Proposal Promotes Long-Term Care Insurance

By Galewitz, Phil | THE JOURNAL RECORD, February 10, 1999 | Go to article overview

Proposal Promotes Long-Term Care Insurance


Galewitz, Phil, THE JOURNAL RECORD


NEW YORK -- When AT&T began offering long-term care insurance to its workers in 1993, Burke Stinson didn't want to think about the possibility.

But after watching his mother quickly lose her life savings when she was placed in a nursing home following a brain seizure, Stinson had a change of heart.

"Life can change on a moment's notice and I want to spare my family as much pain as I can," said Stinson, 57, AT&T's senior public relations director from Basking Ridge, N.J., who pays $700 annually for a long-term insurance policy. Stinson is one of a small but growing number of Americans buying long-term care insurance through the workplace. Available since the mid-1980s, long-term care insurance today is viewed much the way individual retirement accounts and 401(k) plans were in the `70s. Consumers are not convinced they need them. But that view is slowly fading. Last month, President Clinton proposed making private long-term care insurance available to all federal employees, retirees and their parents at negotiated group rates. The White House also proposed a massive education campaign to inform Americans that most long-term care is not covered by Medicare, the federal insurance program for the elderly and disabled. Long-term care insurance executives say the initiatives, which must be approved by Congress, would boost sales by raising awareness and adding some legitimacy to their product. Still, the executives acknowledge the industry has a long way to go if it ever wants to get consumers to consider long-term care insurance in the same breath as health, life and automobile insurance. Without coverage for long-term care, thousands of Americans each year become impoverished so they can qualify for state and federal Medicaid, which pays for the bulk of nursing home care. But that system often means a spouse or other family members also face financial catastrophe. Long-term care insurance aims to cushion consumers and their families from that scenario. Insurance coverage can vary markedly with some plans paying for only nursing home care or for only 12 months of coverage. Yet, more companies now offer policies that cover the gamut of long-term needs from assisted living facilities to home care to nursing home. Premiums can vary from $25 to $35 a month for people in their 30s to more than a $100 a month for those over 60. …

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