Study Finds That LTC Insurance Keeps Workers Working

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A new report suggests employers may be some of the biggest potential beneficiaries of private long-term care insurance.

Researchers who analyzed long-term care survey data collected in the 1980s and 1990s found that the daughters, daughters-in-law and other relatives responsible for caring for disabled elderly relatives were almost 50% more likely to hold jobs if the recipients of care had private long-term care insurance.

A college-educated caregiver was almost twice as likely to hold a job if private LTC benefits were available, the researchers write in the report, “The MetLife Study of Employed Caregivers: Does Long Term Care Insurance Make a Difference?”

Eighty-five percent of college-educated caregivers caring for relatives with private LTC benefits held jobs, compared with only 45% of college-educated caregivers caring for relatives without private LTC coverage, the researchers found.

“To me, the most important finding is that, even when you take into account the disability status of the elderly person, and the characteristics of the family, long-term care insurance still has a positive effect on the caregivers ability to remain in the workforce,” says Marc Cohen, a vice president at LifePlans Inc., Waltham, Mass.

LifePlans, a LTC consulting firm, and the National Alliance for Caregiving, Bethesda, Md., conducted the caregiving study. The study report is available on the caregiving alliance Web site, at http://www.caregiving.org/content/repsprods.asp.

The MetLife Mature Market Institute, a unit of MetLife Inc., New York, sponsored the research.

The survey data reviewed for the study included information on 504 caregivers caring for frail or disabled elderly relatives living outside of nursing homes who were receiving private LTC benefits, and 676 caregivers whose frail or disabled elderly relatives were living outside of nursing homes and not receiving private LTC benefits.

Researchers adjusted the data for variables such as the sex of the caregiver and the health status of the recipient, then illustrated the effect of each variable on a “base caregiver.”

The base caregiver is a working woman under age 65, who has no college degree. She has been caring for a disabled elderly relative without private LTC insurance benefits for more than two years.

The likelihood that the base caregiver will hold a job is 33%.

The employment rate increases by 16 percentage points–to 48%–if the recipient of the care has private LTC insurance.

Caregivers who are caring for children under 18 and elderly relatives without private LTC benefits at the same time are almost four times as likely to take time off as caregivers who are caring for children and elderly relatives who do have LTC benefits, the researchers found.

AARP, Washington, and the caregiving alliance estimated in 1997 that 22 million U.S. households contain at least one family caregiver responsible for a disabled or frail relative over age 50.

The researchers who wrote the AARP/alliance report estimated that caregiving might cost U.S. employers about $29 billion a year in lost productivity.

Because the costs are so high, making the kind of support offered by private LTC insurance more widely available could have a noticeable effect on the U.S. economy as a whole, Cohen says.

“Keeping people in the workforce is not a trivial thing,” Cohen says.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, July 30, 2001. Copyright 2001 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.


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