LTC Bullet:  "I Don't Need LTCi . . . I Have VA"
 

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

 Seattle-- 

LTC Comment:  Can veterans ignore the risk and cost of long-term care because the VA promises to take care of them?  Not according to this son of a WWII vet. 

LTC BULLET:  "I DON'T NEED LTCI . . . I HAVE VA" 

LTC Comment:  Over the years, we've published 16 items in these pages warning veterans not to count on the Department of Veterans Affairs or America's generosity to fund their long-term care.  Members of the Center can find the archive of those publications at http://www.centerltc.com/members/veterans/main.htm .   

Not yet a member?  No problem.  Call or email Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com, let him know your check's in the mail or you've subscribed online at http://www.centerltc.com/support/index.htm , and he'll immediately give you a user name and password.  And the very next day, you'll also begin receiving our daily LTC E-Alerts. 

Now, here's one more item to add to your list of reasons why not to rely on VA for LTC.  Instead of a government report or an academic article, this time we quote an angry and impassioned son of a World War II-veteran Dad.  Here's his story: 

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VA for LTC:  Not for My Dad or Yours
by
Jim Bosley 

The generation of Americans that defended our country in WWII has been called the "greatest generation" because of the sacrifices they made for our families and our country.  They did not need contracts and attorneys because their word was good enough.  Today, when they find out how the government has reneged on its promises, they just deny that could be true.   

Many of our vets still think the government's word on long-term care is good.  They cannot imagine the government would take a Social Security check and apply it against a Medicaid nursing home bill.  A man once told me, "My government would never do a thing like that." 

My father had a 15 percent disability from his service in WWII.  He got his hand caught in a gun on the USS American Legion and the permanent disability resulted.  According to Dad, he was entitled to VA benefits because of his disability.  He served in overseas more than six months.  Around 1964, he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  He was in and out of nursing homes until it consumed all his cash.  He then qualified as an indigent for VA benefits.  His 15 percent disability qualified him for "aid and attendance at home."  Helping him at his low-income apartment was less expensive for the VA than having him on a ward each day.  The VA was coming through just as advertised. 

Ten years ago, when he needed medical care following surgery, he could stay at the VA medical unit for months at a time.  The nurses were fantastic; the doctors were something else.  The MS affected his right side.  His right leg had atrophied to the size of a thin arm.  One of his doctors authorized surgery to remove a corn from the side of his right foot.  His circulation was very poor, and the small incision grew to the size of a fifty-cent piece. We could see the bone in his foot.   

The doctor noted that the healing was not progressing as well as they thought it would.  He felt that an amputation would be necessary, since gangrene was imminent.  We asked, "Why did you operate on a foot that had poor circulation for 15 years and the toes were marble gray?"  His comment was, and I quote, "Because we can."  When we checked the file, we found that the doctor had approved surgery without seeing my father during the previous 60 days.  That amputation was the beginning of the end. 

For years my father was told by the Service Officers at the American Legion, and many of the personal at the VA, who were his friends, that when the time came, he could come up to the long-term care unit and stay.  "Just let us know, and we will have a bed for you."  Dad was proud he would get care because of his service to his country. 

When the time came, he called for fulfillment of that promise.  Since I had just read the VA Handbook, "Department of Veterans Affairs Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents," I asked the VA how long they would keep him.  I was aware of VA budget cut backs and knew about the "pecking order" for long-term care.  I was asked what I meant by that question.  I repeated my question.  They replied..."about 6 months."  I asked why six months when the military told my father that the VA would be taking care of him for a lifetime?  Why 6 months now when he could stay longer 10 years ago?   Where would he go after six months?  They said they would send him to one of the local nursing homes, "means test" him, and qualify him for Title 19 or Welfare.     

We knew this would be hard for him to understand and would break his heart.  He believed the Government would always stand by its word and keep its promises, as he had done for them.  I asked the VA why they would do that to a Vet?  They said it allows them to put him on other government money (Federal and State) and use the VA- budgeted money for other Veterans.  I asked that the VA Administration tell him about going to a local nursing home as a welfare case since they broke the promise.  They asked me if they could wait on that.  Fortunately for them, he passed away from infection from the surgery before the 6 months time line came along. 

We have learned first hand how the government works.  I have seen how they made good on their care promises, until the money got tight.  Now it appears the Vietnam Vets will get the short straw for the care they were promised as well. 

I asked a local VA Administrator why they would not inform the vets about how the system works, so they could insure what they had rather than go through the spend-down process.  He said they do get the information out there, but quite frankly, no one believes them.  Everyone assumes that they will be the one who receives the care as promised to them all over 50 years ago.  They were promised care as payment for services given.  Today, there are vets out there who still rely on that promise.  They will say to me that I should not worry for them when I talk about long-term care insurance, "I have VA!"      

Yes, I use our firsthand story to inform and give advice.  The VA, up to the last 10 years, took care of the Vets, as promised.  Do not, under any circumstances, rely on them today.  I don't care what they promise if you are not service-connected disabled.  Get a copy of the current edition of the Department of Veterans Affairs Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents.  Check out the section on Health-Care Benefits and Nursing Home Care.  Please, pass it on to a Vet who still believes in the promise.  He has earned the right to know.  

Jim Bosley sold Long-Term Care Insurance for 25 years ago in Omaha, Nebraska.  Today, he works with the Dean L. Wilde Agency, Inc. and the American Senior Network in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, brokering Long-Term Care contracts and other senior products to individual agents and large insurance agencies across the country.   

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7 MILLION AMERICANS HAVE LTC INSURANCE.  So reports Jesse Slome of Sales Creators, Inc. 

That's a milestone worth noting.  But just to put it in context: 

There are 26,549,704 veterans in the United States and Puerto Rico according to the Department of Veterans Affairs (http://www.va.gov/vetdata/Census2000/index.htm). 

Only a fraction of them have private long-term care insurance, although most of them should not count on the VA or Medicaid to pay for their care when the time comes. 

If you are part of, or would like to become part of, the "army" of agents trying to protect Americans against the risk and cost of long-term care, you should consider attending: 

The 2005 National LTCi Producers Summit; October 16-18, 2005; at the Crown Center Westin, Kansas City, MO.  Check out the details here:  http://www.ltcsales.com/2005summit.