paying for coverage that you don’t need.”
As a rule of thumb, Kassner says a good policy will contain a $150 a day benefit, an amount roughly equal to the average national cost of a nursing home. She recommends that you opt to include compound inflation protection in your policy. “If you are under the age of 70 and you don’t pick up inflation protection, you are essentially guaranteeing that your policy will not be adequate,” she stresses. “You may be tempted to opt for a policy paying $70 a day, but remember that you are leaving an $80 a day deficit, or a $2,400 a month shortfall, something most people cannot afford to bridge.”
Read up. Learn about long-term care insurance and assess your needs. Start with the Websites for AARP (www.aarp.org) and AHIP (www.ahip.org), which provide a wealth of information. Your state insurance agency can be found through the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (www.naic.org), an organization that represents local regulators. Staying informed is important whether you make a decision today or in the near future.
LONG-TERM CARE ASSISTANCE
Resources are available on the Internet to help you decide on the best policy for you and your family and to help you investigate companies before you buy coverage.
Read AARP’s guide to long-term care insurance (www .aarp.org/financial-insurance/Articles/a2002-08-13-Insurance LongTermCare.html). The link presents readers with explanations of coverage and a step-by-step guide to finding insurers and judging their financial wherewithal. AARP also publishes a pamphlet with MetLife that contains useful information and serves as a guide to long-term healthcare with aging parents. Both publications are available by calling 203-221-6580, or you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with a request. The AHIP Website (www.ahip.org) has helpful information as well.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners publishes a pamphlet titled A Shopper’s Guide to Long-Term Care Insurance that is available online for sixty cents. Visit the site at www.naic .org/insprod/catalog_pub_consumer.htm. You can also get information about state insurance regulators through the NAIC site. California’s state site provides a list of long-term care rate hikes you may want to examine (www.insurance.ca.gov). Once you arrive at the site, click on the button marked “Consumers.” Your state’s insurance commissioner’s office will have a file on rate increases as well.
To find out how insurance agencies rate, visit Moody’s (www.moodys .com) or call 212-553-0377; Standard & Poor’s (www.standardand poors.com) or call 212-438-2400; or Fitch Inc. (www.fitchibca.com) or call 212-908-0800. — J.A.A.