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With Long-Term Care Insurers Opting Out - Who Will Care For Elders?

Long-term care insurers are opting out - Who will care for us when we are seniors, and how will we pay for the care we need?

Front page of the Newark Star Ledger on March 25, in black and white, a story by Ed Beeson outlines the threat to our elders and ourselves that is no longer looming in the distant future, but here, now. For elderly, a critical safety net is shrinking, illustrates the crisis in long-term care as more insurers pull out of long-term care coverage.

It is contradicting that as medical science invests in medicines and procedures to keep us living longer, and insurers and safety nets like Medicare and Medicaid provide benefits to affect this outcome, these same programs are reducing their investments and funding for long term health care communities, and assistance that seniors need.

“Faulty assumptions about both aging and interest rates have led a growing number of insurers to stop selling what is known as long-term care insurance. This product helps people cover the often staggering cost of nursing homes, home-health aides and assisted living care,” Mr. Beeson explains in his article.

Coupled with what is happening to long-term care reimbursement (Medicaid and Medicare), and Social Security, which is going to be greatly challenged when the majority of the boomers hit retirement age, and we are facing a crisis in America.

Long term care communities have been living with budget proposals that continuously threaten additional reductions. With Medicaid poised to become a managed care product, we in the senior health care industry, have many more questions of how the program will be facilitated than have had answers. Medicare reimbursements have decreased long-term care revenues by 11 percent, and now we see the one remaining hope for consumers dissolving, long-term care insurance.

“The three companies, (Prudential, Unum Group and Met Life), comprise about 30% of New Jersey’s $301.6 million long-term care market, according to the latest data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners,” the Ledger article states.

With our nation aging rapidly, and New Jersey’s population one of the leaders in the trend, we are looking at a crisis situation in our State. If senior living communities do not get any relief many more senior residences in our State will be forced to close.

Thanks to the miracle of modern science, people are living longer and longer. In some cases the body outlasts the mind and in some the mind outlasts the body. In either case quality long-term care is needed. With the elderly population due to increase to levels that may exceed the younger population left to care for them, how are we going to pay for care for our elders?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Edgar Brisbon April 06, 2012 at 04:43 PM
The issue of extended health care is hugh for boomers. The exit of the three companies listed in the Star Ledger article can be viewed as a glum predictor of future long term care funding or, as an independent agent focusing on LTC insurance, I view it as a market adjustment to an industry which based sales and viability on faulty assumptions on life expectancy, the demand for care and how it was likely to be utilized. The need for care and reliable funding sources will only grow as we age and live longer and I believe that companies remaining in the long term care market will make adjustments (including changes in pricing) but will continue to offer this needed coverage. Coupled with a growing awareness of the need (and the threat) posed by boomers, their will need to be a renewed effort from goverment funding sources and legislation to make LTC coverages accessible and affordable for more people. Methods for paying for extended health needs will not go away, they will need to be revamped.

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