New York State
Insurance Department


ISSUED 7/19/2006

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEW WEB TOOL COMPARES LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE PRODUCTS

        Superintendent of Insurance Howard Mills today announced that consumers in the market for long-term care (LTC) insurance can go online effective immediately to compare sample premium rates in New York.

        "Governor Pataki and the state Legislature are rightfully focusing on initiatives that educate New Yorkers about the advantages of buying long term care insurance when planning for their family’s financial future, and this new addition to the Insurance Department’s web site builds on that foundation," Superintendent Mills stated.

        Consumers logging onto www.ins.state.ny.us, clicking the ‘Consumers’ icon and then scrolling down to the Long Term Care section can retrieve personalized LTC insurance premium rates by submitting the type of policy they would like to purchase, their age, and the number of days they are willing to pay out-of-pocket for LTC services before a policy will begin to pay benefits.

        LTC services may include the health care, social, housekeeping, or rehabilitation services a person needs over a period of months or years in order to improve or maintain his or her health and a level of personal independence. Such services are provided not only in nursing homes, but also in people’s residential homes or apartments, as well as assisted living facilities.

        New York State Office for the Aging Director Neal E. Lane said, "This web site builds on Governor Pataki’s efforts to provide consumers with choices regarding their long term care needs. Long-term care insurance can be a vital component of financial planning and this new tool will greatly assist those looking into its purchase with understanding and comparing the choices available to them."

        New York State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., said, "The State Insurance Department's new website comparing premium rates among long-term care insurance companies is an important advancement in the state's efforts to increase the public's awareness of the insurance options available to them to create a plan for their future long-term care needs."

        The new information on insurance premiums builds on New York's commitment to this issue. This year the state launched a new long-term care insurance website at www.planaheadny.com as part of a comprehensive outreach campaign that included television, radio and print media advertising to highlight the benefits of long-term care insurance among New Yorkers.

        The Insurance Department’s interactive web tool currently includes LTC policies that are sold under the auspices of The New York State Partnership for Long-Term Care (NYSPLTC) initiative. The site will be expanded to include sample premiums for other types of LTC insurance policies in the near future. The NYSPLTC is a unique program that links private LTC insurance with Medicaid Extended Coverage to provide lifetime LTC coverage to Partnership policyholders.

        Medicaid Extended Coverage pays for an individual’s LTC services should a New Yorker who purchased a NYSPLTC-issued policy exhaust his or her benefits under the terms of their private LTC insurance policy. Moreover, NYSPLTC policyholders need not spend down some or all of their assets in order to gain access to Medicaid coverage.

        Medicaid, a program designed to provide medical care to the poor, requires an individual needing LTC to liquidate many of their financial assets before becoming eligible for Medicaid coverage. Under current state law, if one spouse needs nursing home care, for example, the couple can only keep a home, car and assets up to $99,450 in order to qualify for Medicaid. For a single person, the asset limit is $4,150. Despite the possibility of this heavy financial burden, a 2006 John Hancock study showed 69% of adults nationally had given little or no thought on how to pay for long term care.

        To help make long-term care insurance more affordable, 20 percent of the total amount of premiums paid for qualified policies can be used for a tax credit on New York State income tax returns. Governor Pataki and the state Legislature doubled the tax credit to 20 percent from 10 percent in 2004.

        Long-Term Care Insurance Resource Centers, operated through local offices for the aging across the state, are also available to help any person interested in learning more about LTC insurance and provide unbiased information about what factors to consider and answer questions consumers may have in examining this important LTC planning option.

        To gather additional information about NYSPLTC policies, as well as other LTC insurance policies available in New York, consumers can also contact the New York State LTC Insurance Helpline at 1-866-950-PLAN.


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