Long-Term Planning

By Tammy Flanagan

July 25, 2008

In the seminars I conduct about retirement planning, the subject of long-term care insurance always seems to generate a fair amount of confusion. I wrote about this subject two years ago in a three-part series titled "The Long Haul." You can find it here:

Since there still seems to be some uncertainty about whether long-term care insurance is necessary and how it works, I thought I'd take up the subject again.

The inspiration for this week's column came from a weekly radio show that I host with my colleague Bob Leins at the National Institute of Transition Planning. The show, "For Your Benefit," airs on Saturday mornings at 10 in Washington on AM 1050, or at federalnewsradio.com. The shows also are archived at the Federal News Radio site.

On July 12, our guest was Tom Bebbington, a senior account manager at Long-Term Care Partners, a joint venture of John Hancock and MetLife that administers the federal long-term care insurance program. The government's current contract for the program will expire next spring, so some changes may be on the way.

Regardless of what happens, those who already have purchased long-term care insurance will still have it. And those who are interested in getting a policy should continue to pursue enrollment.

Federal employees and annuitants, including members and retired members of the uniformed services, and qualified relatives are eligible to apply for coverage under the Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program. Once you are enrolled, you may continue to participate for life, even if you or your relative is no longer employed in government.

Should you sign up? To help you decide, here are examples of what long-term care insurance is and is not.

What It's Not

What It Is

Planning Ahead

Part of planning for the future includes thinking about life's what-ifs. Needing long-term care is something that we hope never happens to us or our loved ones, but the fact is, if we are fortunate to live a long life, our likelihood of needing long-term care increases dramatically. Be smart and realistic about this future possibility. For more information, visit the Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program Web site. It includes basic information, prices and applications.

Tammy Flanagan is the senior benefits director for the National Institute of Transition Planning Inc., which conducts federal retirement planning workshops and seminars. She has spent 25 years helping federal employees take charge of their retirement by understanding their benefits.

By Tammy Flanagan

July 25, 2008