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Cheap, cheap.

NO, THE HEADLINE DOESN'T REFER, as the old joke goes, to the deep-throated sound that a 200-pound canary makes.

And no, it also doesn't refer to the quality many employers around the country exhibit when it comes to annual raises for their hired hands.

Actually, what brought the headline to mind is the 2007 Long Term Care Insurance Price Index, which was published this month by the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance. The AALTCI (now that's an unpronounceable acronym if there ever was one!) is headed by nonpareil LTCI advocate Jesse Slome out of Westlake Village, California (a town whose name sounds like it could be one of the nicer-type LTC facilities).

What the figures show--and what Jesse was quick to point out to Trevor Thomas, who wrote the story that appears on page 10--is that long term care insurance coverage is less expensive--i.e., cheaper--than many people think.

He goes on to say: "Especially to middle-income individuals, you have to start showing and telling the story that long term care insurance is affordable, and that's one reason we did the Price Index. It's also the reason we chose the 3-year benefit period, because that's adequate or more than adequate for about 92% of policyholders who've actually gone on to claim."

And, indeed, affordable is the word. This is especially true if the coverage is bought at a younger age rather than at age 65, although even at the latter age it is still a relative bargain.

But what the AALTCI's data shows is that for preferred health 55-year-olds, the coverage is downright cheap. For instance, for a policy with a $100 maximum daily benefit for an individual who qualifies for a spousal/partner discount with a 3-year benefit period, 90-day elimination period and 5% compound inflation protection option, the average cost of the policy would come to only $665 annually.

In the case of a $150 maximum daily benefit with all the other qualifications listed above staying the same, the premium would be only $1,027 per year.

The cost at age 65 rises significantly. In the first example above (but this time at standard health), the premium for a $100-a-day benefit would be $1,292 annually. At $150 per day, the premium rises to $1,939 per year.

At both ages and at both benefit amounts, the cost is a lot higher if the individual doesn't qualify for a spousal or partner discount--i.e., if they are single.

Jesse also makes a point of how important the compound inflation option is, and I couldn't agree more. The pot of money available over time increases dramatically due to this option. Actually, considering how LTC costs have risen so quickly in the last decade and how fast they are predicted to continue rising, I think that the compound inflation option shouldn't even be an option--it should have to be part of every LTC policy sold.

In any case, this survey is terrific news for those stalwarts who have been selling LTC insurance in what seems like the wilderness. And it also should serve as a wake-up call to those producers who want to see themselves as full-service producers or advisors.

It's hard to see how you can advise clients about retirement or protecting assets and not sell LTC insurance. It's like leaving a vital ingredient out of a recipe.

And at these prices, cost just shouldn't be the barrier it has been said to perennially be. In fact, in view of what the product does, it's hard to see why LTC insurance isn't being sold as a bargain.

Steve Piontek

Editor-in-Chief
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Title Annotation:long term care insurance
Author:Piontek, Steve
Publication:National Underwriter Life & Health
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 11, 2007
Words:603
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