Long-Term Care Insurance: Less Bang, More Buck

Source: Barbara Feder Ostrov, Kaiser Health News, March 17, 2016

….. Long-term care insurance was supposed to help the middle class ease the financial burden of expensive in-home or nursing home care that now can top $90,000 a year. Consumers were urged to buy policies in their 50s, because premiums rose the longer they waited. About 4.8 million people were covered by long-term care policies in 2014. But insurers botched just about every aspect of the policies they sold in the early days of the industry, said Joseph Belth, a retired professor of insurance at Indiana University known as one of the insurance industry’s toughest critics. They underestimated how long people would live and how long they’d need nursing home care — but overestimated how many people would drop their policies and how much interest insurers could earn on the premiums they banked. Hemorrhaging money, many insurers left the business. Those that remain are in financial trouble on their long-term care policies. They’re charging far more for new policies, and sharply raising the premiums of old ones. ….. As a result, many seniors nationwide face the same unpleasant choices as Klimenko: paying rising costs, scaling back coverage or dropping it altogether. ….