ltc insurance

Caring for a Family Member- Part 2

In my last blog, I mentioned a couple of facts that should be considered before offering to be the caregiver for a family member. In addition to the time commitment and adverse effects on your own health, you should also consider how you would truthfully answer these questions:

  • Will I be able to help him/her transfer in and out of bed? On and of the toilet?
  • Will I be able to roll him/her over in bed to change clothing and bedding?
  • Will I be able to help him/her bathe or shower?
  • Will I be able to get him/her dressed?
  • Will I feel comfortable providing personal care and hygiene for him/her?

These questions need to be answered for both your physical ability to provide care for a full-sized adult, and your emotional ability to provide intimate care to someone who was your sibling, parent, or grandparent.

What's the Difference Between Objective Financial Advisors and Traditional Advisors

Most people are confused when it comes to who they should trust with their financial future. Intuitively, most of us know that all financial advisors are not created equal. But the details of the differences between advisors can be confusing.

Two of the most important differences between Objective Advisors and Traditional Advisors have to do with their:

1. Philosophy concerning their relationship with you: Traditional Advisors usually rely heavily on “transactions”, that is, selling products that pay them commissions. Objective Advisors have nothing to sell except advice so their emphasis is on building relationships based on the trust of the advice.

2. Compensation: Traditional Advisors are paid from several different sources, which could include (but may not be limited to) commissions from insurance companies or mutual fund companies; referral fees; bonuses for selling certain products or investments.

Objective Advisors are paid only by their client. The client knows exactly how much the fee is. There’s no hidden agenda or conflict of interest for the advice the client receives because their advisor’s job is to give objective advice. Period.

I’ll elaborate in depth on these differences in future blog posts.

Why Long-Term Care Insurance is a Practical Solution in Second Marriages

Since the number of second marriages is growing at a faster pace than ever, the need for long-term care by one partner could cause problems among children of both spouses. The likelihood is high that the older partner will need long-term care services for several years because it’s common for one partner in second marriages to be considerably younger than the other.

Children born of the previous marriage(s) of the younger spouse may be apprehensive that their parent’s health could be affected by providing care for an older spouse, or that an inheritance will be depleted paying for care for the older step-parent.

There are also misconceptions surrounding the Medicaid (Welfare) program. Medicaid is a needs-based program and eligibility is determined by an evaluation of a person’s assets and income. Many second-marriage couples believe that if they have a pre-nuptial agreement separating their funds, they will not have to “spend down” their combined assets before qualifying for welfare. In fact, pre-nuptial agreements do not protect a couple’s assets from Medicaid’s spend down requirements.

Planning ahead with long-term care insurance for both partners of a second marriage can alleviate many of these concerns. Insurance can assure that neither spouse will be required to provide care personally and that assets will not be depleted paying for the partner’s care. This allows both partners to protect their mental and physical health, and to pass their assets down to their own bloodline.

In addition to protecting their children’s inheritance, there are other benefits to having LTC insurance coverage:

* Better access to high-quality and affordable care

* Ability to maintain current living arrangements

* Prevent dependence on family members for care

Is Your Health Good Enough to Qualify for Long-Term Care Insurance?

Long-Term Care insurance is a health-qualifying type of insurance. You must be in reasonably good health in order to obtain coverage. If your health is not good enough to qualify for coverage, no amount of premium you are willing to pay will change the fact that you’re ineligible. As with all types of insurance, many times those who want coverage the most are those who can’t qualify for it.

If you decide to apply for coverage, you will go through a process called underwriting. Underwriting is defined as “a process of examining, accepting, or rejecting insurance risks, and then classifying those accepted in order to charge the proper amount of premium.”

The LTC insurance underwriting process consists of answering questions about your health, and may also include a physical exam and/or request for medical information from your doctor.

If you currently have certain health conditions, you will automatically be ineligible to apply for LTC insurance. Some of these conditions are ones that you would expect: Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Multiple Strokes. Others, such as Schizophrenia may not be as obvious.

In addition to the conditions mentioned above, here are some other disqualifying conditions:

  • AIDS

  • Renal Failure

  • Congestive Heart Failure

  • Cirrhosis of the liver

  • Diabetes with Complications

  • Mental Retardation

  • Severe Emphysema

  • Transient Ischemic Attack

In addition to these conditions, you must not have needed any of the following during the preceding 12 months:

  • Assistance with activities of daily living (bathing, eating, dressing)

  • Home Health Care Services

  • Care in a nursing home or assisted living facility

  • A walker, wheelchair, medical appliance, kidney dialysis, manufactured source of oxygen

But even if you don’t have any of the disqualifying conditions, it doesn’t mean that you will automatically qualify for coverage. Underwriting is performed on an individual basis, and there may be other conditions, or combinations of conditions, that cause an application to be declined. For example, if you have high blood pressure that is controlled with medications, but you’re significantly over weight, your application will probably be denied.

Part 1: Tips for Having the "Long-Term Care" Discussion with Your Parents

Fortunately, grown children and their parents are finally beginning to feel comfortable having the “long-term care conversation.” How you enter this terrain will depend on the relationship you have with your parents.

You may not get far in your first conversation. It’s a lot to digest, particularly if your parents have avoided this subject. Be patient. Find what works for you. If one approach doesn’t work, try another. To get started, here are a few ways to break the ice:

  • Be Open - If you have an open and direct relationship, don’t beat around the bush. Just come out and tell them that you’d like to talk about their plan for paying for long-term care.
  • Be Reflective - Ask them about their past, their childhood, and their parents. Learn more about them. Then move on to the future. What do they want most? How do they perceive the future? What worries them?
  • Discuss Someone Else’s Situation - This is often the easiest and most logical approach. Chances are that you or your parents know someone who is already dealing with some aspect of aging or long-term care. Talking about what’s good or bad about their situation can be a useful launching point.
  • Ask for Advice - This is a great way to get the discussion rolling. Tell them that you just met with a financial advisor and that you’re preparing for the future. Then ask them for advice. Follow that by asking how they’ve planned ahead.
  • Grab an Opening - If your mother is talking about Aunt Kathy, who’s in an assisted living facility, and rolls her eyes and says, “Don’t ever put me in one of those places,” ask her what she means. What would your mother want in the same circumstances.
Family Caregivers: The Physical and Emotional Burdens

Before you automatically raise your hand and say “I’ll take care of my spouse (mother, father, aunt, etc),” make sure you realize what you’re getting yourself into. Unless they’ve done it before, most people can’t even imagine the physical and emotional exhaustion experienced by a caregiver trying to care for a full size adult- in some cases one who is twice the size of the caregiver.

Answer these questions truthfully to determine if you would realisticcally be able to take on the role of caregiver:

  • Will I be able to help them transfer in and out of bed? On and off the toilet?
  • Will I be able to roll them over in bed to change clothing ad bedding?
  • Will I be able to help them bathe or shower?
  • Will I be able to get them dressed and undressed?
  • Will I feel comfortable providing personal care and hygiene for them?