A personal tale that accentuates the importance of Long Term Care
During my nearly 30 years working as an employee benefits consulting professional, I’ve helped popularize many benefit-related insurance products, despite sometimes harboring a lack of personal affinity with the primary intended audience. Long Term Care Insurance (LTC) emerged many years ago as just such a product – a concept pitch by the insurance industry seeking a new channel to tap into the buying power of baby boomers approaching retirement age.
The LTC insurance product was conceived to afford a layer of asset protection in the event of high cost care in settings where retiree health plans and Medicare don’t afford much cover – nursing homes, assisted living facilities, home health care, and the like. Varying coverage levels for reimbursement of qualifying expenses could be purchased; claim approvals would be tied to the insured’s health status, as defined by an assessment of one’s ability to perform specified activities of daily living.
From the complexity of emerging coverage patterns, to a pervasive lack of understanding about the dire financial risks of elder care, the LTC insurance marketplace has faced major challenges in gaining acceptance.
My career orientation obliges me to be alert to such exposures in order to advise clients proactively, and I certainly came to grasp an academic appreciation for well-designed LTC coverage as a vehicle to help plug this gap in a family’s financial fabric. Even with that knowledge, as recently as a decade ago I was still not sufficiently moved to purchase LTC coverage myself – a mistake I have since remedied. I did, however, press my retired parents for years to buy LTC policies; they finally acquiesced in 2002, and ultimately having LTC coverage helped enable our family to make critical decisions about the venue for our parents’ on-going care as their health deteriorated. Although LTC did not eliminate the emotional pain and logistical complexities thrust upon us by our parents’ decline, it did allow us to manage the process with a “care first” versus a “cost first” mentality.
I have learned to appreciate firsthand the important role that LTC coverage can play in maintaining a family’s financial and emotional well-being. I urge adult readers of all ages to investigate LTC coverage options for themselves and their family members from the many quality underwriters who remain committed to this product’s central objective. In addition, ask your employers if they can sponsor a group benefit LTC offering.
The preceding is a synopsis of a more thorough whitepaper that I recently authored outlining how my professional and personal processes intersected in the “elder care abyss”. Click here to read the complete whitepaper and for more details on the Long Term Care market.
About the Author
Ken Ambos is a Senior Vice President in WGA’s New York office. He is responsible for developing and managing Employee Benefits client relationships, and specializes in advising mid-sized employers about the direction of their employee benefit programs. In addition, he provides due diligence/consulting services for Private Equity firms.