I receive a lot of phone calls from consumers nationwide and a fairly common question many of my clients ask me is:
What is the best long term care insurance policy that you can buy?
It is a fair question.
And it is a question that has never really been answered by any of the consumer gurus. Not by Consumer Reports. Not by Suze Orman. Not by Dave Ramsey. So I thought I would answer the question.
When I started in the business 16 years ago, a wise life insurance adviser by the name of Joel Weitnauer once actually gave me the perfect answer to the question above.
Joel Weitnauer stated the best insurance policy is "The policy that is in-force at claim-time."
Hmmm. Made perfect sense.
Still, Joel's thoughtful answer doesn't entirely answer the question for consumers today researching their long term care insurance options.
Long term care is an important issue to address today. Most consumers I work with today are intelligent, value-oriented, and conservative.
The cost of a good long term care insurance policy today is not an inexpensive proposition.
However, with the actual cost of long term care nationwide ranging between $4000 month to $15,000 month (ouch, New York, San Francisco) buying a long term care insurance policy is an important decision.... without compounding matters by either buying the wrong type of policy; or by possibly buying the right policy, but designing your long term care insurance benefits incorrectly...or maybe I should say, inefficiently.
Following the financial meltdown in 2008, as a consumer it is fair to say you demand (and deserve) a lot today.
3 features every long term care insurance policyholder deserves to own
- Strong highly-rated company
- Benefit-rich policy
- Educated, experienced agent
I think you will agree with me that these 3 basic tenets are not too much for you to require as a consumer.
Of course you deserve a financially stable company. This is Rule # 1. You wish to know your insurance company will be there for your needs at claim-time;
If you do make a claim at some point in the future, of course it is important your policy provides you the benefits you intended it to provide to you when you bought your policy. You want your policy to actually work.
Lastly, you deserve a good agent. An agent that can answer all your questions, and provide you with expert advice and direction. A fiduciary. An agent that places your needs first and foremost.
To me, if these 3 above functions are met, you probably have a good policy, no matter the company name or logo on the policy.
As I have explained to many of my clients, long term care insurance policies are somewhat "cookie-cutter" today.
Qualifying for benefits under the policies have become fairly standardized since HIPAA legislation for tax-qualified long term care insurance policies was passed in 1996.
Generally speaking, most of the policies today offer similar benefits and similar choices.
The major differences among LTC policies today are essentially:
1) your cost of insurance---of course, this can vary and is based upon many factors including, age, health history, discounts available, state of residence, etc.
(of course, all of the companies treat health history differently--from both a price and an approval standpoint--this is when having an experienced agent is very important)
That being said, in researching policies every day for my clients in all 50 States here are the long term care insurance policies that should be on your shopping list as the best long term care insurance policies to consider today.
I have chosen these policies because each policy brings something different to the table.
Each of these policies has a unique feature or benefit that tends to separates it from other similar long term care insurance policies.
So, without further adieu (and in no particular order) here are in my professional estimation the Top 10 long term care insurance policies currently available in 2013.
The Top 10 Long Term Care Insurance Policies
- Mutual of Omaha Mutual Care Plus
- Genworth Privileged Choice Flex
- Lincoln Moneyguard Reserve Plus
- Genworth TLC
- Pacific Life Premier Care
- State Life Asset Care
- State Life Annuity Care
- Mass Mutual Signature Care
- New York Life Select Premier California Partnership
- Medamerica Simplicity ii
The Price Leaders
Price sells policies. It is inevitable. Consumers want the best rate for their insurance. In shopping policy costs for my clients the 2 policies that often have the best overall rates today are the Genworth Privileged Choice Flex policy and the Mutual of Omaha Mutual Care Plus policy.
Genworth Privileged Choice Flex -What makes it different?
For decades the leader in long term care insurance, Genworth Financial (formerly GE Capital Assurance) offers affordable coverage and policies that can be designed in a flexible manner. Many of our clients opt for Shared Coverage, a benefit that Genworth made popular. The Privileged Choice Flex policy allows for informal care to be provided by unlicensed and uncertified caregivers such as neighbors or friends. Privileged Choice Flex also does not offset inflation protection benefit increases by long term care insurance claims that have been paid out.
Genworth Privileged Choice Flex 2, just released in many states does not include the benefit of unlicensed caregivers and is a "claims offset" contract, so if you live in a State that still has Privileged Choice Flex available, it is a great policy to consider.
August 2018 update: Genworth Privileged Choice Flex 3 is the current Genworth offering available, and is not the compelling contract that the original Privileged Choice Flex policy was.
Mutual of Omaha Mutual Care Plus - What makes it different?
Like Genworth Privileged Choice Flex, Mutual of Omaha Mutual Care Plus is typically priced 30%-40% beneath market thereby making it price attractive for consumers.
Aside from price, it is a terrific policy. Standard features include a Calendar Day waiting period which makes it much easier for you to get through your deductible by not requiring out-of-pocket expenses. Mutual Care Plus also includes a Cash Alternative Benefit that affords you the ability to accept a reduced benefit in cash without the requirement of providing receipts or receiving care from a licensed caregiver. The reduced Cash Alternative Benefit might be helpful should you wish to have family members provide care.
August 2018 Update: No longer available. Replaced by Mutual of Omaha Secure Solution and Custom Solution policy series. Current policies with Mutual of Omaha still retain the benefits of the Mutual Care Plus policy. Best policy value for male applicants in the country. Mutual of Omaha is now charging women higher premium, however.
The Hybrid LTC Policies
Lincoln Moneyguard - What makes it different?
Lincoln Moneyguard is the original hybrid policy. It pioneered the long term care/life insurance combo market. Simple to understand; easy to apply and get approved for. Many clients are attracted to the concept. Single premium upfront. Long term care benefits should you need care; life insurance if you don't; money-back guarantee if you change your mind. In addition to single premiums, Lincoln Moneyguard is the one hybrid policy that offers Flexible Payment options of time periods between 3 years and 10 years to fund the plan. As Lincoln Moneyguard once so eloquently described itself with this tagline.....A Smarter Way to Self Insure.
August 2018 Update: Still available in the marketplace as Lincoln Moneyguard II. Still a decent hybrid option for single applicants, especially younger applicants, but Lincoln Moneyguard is no longer priced as attractively as in prior years.
Genworth Total Living Coverage - What makes it different?
Genworth TLC is Lincoln Moneyguard, but with discounts! Genworth TLC offers discounts for being married or partnered; It offers discounts for being in good health. Thus, if you like the idea of a hybrid long term care policy---single premium upfront, long term care benefits should you need care, life insurance payout should you not need care then Genworth TLC should be considered. For many healthy, partnered applicants Genworth TLC will likely be your best-priced Hybrid long term care/life insurance combo option.
August 2018 Update: No longer available.
Pacific Life Premier Care - What makes it different?
With the popularity of Lincoln Moneyguard and Genworth TLC, Pacific Life introduced Premier Care a few years ago. Like Genworth TLC, Pacific Life Premier Care will offer discounts to married applicants. Pacific Life also allows for the most customization of the 3 life insurance/long term care hybrid policies, offering benefit period choices ranging from 2 years to 8 years with a multitude of inflation protection options. Like Lincoln Moneyguard, Pacific Life prefers the EZ underwriting approach --- often approving applicants within a few days. Unlike Lincoln Moneyguard, Pacific Life Premier Care's single pay approach is available to applicants 70 and older. And Pacific Life Premier Care is priced very well for Male applicants.
August 2018 Update: Replaced by Premier Care Choice Max and Choice 100. Repriced. Premier Care Choice is no longer the compelling value that the original Pacific Life Premier Care policy was for male applicants, although it is still OK for men. Premier Care Choice is very expensive for females. Pacific Life has moved to traditional underwriting. The EZ underwriting days are gone.
State Life Asset Care - What makes it different?
Joint coverage option for married applicants. Unlimited benefits. State Life Asset Care is the only life insurance long term care hybrid that offers joint coverage. Asset Care also offers the possibility of Unlimited long term care benefits. Based upon an underlying 2nd-to-die life insurance policy chassis, Asset Care will often provide the maximum long term care benefits for married couples. And Asset Care accepts IRA money for funding. Easily the best hybrid long term care policy option available today.
August 2018 update: Asset Care is still available. Still a tremendous hybrid policy. Lifetime long term care benefit periods, fixed premiums. You can not find a better hybrid policy.
State Life Annuity Care II series- What makes it different?
Unlike the majority of single premium long term care hybrids which may funnel you to lower inflation protection factors, the State Life Annuity Care II policy will provide 5% compound inflation protection at a very affordable price point. Annuity Care II will also allow you to buy up to a 9 year LTC extension of benefits rider. If you have appreciated assets within non-qualified annuities, and are attracted to the single premium hybrid approach, a 1035 exchange of your annuity into the State Life Annuity Care II policy is your best solution.
August 2018 Update: Still available. Still the best hybrid long term care annuity contract available.
The A++ Rated Mutual Companies
Mass Mutual Signature Care - What makes it different?
Superior Financial Strength and Stability. A history of zero rate increases on in-force policies. The possibility of declared dividends to reduce future premium. Like its Mutual company brethren, NY Life and Northwestern Mutual, Mass Mutual offers you the ability to own a policy with a company that has superior financial ratings. Unlike Northwestern and New York Life, Mass Mutual's premiums are affordable! Sure, Mass Mutual may have slightly higher rates today than a few companies, such as Mutual of Omaha. But, relatively speaking Mass Mutual's rates look dynamic when compared to other A++ rated mutual companies. And if you live in Florida or California, well...Mass Mutual's rates might just be the best in town!
August 2018 Update: Still available, and still is the best traditional policy available for women in the country. Mass Mutual is the last policy that still offers women unisex rates. The premium stability story is gone, however, as Mass Mutual announced rate increases up to 77% on its active older in-force business.
New York Life Select Premier California Partnership - What makes it different?
Like Mass Mutual, New York Life is an A++ rated mutual company with Superior financial ratings. Unlike Mass Mutual, New York Life's rates are outageously high in every State. But not in California! Additionally, the New York Life Select Premier Partnership policy is one of only a handful of policies in California that offers California Long Term Care Partnership asset protection for Medi-Cal spend down requirements. Lastly, like Genworth Privileged Choice Flex above, the New York Life policy does not contain "claims offset" language. I hesitated including a State-specific policy on my list, but the New York Life California Partnership policy is just too attractive to ignore. If you live in California, this New York Life policy is terrific.
August 2018 Update. The NY Life CA Partnership policy longer available. In 49 States outside of CA the Select Premier policy has been replaced by New York Life NYL Secure Care which is possibly the worst long term care insurance value of all time. Be advised, prior to New York Life Secure Care being introduced AARP contracted with New York Life to refer all of its AARP members to captive NY Life agents for long term care insurance. The current New York Life NYL Secure Care long term care insurance policy is (by far) the most expensive long term care insurance policy that has ever been available in the marketplace.
The Cash Policy
MedAmerica Simplicity ii - What makes it different?
Cash. 100% Cash. No restrictions. No questions asked. Hence the name. Simplicity. Unlike all of the policies mentioned above, Medamerica Simplicity does not require receipts, nor does it require for you to have out-of-pocket expenses. If you are unable to perform 2 activities of daily living or if you are cognitively impaired, Medamerica will pay your entire long term care insurance monthly benefit to you. Anywhere in the world. No questions asked. Without a doubt, Medamerica Simplicity is the most flexible contract for long term care insurance. A long term care insurance policy can not and will not be more flexible. Is Medamerica an A++ rated mutual company such as Mass Mutual? No. Is Medamerica Simplicity the least expensive premium? Definitely not. Will you receive your money back as you will on a hybrid policy if care is never needed? Nope. Is it the most flexible contract at the time of claim? Absolutely, positively yes. Cash is King.
August 2018 Update: No longer available. MedAmerica is no longer underwriting long term care insurance.
Compare Your Best Top-Rated Long Term Care Insurance Options
I would be happy to help you research your best long term care insurance options. I will help you compare options of the leading providers such as Mutual of Omaha, State Life, Lincoln Moneyguard, State Life, Transamerica, Mass Mutual, Northwestern Mutual, Pacific Life Premier Care, Life Secure and more.
If you would like to receive customized LTC quotes and analysis please call me Toll Free at (800) 891-5824. Or complete my LTC quote request form and I will reply to you promptly.
Thank you for reading my blog.