NU Online News Service, Nov. 1, 2:23 p.m. – LIMRA International, Windsor, Conn., says 4 million U.S. residents now have long-term care insurance, up from 1 million in 1990.

The total number of policies sold during the first half of the current year was up 4% from the number sold during the first half of 2000, and the average premium for a tax-qualified plan increased 2%, to $1,729, according to a new LIMRA report on LTC insurance trends.

The average premium for a non-tax-qualified plan fell 9%, to $1,566.

LIMRA researchers based the figures on an informal survey of 78 consultants and insurance and reinsurance executives.

LTC insurance experts told LIMRA researchers low pentration rates, favorable regulation, positive demographic trends and increasing public awareness should help lead to continued growth in sales of the product.

LIMRA also asked the experts to discuss possible barriers to growth.

The experts cited the challenge of developing adequately priced, profitable products; the potential for harmful regulatory changes; and the need to improve product distribution and consumer education programs.