Vancouver woman warns public to be careful choosing long-term care insurance
As many in the state rush to get private long-term care insurance to avoid next year’s WA Cares tax — which will tax 0.58% of workers’ income starting in January — some who have had long-term care insurance nightmares are putting out a warning to consumers to be careful.
According to a new report by Washingtonians for a Responsible Future, the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner has received 800 complaints since 2015 about long-term care insurance companies. These range from reports of benefits being denied, to policies canceled unexpectedly, to rates hiked up for no apparent reason.
Sandra Kraft of Vancouver is one of the hundreds who has filed complaints. She and her husband canceled their long-term care insurance in 2015 after paying in for 15 years. Kraft said she was told by her insurance company multiple times on the phone that even after canceling, she’d get still get $150,000 in benefits.
However, she ended up only getting what she paid in: $24,000. Kraft said that her insurance admitted in a letter that she had been given the wrong information over the phone, but the company still would not give her the sixfold higher amount.
“I feel like they should honor what they told me the benefit was over many conversations over a three-year period,” she said.
When Kraft’s husband developed dementia and had to be put in a long-term care facility for treatment, she found that without the benefits she had been counting on, she could barely afford to make ends meet — even after downsizing.
“What has happened is, I had to sell my house. … I’ve gone through all the money from the sale of my house, I’ve gone through his 401K, my 401K,” Kraft said.
Her husband does not qualify for Medicaid because he has a pension — but the money from the pension has to be used to pay for Kraft’s condo. Just about out of funds, Kraft does not know how she’ll continue paying several thousands of dollars every month for her husband’s care.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m at the end of my rope. The money is gone,” she said. “There are no resources left. I have no way to get any more money.”
Kraft contacted both the Washington State Attorney General’s Office and Insurance Commissioner’s Office, but neither was able to help her.
Her advice to people getting private long-term care insurance right now is to take the time to make sure that what you are getting in the fine print is actually a fair deal.
“Have an attorney go over everything, someone who is aware of all the loopholes and the complaints that are going on,” Kraft suggested, adding, “Read everything, keep copies of everything, trust nobody.”
Washingtonians for a Responsible Future is an organization that supports the WA Cares tax.