Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Even with Obamacare. women usually are charged more for long-term care insurance premiums than men (as of 2013)

Even under Obamacare, insurance companies can charge women more for long term care insurance than they charge men.  Only two states, Colorado and Montana, prohibit the practice. 

Insurance company statistics show that women spend about twice as much on long term care benefits as men, because women are likely to live longer by several years.  Husbands are often cared for by wives, who then have to depend on adult children or caregivers if they become disabled, or go into assisted living facilities or nursing homes.

It appears that gender-based pricing has been starting this year, in 2013.  

In late 2009, when I was looking after my mother and visited the Emeritus in Arlington, I was told that 70% of the Alzheimer’s patients were female.

Single premium policies, at least for people under 70, may be cheaper.  At age 68, I purchased a single premium policy from Lincoln for $100,000, which functions as a life policy that earns policy dividends and maintains a surrender value.  I think the max benefit is about $4500 a month and there is a lifetime cap.

The link for the Post story is here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"Eldercare": Proposed Chapter Conclusion

The following is the proposed text for the last section of the chapter on eldercare in my "DADT-3" book. 

I felt a certain shame in the way I lived during the 88 months “at home” after I returned to look after mother.  It would have been all right had the care taken place in a home that I had set up, under a relationship that I had also established.  I felt a bit like a parasite.  And I had lost a lot of freedom.  In part, I was a sixty-something living with his mother.

I did resent “emotion” and “attentiveness” and even protective combativeness being expected of me when I had never “signed up for it”, by marrying and having children.  On the other hand, having my own children would have made all of this make sense psychologically, because then I would have had “my family”. In fact, I recall a conversation, around 2006 or so, when Mother said she wondered if I had much regard for “my” (“your”) family, when I hadn’t procreated one.  I wondered she had gotten wind of the online attention I was getting.  I was indeed constantly afraid that someone would make a flame and I would have to take everything down. That never quite happened.  I survived. (There’s a saying: “I became a celebrity so I could never get fired.”)

In fact, having a family is a natural result of becoming attentive to “the real needs of other people.”  It doesn’t cause it.  So my problem is that I dropped attentiveness and gone my separate way early in life because “social combat” had proved too shameful. After years of  relatively prosperous “urban exile”, much of it (pre-Internet) lived as a double-life,  I was needed after all.

It is certainly mistaken to believe that “personal responsibility” is only about honoring promises and “contracts” that one “chooses” to make.  Or perhaps it’s a mistake to think that ethics and character are just about “personal responsibility” in that narrow sense.  It seems, that both legally and morally, one has certain family responsibility and some duties to community regardless of choice, and that some of this becomes very personal (not just financial)  in nature.  The scope of that responsibility changes as society and technology change.  In the past we had a military draft.  Today, we practically have to conscript adult children into eldercare if we want people to live longer.  As a corollary, we find a lot more can be done for the disabled than in the past (when I was growing up), but only if ordinary people will rally to support the efforts socially.   And we’re finding that we’re having to expect more personal attentiveness from people if we expect to ease growing social tensions and sustain our freedoms.  Some of that attentiveness may mean, as a policy matter, that we can no longer afford to shut off a third of our adults from the prospect of having and raising children.  All of this has profound implications for how we view the “purpose” of marriage and family, which is increasing becoming a “result” rather than just a “cause”.   I certainly learned my own lesson in “demographic winter”.

I do have my own spin on the “equality” debate.  Ironically, it has turned out for me at least, the real issue for “equality” matters as much, or even  more, for those who try to live “standing alone” as those who marry (for the “1000” benefits), even in a same-sex scenario.  As previous generations knew, under different circumstances perhaps, people will always have to meet the needs of others, way beyond what happens in an economic market system.  The practical reality is, if you don’t create your own family (and hopefully have fully equal rights),  you’re likely to be called on to make sacrifices for those who do.  You will feel like “second class”.  You will face assignment, expropriation (to support the heterosexual passions of others), even “purification”.  I remember that sometimes well-meaning people would ask me if I would feel proud of my mother’s reaching 100 (she reached 97).  They “missed the point”.

The “landing” left me relatively well-off, although not forever.  Ten more years of productive life would be OK.  I can’t see the “morality” in expecting heroic or unusually invasive procedures (like transplants) for me, after age 75 or 80 or so.  I can’t see going through what my mother did.  Technology, however, is making many life-extending procedures less invasive, and I can certainly see how I could deal with some of them.  I still want to be a “good guy” and not part of the Medicare problem.  But the real way to become “good” is accepting a little of the paradox of the “Rich Young Ruler” Gospel parable. 

As for my own religious beliefs, watching my mother’s passing did make me revisit how I see things.  I was impressed with the fact that she had a last supper, a last good day, and months before, a last day where she was free on her own.  We would reverse the time arrow and walk back through her life (as a relativistic thought experiment only).  I also had to ponder my own attitude toward other generations, and how I carry on after I’m gone, and my previous indifference to the idea of having children.  I think that our consciousness carries on a sense where we “know” a lot more, especially about our deepest intentions and the intentions and thoughts of others around us – but we cannot “experience”, unless we are born again (possibly reincarnated, maybe even on other planets).  I talked about the Rosicrucians in the third chapter of the first book.

I can see how some people could say that I shouldn’t be spending time writing or on media, but should be involved in sheltering and providing for other people – the intrinsic “poor” – even if from a socially “inferior” position.  That probably could have been required.  It wasn’t, but I see the point.  I can only say that I still have an ego (despite my balding legs)   I want to see my music produced, a novel out, and a film about all of this.  After that, things won’t be the same. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sequestration could affect federal employee retirement accounts quickly

Prolonged furloughs of federal employees because of sequestration could have significant effects on the ultimate values of their 401(k)-like retirement plans, because federal contributions to the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) would stop, or be otherwise reduced.
The story appears in the Washington Post  on the Federal Eye page Tuesday, written by Eric Yoder, link here
When people are permanently laid off and receive severance from private companies, typically matching contributions continue.  Mine did, when I took out a biweekly payout until the amount ran out (after 24 weeks, back in 2002). I still left ING with a 401(k) balanced in relatively good shape. 

When I worked for the federal government (Navy Department, NAVCOSSACT) in 1971-1972, I did not pay Social Security FICA, but made a contribution to the federal retirement program instead, which I could take out a lump sum (to buy a car) when I left for private industry. Pretty reckless of me at the time.

Federal employees began a switch to Social Security in 1984.  The history is complicated, but is explained here by Social Security at this link
I do remember paying FICA and Medicare tax when working for Census in 2010 and 2011.  

Monday, February 18, 2013

Future retirees face bleaker outlook than ever

The Washington Post greeted readers on Presidents’ Sunday morning with a detailed and grim story by Margaret A. Fletcher, “Future retirees at greater fiscal risk; majority may be worse off than parents; savings shortfall threatened decades of progress”, link here
The article chases the history of Social Security, Medicare, and private pension systems, but the basic reasons the problems are mathematics and demographics.  People are living longer, there are fewer children, and employers are not inclined to increase wages or offer more high paying jobs.  Employers are freezing pensions, sometimes even terminating them, and sometimes not even offering 401(k) matches.
It’s a sustainability problem, in a culture that does not care as much about the future in a personal way as it used to.  

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Financial planners say that retirees should be in stocks again, but not including utilities

I got a call from a “financial planner” at Wells Fargo last week, saying that now is the time for retired people to think more about stocks again (at least 25% of a portfolio).  That sounds a little optimistic, because stocks have already risen a lot, and could go down again if there is some other hit.
He also said that this is not the time to own a lot of utility stocks, which are almost like “bonds”.  They pay excellent dividends. 
Utilities could face major expenses as they come under pressure not only to buttress their nuclear plant safety (a plant in Florida will never reopen), but also buttress the power grid, particularly against potential solar storms in the near future.  This will surely be very expensive.
Furthermore, restoration work after major Earth weather events (like Sandy and the recent Noreaster) is costing a lot more. 

My parents did have a lot of utilities, and a lot of oil, all of their lives.  Because consumers always need these, they did well over several decades.  They helped pay for my mother's care. 

I bought some Exxon (then Mobil) in 1977 for about $600.  Now its worth 20-30 times that.  It's still in my IRA. Am I one of the "exploitation class" destroying the planet? 

Furthermore, a natural gas well in Ohio (related to Marcellus Shale) largely paid for my aunt's care in her last years.  Energy equities are what saved me and our family.  

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Notional defined contribution (NDC) schemes (like in Sweden) could make Social Security sustainable -- but not progressive

The Economist (Feb. 2, 2013) has an interesting proposal for the whole concept of pension and social security reform, to take into account longer lifespans and demographics automatically.

The article (in “Free Exchange”) maintains that Social Security is a “defined benefit” bur “Pay as you go” (PAYG) scheme, logically an oxymoron.
The idea of a “notional defined-contribution” plan (NDC) is implemented in Sweden and is effectively a quasi-annuity with payouts adjusted (usually reduced) automatically as demographic statistics demand.  If US Social Security were converted to such a system, beneficiaries would have a legal enforceable “property right” to their benefits (because of the definition of “defined contribution”), but only as scaled back automatically for demographics. 

Implementing such a plan would certainly make Social Security sustainable (although there could be short term accounting problems with effectively “double contributions” to make up for those who didn’t pay in enough).  It would also remove any idea that it is “welfare” or should be progressive and would lead to gradually reduced benefits, even for current beneficiaries.  Therefore it would be likely to meet political resistance, especially from liberals. 
The Economist article is here
The article also uses the term “national savings accounts”.

The "notional defined contribution" concept expresses the philosophy that you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.  It's not clear that the World agrees with this ideas as much as some of us would like.  

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Web references on "filial responsibility laws" have increased considerably recently; how about Wikipedia?

I did a Google search on “filial responsibility laws” a couple days ago, and noticed a tremendous explosion on links to article on the subject, since 2007, where there was relatively little.  Now (in early 2013) there are about fifty pages of results, and the postings on this blog mostly appear around page 44.

The stories are largely from media outlets (often clones) and law firms, and many of them talk about the recent case in Pennsylvania that broke lose last May. 
Generally, lawyers are concerned that in the future states may be more likely to pursue adult children, given the crimping of their state budgets.   Many of them say that the laws have been little used in the recent past, and are a drawback to the “poor laws” from England that would have come over in colonial times.  The situation in Pennsylvania seems to be particularly provocative, and apparently seems to invite providers (like nursing homes) to go after family members first.
The issue certainly has an impact on the debate over “family values” and marriage.  It is certainly not true that legally-driven family responsibility is limited to a decision to engage in behavior that can result in having children. 
Wikipedia doesn’t (yet) have an article yet on filial responsibility laws (yes, maybe I should write one – where will I make the time?) but there is an article on filial piety (in Confucian sense) here. AWikipedia article would need to detail all state, provincial or country laws and that would be difficult to track down and give all the url's for.  I've done that for some states on this blog (particularly in July 2007). 

Sunday, February 03, 2013

BLS reports on time spent on eldercare; more on getting paying family caregivers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released an American Time Use Survey (actually conducted by Census by sampling – I used to work on a similar Current Population Survey or CPS) which reports on the time Americans are spending on eldercare.
The link for the report is here

Adults 45-64 were the most likely to be personally involved in eldercare, and more than half were women (no surprise). 
23% of care providers had minor children of their own.
The AARP has a worksheet, from Nov. 12, 2012, “Can I get paid as a caregiver?”  and in some states this is possible from public funds, link (wesbite url) here. If the elder parent has assets, it may be possible to be paid, but then there are tax consequences (check with an attorney ).  I see a posting on the issue Nov. 30, 2012 and will return to it later. 

“Friend in Action Boise” produced the video above, “Caregiving: The Universal Occupation”.,