LTC: Perfect gift for him, her & you

Wednesday - 6/5/2013, 2:00am EDT

Six of every 10 Americans forced to declare bankruptcy do so because of staggering medical costs, even though the majority have health insurance. That's a sobering and frightening fact.

Although they have some of the best health-insurance coverage in the nation, federal and postal workers — or their families — can find themselves largely uncovered when it comes to long-term care (LTC). Many of the most important and expensive things associated with LTC, at home or in a facility, aren't covered by health insurance or Social Security.

Personal example: My mother was a long-time federal worker (HUD, HHS, Social Security and the U.S. Information Agency). She retired before the government offered LTC coverage. But as soon as they did, I urged her to sign up. She very reluctantly agreed, although like a lot of us, she didn't like to think about things like that.

Anyhow, I thought I was doing her a favor. Turns out it was one of the biggest late-in-life gifts she could give to me. After being healthy as a horse and a big walker (she didn't learn to drive until her early 30s), as well as following a careful diet, she got dementia. We didn't know it at first, but it got worse.

For the last couple of years, she had to be in a nursing home. She required watching and 'round-the-clock care. As her only child, I (with a very big assist from my kids and their spouses) was it!

Thanks to her federal annuity, Social Security (she worked a long time in the private sector, too) and LTC, she had relatively few bills. Same for me. It was sad, it was trouble, it was awful (especially for her). But it could have been so much worse. She was able to stay in a great place (considering the situation) that was 20 minutes from me and her grandchildren.

Thanks to LTC, the icing on the cake, she had a very good quality of life (considering the circumstances), and we weren't always sweating the money and quality of care.

The end was terrible for her. But it could have been so much worse.

Today at 10 a.m. on Your Turn radio show we'll be talking with Paul Forte, CEO of Long Term Care Partners, and retirement guru Stan Hinden. Forte's LTC Partners runs the program offered to federal workers and retirees. Hinden (a former colleague of mine at The Washington Post) left the newspaper business and wrote the best-seller "How To Retire Happy."

This is one you will want to hear and alert a friend too. LTC is the kind of insurance (like fire insurance) that you pray you never need. It is the one where you hope your premiums are "wasted" and you don't need the money. But if you do...

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

Compiled by Jack Moore

The word galocher has been added to the French dictionary, officially creating, for the first time, a verb for the term "French kiss." A dictionary employee told the Toronto Globe and Mail, the French language has never had just a single word to describe the act, but added, "it never stopped us doing it."


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