Why doesn’t this New York Times article report on what its title promises it will, which is the effectiveness of long-term care insurance (LTCi)?
While being factually correct, this article puts the wrong “spin” on things.
It starts by giving the wrong title. LTCi is not necessarily costly. What can easily be far more costly is needing long-term care for anything but a short length of time and not owning LTCi.
The article “hooks” readers in the first paragraph by describing how LTCi preserves wealth. From there, this article gives readers excuses to avoid responsible LTC planning.
The truth is, the most important reason to own LTCi is not to preserve wealth. It is to preserve family integrity by reducing family resentment, stress and discord. The fact that LTCi also preserves wealth, and does it so well, is “icing on the cake.”
Families and governments are in budgetary crisis due to skyrocketing LTC costs.
Reporters and editors need to get the above perspectives corrected. Reporting needs to be done – now – on the hundreds of thousands of families collecting from LTCi and the radical qualitative difference that LTCi creates in their lives.
Here are some examples of the harmful “spin” I’m talking about:
The article hints that Ms. Cheng’s father is collecting enormous amounts from his LTCi policy, but it is not explicit about this. Why not? Why isn’t any space devoted to describing the extraordinary, qualitative difference LTCi has made not only for Ms. Cheng, but for her father?
Does Ms. Cheng own LTCi herself? Her advice about needing correct professional assistance with choosing LTCi, having a holistic outlook about the role of LTCi in estate planning, and asking children for input and help is sage. The reporter (Mr. Wasik) should have asked her to comment about her own LTCi (if she doesn’t own LTCi, I just don’t understand why not, based on her personal experience and how wise she seems to be).
Instead, Mr. Wasik sidetracks readers with some “red herrings.”
There’s an irrelevant sentence describing how Keith Singer recommends clients with more than $500,000 should own LTCi. (I doubt he has any clients with less than a $500,000 net worth; most financial planners don’t.) This sentence is harmful to readers, giving lower net-worth people one more excuse to dissuade themselves from doing responsible LTC planning. Such people are far more prone to catastrophe resulting from unplanned LTC needs. Here’s a story about a solid middle class couple with a 0,000 net worth that was devastated by unplanned LTC costs. This couple probably could have purchased very reasonable LTCi while they were insurable.
This sentence does not report on the effectiveness of LTCi (as the title purports) and is again potentially harmful to readers : “After a 90-day “elimination” period (often partly covered by Medicare for people whose need for extra care is hastened by a stroke or other medical emergency), the policy covers all assisted living, community and home care.” This perspective is incorrect, and further goads the American public to avoid responsible LTC planning by hinting that Medicare might assist with LTC costs. Medicare-paid LTC is not only paltry and inadequate; most people are not entitled to it.
Shame on Mr. Wasik and the NYT editors, whom I otherwise hold in high esteem. For the sake of the American public, reporting needs to be done now on the extraordinary, qualitative, transformative difference LTCi has and will make for hundreds of thousands of us.