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LTC Bullet:

More Bad Advice from Consumer Reports

Monday November 15, 1999


Over the years, we've observed that the individuals and organizations most critical of private long-term care insurance are usually the ones lining their pockets with Medicaid estate planning profits. Consumer Reports is notorious for its virulent attacks and dubious advice on private long-term care insurance products. Now, one reason for the magazine's antagonism is clear.

A promotional flyer hawking Consumer Reports' $29.95 publication "How to Plan for a Secure Retirement" promises you will learn from it "how to protect your assets without paying for costly long-term-care insurance" and "how to qualify for Medicaid without impoverishing your spouse." Leaving aside the fact that Medicaid has not required spousal impoverishment since 1988, the Consumer Reports article is irresponsible for failing to mention Medicaid's dismal reputation for problems of access, quality, reimbursement, discrimination and institutional bias.

Readers who follow Consumer Reports' advice will lose the opportunity to purchase private long-term care insurance while they are young, healthy and affluent enough to afford it. Too many of them will die on welfare in low-tier nursing homes who should have, could have, and would have been able to purchase insurance for home care, assisted living and top-quality nursing home care.

But, alas, you can't sell many self-help retirement planning manuals by telling people they are dangerously at risk and they must take personal responsibility to protect themselves. Nope, you sell a lot more books by telling people they can get something for nothing from the government. That puts Consumer Reports right in the same league with the mass-market Medicaid planning manuals huckstered by prominent Medicaid planners themselves.