Filed Under:Health Insurance, Ltci

Long-term care is free

Opinion

Why are states giving the Partnership program the cold shoulder? (Thinkstock image)
Why are states giving the Partnership program the cold shoulder? (Thinkstock image)

It has been more than five years since the partnership between Medicaid and private long-term care insurance (LTCI) started, and the program is a very well kept secret in most locales.

The partnership concept was designed to give an incentive to Americans of modest means to purchase at least some long-term care (LTC) insurance.

If one could not afford a Cadillac plan, many felt it not worthwhile getting any coverage at all, especially since the government paid for LTC through Medicaid.

The partnership was to change this by offering an incentive to purchase LTCU coverage, an incentive with no government give-away up front followed by the hope of recovering something in return later.

If you purchased a partnership LTCI policy, and after claiming and collecting on it, either need more cash flow for a higher level of care, or exhausted the policy, you could apply for Medicaid without first becoming impoverished. Medicaid would “asset ignore” assets equal to what the partnership LTCI had already paid out.

What a concept, no income tax incentives required (other than the tax-deductibility of the premiums), people buy insurance, use it, and if they need additional help from Medicaid later, they do not need to spend down to Medicaid impoverishment.

The (future) Medicaid recipients would have taken some personal responsibility and paid for all or a portion of their LTC using their income, assets, or their partnership LTCI before needing Medicaid. Assets equal to what the LTCI had already paid out would be ignored. (income is still counted).

This should have triggered a considerable number of people purchasing some LTCI, but nothing happened. Nobody knew the program existed.

Texas built a website, www.OwnYourFutureTexas.org, which explains the concept wonderfully (I send my prospects there to look and learn). Connecticut went even farther and sent state employees out to hold public seminars on the Partnership concept at public venues. They tell me they can document at least 10 percent of attendees buying a Partnership LTCI after attending, and suspect an additional number that they cannot document who realizeD Medicaid planning is not in their best interest.

My home state of Wisconsin will not even print the brochure on the partnership concept, claiming that people can search the state website to find it (it takes me about 30 minutes to find it, and I know it exists). There is not going to be any traction here.

I finally turned my attention to the feds and spent a few days in Washington speaking with members of Congress and Senate staffers to plead for publicity for the partnership program.

I do not expect a line at my door of people wanting to purchase partnership LTCI, but more responsible people would consider investigating the product if they knew of the incentive.

In most of the United States, about 65 percent of Medicaid dollars are from the federal government and 35 percent from state funds. Both have an incentive to promote the partnership concept due to budget constraints at almost every level. I am at a loss as to why this is not being promoted everywhere.

Perhaps we all need to start visiting our legislators and suggest publicity of this concept to save state and federal governments significant dollars if, the public finds out before the 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day become uninsurable.

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Nichole Morford

Nichole Morford
Managing Editor

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