LTC Bullet:  "Nursing Home Care Virtually Free For Life"

Tuesday, May 7, 2002

Seattle--


LTC BULLET:  "NURSING HOME CARE VIRTUALLY FREE FOR LIFE"

What follows is a transcription of excerpts from a professionally produced and mass-distributed videotape.  The tape is an advertisement for a man and his company who promise "nursing home care virtually free for life."  This financial miracle worker proudly proclaims that he is not an attorney, a financial planner, nor, perish the thought, an insurance agent.

His video explains the cost and risk of long-term care in stark terms.  It tugs at the viewer's heartstrings, dramatizing numerous sad stories of families stricken by the emotional and financial strain of a long-term chronic illness.  The tape presents these stories with ostentatious expressions of compassion and caring.  It uses the same kind of alarming statistics also employed by government agencies, LTC task forces, and marketers of private insurance to convey, correctly, the need and urgency for long-term care protection. 

Although this videotape never once mentions Medicaid, a brochure that accompanied it makes clear that the magic wand permitting free nursing home care for life is the Medicaid program (Medi-Cal in California).  The brochure proudly proclaims the company has "20 years of experience" and "has helped thousands of families receive virtually Free [sic] nursing home care and keep their home and savings while getting help from Medi-Cal."  A related flyer says "We work throughout the USA.  Our services have spanned Florida to Hawaii."

The brochure also claims that this company has "received numerous civic and professional awards for their work with the elderly."  Staff of the company have been on the boards of the Alzheimer's Association and other advocacy organizations.  Its "speakers are in high demand, presenting lectures to Discharge Planners, Social Workers, and the general public." 

We believe that after you read the following excerpts, you may want to order a copy of this free tape, see for yourself, and perhaps send a copy to the appropriate authorities.  If hundreds of Bullets readers requested the tape all at once, however, the purveyor of this material might quickly curtail distribution.  Therefore, for the first few weeks, we will post the contact and ordering information for this material only on the Center's donor-only zone at http://www.centerltc.com/members/index.htm.  In a month or so, we'll publish the same information for general consumption in another LTC Bullet.  In the meantime, of course, we will make the information available to any government officials or investigative bodies who request it.

Now read the following transcription and ask yourself how and why such a program is allowed to persist.  Then, at the end of this Bullet (but before the boilerplate), read our LTC Comment that explains why Medicaid charlatanism continues rampant despite its damaging effects on the poor and in spite of every previous effort to stop it.

Videotape titled:  "How to Obtain Excellent Nursing Home Care at Minimal Costs"

"You may have been told by facility managers or others that you have no choice but to pay those nursing home bills 100 percent with your own savings or through the liquidation of other family assets.  Before you begin depleting your own resources to pay those nursing home bills, please take the next hour to watch this tape. . . .

"The success record of [company name] has been nearly 100 percent in assisting ill or disabled individuals and families to obtain ongoing nursing home care for an ill loved one virtually free for life.  In fact, [company name] guarantees its results. . . .

"They offer some excellent options to help you obtain nursing home care for your ill family member while spending little or no money out of your own pocket.  It may sound too good to be true, but it is not. . . .

"Did you know that you can own a home, have money in the bank, and other assets and still be eligible for nursing home care at little or no ongoing cost for life. . . .

"[Company name] has helped thousands obtain nursing home care at little or no cost. . . .

"In our worst case scenario, on a respirator . . ., you could be at $45 or $50 thousand a month for every month you're under that respirator.  You could eat up a family with a half million or million dollar stake in a matter of less than a year. . . .  A million dollars doesn't go very far anymore. . . .

"Your living trust won't protect you.  Medicare won't protect you.  Supplementary insurance won't protect you.  LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE [emphasis added] won't protect you.  Even riches alone won't protect you. . . .

"With our assistance, long term care is available at minimal or no cost for anyone needing care.  Guaranteed!!!"  [text inset on screen]

"[Company name] can assist you in obtaining nursing care at little or no ongoing cost without continuing to pay for long-term care insurance.

"In my opinion, it [LTCI] is not worth the paper it is written on.  . . .  I don't believe in long-term care insurance.  I think for the most part it's worthless. . . .

[Text inset shows amounts saved under pictures of (company name) clients who saved the money while obtaining "nursing home care virtually free for life"]  "Saved $199,000.  Saved $220,000.  Saved $230,000.  Saved $257,000.  Saved $400,000.  Saved $401,200.  Saved $418,000." . . .

"You don't need to spend thousands of dollars out of pocket on nursing home care.  A vast number of individuals in skilled nursing care are needlessly spending their life savings.  In the process, their families face the prospect of staggering bills and financial ruin.  For over twenty years, [company name] has provided customized financial solutions to the problems in obtaining nursing care at little or no cost to thousands of families and individuals.  Don't unnecessarily deplete your life savings paying for skilled nursing care.  Instead, have a legacy to pass on to your loved ones. . . .

"We have to have the wherewithal, and the ability, and the flexibility to take advantage of those rules that are available to us to protect the home, to protect the income, to protect the savings . . .. 

"A single elderly person can get long-term care; they can have a home; they can have cash, but they have to know how to do that.  Unfortunately, the way the system is designed they're not going to tell them.  If they get the kind of advice that is generally floating out there, they're going to be told to spend everything they've got.  If they go to someone else, they'll end up buying that policy for insurance that won't be of any value. . .."

"What does the asset picture look like.  Do they own a home?  Do they own two homes?   . . .  Do they have savings, stocks, bonds?  All of those variables have to be looked at.  The portfolios have to be looked at.  And the common goal is to get long-term care that is permanent for that person, permanent meaning one year if you need it for one year or  twelve years if you need it for twelve years, and still not use the very assets that we started talking about. . . .

"Most people donít realize that it is never too late to get help to cover the cost of nursing care.  Even if a loved one is already in a nursing home, or if funds are currently being spent for their care, you can still get relief from monthly nursing care bills by contacting [company name] for solutions.  Don't wait until there is nothing left.  [company name] can help you or a loved one obtain nursing home care they deserve at little or no ongoing cost for life.  We guarantee it. . . .

"Even many professionals in nursing care such as social workers, registered nurses, attorneys and CPAs call us for assistance and solutions when a patient is facing a serious and lengthy illness. . . .  Like the professionals do, call [company name] for assistance."

"I WOULD SAY THE BULK OF OUR CLIENTELE IS IN THE $500 TO $900 THOUSAND DOLLAR RANGE [emphasis added].  And then we get a lot of clients in that $100 to $150 thousand dollar range.  They have a home.  They have a little bit of savings.  They've worked hard all their lives. . . .

"Everyone is entitled to and deserves quality nursing home care at virtually no on-going cost to them.  We can help them. . . .

"People don't ever come walking into our doors and go 'I'll be sick next month.'  They come in after the fact.  Everything is already falling apart and our goal is to get them immediate benefits, immediate care, which we can do.  We can do it in a week or less."

LTC Comment:  Why do we publicize this information?  Won't people take advantage of it to exploit the system even more?  Of course.  The truth is, however, they already are.  How stupid do we think the public is?  This information and much more like it is readily available throughout the United States.  People see it and they use it.  That's a major reason why Medicaid is overwhelmed and so few people buy LTC insurance. 

The stranger and more important question is:  why don't public officials, the Medicaid program and long-term care providers, investors, and insurers do something about egregious Medicaid planning instead of pretending it does not exist?  Why don't the academics, think tanks and foundations study and document the phenomenon instead of insisting, without study or documentation, that it is uncommon?  The answer is simple.  Everyone has a stake in the status quo. 

*  The public is always susceptible to "something for nothing" sales pitches.  There should be no surprise that people facing long-term care costs for which they have not prepared are eager to get the government to pay, while preserving their own savings or inheritances. 

*  Nursing homes depend on Medicaid reimbursement.  According to the video, nursing homes sometimes refer prospective residents' families to Medicaid planners.  Taking Medicaid, even at its low reimbursement rates, is better than losing the business altogether, evidently. 

*  Public officials are afraid to discourage Medicaid planning because of the political sensitivity.  What elected official wants to tell voters they're personally responsible for anything?  Rather, politicians send the message "Don't worry, the government and I will take care of you." 

*  Of course Medicaid planners themselves, whether they purvey lawyerly skills, insurance-based "Medicaid-friendly" annuities, or the non-professional advice in this video, make their easy, lucrative livings hawking something for nothing to an unwitting public. 

*  Most academics and the governments and foundations that fund them are ideologically biased in favor of government financing for long-term care and against private financing and insurance.  They tend to study only subjects that help them promote their political and economic biases. 

*  But why do LTC insurance marketers ignore or downplay the impact of widespread Medicaid planning?  Simple, they rely on the myth of widespread, catastrophic, nursing home spend-down to sell the coverage.  They pretend the problem of Medicaid estate planning is minimal, because to confront the reality would require difficult public policy work in a minefield of politically sensitive issues. 

In a nutshell, Medicaid planning continues to undermine the Medicaid program's ability to provide quality long-term care to the needy because objecting to Medicaid planning is not "politically correct."  But how can a welfare program serve poor and rich alike without failing?  It can't.  That is why Medicaid is on the verge of collapse and America's long-term care service delivery and financing system is in little better condition.  The Center for Long-Term Care Financing has proposed a sensible alternative called LTC Choice.  Read our analysis of the problem and our proposed solution at http://www.centerltc.com/pubs/CLTCFReport.pdf.