If I had a quarter for every time, I was asked this question I would have a lot of quarters for sure. Many LTC (long term care) companies made significant errors in their original underwriting of LTC policies. As a result, many companies are no longer in business. The ones that are in business have greatly changed their practices. However, the biggest issue that has come out of the miscalculation of LTC is that people who still have policies are losing their benefits and their premiums are going through the roof. The question now is what do we do?
This is a question that I receive on a regular basis in my estate planning and elder law practice. By way of full disclosure, I am not a licensed insurance agent, and I am not licensed to be able to sell long-term care insurance or any other insurance product. I am an attorney with approximately 20 years of experience in estate planning and elder law and I happen to be a Certified Elder Law Attorney under authorization of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. While I am not the person who will sell the products, I am certainly an individual who has been advising numerous clients over the years and believe in the benefits of a long-term care policy and what they can provide. We have done numerous other blogs about long-term care insurance and the benefits of said policies.
When long-term care insurance first gained popularity, many companies completely missed out on the actuarial tables and in predicting what people were going to need. Because of this drastic miscalculation, most of the companies who originally were in the markets for long-term care insurance are no longer there. The few standing companies that are left are trying to figure out ways to make up for the mistakes of the past. Because of that, they are often forced to increase premiums and decrease benefits. Although these companies do have to get permission from the insurance board, it is not a very difficult proposition and, in most cases, they will almost always be able to receive permission. The most difficult part is that individuals have been paying into a plan for a number of years and now are learning that they’re going to have to decrease their benefits and even then, they may have to increase the premiums that they are paying. It is heart wrenching to have to provide guidance in these situations and ultimately, I always encourage them to bring in their financial professionals to try to make the decisions. It is as much about the numbers and the common sense as it is about the emotion involved. It is very easy for us to get disgusted and upset about what is occurring, but it is a cold, harsh reality of the miscalculations that were made in the past. In some instances, increasing premiums and decreasing benefits is the only way some of these companies will survive.
My best advice to any and all people who are faced with this dilemma is to write out the pros and cons and to try to make the evaluation and determination about numbers and as little as possible about emotion of the situation. It is too easy to get hung up on the principle of the manner, but the truth is principals are expensive and cause wars. Make the best decision for you and your family based upon the information that you have in front of you. Long-term care is not going away and dropping the policy out of spite is not going to help anyone.
If you are looking for advice in regards to estate planning, please call our office at 717-845-5390 or click the link here and we will contact you.