This month is Long Term Care Awareness Month and we had the pleasure of interviewing one of our favorite long term care professionals Linda Jahnke. Linda is the owner of Jahnke Consulting and Long Term Care Alliance here in San Diego. She has over twenty-six years experience guiding others through the long term care insurance and planning processes. We have worked closely with Linda for years and she has provided valuable support to many of our clients over this time. Grace Care is glad to share some of Linda’s expertise in this interview and we encourage you to reach out to her should you be interested in a complimentary consultation.
Tell us about your insurance practice and what you do for your clients?
I began helping people plan for long term care expenses through insurance products after working in a continuing care community in Arizona. At that time, my grandfather was receiving care in a facility and my family struggled to pay for his care. The family home was eventually sold at auction because the money to pay the room and board ran out quickly. We had to turn to Medicaid to pay for his care. Until I learned about long term care insurance, I had no idea that people could actually plan for, and protect themselves for what is a very expensive, and likely event. My husband and I have had our long term care insurance agency for over 26 years. I think we have been successful because we have first-hand experience with numerous family members, who would have benefited from early planning had they known it was an option.
What is the biggest obstacle in starting the conversation about long term care planning?
Denial and misinformation are the two biggest obstacles. For most people, it is easier to imagine death, than it is to imagine needing the help of a family member or stranger to assist with basic daily functions. I often tell my clients that I am part therapist in preparation to work with them. Before someone commits to spending money for insurance, I have to help them work through their own fear and sadness about the loss of perceived control. I do my best to separate the myths about long term care. One such myth is that Medicare will pay for long-term care, or that Medi-Cal is easy to qualify for. Medicare pays no benefit if custodial care is provided and Medi-Cal is limited in its scope of care delivery models. These two issues are common misunderstandings that prevent people from planning. Typically when I show people the actual wording in a Medicare brochure, or if I walk them through what it takes to “spend-down” assets, thus having limited choices for care settings, they understand the value of planning ahead, no matter how they may feel.
Moving someone from a negative feeling about planning, to a thoughtful and rational perspective is a privilege. As has happened many times, those clients and family members who eventually use their policies, come back to me and are so thankful for the guidance I gave them years ago. Although they never thought they would need to use the policy, I am grateful they took the time to listen to me, and they are thankful that they took action.
What are the benefits of a good long term care insurance policy today?
The wonderful thing about long term care insurance is the wide variety of benefit options. I help families narrow down what is important to them. Most people want to stay in their home. We can structure their insurance so that they can plan on staying home, even if a primary care provider such as a spouse or adult child is unavailable. We utilize care management resources from Grace Care for our clients. The vast majority of our clients will never go to a facility precisely because they have private funds to stay in their home, or with a family member surrounded by familiarity. When a person is nearing the end of their life and they are dependent on others, there is no doubt that familiarity, safety, comfort and love are of utmost importance. Long term care insurance can provide a financial vehicle to meet these goals.
In the event that our clients need a higher level of care in assisted living, or skilled nursing care, the long term care policy follows them along their care continuum. Families once again can shop for the best care community with assurance the expenses will be aided by the long term care policy benefits.
Who should be looking into these plans and at what age?
The best time to look for coverage is when a person is between 45-75 years old. The age may not be as important as health. These policies are medically underwritten, which means that the time to purchase coverage is when health concerns are NOT an issue.
If someone needs care, how do they begin to access their benefits?
We take our clients future care needs very seriously. For this reason, when our clients have a health event or have been diagnosed with a cognitive impairment, we will work with the family to begin the claims process. What this means is that we help with the paperwork, as well as securing any necessary documents from health care practitioners who will verify the need for care. Just as important, we also connect our clients to San Diego care professionals, like Grace Care Management. We all need each other; we are an alliance of long term care professionals whose lives have been touched in many ways by the impact of chronic illness with our own family members, and our clients. We care deeply that our elders receive the quality care and attention that they deserve. Having long term care insurance is the financial piece to the planning puzzle. Our goal is to educate anyone who has is concerned about the cost, and quality of long term care for themselves, or the family members that they love.
If you would like more information or a complimentary consultation with Linda, you can contact her at (858) 513-8351 or at Linda.Jahnke@jcltca.com. You can also visit her company on the web at www.jcltca.com.