Long-term care: Your clock is ticking!

Tuesday - 10/25/2011, 1:00pm EDT

What's the best time or age at which to purchase Long-Term Care insurance?

The short answer is: It depends. But ...

A lot of people, who want the coverage but who don't want to "waste" money paying premiums for something they don't use, say this is what you do: Purchase your LTC policy a couple of weeks BEFORE you have the stroke or accident that means you will need help eating, getting in and out of bed, dressing and going to the bathroom. The problem, of course, is you probably don't know when, if ever, that will happen. Once you figure it out, it is too late.

The uncertainty of life may be one reason that 270,000 federal workers have signed up for the federal LTC program at work. During the most recent open season, there were 45,000 new enrollees in the federal plan. Presumably, hopefully, many feds who didn't buy into the federal group program purchased a policy for themselves from one of the few remaining companies that offer LTC coverage.

Currently, a friend and his wife, both youngish and retired, are deciding on whether and when to move their mother (mother-in-law) into an assisted-living program here in the Washington area. She now lives in Florida and has to pay for in-home care. Her monthly bill here, in a partially-subsidized religious-based nursing home will be $12,000. That's not the yearly tab. That is $12,000 per month. When her money runs out, Medicade will be the primary payer.

The problem for a lot of us is that we don't understand what LTC covers, which option to choose, when to get it and what it will cover. Many people think that Social Security and/or their FEHBP health plan takes care of LTC needs. Bottom line: They don't. So how do you find out?

We're devoting part of our Your Turn radio show today to the federal LTC program. Paul Forte and Beth O'Brien, of Long Term Care Partners, will talk about how the federal program works, what and who it covers (same-sex domestic partners), and everything you need to know about the insurance.

Supercommittee

Are you curious/worried about what the congressional supercommittee is up to? Will it recommend an extended pay freeze, higher retirement contributions and lower future cost of living adjustments for retirees? How about the proposal to eliminate the FERS retirement program, the upcoming health insurance open season and the impact of labo -management partnerships? Will the supercommittee propose eliminating within-grade (longevity) step increases? We'll check in with Federal Times reporter Stephen Losey on today's Your Turn radio show.

Listen if you can (1500 AM or online), and if you have questions email them to me at mcausey@federalnewsradio.com or call in during the show at (202) 465-3080. The show will be archived here.


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

By Jack Moore

Why are so many robotic voices on our devices — such as GPS and now Siri, the virtual iPhone assistant — female? Call it the HAL effect, NPR reports. A Stanford University professor posits that the sinister computer with a man's voice from Stanley Kubrick's 1968 sci-fi epic 2001: A Space Odyssey may have steered technology companies away from using authoritative male voices.

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