and lifestyle is significant:

  • 20% of employed female caregivers over 50 report symptoms of depression, compared to 8% of their non-caregiving peers.
  • 83% of caregivers report contributing financially for care.
  • 48% of caregivers report losing a job, changing shifts, and/or missing career opportunities.

The Risk of Needing Care

In many cases, husbands require care first. Their wives care for them, outlive them, and then require care themselves. Over 70% of nursing home residents and nearly two-thirds of home care recipients are women.  Women are also more likely to be single or widowed as they age. Nearly 50% of women 75 or older live alone, compared to 22% of men.

In the 2000 study “Voices of Women” by the U.S. Administration on Aging, women stated that having access to information about LTC and understanding their available options was the best approach to relieve their financial and emotional pressure.

It’s Never Too Early to Start Planning—For You or Your Parents

As working adults and healthy seniors, the need to address LTC is the furthest thing from our minds.  But the truth is that we could need LTC at any age.  More than 40% of those currently in care are under 65 as a result of stroke, auto and sporting accidents, disabilities, early-onset Alzheimer’s, or other critical illnesses.  

What Would You Do . . .

      • If you or a spouse suffered an event requiring custodial care? 
      • If your work was affected by trying to be a caregiver?
      • If you had to pay for outside help? 
      • If one less income affected your ongoing responsibilities?  What would have to be cut back?  How would your retirement and children’s college planning be affected?

Are You Your Parents’ LTC Plan?

For the first time in the nation’s history, the average American couple has more parents living (more than two) than children (fewer than two).  When these parents require care, who will they turn to?    

A recent study reported that more than one-third of adults believe that Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance will cover any future extended care costs.  None of these programs are intended to cover the cost of LTC.  You have to ask yourselves: What are the consequences if someone in either generation needs LTC? How will you pay for that care?

Myths and Misconceptions of LTC

Whether you’re one of the nearly 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day, or a healthy working adult concerned about the future, it’s never been so important to understand the consequences of not planning for LTC.    

Here are some of the common myths and misconceptions that might keep you from understanding how serious this issue really is:

Myth:  LTC planning is for retired seniors, the elderly, and the frail.

Reality: 43% of Americans receiving LTC services are under the age of 65.

Myth:  Chances are that I won’t need care.   

Reality: 70% of people over 65 will require some type of LTC during their lifetime.

Myth:  Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance will cover any future extended care costs. 

Reality: None of these programs are intended to cover long-term custodial care.  The only ways to pay for extended custodial care are (1) out-of-pocket, (2) LTC insurance, or (3) a combination of the two.

Myth:  LTC insurance is expensive.

Reality: LTC insurance is affordable. It’s only expensive if it’s not designed appropriately.

Myth:  LTC insurance is something to be purchased after age 60.   

Reality: You are never as young and as healthy as you are today.  Most people wait too long to consider LTC insurance and then find out they are uninsurable.  The average age for new individual LTC insurance is 57. 37% of applicants aged 50–69 were rejected for unacceptable health.

Myth:  LTC insurance protects you.

Reality: LTC insurance protects your most important asset—your family—from the financial, emotional, and physical consequences of your need for extended care.  It allows them to supervise your care, not

provide it.

Why You Should Consider LTC Insurance as Part of Your Plan

As you’ve learned, LTC is the need for ongoing custodial care that can happen at any age.  The risks are real.  The consequences are unacceptable.  The costs are high and growing, and the alternatives are very limited. 

Paying out of your own pocket will have a devastating effect on your financial situation. How does the healthy spouse maintain his or her lifestyle?  How does he or she pay the bills?  You’ll also run into issues of liquidity, unnecessary taxation, market timing, and income and estate preservation.

LTC insurance provides an income stream that allows you to better control your situation.  Most people don’t mind using some of their own money to pay for care; they just don’t want to use all of it.  A large percentage of Americans are using LTC insurance to shift the risk for 60% of expected costs to an insurance policy.  This cost-sharing strategy allows you to get covered at an affordable price, which makes good financial sense.   

Consult an Expert

LTC insurance varies widely in plan design, coverage, and cost. You can choose varying lengths of coverage and options to cover inflation, as well as options for cash, reimbursement, or hybrid benefit alternatives.

A LTCEPP Specialist can help you determine if insurance is appropriate for you. Then, working with a variety of the top-rated companies in the industry, LTC specialists can provide you with multiple policy designs and affordable options.  They’ll work with you to design the right plan at the right premium, and explain how your coverage works.  When you need it most—at claim time—there won’t be any surprises.

Don’t Wait

Many people wait too long to consider LTC insurance—then they find out they’re uninsurable.  Your health is fragile and can change so quickly.  That’s why 14% of applicants aged 50-59, 23% of those aged 60-69, and 45% of those aged 70-79 were rejected for unacceptable health.

Your premiums are based on age, health, and plan design. You will never be as young and as healthy as you are today. If insurance is an appropriate part of your overall LTC plan, your premiums will never be lower than they are right now.

The Fourth Stage – Care Management

The fourth stage of LTC planning, care management, can present its own set of unique challenges.

For family-provided informal caregiving, LTCEPP® recognizes eCareDiary (www.ecarediary.com) as the leading and most comprehensive e-tool resource to help manage care safely and privately.  In addition, eCareDiary provides a wealth of information, expert Q & A, webinars and interviews on popular topics for the caregiving community.

Now that you’ve completed your long-term care education,

what’s your plan to protect your most important asset?

For more information, please contact

 Michael Ocilka, CLTC

Certified Long-Term Care Education and Planning Specialist

Education – Planning – Insurance – Claims Assistance – Advocacy

 412-848-1065    mocilka@LSinsure.com     www.LTCEPP.com   

[i] Long-Term Care Insurance: A Piece of the Retirement & Estate Planning Puzzle, Prudential Insurance Company of America, 2011

[ii] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2009

[iii] Caregiving in the U.S.: National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with AARP; November 2009

[iv] Caregiving in the U.S.: National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with AARP; November 2009

[v] Evercare Survey of the Economic Downturn and Its Impact on Family Caregiving; National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare. March 2009

[vi] Assessment of Family Caregivers: A Research Perspective. Zarit, S. (2006).

[vii] Elissa S. Epel, Dept of Psychiatry, Univ of Calif, SF, et al. From the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dec 7, 2004, Vol 101, No. 49. 

[vii] Caregiving in the U.S.: National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with AARP; November 2009

[ix] Statistical Abstract of the U.S., U.S. Dept. of Labor and Age Wave Analysis

[x] MetLife Study of Working Caregivers and Employer Health Costs; National Alliance for Caregiving and MetLife Mature Market Institute, February 2010 

[xi] Genworth, “Beyond Dollars: The True Impact of long Term Caring,” 2010

[xii] National Center for Health Statistics, “Health, U.S., 2006,” Table 27

[xiii] AARP Public Policy Institute Fact Sheet, April 2007

[xiv] IID 2003

[xv] Fact Sheet FCS2082, a series of the Dept. of Family, Youth and Community Services, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food & Agricultural Services, Univ. of Florida. Revised July 2005

[xvi] IID 2003

[xvii] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2009

[xviii] American Association of Long-Term Care Insurance, 2010 LTCI Sourcebook

[xix] American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, 2010 LTCI Sourcebook