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 What Would Joe Do?
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

The Truth: CyberThieves, Long-term Care Insurance, IEEE, and You

May 11th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena

In flipping through the current issue of IEEE Spectrum
, I was astounded to find an ad on the inside back cover encouraging IEEE members to buy the organization’s long-term care insurance.

That ad tells you two things: a) Some of the 400,000 IEEE members are thinking about long-term care, because they’re aging and don’t want to burden their children with caring for an elderly parent, and b) long-term care insurance is a respected product that any reasonable person would want to invest in.

Regarding these two conclusions: The idea that part of the IEEE is moving into their Golden Years is spot-on, but the idea that long-term care insurance is something worth buying is not so obvious.

If you’ve ever looked into buying one of these policies, you know they’re obscenely expensive. And they can’t be activated until: a) you’ve lived for 100 days in some kind of assisted living facility and can pass the incompetent-at-life-skills test, or b) more insidiously, you’re surviving by way of a life-assistance tube – feeding or oxygen – and you’re housed in some kind of skilled nursing facility for at least 100 days.

These are the two circumstances under which long-term care insurance will pay out. Long-term care insurance does not cover the costs of in-home care. Don’t be duped into thinking it does.

Meanwhile, there’s a catch.

Whereas a decade ago, there were 100+ companies selling long-term care insurance according to the New York Times, today there are less than 15. The reason being, Baby Boomers are set to live way too long and if these insurance policies have to eventually pay out, the liability will be way too great to bear.

And, there’s another catch.

Founded in 2006 by several researchers, including the now-ex-wife of one of the founders of Google, the company 23andMe will take the cheek swab you mail into their labs and for a mere $199, do a genetic read on your saliva to tell you: a) about your ancestral gene pool, and b) which genetic markers on your DNA might be red flags for future health problems – things like cancer and Alzheimer’s.

Hmm, Alzheimer’s. Isn’t that just the kind of thing that, were you to develop the cruel affliction, you don’t want your grown children stuck attending to?

So, if 23andMe says you’re carrying the ApoE4 gene, buy long-term care insurance immediately.

And since 23andMe promises not to tell anyone that you’re going to develop Alzheimer’s– particularly the [few] companies that sell long-term care insurance – you can buy LTC insurance at the average rate. Not at some jacked-up rate that reflects your “pre-existing” inclination towards Alzheimer’s.

To recap – 23andMe announces you’re a candidate for Alzheimer’s, but they only tell you. You want to shield your children from the burden of care, so you go out and buy a LTC policy. The LTC insurance is unable to tell if you’re buying the policy out of natural caution, or because you suspect you’re going to develop Alzheimer’s.

Now enter the CyberThieves: Those happy-go-lucky SOBs who have nothing better to do than go out into our digital world and compromise and/or steal the private data that our very lives are built upon here in the 21st century.

23andMe promises not to tell a soul that you’re a candidate for Alzheimer’s, but some CyberThief gets access to the your 23andMe prognosis because some over-worked IT guy failed to install a security patch, and now your LTC insurance company finds out about your ApoE4.

Your LTC policy premiums skyrocket, you can no longer afford it.

Silver lining: With the money you save, you can buy postage to send snail-mail letters to your kids thanking them in advance for the years of agony, cost, and exhaustion they’ll endure attempting to care for the you, sans LTC insurance, as you descend into the living hell of Alzheimer’s.

Okay, enough.

As it turns out, you really don’t want to know if you’re going to develop Alzheimer’s, and neither do your kids. And, you really don’t want to buy long-term care insurance. The former’s just going to cause sleepless nights, and the latter is no better.

Sorry, IEEE, but that’s the truth of the thing.


News update from May 12th …

The UK’s National Health Service was so flummoxed today by a world-wide CyberVirus attack, they shut down whole swaths of their health care infrastructure to try to get a handle on things. At the same time, of course, assuring the British public that no patient info was hijacked.

Yeah, right.


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2 Responses to “The Truth: CyberThieves, Long-term Care Insurance, IEEE, and You”

  1. kathie says:

    Before ranting, you should check your facts. Most long-term care policies cover in-home care. The triggers for receiving benefits relate to 6 activities of daily living, which include bathing, eating, dressing, toileting, transferring, and walking, not some “incompetent-at-life” test. If you need assistance with any 2 of these 6, it triggers benefits. The elimination period of 100 days typically aligns with the end of what medicare will cover, and can be adjusted upwards or downwards, and even eliminated completely, when you design your policy (sort of like the deductible on your home insurance policy). Suggesting that only Alzheimer’s patients should buy this insurance is short-sighted and shameful. One in two men and 3 in 4 women need this care over the age of 65. THAT’S why it’s so expensive. The odds of you needing the benefits are very high, so you need to ante up. Know anyone who has had a stroke? That’s not Alzheimer’s but it’s likely they’ll need help, yes, even after 3 months, walking and dressing and even eating or bathing. Since there aren’t any genetic tests you can do for stroke, should those IEEE members be out of luck? How about those people who just get old and need help because they’ve become frail, maybe needing help into/out of bed, and assistance walking around? Should we doom them to pay out of pocket for a home health aide? How about the patients who develop ALS or Parkinson’s or Huntington’s chorea? What about someone who simply has a terrible accident and suddenly lacks mobility and needs assistance for life? Should we just tell them “Oh well, sorry.” Finally, once a policy is in place, you could end up with rabies or become a magnet for Alzheimer’s and the insurance company can’t raise your rates. LTC companies can only raise rates on an entire GROUP of people, not just an individual. Rather than spew misinformation to your readers, consider doing some real research first.

    • Thanks for your enthusiastic endorsement of LTC insurance. I’ve had 3 family members who paid tens of thousands of dollars for this insurance, and got not a single dime back because of exactly the circumstances I describe. If you have had personal experience to the contrary, I certainly celebrate your good luck or that of your family members.

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