Consider long-term care insurance


Medical expenses are the leading cause of bankruptcy in the U.S., even among middle-class, well- educated homeowners. Poof! If you’re not independently wealthy, all of the financial fruits of your career may be jeopardized by just one bad illness or injury.

One way to help prevent such financial disaster is to make wise choices about your benefits. But many feds do not fully understand all of their options involving health care coverage — particularly involving Long Term Health Care (LTC) insurance. So here is some practical advice about LTC insurance that I’ve gathered through extensive research of my own options as a fed and via real-world experience.

First, a definition of LTC: It is care needed to complete the Activities of Daily Living (ADL), such as dressing, eating and bathing. It may be needed because of ailments associated with old age or because of accidents or serious illnesses occurring at any age. LTC may be provided in homes, assisted living facilities or nursing homes. Contrary to popular belief, most LTC expenses are covered by personal/family assets — not by standard health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid for people who don’t qualify for welfare.

Most current and retired feds, their spouses and adult children are eligible to apply to the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP). Probably the best kept secret in government: the parents and parents-in-laws and stepparents of eligible feds may also apply.

Some advantages:

*FLTCIP screens new feds and new spouses of feds less rigorously than other applicants.

*The cost of an FLTCIP policy is significantly less than that of a comparable policy from most, or perhaps all, other LTC insurers.
*The cost of buying the same FLTCIP policy is equivalent for a man and woman of the same age and health status. But more private insurers are charging single, and some married, women significantly more than comparable men for the same policy because women are more likely to use their LTC insurance than men. My response to such inequality is: Excuse me for living!
*FLTCIP sells policies that may provide lifetime benefits. Most, or all, other LTC insurers only offer much shorter benefit periods.
*FLTCIP policies are portable after federal service, and are valid throughout the U.S. during retirement.
*FLTCIP does not require covered caretakers to have licenses (which are likely to increase their rates). Some insurers do. FLTCIP covers some care-giving by certain family members.Backed by the federal government, FLTCIP will probably be able to pay all claims in perpetuity (even though, like any LTC insurer, it may raise its rates at any time). Other insurers are probably more vulnerable to bankruptcy. But you may check the stability of private insurers via sources such as Standard & Poor’s.Some disadvantages:FLTCIP strictly defines ADL’s as bathing; dressing and eating; transferring from a bed, chair or wheelchair; using the bathroom; and dealing with incontinence—without covering any other activities. By contrast, some insurers also cover cooking, house cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, driving to medical appointments and other services needed for functioning.

FLTCIP does not offer indemnity policies, which are offered by some private companies. Under such policies, the claimant receives his entire daily benefit in cash every day— which he can use as he chooses, no matter which services he has used on any day.

Learn more about the FLTCIP at

Lily Whiteman is a federal communications expert and author of “How to Land a Top-Paying Federal Job” and a trainer on career advancement skills and communication skills. Her website is Email your career questions to and view her blog at


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