State Campaign Points to Importance of Reverse Mortgages in Long Term Care

A state and federal initiative launched in 2012 has resulted in a report to lawmakers on long term care financing including the use of reverse mortgages to help Americans fund longevity.

The Own Your Future initiative in Minnesota was launched in 2012 to make recommendations to state and federal lawmakers on paying for long term care. Between 2005 and 2009, 26 states each sponsored Own Your Future campaigns to educate their residents about long term care challenges and make them aware of options and planning methods. 

In Minnesota, the campaign was expanded to include an ongoing public awareness campaign throughout the state; efforts to make more affordable and suitable long-term care products available to Minnesota’s middle-income households; and evaluation of possible changes to Medical Assistance (MA) to better align with and encourage private payment for long-term care.

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Among the recommendations developed by the state initiative: the use of reverse mortgages. An advisory panel has accepted the recommendations of the subcommittee with a separate set of recommendations having been sent to Congress. 

“The Lieutenant Governor [Prettner Solon] has assured us that now that the report is out, it’s not a report that sits on the shelf. Action will be taken,” says Beth Paterson, a Minnesota originator who was appointed by the state’s governor to serve as the reverse mortgage representative on the advisory panel. 

The report covers 11 recommendations, narrowed down from 16 that were considered, toward solving long term care funding problems for older Americans. 

“The current long-term care financing marketplace consists of insurance products, home equity options  such as reverse mortgages, and health and retirement savings plans,’ the report states. “None of these products has seen widespread use recently due to a number of factors, including the perception of their stability, their safety and their benefit levels.”

Specific to the reverse mortgage market, the report indicates, are public perception challenges that are making it even more difficult for reverse mortgages to gain a place in the long-term care conversation. 

“The market for reverse mortgages (RMs) is likewise in a difficult position,” the report writes.”Recently, state and federal  agencies have changed regulations governing the program to address consumer issues with the program, but the perception persists that RMs, as currently constituted, do not have adequate consumer protections.”

Advocates have developed action items for helping the perception around and access to reverse mortgages among Minnesotans. 

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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  • People need to be informed and educated about other ways to pay for long term care services, and a campaign like this is a good way to start. The most feasible way to pay for long term care services is through long term care insurance, however, if you were not able to plan for it earlier and it is now too late for you to purchase it, a reverse mortgage is a good alternative. Instead of having to spend a lifetime savings, you have the option to tap into your home equity to pay for long term care expenses. In my desire to make people aware of this option, I have also written a clear summary about this option to pay for long term care services at infolongtermcare.org, including steps on how to apply and the options you have under this program. Because this program is one way where people who needs long term care can receive cash to pay for the cost of care, against the value of their house, without having to sell it.

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