Tax and the Long-Term Care insurance client

When we work with clients to educate them about the many Long-Term Care health insurance options available, sometimes Ed and I are asked whether LTC expenses, including Long Term Care insurance premiums, are tax deductible.

Understand, planning for long-term care involves a set of carefully thought out decisions, decisions best made with the guidance of an a professional. You need as much information as possible, so you can make educated choices, and it’s natural for you to want to know about tax deductibility as well.

While Ed and I do not offer tax advice (best to check with your own tax adviser for specifics in your own situation), we can give you a general idea of how long term care premiums relate to federal income tax.

  • Tax-qualified LTC insurance premiums are considered a medical expense.
  • Individuals who itemize tax deductions can treat premiums paid for tax-qualified long-term care insurance for themselves, their spouse or any tax dependents (such as parents) as a personal medical expense.
  • The yearly maximum deductible amount for each individual depends on the insured’s attained age at the close of the taxable year. The LTCi premium that exceeds the eligible amount not included as a medical expense.
  • For 2013, for taxpayers age 40 or under, the limit is $360. For those over 40 but under 50, $680. For those more than 50 but less than 60, it’s $1,360, and for those over 60 but under 70, it’s $3,640. For those more than 70, the deductible limit is $4,550.

There are many erroneous ideas about which long-term care expenses can be deducted and which cannot, and the best person to help you comply with the tax regulations is a qualified CPA.

However, as qualified LTC professionals, we wanted to give you a start, and we hope this helps. Have a question we didn’t cover? Link on the blue highlighted words or email us! We’re always happy to help you get the information you need.

~ Elise

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Indy LTC professionals talk about preserving important memories

As Indianapolis-area extended care professionals and Long-Term Care specialists, Ed and I work to help our clients preserve the assets they’ve worked so hard to accumulate during their lifetimes.

At Long Term Care Resources, we often help folks better understand the many choices available to them on Long-Term Care plans, effectively protecting their future.

We also like the idea many of our estate planning colleagues now recommend, that of preserving financial data – as well as personal data, such as photos and stories from your childhood. In fact, recently, we found some new websites set up especially to enable easier “memory preservation.”

Here are some great ways to preserve memories and important financial documents for you and your family:

Store important or interesting documents, photos, files, and videos on sites like Dropbox. This cloud-based service is a safe place where your entries can be accessed and shared no matter where you are, via cloud servers. Depending on the service you select, from 2 to 10 gigabytes of material can be stored and accessed, free of charge.

Have a story or two to tell? Consider ‘blogging’ about your life at blogger.com. Write about your memories and add photos or videos to your posts using this free service. Family members and friends can add comments as well. Your blog can be password-protected so that only friends and family have access to it.

Free sites like flickr can store thousands of photos for you. You decide whether the photos are private or public, and you allow friends and family viewing privileges.

Sure, we’re extended care professionals serving Indianapolis, Indiana and the surrounding areas, but Ed and I are always looking to help our clients find to make their futures more productive, more protected, and more informed. We love the idea of helping folks like you save important documents — and precious memories — for future generations!

My number one job is to find the best extended care program for you

Very true words, and I take them seriously. Even if it means I don’t get your business.

My father always said, “Always do what’s in the best interest for your client,” and I’ve never strayed from that. Because when you work with people in planning for their future, you want to be sure you are providing them with a good service they need at a price they can afford.

Case in point:  Last week I visited with a husband and wife who had both recently retired. They had no savings, were in reasonably good health, but were having trouble consistently paying their mortgage. They wanted to buy a Long-Term Care policy.

The more I talked with them, the more I was sure that Long-Term Care was not right for them. They were already strained paying their mortgage. The last thing they needed was to add another bill to their budget.

I suggested that a better route for their situation might be to get information on a reverse mortgage, since they did have equity in their home. I put them in touch with someone I knew would give them the information they needed to make a good decision.

They called me back to thank me and suggested that now that they had money in the bank, they could invest in Long-Term Care. I had to smile. I was pleased they believed so strongly in the program and in my services, but once again, I said that I didn’t feel Long-Term Care was in their best interest right now.

Would your agent have made that decision? My responsibility and commitment as a Long-Term Care planning specialist is to help navigate through the many choices available for clients, and help them choose what is best for them — even if it means I don’t sell them a policy.

I am always happy to talk to new potential customers and give them the facts about Long-Term Care and other extended care programs. And – I’m always ready to say no, if what I offer isn’t in their best interests. I think that’s the only way to go… and my father, I’m sure, would agree.          ~ Elise

Why I’m proud to have Dave Ramsey’s endorsement as a Long-Term Care Professional

As many of you may know, Dave Ramsey is personal money management expert, national radio talk show host and New York Times bestselling author. I, like many of you, am a big fan of his. Having read his best-selling books, “Complete Guide to Money” and “Financial Peace Revisited,” I believe his financial advice is tough, straightforward and most of all — reliable.

I am humbled and most appreciative that Dave Ramsey has endorsed me as his Indianapolis-area provider for Long-Term Care Insurance. It’s not something I take lightly.

I earned the endorsement the hard way. Not only I am certified in long-term care, but I’ve been a top-performing insurance and financial services provider in Indiana and Kentucky for almost 30 years now, first beside my father, and now, with my husband Ed.

Early on, I adopted my father’s saying, “Always do what is in the best interest of your client.”  It’s a mantra of which I know Dave would approve.

Like Ramsey, I believe in a straightforward approach in helping people understand the practical and affordable financial solutions for extended care needs. I also believe that education is everyone’s biggest challenge in understanding the ins and outs of Long-Term Care Health Insurance.

And that’s why I’m in this business — to help you understand what is available to you so you can make the right choices to fit your needs. Together, we can protect your financial future with the Long-Term Care solutions that work best for you.              ~ Elise

Your health care is a lot to ask of your children

70 percent of Americans who reach age 65 will need Long-Term care at some point, but few are prepared to pay for it, according to a new report by the SCAN Foundation on the State of Long-Term Care Financing. The report also finds that families bear a huge part of the burden, providing $450 billion in unpaid care-giving and over $63 billion in out of pocket costs.

No matter how close you are to your children, that’s a lot to ask of them. Your family may be an exception, but the fact is that families are very different now than they were a generation or two ago. Parents remarry. Sometimes more than once. Today’s adult children may have several “parent-figures.” And today’s young adults are moving farther away, and moving more often.

As a step-parent myself, I understand today’s families are complicated. Those approaching retirement assume that they will be able to rely on government support or their immediate family to provide for their care in the future, but that is no longer true. And, according to a 2010 Harris Interactive survey conducted by Age Wave, “(Seniors) are generally more afraid of burdening their family than dying.”

Long-Term Care Insurance helps mitigate some of that family complication by transferring the financial and care risk to a fixed, pre-determined place – your insurance plan. With a well-thought-out retirement plan and Long-Term Health Care Insurance, you won’t need to worry about your future care – and neither will your children..

I know from years in the financial and insurance industry that knowledge is power. I would add to that, “Risk is risk.”

Take it upon yourself to make an informed health care decision and complete a written, insured plan. Your children will thank you.

~ Elise

Preparing for planning

You’ve probably heard the saying, “proper prior planning prevents a poor plan!” When you’re relatively young and healthy, no one wants to think about Long-Term Care health insurance. But planning ahead is what makes this program so wise.

The Flashlight Story is a great example of this from Patrick Broccolo, owner of Senior1Care in a marketing meeting recently:

With the history of violent thunderstorms and tornados in Indiana, what’s the one thing we should all have ready for outages or damage? A flashlight, of course, but preferably with working batters. Patrick has the flashlight but it needs D batteries. He admits that it would be easy enough even to grab some off the end cap of the grocery or hardware store. But when does he actually buy the batteries? After the crisis – after the electricity is out.

Obviously, you get the message. Here’s few ideas for keeping your “batteries” in place:

  • Get regular checkups to keep yourself healthy as possible for as long as possible.  
  • Consult your accountant and lawyer.
  • Talk to your family about your future plans!
  • Do not assume Medicare covers everything.
  • Consider what could happen if you need Medicaid.
  • Look at Long-Term and Short-Term Health Care insurance and find out what options work best for you.

Your “flashlight” should be charged up and ready when you need it. Be sure you look ahead and are prepared for your future!   ~ Elise

What is the difference between Medicaid & Medicare?

As a health insurance professional, I deal with this confusion all the time. Here’s what you need to know:

Although Medicaid and Medicare sound alike and are both government programs, they exist for very different reasons.

  • Medicaid is a federal program, administered by each state. It provides basic health coverage for low-income, financially dependent people. You must qualify for eligibility, which is tied to financial need.
  • Medicare is also a government program. It provides health insurance for people 65 or older, and people under age 65 with certain disabilities. Medicare is not tied to financial need. It is an entitlement program paid for through your Social Security taxes.

Since the U.S. healthcare system is THE MOST EXPENSIVE in the world, it makes sense to find health care insurance that assures you complete health care coverage, even if you have Medicare.

That’s because “having Medicare” will not pay your bills when you:

  • Need financial assistance while you are going through a critical illness. (But having Critical Care Health Insurance will pay you cash.)
  • Require prolonged health care assistance when you are older and in need of assisted living, nursing home care, hospice or home health care (Like Long-Term Care Insurance does.)
  • Need a cash benefit over and above any other medical insurance or disability insurance (As Short-Term Care and Critical CareHealth Insurance will provide).

I am sensitive to the worry I see in my potential clients’ faces when they consider how they want to be cared for, should they face a health crisis. That’s why health insurance advance planning makes good sense.

There is nothing that beats surefooted planning for all possibilities. That helps our clients – and me – rest easier, knowing they are protected.

 

Aging U.S. population a big issue

Aging continues to be an issue and have far reaching impact, on the economy, on businesses, on families, and on individuals.

Are you familiar with these statistics?

  • The U.S. Census Bureau recently reported that the dependency ratio, or the number of people 65 and older to every 100 people of traditional working ages, is projected to climb rapidly from 22 in 2010 to 35 in 2030.

This time period coincides with the time when baby boomers are moving into the 65 and older age category.

  • After 2030, however, the ratio of the aging population to the working-age population (ages 20 to 64) will rise more slowly, to 37 in 2050.

The higher this old-age dependency ratio, the greater the potential burden on taxpayers. Another good reason to explore Long-Term Care Insurance.

With this generation of young adults waiting still longer to have and raise their children, they may not be able to – or have the time and/or means to – care for you.

Long-Term and Short-Term Care Insurance places the means for your care in your hands, so neither you nor your children need to worry about it. Let’s talk about your family situation and what Long-Term and Short-Term Health Insurance can do for you.        ~ Elise

Short-Term or Long-Term Care insurance – what’s the dif?

Insurance is for filling in gaps. In the case of Long-Term Care insurance, it’s for helping you pay costs NOT covered by:

  • health insurance at your job
  • health insurance you purchase privately
  • hospital insurance policies you buy
  • Medicare

The “long term” in Long-Term Care means just that, long. Extended. Chronic.  In fact, the Free Dictionary defines long-term care as “the provision of medical, social, and personal care services…to persons with chronic physical or mental disorders.”

What classifies your condition as “chronic” and allows you to claim benefits from an Indiana Long-Term Care insurance policy?  You must meet one of these two criteria, as certified by a physician:

  1. For a period of at least 90 days you have been unable to perform at least two Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
  2. You are suffering from severe cognitive impairment.

In the real world, of course, illnesses are often critical rather than chronic. And even though traditional health insurance does cover cancer, heart attacks, kidney failure, stroke, and even a major organ transplant, rarely are all costs covered. While bills are coming in fast and furious and claims are taking forever to be approved, your illness can cause financial devastation.

That’s when Short-Term Care Insurance is there to deliver a cash benefit when you need it most, paying you benefits over and above any other medical insurance or disability insurance.

Short-Term and Long-Term Care insurance – each has its gap-filling protective function to perform exactly when needed.  But that’s the thing – insurance must be purchased BEFORE it is needed.  Knowing you’re protected allows you to focus on recovery!

For more information on health insurance options, click HERE.

~ Elise

New poll shows most in denial about Long-Term Care

It’s a fact: Americans don’t want to think about Long-Term Care.

According to an AARP poll by the Public Policy Institute, Americans fail to understand that employer, private health insurance and Medicare do not cover the extraordinarily high costs of Long-Term Care.

I mean, how much clearer can things get? We’re talking about nursing homes, hospice care, assisted living, home health care … almost none of this is covered and almost all of us will need some of it during our lifetimes.

So what’s going on here? Aren’t people listening?  Apparently not, the Public Policy Institute poll found.  When people 40 and older were asked how they were preparing for the reality of aging, two thirds said they’d done “little to no” planning for long-term care. Three in ten admitted they would “rather not think about getting older” at all. Some were hoping their families will step in and care for them.

Here’s the reality: You may be lucky enough to be part of a very close-knit family. That doesn’t mean they — or you — understand the full extent of what that care-giving will entail.

No surprise: Those who had already experienced providing care to an older family member – as I have – when questioned in the poll, were less apt to say they would rely on their families.  Like me, they’d seen how difficult it can be to provide long-term care services without professional help.

Long-Term Care is no Do-It-Yourself proposition. Making sure you have the financial power to ensure that you and your family members can have the right kind of help at the right time is what Long-Term Care insurance planning is all about.

Want to know more? Click HERE for related articles about Long-Term Care Insurance.

~ Elise