The NFL Long Term Care insurance program
Recently there have been a lot of questions and concerns about the new Long Term Care insurance program for retired NFL players. Before I get into talking about this new benefit, I think it is important for all former players to know exactly what Long Term Care is……… and what it isn’t.
WHAT IS LONG TERM CARE?
Long term care is the assistance provided to a person who has a severe cognitive impairment requiring continual supervision, or is unable to perform the activities of daily living (such as bathing, dressing, or getting up from a bed or chair).
Long term care services may also include assistance with day to day activities such as medication management, personal hygiene, light housekeeping or meal preparation.
Services provided by a physical, respiratory or speech therapist may also be included. Long term care can be provided in your home, an adult day care center, assisted living facility or a nursing home.
As with most insurance programs, this benefit may not be available to players that are “currently” suffering with medical problems that may require the aforementioned services.
A good analogy: How many auto insurance companies would insure your car if you brought it to them and it was already totaled? You already know the answer to that question. It’s no different with the Long Tern Care insurance industry.
Before you accuse me of being harsh and indifferent to the suffering and needs of retired players, let me remind you that I have been a staunch advocate for improving the medical benefits of retired players, reforming the disability plan and working to increase the pension plan. George Martin, the NFL Alumni officers and the general membership are still pushing the NFL owners to provide improvements in all three of these areas. In fact, it was the NFL Alumni that passed the following resolution at its 2010 Winter meeting:
Resolution Calling on the NFL and NFLPA to Immediately Institute Long Term Health Insurance for Alumni
Whereas, The NFL Alumni Association is on record as supporting a Long Term Health Insurance benefit for all NFL alumni; and
Whereas, we fully recognize that a growing number of alumni are approaching a critical point in their insurability and 130 alumni die on average each year; and
Whereas, we recognize that many disabling ailments affect alumni at an earlier age than most, and that needed care for such players can be financially devastating on their families; and therefore be it
Resolved, that the Board of Directors of the NFL Alumni Association and its Chapter Presidents call on both the NFL and the NFLPA to ease the psychological and financial burden of alumni and their families by immediately securing this benefit for alumni.
As most of you know, the NFLPA summarily rejected the NFL owner proposal for long term care, saying it did not cover all retired players. While it would be preferable to cover all players, the NFL Alumni also recognized that this would be a huge step in the right direction.
Just a few months after the resolution passed, the NFL owners announced that they would pay for this new benefit for retired players.
We were told right from the “get go” that this insurance would not cover every retired player. No insurance company could stay in business if it did. A number of LTC insurance providers were approached by the NFL when they first solicited the marketplace for this coverage. Many providers dropped out because it wasn’t a money maker for them and they saw it as more of a liability to their company’s bottom line.
TransAmerica stepped up to the plate………while others walked away.
With that said, we should all remember that TransAmerica is a business. They have shareholders that they report to and they need to show growth and profit in order to stay in business.
Let’s face it, if an insurance company can find a reason to deny “higher risk” players coverage…….they will. From their perspective, that makes good business sense. From the retired player perspective……….it just plain sucks!
Nonetheless, TransAmerica has approved over 750 retired players for the insurance to date. Their current approval rate is fluctuating between 75% and 80%.
I hope and pray that none of us will need Long Term Care. But if we are accepted into the program, it’s nice to know that it is there for us and our family. Spouses are eligible for the coverage at a 40% discount. They can apply even if the retired player has been denied coverage.
Keep in mind, we have an advocate for us! It is the insurance broker. I have referred the broker to several players that have been denied coverage. In some cases they have been able to help reverse the decision of TransAmerica. In some cases they couldn’t. You won’t know unless you try, so don’t give up until you’ve done everything you can. Sometimes we have to fight for what we need and what we are entitled to. It’s been no different with the application process for NFL disability and workers compensation, so this application and approval process should come as no surprise.
The LTC application process has been more difficult then some retired players thought it would be. For some, it was easier than they thought it would be. Obviously, the older you are, the greater the chance you have of of being denied. That is why it is important to apply for this coverage as soon as you turn 50 years of age.
I hope that some of you are not discouraged from applying because you have heard the stories of those that have been denied.
It is unfortunate to know that players that put their bodies on the line for the NFL are being denied this coverage. There is obviously a gap in medical service that needs to be filled. Some players are not impaired enough to qualify for the 88 Plan….but too impaired to qualify for the Long Term Care insurance. The NFL owners need to address this issue and fill that hole!
If you haven’t applied for the Long Term Care Insurance, please make sure that you do so as soon as possible. There is a window that will soon be closing and if you have not applied, you must wait a full year to apply again.
Here is the number to call: (800) 260-7512
You can also visit the website at www.MYNFLLTCi.com