In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

What to do when long-term care insurance premiums rise

By Kimberly Lankford

Bad news from Bigstock

Most insurers let you reduce coverage to avoid a rate hike. But is this prudent?

Q: I received a letter from John Hancock insurance company letting me know that the annual premium on my long-term-care policy will increase by 68.14 percent. My wife received a similar letter advising her that her long-term-care premium will increase by 76.99 percent. What should we do?

A: You're referring to the John Hancock rate hike that we first wrote about two years ago; it took that long for regulators in some states to approve the premium increase. Plus, the increase doesn't take effect until your policy is up for renewal, so it's just starting to kick in for many people this year.

John Hancock raised rates on some policies by as much as 90 percent, but a more typical increase was 40 percent. Several other large long-term-care insurers -- including Genworth and MetLife -- have also raised their rates substantially over the past few years. Insurers say they needed to boost rates because of higher-than-expected claims and low interest rates, which have reduced returns on their investments.

When your insurer notifies you of an upcoming rate hike, you have several choices. John Hancock gave most people the option of reducing their inflation protection -- from 5 percent compound inflation protection down to 3.2 percent or 2.7 percent -- and keeping their premiums the same. That still gives you a good deal of coverage, but it's important to do the math.

Calculate what the total payment would be when you're most likely to need long-term care -- perhaps at age 80 -- under both assumptions.

"The 5 percent compound inflation doubles the benefit every 15 years, and the 3 percent doubles it every 25 years," says John Ryan, of Ryan Insurance Strategy Consultants, in Greenwood Village, Colo. "That's a huge difference." Then see how much care currently costs in your area, how much it is expected to rise in the future, and how much of a gap you'd have to cover yourself under both types of inflation adjustment.

Another option is to keep the inflation protection the same but reduce your daily benefit or the benefit period. The average claim is for about three years, so reducing your benefit period from five years or more down to three or four years can cut your premiums (especially if you have lifetime benefits) and still provide ample coverage in most situations.


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However, consider keeping the longer-term policy if you have a family history of long-lasting conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease, which can last for10 years or more. You may also be able to reduce your premiums by extending the waiting period, but keep in mind that the cost of care -- and the amount of money you'd have to pay out of your own pocket before benefits kick in -- will also increase with inflation.

If you carefully calculated how much coverage to get when you first bought the policy, it's generally best to pay the higher premiums rather than cut back on coverage. Dropping the policy is usually the worst choice. Any new policy you buy is likely to cost a lot more than your current policy -- even after the rate increase. Premiums on new policies are about 30 percent to 50 percent higher than they were five years ago, says Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Care Insurance. You'll also pay more because you're older, even if you're in perfect health.

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Kimberly Lankford is a Contributing Editor at Kiplinger's Personal Finance.

All contents copyright 2013 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Media Services. All rights reserved.