KATHIE BROWN ROBERTS
My dad’s decline started slowly and somewhat vaguely, beginning with suspected nerve damage as result of injury from a fire, which morphed later into a diagnosis of neuropathy. He was about seventy-two. Educated, respected, entrepreneurial throughout his life, the suggestion of a caregiver was a very delicate conversation involving negotiation, hypotheticals, and finally, in the end, acceptance. His decline in mobility had three distinct phases: the “cane” phase, the “walker” phase, and lastly, the “wheelchair” phase. The cane phase was punctuated by many falls, one hospitalizing him for over a week for a brain bleed. On one of my trips to Texas to visit my parents, my mother casually asked whether insurance would pay for someone to come in and assist my dad with bathing, dressing, and transfers to and from the bathroom. She told me about certain insurance policies that she and my dad had maintained during their careers and wanted me to review the policies. It turned out that the policies both my parents purchased long ago were first generation long-term care policies from Genworth. These policies had no lifetime cap, no elimination period, $100/day benefits (per policy), and coverage for home caregivers, assisted living, nursing care, and home health products/accessories such as grab-bars for showers and other benefits. That Genworth policy greatly assisted my parents in bringing in caregivers for many hours a day for my dad during the “cane” and “walker” phases. We learned over time that at the point where my dad could no longer transfer, home care became impossible. Now, at eighty-seven, he requires full-time nursing care and assistance with all activities of daily living including eating. The Genworth policy continues to cover about half of his $7,000.00 per month bill. His social security income and other monthly income can pretty much cash-flow the basic cost of his long-term care.
My dad’s story is not that unusual insofar as the progression of his decline. His story is unusual, however, with respect to the benefits provided in his Genworth long-term care policy.
Earlier this year, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorney (NAELA) list-serve was abuzz with commentary on two competing articles involving long-term care insurance. The first article appearing in the Wall...