The need to start a discussion is great
by Chris Coudret, CLU, ChFCChris Coudret is vice president of distribution and market strategy for Individual Life and Financial Services for the companies of OneAmerica®.
November is Long-Term Care (LTC) Awareness Month, National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month, making it the perfect time to have discussions about these three often-difficult topics.
The need to bring up the topic of LTC is great — The Harris Poll recently conducted a survey online of 2,006 adults age 18 and over on behalf of OneAmerica® to find out how American adults have prepared for their own possible need for LTC, particularly needs lasting longer than five years.
Nearly 4 in 10 Americans age 65 and over – 37 percent – say they haven’t had conversations with anyone about preparing for their possible need of long-term care. Only 17 percent of Americans age 65 and over say they’ve talked with a financial planner about this need, and just 6 percent with an insurance agent. The percentages are even higher for younger age groups, which could mean a lot of financial professionals likely aren’t bringing up the subject, and therefore aren’t doing all they can to protect their client’s retirement income from the potential need for LTC expenses.
Helping clients ‘prepare for their future’
For those of us who have opportunities to help people prepare for their futures, we have many options to start conversations about these topics. By doing so, we can help people protect themselves from devastating consequences of unexpected LTC expenses related to a long-term disease or chronic health condition.
Many people start their planning journey through benefits offered in the workplace, which makes group benefits a perfect place to introduce the topic of LTC planning. Options in the market for workplace asset-based care may be limited currently, but it’s important for financial professionals to offer it as an option outside the workplace. As people are building their assets for retirement, they should also think about what can derail those plans – including unanticipated costs for LTC needs.
As financial professionals, you’re also uniquely positioned to encourage your clients to review their retirement strategies with a goal of protecting their retirement income against depletion from LTC expenses. You’ve helped them build and prepare for retirement, so it’s in their interest and yours to ensure that plan factors in a potential need for LTC expenses, possibly for many years.
One way to help them meet that goal is to consider a form of asset-based LTC protection, linked to a life insurance policy or annuity. Unlike with stand-alone LTC insurance, the assets still belong to the client. Premiums are guaranteed and depending on the policy, can be paid over many years to let clients budget the expense of LTC protection in a way that fits their overall strategies. Should LTC benefits not be fully used, a death benefit passes to heirs.
Need for Care
Because of asset-based LTC protection’s death benefit, it’s often attractive for people who like to think “it will never happen to me.” But if it does happen, asset-based LTC can help protect retirement plans from those expenses. Benefits of any asset-based LTC protection may be exhausted if years of care are needed, but some have benefits for life through a continuation of benefits rider. Some also offer joint protection, so two lives can be insured with one policy.
Another way to start a conversation is by noting that November is also National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, first declared by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. This disease currently affects 5.7 million people, is growing in prevalence, and has a tremendous impact not only on people affected with the disease, but also for their loved ones, many of whom act as caregivers.
Asset-based LTC protection can be structured to provide benefits for many years, which can help with LTC needs brought on by an illness such as Alzheimer’s. As a board member of my local Alzheimer’s Association chapter, that’s one of the features I love to tell people about, because I know how real the need is.
In November, myself and many I work with will be wearing purple ribbon lapel pins for Alzheimer’s disease awareness. When people ask about my pin, I’ll share some statistics – while almost 70 percent of Americans turning 65 today will have some need for LTC in their lifetimes, 20 percent will need care for longer than five years, due to conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, as well as Parkinson’s disease and other chronic conditions.
I’ll also share that one in 10 people age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s disease, and that the prevalence increases with age, so that 32 percent of people age 85 and older have Alzheimer’s. In the coming decades, Alzheimer’s disease is expected to become even more prevalent.
Helping clients understand the impact such an illness can have on their plan and their families is our obligation. Planning now can include steps like determining expectations of family members – perhaps a topic to be broached over the coming holiday season – and also protecting the assets and income that your clients have worked a lifetime to build.
 This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of OneAmerica from September 13-17, 2018, among 2,006 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, among whom 417 are aged 65+. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact [email protected]
 “How Much Care Will You Need?” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, LongTermCare.gov. Accessed at https://longtermcare.acl.gov/the-basics/how-much-care-will-you-need.html on Sept. 26, 2018.
 “2018 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures,” Alzheimer’s Association, https://www.alz.org/media/Documents/facts-and-figures-2018-r.pdf