Once upon a time, as many bedtime stories began, long term care was not a huge, financial concern. People lived shorter lives, coronary heart disease was more prevalent which ended lives more quickly, Alzheimer’s, as we know it, was unknown. As a young boy, I watched my grandfather die in his bed at home in Fordyce, Arkansas after a stroke. There was nothing to be done except wait for the certainty of death as he lay there in and out of consciousness. It was part of life – dying at home without medical care except for the country doctor who made rounds with his little black bag. No miracles in there other than his stethoscope, knee pounder, and some tongue depressors.

People still want to die at home and certainly be cared for in their abodes. But now, for that to happen, it costs money – lots of money. Why, you ask? Because the increase in drugs, medical supplies, and caretakers have increased dramatically since the days grandpa had his stroke on his tractor and was carried to his bed. Now the spouse and other family caregivers are out there working to meet the mortgage, overdue auto payments, college loans, etc. We’re exhausting our retirement money paying for credit cards and insurance and helping the kids. Now more is required to consider for Long Term Care Insurance which is becoming another potential headache in development.

1. Cost: It’s expensive, no doubt. It’s increasing in costs because more and more insurance companies are bailing out of the market as claims are rising higher than their original projections. So, what about the companies staying in their market? How are they handling this claim problem?

2. Insurance Premiums On the Rise for the Ladies: That’s right, premium increase or benefit reductions. If you are a Long Term Care Insurance (LTCI) owner presently, you can look forward, eventually to a letter from your carrier. My mother received one from Genworth last December. Although she was 94 years of age, had paid on her policy religiously for 13 years without filing a claim, she was receiving what amounted to a 30% increase in her premiums. However, the company, out of its generosity, indicated it would continue her existing premium if she agreed to a substantial decrease in her benefits. What decision do you think a fixed income insured would make in this regard.

Word is out that the insurance providers will target women with higher premiums in the new released policies. The reason, of course, is that the great majority of the benefits are payable to women as less men are paid benefits. As a result, the insurance companies have strategized to make this adjustment in the new LTCI policies. Look for these changes with the introduction of these policies this Summer.

Over the years, many people have dropped their policies due to the recession and loss of income. Of course, this has been a great advantage to the LTCI industry since they are no longer obligated to pay the benefits on these policies. What happens if one is not covered by LTCI? Either they must pay privately or avail themselves to the diminishing Medi-Cal benefits in California.

So, how does all of this potentially lead to filial support? First, what is it? It is child liability for the support of the parent for the necessities such as food, clothing, shelter and medical care. Presently, approximately 30 states have statutory law to enforce such liability including California (Family Code § 4400 et seq).

Additionally, and more importantly, to those who don’t look good in stripes, or orange as the case may be, California also has a criminal statute, Penal Code 270(c) for failure to provide for a parent.

There is California case authority for upholding the statutory law which is based on the premise that the “main purpose of the statutes seems to be to protect the public from the burden of supporting people who have children able to support them.” (Gluckman v. Gaines)

In determining the amount to be ordered for support, California will consider the following evidence relating to each party:

  1. Earning capacity;
  2. Value and amount of needs;
  3. Age and health;
  4. Standard of living;
  5. Any other factors the Court deems just and equitable.

A recent case in Pennsylvania upheld a $90,000 judgment against the son of the mother who had received nursing care over a six month period who was declared indigent.