By Linda Jahnke
"At one time I was under the illusion that a robust, comprehensive, long term care policy was the only way to pay for care. Yet, over time I have evolved in how I see this product fitting into a family’s overall planning strategy."
I have been called a dinosaur. A dinosaur in the long-term care market is someone who has specialized in this industry for at least 20 years or more. I supposed we have been referred to like this because dinosaurs (the nice ones), are slow moving, happily roaming in their own special habitat, never anticipating the need to evolve. We all know what happened to this majestic species and I have felt many times over the last 30 years that I too would end up like a relic.
At one time I was under the illusion that a robust, comprehensive, long term care policy was the only way to pay for care. Yet, over time I have evolved in how I see this product fitting into a family’s overall planning strategy.
Today, a traditional long-term care policy may be one of several options that a person should consider in planning to age in place well.
When consumers view LTCi as a piece of the planning puzzle, rather than the sole solution, they will be more likely to purchase moderate benefits that focus on claims experience, as opposed to an all or nothing approach. The average claim experience could be less than three years. The typical home care expense for scheduled services is approximately $3,000 to $5,000 per month. Let’s be realistic about what is more likely to happen and communicate to consumers that long term care is a manageable, life event, that can be accounted for with a modest long term care policy.
“The cost of long term care insurance is just too expensive to be worth it.” If consumers are not saying this to us, they are surely thinking it. I would agree with this statement had I not reframed in my mind the vast array of unique services that are available. I want my clients to know that even a modest amount of coverage can be greatly beneficial to them in the future.
For example, I serve on a board of directors for a nonprofit adult day health center that has recently built a pseudo 50’s style city inside of a warehouse. Our program offers reminiscence therapy for participant’s suffering from dementia. This adult day health program, called Town Square, is just one innovating example that is being developed to address the tidal wave of need. This inviting, therapeutic setting offers an entire day of directed care which gives family members a much needed break. This type of service is relatively inexpensive, just under $2,500 per month. If a consumer had purchased a LTC policy with even a small benefit of $3,000 per month, this adult day option would be a game changer for their caregivers.
“I do not ever want to go into a nursing home.” This misconception can be explained away by simply educating consumers. In the last six years, we have filed more than 250 claims. Not one of these claims resulted in a lengthy nursing home stay. The most likely place for a claim to be paid is in the home, or in a residential care facility. Purchasing a modest benefit of $4,000 to $5,000 per month could be the one thing that allows an insured to avoid a skilled nursing stay. As a patient advocate, I can attest to the fact that having a minimal level of support at home can prevent a cascading of problems such as trauma due to a fall, infections or misuse of medication.
“I may never need long term care, I could save the premium and self-insure.” No doubt most of our clients will indeed “self-insure” for a considerable amount of medical care in the future in addition to any home care or facility care expenses. Considering that Medicare is continually cutting back on physical therapy, extended hospital and skilled nursing stays, that rainy day fund will be needed for more care modalities. When long term care insurance benefits are defraying expenses, families can afford more options for services not otherwise covered by health insurance or Medicare.
“Who will help me if I need to file a claim?” As a result of the increased need for claims advocacy, our agency, Jahnke Consulting and Long-Term Care Alliance has developed a claims service center. In addition to shepherding a claim through the process, we have developed relationships with care providers in our community. Any and all care services that our clients may need can be found in our referral resources. Most recently, we are excited to be collaborating with Amazing Care Network. Amazing Care is a membership organization that provides families with critical future planning support. Cora Tellez, the CEO and Founder of Amazing Care has a passion to connect families with professionals. Her heart for helping people age with dignity has come from her own personal experience of being a caregiver. Jahnke Consulting is proud to offer a long-term care product to all Amazing Care Members at a discounted rate. We feel strongly about both offering insurance, as well as collaborating with care professional that will enable us to follow our clients along the care continuum when they need care.
Linda Jahnke has been in the LTCi market for over 30 years. She and her husband Kevin live in San Diego California. They have four children and 2.5 grandkids. They are no longer dinosaurs. You can find Linda on the web at WWW.JCLTCA.COM or email with questions to: Linda.Jahnke@jcltca.com.