For more than 15 years, I’ve attempted to write pieces to elicit smiles — however faint — and/or to inspire. I believe a great majority of them have been “upbeat.”

Not so with this one, which may rank “down there” with the Grinch that stole Christmas. “Grinch,” of course, is fictional; mine is backed up by cold, hard facts.

Many conversations among retirees in the year 2000 included pro’s and con’s of long-term care insurance coverage. “After all, we don’t want to be burdens on our children,” was a comment heard time and again …

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My wife and I decided the pro’s stacked up taller than the con’s, and signed up in 2000 at a premium cost of $422, to be paid each QUARTER. Ever-increasing premiums ruled, and billing was changed to monthly, probably because quarterly payments of $3,000 seemed daunting. I’m not sure it makes much difference, however, since $1,000 (or more) paid monthly seems challenging as well. And that’s for the “here and now.” Who knows what premiums will be exacted between now and the “sweet by and by”?

Anyway, that’s the assessment of Continental Casualty Company, which perhaps provides pertinent “fine print” in the insurance policy. (Over the years, however, my tendency has been to read such “whereases” once over lightly.)

I admit this now, to my sorrow. Numerous letters informing us of “premium adjustments” (never “premium increases”) are replete with full assurances that hikes are necessary to cover escalating health care costs. There are many other “blah, blah, blahs,” one of which should be in bold face type: “WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO INCREASE PREMIUMS.” One might think the “powers that be” are peering skyward, wondering if the sky really is the limit …

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It is with fear and trembling that Continental Casualty Company mailings are opened at our house. Granted, notices of premium increases arrive “60 days prior” to enforcement. So what?

The biggest bombshell came early in 2016. The letter announced a 95 percent “premium increase” for the upcoming two years.

Particularly stinging was the second-year hike of 70 percent ...

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Each letter offers options, one of which I have recently exercised. I terminated my policy, but all is not lost. I still qualify for long-term care coverage as far as the $60,000 I’ve paid in premiums will take me.

At current rates, this coverage might last for a year or so.

My wife, a decade my junior, will retain her policy, for now, anyway. It is substantially less expensive, but another 95 percent “bump” in premiums will cause her to join the insurance cancellation list …

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With luck, of course, one might do well NOT to worry about long-term care.

Of people who reach age 65, only 40 percent are expected to enter a care facility. And once there, 44 percent stay less than one year; 30 percent, one-to-three years, and 24 percent more than three years.

As is too often the case, all I know is that I DON’T KNOW …

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There are, of course, many folks who are far wiser in the “what-should-we-do” department. A strong suggestion is to contact a financial planning professional. He or she can decipher all the fine print, and convey pertinent information the average person can understand.

Consideration of insurance topics invariably causes me to think of my late parents, who were not introduced to insurance until obtaining basic home and vehicle coverage during the final 40 years of their lives. In the early going, of course, premiums were miniscule.

I also think of late storyteller Bob Murphey, who told about a fellow who signed on for employment with a company providing group health insurance …

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Sure enough, the man fell ill, spending several days in the hospital. He smiled, confident that his “group insurance” would cover most of the charges.

He was stunned upon dismissal to learn that the policy covered nothing.

“They claimed the policy pays only if the whole group gets sick,” the guy lamented …

 

Dr. Newbury is a former

educator who “commits

speeches” round about. Comments/inquiries to: newbury@speakerdoc.com.

Phone: 817-447-3872.

Website: www.speakerdoc.com Twitter: @donnewbury. Facebook: don newbury.