Pension theft: Marie Benedetto, a retired San Francisco math teacher, says CalPERS is increasing teachers' insurance premium for long-term health care a whopping 85 percent

Long-term care rate hike stuns CALPERS teacher and public worker retirees and they should be stunned.  For the forces of reaction are not just cannibalizing our kids, but they are helping themselves to a hefty plate of senior pensions in their Donner Party dinner that includes all public pensions.  All over the nation, since 2010, as I have reported, teacher pension funds have been the big pinata for investment bankers, banks, politicians, and hedge funds all looking for a free ride in the ‘free market’ and all the other scallywags we call ‘job  creators’, investment specialists and undemocratic representatives.  They are in fact, job destroyers and when they can’t get their hands on jobs to destroy, they look, like the vampires they are, to suck the blood out of public worker pensions and leave workers decimated.  This is the slow incremental drip of austerity, American style.

In a recent article in the San Francisco Gate, online, reporter Victoria Colliver has written about how CALPERS is now being attacked by the demons of despair — the financial class and the ruling elites.  All this while Jerry Brown, capitalism’s ‘handshake’, sits back and makes budget decisions along with his cronies that promise to devastate the public sector and its members.  Brown is part of a long line of neo-liberal politicians who likes to quote Zen sayings while he slashes and burns California.  There was a time he posed as a liberal but that was before ‘neo’ liberalism to which he has taken a fond liking to.  He is little more than a huckster.

From charter schools to budget devastation, from cuts in welfare and childrens’ needs to slashing public pensions, Brown has proved to be the scourge of California, doing what Schwartznegger could never do under a republican administration.  Now he is after seniors and retirees, while he and his wife, founder of the Gap, attend parties with criminal Sandy Weill of Citigroup (remember Weill: he orchestred the destruction of Glass-Seagal, which seperated investment banks from ‘regular’ banks).

Yet Brown, no friend of working people, really is only a minor method actor in the destruction of the public commons.  Meanwhile, while ‘the Governor’ and his wife enjoy lofty parties with ruling elites, working people actually die.

Long-term care rate hike stuns CALPERS retirees Victoria Colliver February 24, 2013

When Marie Benedetto opened her mail last we and learned her long-term care premium was going up a stunning 85 percent, she did what a retired math teacher would do. She made a spreadsheet.

Benedetto calculated she’d have to spend $1,328 a month or $15,936 a year for the policy after the increase goes into effect. That added up to a 415 percent increase in premiums since she first purchased the policy in 1997.

For Benedetto, the rate increase makes her policy unaffordable.

“It’s not like Social Security or my teacher retirement is going to increase to cover those costs,” said Benedetto, 69, of San Francisco.
The former San Francisco Unified School District teacher is one of 113,400 policyholders who bought long-term care insurance through the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, or CalPERS, and will be hit with the 85 percent hike in 2015.

“They have been absolutely outraged,” said Bonnie Burns, a policy specialist with California Health Advocates, an advocacy group for Medicare beneficiaries. “They feel the promises that were made to them when they bought these products have been violated.”
Insolvency risk The state pension fund’s board decided in October to increase rates for the policies, which help pay for nursing-home care, home health care and other expenses not covered by Medicare. Board members said lower-than-expected investment earnings and loose underwriting forced them to take the drastic action or risk insolvency.

CalPERS, which runs the second-largest long-term-care program, behind the federal government, is not alone when it comes to raising rates.
Long-term-care coverage is a relatively new subset of the insurance industry. About 8 million Americans have bought this type of coverage since the 1980s, and most of the insurance providers have had to raise rates and drop more generous policies. Some have left the business.
The California Department of Insurance last year approved a 40 percent rate hike for some long-term-care policies covered by John Hancock Life Insurance Co., and gave Genworth Financial Inc. the go-ahead for an 18 percent increase. The agency regulates private long-term-care companies, but not CalPERS.

“Long-term-care insurance companies are expected to predict economic conditions and health costs 10, 20 years into the future. Nobody can really do that,” said Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.

Thousands affected CalPERS’ rate hike affects those who bought long-term policies between 1994 and 2005 for lifetime coverage and protection from inflation. That group accounts for about 85 percent of the fund’s 148,000 long-term-care policyholders.

“We have certainly heard concerns from members pertaining to these rate increases,” said Ann Boynton, deputy executive officer of benefit programs policy and planning for CalPERS. She said policyholders will be offered various options, the highest being up to 10 years’ worth of benefits and the option to purchase periodic inflation protection.

“We’re definitely not making rate changes to drive people out of products,” she said, adding that the average claim was for 3.5 years of care. Only 1 percent of claims exceeded nine years, she said. “We’re providing them with alternatives.”

Policyholders will get more information about their options in the coming months. They will be expected to make changes by June 30.
“I’m upset. People are upset. I don’t know how they can get away with this,” said Noele Krenkel, 59, of Berkeley, who is active in the retired teachers union, United Educators of San Francisco.

Learn more More information: CalPERS members seeking more information about their long-term-care insurance hikes can call (800) 982-1775 or visit
Long-term care: The Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program, or HICAP, offers free counseling about Medicare and long-term-care coverage. For more information, call (800) 434-0222.Read more: