Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Obamacare for your pet?

Taking Fido or Whiskers to the doc isn’t cheap. My experience is that it can easily run $500 for dogs and $250 for cats. And it’s not only us here in the U.S. who gets hit with high vet fees. Over in the UK they’re feeling it too. The difference is that their insurance companies have taken notice.

Around 25 percent of dogs and cats in the UK are insured. In the U.S., the number is less than 5 percent.

But the country noted for Vikings, Swedish meatballs, reindeer, and swimsuit models is by far the leader. The first pet insurance policy was sold in Sweden in 1924. Now about 50 percent of their pets are covered.

Will President Obama push to include pets within the Affordable Care Act? He’s having enough trouble with Congress as it is. So I doubt it. Still, anything is possible in Washington. 

Meanwhile, I expect more companies to see the opportunity here and jump on the pet insurance bandwagon. You might ask your agent for a recommendation before scheduling your pet’s next vet visit. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Doc gets porked

I’ve had more than one tenant turn a house into a pigsty, but never literally. A landlord in the UK made an inspection and discovered a new resident. Click here for the full story and another lesson on why you must inspect your rentals monthly. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

LTC insurance paying off

Last year 250,000 long-term-care-insurance policyholders received a record $7.85 billion in benefits. That’s a 5% increase from 2013. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

$1 TRILLION to shareholders

Goldman Sachs suggested to clients that dividends and buybacks, set to return $1 trillion in 2015, would provide the market’s entire upside this year. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Taking the stress out of nursing home visits

Visiting friends or family members in a nursing home can be uncomfortable. Aside from worrying about the care they’re receiving, there is always that little voice inside you whispering, “How should I keep her busy? What can we talk about, other than what was served for breakfast and the latest ailments? What should I bring?”
Here are a few ideas you might consider that we used with my mom:
Take a walk. Getting outside, even if the weather isn’t perfect, can boost their spirits.
Go out to lunch. It doesn’t have to be to a fancy place. A trip to McDonald’s or Burger King can be a real treat … at least it was for my mom.
Stop off for snacks. A bag of pretzels or chips isn’t a big deal for you or me. But it can be for an elderly person who can’t get them.
Ice cream will surely light up their eyes. When my mom was too sick or the weather too nasty to go out, we’d bring a pint of Ben & Jerry’s S’mores to her. 
Bring a family photo album. Let her turn the pages and tell you who is in the pictures and where they were taken. Yeah, you’ve heard the stories a hundred times before. But it’ll get her mind off where she is and why she’s there. And if her memory is fading, you can help identify the photos. 
A blanket or comforter from home will give her something familiar to hold close. Years before her stroke, my mom enjoyed making quilts. So Dad took one to her and would switch it out every week.  
There are lots of other things you can do, such as bringing newspapers, magazines, or books that she always enjoyed. If she has trouble reading, read to her.
Use your imagination and you’ll find that you have more in common with your loved one and future visits will become much easier.  

Friday, July 31, 2015

Update on other countries’ approach to long-term care

The U.S. is facing a crisis as millions of baby boomers are approaching the age when the possibility of needing long-term care skyrockets. Our government provides minimal care via Medicare, while you must be almost broke to receive Medicaid. The CLASS Act program, which was part of Obamacare, died before the law went into effect — a prediction I made while Washington’s wonks were muddling behind closed doors. And only a small percentage of boomers have long-term care insurance.

Other industrial countries are facing a similar shift in demographics. And last December I shared a report with you on how they’re coping. Here is an update on three of them …

The United Kingdom

Single-premium immediate annuities are popular among those who currently need long-term care and can afford them. They provide a guaranteed, tax-free income that can help fund LTC bills. Starting next April, the British government is phasing in new restrictions on access to public LTC benefits. Individuals will have to spend £72,000 (US$113,000) on LTC services and all but £118,000 (US$184,000) of their assets before government benefits start. Afterwards, the government will provide “full state support,” which has limitations. 


15% of those over age 40 have private LTCI. And to keep premiums down, waiting periods of 3 years for dementia and 1 year for other covered conditions are common.


Singapore has a mandatory saving plan for all workers that they can use for retirement, housing, and health care. Workers ages 40 to 69 are automatically enrolled in an ElderShield LTC benefits program. But the monthly benefit is only 400 Singapore dollars (US$293) per month; nursing home care in the country runs at least 1,200 dollars (US$878). However, participants have the option of contributing up to 600 dollars (US$439) into a private plan each year giving them up to 3,500 dollars (US$2,562) per month in benefits.


Based on those few brief observations, governments remain the provider of last resort for long-term care. And the trend seems to be shifting to requiring citizens to take on even greater responsibility for their own care. Their tools of choice: Immediate and deferred annuities, and private long-term care insurance.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Long-term care guide on Kindle

Due to numerous requests, A Boomer’s Guide to Long-term Care is now available in Kindle format. You can order your copy here for immediate download.