Leave a comment

Welcome to LTCFacts!

Easy Way CoupleWe help you make informed decisions about long-term care.

LTCFacts.org is committed to educating consumers about long-term care insurance by providing an easy-to-use website filled with simple definitions about long-term care insurance terms and concepts.  By providing simple definitions for complex long-term care insurance terms, consumers become empowered to make intelligent buying decisions that impact their financial and family lives.

Contributing authors of LTCFacts.org have been involved with the long-term care insurance industry for over 17 years with knowledge of underwriting guides from top insurance companies in over 40 states.  This website is not sponsored by any insurance company, nor does it promote any particular insurance company or policy.  It is our goal to have sample policies for all of America’s top insurers available for you to research at your leisure in the comfort of your home.

Every consumer has different financial needs and health history, which is why educating consumers is especially important.  Once consumers understand the intimate relationship between their personal health history and financial situation, then they are ready to begin shopping and comparing long-term care policies offered by the various companies.

How to use LTCFacts.org?

LTCFacts.org is designed for consumers seeking to learn more about long-term care insurance.  On the right-side of the page you will see “LTCI DICTIONARY” with a drop-down list of long-term care insurance terms.  Some terms will have definitions only, and some will have other useful articles about that term.  You may search our site on the right-side of the page as well, or ask your own question by choosing the button at the top of the page.

What is Long-Term Care?

Long-term care includes a variety of services that may be both medically and/or non-medically necessary for people with a chronic illness or disability.  Health and personal needs are met through long-term care.  Generally speaking, long-term care provides people assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, eating, toileting or transferring.  People of all ages may need long-term care.

Choosing long-term care is an important decision.  Planning for long-term care requires you to think about possible future long-term care needs and costs.  It is important to plan for long-term care before you need it, and before a crisis occurs.  By thinking and planning your choices now, you will have more control over your individual situation, possibly remaining independent longer.  Even when you plan ahead, making long-term care decisions can be very difficult.

You may never need long-term care.  Even if you make careful plans and arrangements, you may never need it.  According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, “This year, about nine million men and women over the age of 65 will need long-term care. By 2020, 12 million older Americans will need long-term care. Most will be cared for at home; family and friends are the sole caregivers for 70 percent of the elderly. A study by t

he U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that people who reach age 65 will likely have a 40 percent chance of entering a nursing home. About 10 percent of the people who enter a nursing home will stay there five years or more.”

Here are a few facts which may surprise you:

  1. Long-term care insurance is very flexible.  Every long-term care policy gives you many choices for your benefits.  You choose your:  Daily BenefitInflation BenefitPolicy Limit, and Elimination Period.  The richer the benefits you choose, the higher your premium.  The more modest the benefits you choose, the lower your premium.  You are in control of those choices.
  2. Shop around. You can save thousands of dollars over your lifetime by shopping and comparing prices from several of the top long-term care policies.  Every long-term care policy has a unique way of calculating your premium based upon your age, your choice of benefits, and your health history.  When comparing several of the leading policies, with nearly identical benefits, premiums will often vary by as much as 70%.
  3. Premium Payment Periods. You can choose one of four premium payment periods for your long-term care policy.  You can choose:  a stepped premium payment, a standard premium payment, a shortened premium payment, or a single premium payment.  A “stepped premium payment” method can start off about 30% less than a “standard premium payment” method.
  4. Use pre-tax dollars. You can significantly decrease the “net cost” of your long-term care policy by using pre-tax dollars to help pay your long-term care insurance premiums.  There are now 10 different ways owners of long-term care insurance can save on their federal and state income taxes.  Depending upon your state and federal income tax bracket, this can decrease your “net cost” by 30% or more.
  5. Buy a Partnership-Qualified Policy. Now that 40 states have“Long-Term Care Partnership programs” you do not have to buy an expensive “unlimited” long-term care insurance policy.  You only need to buy an amount of long-term care insurance equal to the amount of assets you want to protect for yourself, your spouse or partner, and/or your heirs.  The Long-Term Care Partnership programs provide dollar-for-dollar asset protection.  Each dollar that your Partnership-Qualified Policy pays out in benefits entitles you to keep an extra dollar of countable assets if you ever need to apply for Medicaid services.
Leave a comment

How Much Does Long-Term Care Insurance Cost?

Here are a few facts which may surprise you:

  1. Long-term care insurance is very flexible.  Every long-term care policy gives you many choices for your benefits.  You choose your:  Daily BenefitInflation BenefitPolicy Limit, and Elimination Period.  The richer the benefits you choose, the higher your premium.  The more modest the benefits you choose, the lower your premium.  You are in control of those choices.
  2. Shop around. You can save thousands of dollars over your lifetime by shopping and comparing prices from several of the top long-term care policies.  Every long-term care policy has a unique way of calculating your premium based upon your age, your choice of benefits, and your health history.  When comparing several of the leading policies, with nearly identical benefits, premiums will often vary by as much as 70%.
  3. Premium Payment Periods. You can choose one of four premium payment periods for your long-term care policy.  You can choose:  a stepped premium payment, a standard premium payment, a shortened premium payment, or a single premium payment.  A “stepped premium payment” method can start off about 30% less than a “standard premium payment” method.
  4. Use pre-tax dollars. You can significantly decrease the “net cost” of your long-term care policy by using pre-tax dollars to help pay your long-term care insurance premiums.  There are now 10 different ways owners of long-term care insurance cansave on their federal and state income taxes.  Depending upon your state and federal income tax bracket, this can decrease your “net cost” by 30% or more.
  5. Buy a Partnership-Qualified Policy. Now that 40 states have“Long-Term Care Partnership programs” you do not have to buy an expensive “unlimited” long-term care insurance policy.  You only need to buy an amount of long-term care insurance equal to the amount of assets you want to protect for yourself, your spouse or partner, and/or your heirs.  The Long-Term Care Partnership programs provide dollar-for-dollar asset protection.  Each dollar that your Partnership-Qualified Policypays out in benefits entitles you to keep an extra dollar of countable assets if you ever need to apply for Medicaid services.
Enhanced by Zemanta
Leave a comment

What is Long-Term Care?

What is Long-Term Care?

Long-term care includes a variety of services that may be both medically and/or non-medically necessary for people with a chronic illness or disability.  Health and personal needs are met through long-term care.  Generally speaking, long-term care provides people assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, eating, toileting or transferring.  People of all ages may need long-term care.

Choosing long-term care is an important decision.  Planning for long-term care requires you to think about possible future long-term care needs and costs.  It is important to plan for long-term care before you need it, and before a crisis occurs.  By thinking and planning your choices now, you will have more control over your individual situation, possibly remaining independent longer.  Even when you plan ahead, making long-term care decisions can be very difficult.

You may never need long-term care.  Even if you make careful plans and arrangements, you may never need it.  According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, “This year, about nine million men and women over the age of 65 will need long-term care. By 2020, 12 million older Americans will need long-term care. Most will be cared for at home; family and friends are the sole caregivers for 70 percent of the elderly. A study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that people who reach age 65 will likely have a 40 percent chance of entering a nursing home. About 10 percent of the people who enter a nursing home will stay there five years or more.”

Enhanced by Zemanta
1 Comment

Three Big Problems With Long-Term-Care Insurance

Long-Term Care Facts Column: article originally published by the Redlands Daily Facts July 24, 2013:

There are three issues concerning people who are considering long-term care insurance:

  1. The underwriting and approval process can be long and difficult

  2. Claims may not be paid in the future when care is needed, and

  3. Premiums might skyrocket forcing you to drop the policy.

In the years I’ve been in the long-term care industry, the one thing I’ve learned is that the companies that have the toughest underwriting are usually the easiest and the quickest to process and pay claims.  At first glance, that statement may seem odd.  But when you think about it, it makes perfect sense.

Long-term care insurance underwriting can be difficult.  The process may include the review of medical records, blood and urine tests, a telephone interview and maybe even a cognitive test.  It is not always easy to qualify for long-term care insurance, and there is a reason for it.  Consider the amount of annual premium versus the amount of dollars spent paying a claim.  The largest long-term care claim on record is over $1.5 million of benefits, for only a few thousand dollars worth of premiums.  The insurer must be certain they do not issue a policy to someone who will go on claim in the very near future.

Call up 10 nursing homes or assisted living facilities in your area and ask the administrator:  “Which long-term care insurers pay claims the best.”  As in any industry, there are the “good companies” and the “not-so-good” companies.  Just because Yugo made a bad car, doesn’t mean that Toyota makes bad cars.  The same is true in the LTC insurance industry–there are the “Yugos” and then there are the more reliable insurers.

Of all the companies in the industry, the companies that pay the claims the quickest, by far, have the toughest underwriting.  Again, “tough underwriting standards” are a good thing because it means that the insurance company is serious about paying claims.

Some recent news articles have focused on long-term care insurance premium increases.  These articles imply that someone buying a policy today will be experiencing the same premium increases as someone who bought a policy 10 years ago.  The reality is that someone who buys a policy today has a much lower probability of experiencing a big rate increase.

For example, some states have approved cumulative premium increases, on some LTCi policyholders, as high as 95%.  Those policyholders have the choice of reducing their benefits or keeping their benefits the same and paying this higher premium.  Those policyholders who elect to keep their benefits the same and pay the additional 95% in premium, their new, higher premium, is actually lower than what you would be paying for the same benefits if you purchased a new policy today.  That’s because policies offered today are the MOST EXPENSIVE policies companies have ever offered.

Again, at first glance, you might be upset that if you buy a policy today that it is the most expensive LTCi policy that the company has ever offered.  But you shouldn’t be upset.  That’s why I said before, “The reality is that someone who buys a policy today has a very low probability of experiencing a big rate increase.”  Today’s policies are priced to avoid big premium increases.  Long-term care insurance companies have taken what they’ve learned over the past 30+ years and priced the current generation of policies with very conservative assumptions to try to avoid big premium increases in the future.

Again, you won’t hear this from any of the news outlet.  The headline, “New LTCi policies unlikely to experience big premium increases” would not sell any newspapers or drive traffic to websites.  Neither would the headline, “9 out of 10 Nursing Home Administrators Agree That The Top LTC Insurers Pay Claims Quickly.”  But both of those headlines are more accurate than much of the dribble that has been published recently.

To learn more, send your questions or comments to questions@LTCFacts.org.

 

Carolyn Olson is founder of LTCFacts.org, a website providing short articles about long-term care insurance to help people make decisions about buying long-term care insurance.

 

Leave a comment

Busting Myths About Long-Term Care Insurance

Long-Term Care Facts Column: article originally published by the Redlands Daily Facts June 13, 2013:

Myth #1  Most long-term care insurance claims are for nursing home care

When the long-term care insurance began in the mid-1960’s, most policies only covered the cost of nursing homes.  It wasn’t until the early 1990’s that insurers began including riders that covered home health care.  Now, it’s considered the norm for long-term care insurance policies to cover the cost of home health care.  According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Sourcebook 2012-13, in 2011 only 31% of claims were for nursing home care, while 56% of claims were for home care.  The home health care industry is booming as more people realize there is a choice: receive care at home.

Myth #2  If you have health problems, you can’t qualify for long-term care insurance

While it’s important to apply for a long-term care policy when you are healthy, just having some health problem will not prevent you from getting a policy.  Once stable, even people with chronic diseases can even receive the preferred health discount.  People with diseases such as high blood pressure, anxiety, high cholesterol, thyroid disorders, skin cancer, osteopenia, mild arthritis, asthma, enlarged prostate, carpal tunnel, GERD, glaucoma, heart murmur, herniated disc, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, macular degeneration, mitral valve prolapse, kidney stones, benign polyps, scoliosis, TMJ, familial tremors, and ulcers can all be approved for long-term care insurance, depending on the insurer.  It is important to consult a long-term care insurance specialist to help you with your individual situation.

Myth #3  Long-term care insurance is unaffordable

The real question is this: can you afford not to have long-term care insurance?  If you have over $50,000 in assets, or regular income that needs protection, then policies can be designed to be affordable.  Even a small amount of long-term care insurance can make a difference.  According to the Genworth 2013 Cost of Care Survey for California, the average cost of home health care is $140 per day, assisted living facilities average $125 per day, and nursing homes average $230 per day.  For a modest long-term care insurance policy covering $100 per day (90 day elimination period for 3 years), the cost is approximately $100 per month (depending on age and health).  Looking at home health care alone, spending $1,200 per year yields $36,500 in savings.  Clearly, some insurance is better than no insurance.

Myth #4 Long-term care insurance premiums increase every year

Contrary to what is often published on the internet, 4 of the top 10 long-term care insurers have never had any premium increases on any of their policyholders. 2 of the top 10 long-term care insurers have not had any premium increases on any of the policies they’ve sold since the rate stabilization regulations began to take effect in each state (2001-2004).

Additionally, there are two types of long-term care policies that can never have rate increases: Single-pay long-term care policies and limited pay long-term care policies with corresponding rate guarantees.

Single-pay long-term care policies are paid up after just one premium payment.  You make one premium payment and your policy is paid-up forever.  You are covered by the policy for as long as you live.  Since there is only one premium payment, you can never have a rate increase.

Limited-pay long-term care policies are paid up after a fixed number of years (usually between 5 to 10 years).  If a limited-pay policy has a rate guarantee that equals the premium payment period, then the premiums are guaranteed to never go up.

Myth #5  Medicare will pay for my long-term care if I need it

Medicare covers only medical expenses.  Medicaid can pay for long-term care after assets and income have been spent down to the minimum levels required by the state.  This is the very reason to purchase long-term care insurance: to protect your assets and income for your loved ones.

To learn more, send your questions or comments to questions@LTCFacts.org.

 

Leave a comment

What are the first steps in finding the right long-term-care insurance?

Long-Term Care Facts Column: article originally published by the Redlands Daily Facts May 22, 2013:

LTCFacts Article #8Conduct a simple Internet search on long-term-care insurance and the results are baffling. Add the words buy or quote, and it gets even more complex. For an insurance product that already has mystery surrounding it, the sheer amount of information yielded by an Internet search makes it tempting to scrap the whole process.

But hang tight. If you’ve already determined that you have assets and income to protect from a catastrophic event, then finding accurate information is crucial to your family’s protection.

First, I recommend that you find an insurance agent who specializes in long-term-care insurance. There aren’t many of them.

Pick one who is an independent agent, someone who represents several of the top LTC insurance companies and doesn’t sell insurance from just one company. Actually, you need a LTC insurance agent who helps you design a policy that’s right for you. There are simply too many variables involved with designing the right long-term-care insurance policy that is right for your family and financial needs and your future needs and goals.

For example, recently a consumer had contacted one of our agent partners about buying LTC insurance. He and his wife had applied for a policy with a leading insurance company and he wanted to see if he could save some money. During the phone call he told the agent that they were planning on retiring in the Caribbean and planned on using their LTC policy there.

The agent explained that although the policy they had applied for was a very good policy from a top company, that policy would pay benefits for only 365 days if they were outside the United States. The agent recommended they buy a policy, for about the same premium, that could give them more than 10 years of coverage outside the United States.

Simply requesting a quote from one of the numerous Internet ads listed will not necessarily yield you contact with a specialist. The best way to find a specialist is through a referral from a friend. If you know people who have already purchased long-term-care insurance, and they liked their experience with their agent, this is probably your best source. Or, you can search the Internet for “long-term-care insurance specialist,” along with your city or region, and you might find a good agent.

After you have found a good LTC insurance specialist, your first question might be about cost and affordability. In order for the LTC insurance specialist to provide accurate quotes, you need to share some health information. It is vitally important that you share an accurate picture of your health with your LTC insurance specialist. By providing a list of current prescription medications and any related health conditions, your LTC insurance specialist will be able to choose which insurance company is most likely to approve your application with a good premium. Keep in mind that insurance underwriters will be obtaining a copy of your medical records, so withholding information from the insurance agent is not helpful.

Lately, insurance companies are moving towards enhanced Underwriting. Essentially, long-term-care insurance companies have begun to underwrite applications much like they do life insurance applications. That means a medical professional will visit your house to obtain your height, weight and blood pressure and collect blood and urine specimens.

Some recent articles state the opinion that this type of underwriting is a bad move for the long-term-care insurance industry. However, this move should bring an assurance to consumers that the underwriters are carefully managing their assets and limiting their risks. After all, insurance companies are for-profit, private companies. Having insurance is a necessity and can bring peace of mind. It’s a good thing if you never need it. Just like with auto insurance, we all have it and we all hope we never need it.

To learn more, send questions or comments to questions@LTCFacts.org.

 

Leave a comment

The Truth About Long-Term Care Insurance

Long-Term Care Facts Column: article originally published by the Redlands Daily Facts May 9, 2013:

In my last column, I addressed recent articles published on a several well-known news websites have been riddled with half-truths and misleading information.  In an effort to educate the public, here are a few more corrections to the half-truths that have cropped up recently:

LTC policyholders have confronted surprise rate hikes on the order of 45% to 85%.

Some long-term care policies have guaranteed level premiums for life.  But most long-term care policies are “guaranteed renewable” which means that the insurer has a limited right to request a premium increase from each state’s insurance commissioner.  In most states the premium increase can only be approved if the insurer has incurred significantly higher claims than the insurance commissioner had originally approved for that policy.  In most states, premium increases must go towards paying claims only—not profits.  And the premium increases must be shared by all the owners of that type of policy.

Most long-term care policyholders who have had premium increases have had only 1 or 2 premium increases over a 10 to 20 year span. And most premium increases have been closer to 20%, not “45% to 85%”. I’m sure most of us wish our medical insurance had only two increases over the past 10 to 20 years.  In 2004, most states adopted “Rate Stabilization Regulations” for long-term care insurance. Most long-term care policyholders who have purchased their policies after those regulations went into effect have not had any premium increases.

Imagine buying a Lexus for $5,000 down plus $500 a month under a contract that allows the dealer to raise the monthly payment if he wants to. Six months in, it goes to $800, and you have a free choice between paying up or handing in the car and losing your down payment. That would be a ridiculous contract to sign. LTC buyers sign contracts like that.

This Lexus example could only be an accurate analogy it included all of the following requirements for the monthly payment increase:

  1. The state’s “Automobile Commissioner” regulated how much profit the Lexus dealer could make on each car,

  2. The state’s “Automobile Commissioner” had to approve any increase in the monthly payment,

  3. The increased monthly payment approved by the Commissioner had to be shared by all Lexus owners who had purchased cars from that dealer,

  4. The state’s “Automobile Commissioner” would only approve increased monthly payments after the Lexus dealer incurred higher losses and had much lower profits than the “Automobile Commissioner” had originally approved for the Lexus dealer,

  5. The “Automobile Commissioner” required the Lexus Dealer to give you the option to keep your payment at $500 but switch to a different Lexus one grade lower, and, lastly,

  6. The monthly payment increase was required in order to keep all the Lexus owners in their cars, driving safely, and the Lexus dealer in business and able to maintain all the cars and guarantee all the warranties.

Obviously, this is a silly analogy, but these points prove the tight regulations surrounding long-term care insurance.

To collect on an LTC policy, your family may have to put up a fight.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Aging commissioned the federal Dept. of Health and Human Services to conduct an audit of the top long-term care insurers’ claims practices. The federal audit reviewed both approved and denied claims from seven of the leading long-term care insurers.  These seven insurance companies are currently paying over 70% of long-term care insurance claims.  They audited EVERY denied claim for some of the insurers in the study.

Here are a few important points made in the report:

“…There is a greater probability of approving rather than denying a questionable claim.”

“…Regarding denial decisions, we found that in all cases, there was no evidence to suggest that the individual met the tax-qualified criteria for benefit eligibility in their policy.”

“…This would suggest that companies are consistently applying their clinical contract language to their claims decisions.”

In other words, the claims are being paid! The reason some claims are not paid is because the policyholder does not meet the federal guidelines for “benefit eligibility” in the policy. You can download the actual study at LTCFacts.org and seach for Federal Audit in the search box.

To learn more, send your questions or comments to questions@LTCFacts.org.

Leave a comment

Is Pricing Discriminatory or Good Business Practice?

Long-Term Care Facts Column: article originally published by the Redlands Daily Facts March 7, 2013:

Some of the leading long-term care insurance companies have recently announced that they will soon offer policies that have different rates for men and women.LTCFacts Article #4

Gender-based pricing for insurance is not new. Most insurance policies have premiums that are based upon gender, as well as other factors. Life insurance, auto insurance and disability insurance all have different prices for men and women because the risk factors are different for each gender.

Men pay higher premiums than women for most forms of insurance. One type of insurance for which women have paid higher premiums than men is medical insurance. However, as part of the Affordable Care Act, effective Jan. 1, 2014, all medical insurance policies are required to charge men and women the same rates.

Some reports on the Internet have stated that gender-based pricing for long-term care insurance is a violation of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). However, the Affordable Care Act does not have any regulations regarding long-term care insurance; it regulates only medical insurance.

As of the publishing of this column, all long-term care insurance policies available for sale still use unisex rates, meaning that men and women pay the same rates. However, this will change in most states sometime in 2013.

If you’re a woman and you’ve been thinking about purchasing long-term care insurance, you may want to buy a policy that has the unisex rates rather than wait for the policies that will have gender-based rates. Some have estimated that the gender-based rates may be as much as 20 percent to 40 percent higher for women than the current unisex rates.

Once you purchase a policy with the unisex rates you will always have the unisex rates; your policy cannot be switched to gender-based rates.

The justification for charging women higher rates than men for long-term care insurance is that women account for roughly two-thirds of long-term-care insurance claims. However, more women own long-term care insurance than men, so the data may not be quite so lopsided.

Women tend to become caregivers themselves for the men in their lives, thus reducing the number of claims made by men. With women typically living longer than men, there may be no one left to provide extended care for them.

According to an industry website, Genworth’s new long-term care insurance product, Privileged Choice Flex 2, will be launched in April in about 35 states with single women paying about 20 percent to 40 percent more than single men. Industry experts predict that all companies offering long-term care insurance will soon follow the gender-based pricing model.

To learn more, send your questions or comments to questions@LTCFacts.org.

 

Leave a comment

Genworth: Temporary Suspension of Individual LTC Products in California

Genworth Life Insurance Company announced today that they have suspended sales of all individual LTC products in California.  Specifically, California Choice and Choice Partnership will no longer be available after March 21, 2013 pending the necessary state approvals to launch the Privileged Choice Flex Product in California.

If you live in California and have been thinking of purchasing a long-term care insurance product,now is the time to act.  Speak to a long-term care insurance specialist today!

Leave a comment

Protecting Your Income, Assets Is Of Paramount Concern

Long-Term Care Facts Column: article originally published by the Redlands Daily Facts February 21, 2013:

My last column explained the government’s role in providing long-term care.

As a general guideline, if your household income is less than $50,000 per year and your net worth, not including your residence, is less than $50,000, then relying on Medicaid for your long-term care needs probably makes sense.

It is not always this clear cut. Suppose a couple wants to own long-term care insur­ance but can’t afford a policy for each of them.

Which spouse should get a policy?

Statistically speaking, women are more likely to need care than men, so it might make sense to buy only a policy on the woman. In reality, it’s the spouse who has the most income in his or her name who should own long-term care insur­ance.

For example, John has a pension of $36,000 per year. He also receives $24,000 of Social Security benefits each year. Mary, his wife, has a pension of $20,000 and she receives $15,000 of Social Security benefits each year.

Without long-term care insurance, if John were to need long-term care and apply for Medicaid to pay for his care, all of his income would have to go to the facility caring for him (minus a small allowance and minus the cost of his health insurance.) In other words, if he were to rely on Medicaid, Mary would no longer be able to use any of his income for her own living expenses. She would be able to keep only her annual income of $35,000.

Conversely, if Mary were to need long-term care and apply for Medicaid to pay for her care, all of her income would have to go to the facility caring for her (minus a small allowance and minus the cost of her health insurance.) In other words, if she were to rely on Medicaid, John would no longer be able to use any of her income for his living expenses. But, John would be able to keep all of his income totaling $70,000 per year.

Without having a policy on John, they risk losing about $70,000 per year in income. Without having a policy on Mary they risk losing about $35,000 per year in income. Therefore, if they can insure only one person, I think it’s wiser to insure John rather than Mary. Even without owning significant assets, it would certainly be wise to protect the primary source of income.

But what if there is mod­est income yet fairly signifi­cant assets that need protec­tion? In order for the gov­ernment pay for someone’s long-term care expenses, the person would have to spend down his or her assets to the poverty level — about $3,000 in most states.

Since 2005, and the pas­sage of the Deficit Reduc­tion Act, most states are allowing their residents to keep more of their assets if they own a government­approved Long-Term Care Partnership policy.

Long-Term Care Partnership policies are similar to tradi­tional long-term care insur­ance policies, except they must include special con­sumer protection features, especially inflation protec­tion. Each dollar that your long-term care partnership policy pays to you in bene­fits entitles you to keep a dollar of your assets, if you ever need to apply for Med­icaid services after using your policy’s benefits.

In the old days, you’d have to spend your assets down to the state-required minimums. Now, the state will allow you to keep the minimum amounts plus an amount equal to whatever your long-term care partner­ship policy paid in benefits.

Your assets are protected from Medicaid spend-down, and your assets can even be protected from estate recov­ery after you die.

Four states have success­fully run long-term care partnership programs since the 1990s — California, Connecticut, Indiana and New York. Since 2005, about 40 other states have established long-term care partnership programs.

To learn more, send your questions or comments to questions@LTCFacts.org.

Carolyn Olson is founder of LTCFacts.org, a website providing short articles about long-term care insurance to help people make decisions about buying long-term care insurance.

%d bloggers like this: