If you have a long-term care insurance policy, pat yourself on the back. If not, you may have just been dealt a kick in the assets. Effective Aug. 1, premiums under the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program have gone up. Although the increase varies depending on age and the terms of the policy, the average increase is about 30 percent.
The premium increase was OK’d by the Office of Personnel Management and John Hancock Life & Health Insurance “to ensure they are adequate to cover projected benefits for new enrollees.”
In other words, long term is expensive and getting more so.
The good news, for the several hundred thousand feds and retirees already in the federal program is that their premiums did not go up. They’ll keep paying the same rate for their coverage.
The bad news for people considering LTC insurance is that when they do get it, it will almost certainly cost more. That is if they can qualify for coverage based on their health, preexisting medical conditions and age.
Twenty years ago, lots of insurance companies offered LTC coverage. But as costs have risen (and people are living longer) most insurance companies have dropped it, and no longer offer LTC coverage. The plan I joined while with The Washington Post offered good coverage and decent premiums. Also I was much younger than the average first-time buyer and my health (as a runner and part-time gym rat) was good.
But I’ve gotten older. I now walk instead of run and it would be much harder (and more expensive) for me to qualify for LTC today. Oh, and did I mention that the insurance company — like many others — no longer sells LTC insurance. They grandfathered me, and others, into their coverage. But they haven’t taken new clients in years.
The federal LTC program is said to be the largest in the nation. There are still a few major insurance companies that offer LTC ( but not many) and the list is shrinking each year.
So if you are thinking about getting LTC, the best time to do it was before the Aug. 1 premium hike.
If you missed that, the next best date may be sooner rather than later.
Today at 10 a.m. on Federal News Radio’s Your Turn radio show, federal benefits expert John Elliott is our guest. He’s going to talk about how you should plan your retirement exit from government. In a survey by Federal News Radio’s Michael O’Connell, 45 percent of those responding said they’ve been eligible to retire for a year or more. Yet they are staying, for a variety reasons.
Retiring and doing it right is important. In today’s program will talk about Medicare Part B. Can you afford it? Can you afford not to have it? Where to find retirement calculators, the role of LTC and important non-financial issues you may not have thought of.
The show begins at 10 a.m. EDT on www.federalnewsradio.com or 1500 AM in the Washington area. You can email questions before the show to me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or, if you want to speak directly with John, call during the show at 202-465-3080