Wednesday March 31, 1999
Today's Wall Street Journal ("Should You Buy Insurance For Extended Elder Care," 3/31/99, p. B1) contains an excellent column by Ellen Graham explaining the need for early long-term care planning and the benefits of purchasing private insurance. Every long-term care insurance agent should have this article in his or her evidence book.
According to Graham, who was filling in for regular columnist Sue Shellenbarger: "Distasteful as it may be...families should discuss [long-term care] financing options before the need arises." Unfortunately, most families do not confront this difficult issue in time. "Fewer than 10% of Americans 65 and over carry long-term-care insurance, according to Stephen A. Moses, president of the Center for Long-Term Care Financing in Seattle. Yet statistically, one in four of them will spend at least a year in a nursing home, and 9% will stay five years."
Regarding the option "to transfer assets and impoverish themselves," the article quotes Dallas financial planner Joan Gruber: "'No one would voluntarily set themselves up for Medicaid if they understood what it's like.' Medicaid recipients, for example, often must wait to get a nursing-home bed, and are seldom eligible for home-care coverage."
The article is very complimentary toward private long-term care insurance. "The good news is that long-term-care insurance has improved a lot in the past few years.... Today, most major insurers sell policies that cover custodial care as well, at home or in a nursing facility. Chronic ailments don't necessarily rule out coverage." New York geriatric care manager Jerie Charnow, who once thought "it was buyer beware," now says "she has gone from being a vocal industry critic to selling policies herself."
Author Graham wisely emphasizes the importance of persuading adult children to assist with their parents' long-term care insurance premiums. She cites two examples and quotes one this way: "Why should [Mom and Dad] pay to protect my inheritance?"
Congratulations to Ellen Graham for writing and to the Wall Street Journal for publishing such a excellent column on such a critical topic.
*** The Center for Long-Term Care Financing is celebrating
its one-year anniversary today. Thank you for your support and
encouragement. Stay tuned for an exciting second year. As Coleman
Cox once said, "Even the woodpecker owes his success to the
fact that he uses his head and keeps pecking away until he finishes
the job he starts." ***