Contrary to popular belief, the amount of claim benefits that long-term care insurers are paying out is on the rise in 2016, and by 2032 carriers expect to pay $34 billion.
“There’s a misperception by many financial advisors about rate increases and insurers denying long-term care insurance claims and that’s not the case,” said Jesse Slome, director of the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance (AALTCI). “Insurers are paying more claims than prior years.”
In fact, some $8.15 billion in claim benefits were paid to 260,000 individuals in 2015 versus $7.85 billion paid to roughly 250,000 individuals in 2014.
“It’s because of the increase in people who are getting older,” Slome said. “A fair number of policy holders have a 5 percent compound inflation which increases their benefits. When the cost of care goes up, insurers pay more.”
According to the 2016 National Long Term Care Insurance Price Index, although the spread between low-cost and high-cost policies remains between 20 percent and 90 percent, monthly premiums are not rising.
“The number of policy holders claiming benefits does not impact the price because it’s already factored in to the monthly premium,” Slome said. “Long-term care insurance is not like home insurance where a bad storm year can increase the price that consumers pay monthly for coverage.”
Another trend in 2016 is growing investments in linked-benefit long-term life insurance products.
“Many financial advisors today are realizing that linked life insurance products are a good way for their clients to plan for retirement,” Slome said. “Selling linked-benefit products are a good way for financial advisors to increase their revenues from commissions.”
Overall, the average amount of costs for a long-term care policy is lower in 2016, according to the Index. The lowest price among better policies for 55-year-old single men was $873 a year or $72 a month compared to $1060 or $88 a month in 2015. For 55-year-old single women, the lowest was $1100 a year or $91 per month in 2016 compared to $1,390 a year or $115 per month last year.
“While some insurers are charging the same price, some highly priced insurers have exited the long-term care insurance market and a few carriers have adjusted their policies so that they are cheaper, which has resulted in a lower industry average,” Slome said.