Retirement planning today now includes protecting assets (401k’s, IRA’s etc.) from the high costs of Long Term Health Care. These costs are generally not paid for by health insurance or Medicare. Getting help with LTC insurance is more difficult since most insurance agents and financial advisors don't have the knowledge base to properly advise.

The question is where to go to get accurate information. While some people look to their local insurance agent or financial advisor others go to the internet to obtain information.

"There are significant differences between Long Term Care (LTC) Insurance policies, pricing, acceptable health conditions and benefits that few consumers are aware of," explains Jesse Slome, director of the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance (AALTCI), a national consumer advocacy and trade organization.

"Every year some 250,000 people shop for LTC insurance protection for the first time," Slome notes.

The need for extended Long Term Health Care is growing as medical science allows us to live longer and survive accidents and health events. The US Department of Health and Human Services says if a person reaches the age of 65 they will have a 70% chance of needing some type of Long Term Care service before they die. This doesn’t count many people who require extended care well before they reach age 65. Care costs are high and most of the cost comes out-of-pocket. That can have a huge impact on savings and create enormous burdens on families.

"Unlike car insurance or even most life insurance policies which are pretty easy to compare, Long Term Care insurance policies can be quite distinctive. Your first decision is finding an expert who understands the differences and works on your behalf to recommend the best coverage for the least cost from a high-quality company," Slome said.

He says much of the information on the internet is out-of-date or even just incorrect. In addition, many financial advisors and insurance agents do not understand the underwriting which varies from one company to another.

Many also don’t understand features and benefits like shared care options, inflation options and the power of the federal/state partnership plans which provide dollar-for-dollar asset protection.

So how do you find and select a Long Term Care Insurance Specialist?

The AALTCI suggests three questions when seeking to identify Long Term Care insurance expertise:

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  • How long has the individual been selling LTC insurance?

"A minimum of three years is suggested, though five or more is going to be better," Slome notes.

  • How many policies have they sold?

"A LTC insurance specialist will have helped at least 100 individuals get coverage, though many will have helped 500 plus," he adds.

  • How many insurance companies does the person represent?

Most important, according to Slome, is determining if the financial advisor or insurance agent is appointed with multiple insurance companies.

"Appointed is insurance jargon which means they can actually sell that company's policy," Slome explains. "Agents are only going to recommend and tell you about policies they can ultimately sell."

There are not many Long Term Care specialists that have this type of experience and generally you will need to look beyond your neighborhood to discover if this coverage is suitable and to then find the best coverage at the best value.

This means many specialists work with their clients via telephone and internet making it safe and convenient to get the correct information.

The AALTCI can help guide you to find one of these LTC specialists by calling the them at (818) 597-3227 or visit the organization's website, www.aaltci.org.

Editor's Note

Most likely the most qualified specialist will not even be in your state but neither is the insurance company. So unless you plan on dropping by and having coffee with the person, your best advice will come from an experienced, qualified Long-Term Care specialist. Most of these top specialists help consumers on the phone and through the internet without your need to ever go to an office. Most insurance companies use electronic applications which makes it easier and reduces paper waste and improves security. When you find a specialist be sure they ask you very detailed questions about your health, your family history, your financial situation and future (or current) retirement plans. If they don’t spend a considerable amount of time discussing these areas you should be suspicious. Experts say underwriting rules are very specific but differ from company to company. Plus, you might qualify for discounts with one company and not another.

Start your research by finding your state on the LTC NEWS MAP. You will see the current average cost of long-term care services and supports, available tax incentives and the availability of partnership plans which provide additional dollar-for-dollar asset protection. Click here for the map.

You can find a qualified Long-Term Care Specialist by clicking here.

Using a specialist will give you and your family additional peace-of-mind knowing you made the right decisions today for proper planning for tomorrow.

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