AARP, Washington, has released a survey report that describes consumers’ hunger for information about long term care insurance.[@@]

The survey was discussed recently during the fall meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo. Regulators who belong to the NAIC are working on updating the long term care insurance model regulation.

Van Ellet, an AARP representative, says the survey of 1,061 adults 45 years of age or older is intended as a first step. The second step will involve gathering consumer thoughts about LTC insurance information from focus groups. Researchers then will seek feedback from insurers that use the findings to test how additional information about LTC information is received by consumers. AARP will use the final results of the research to give regulators suggestions about ways to improve the LTC insurance model to strengthen disclosures and reporting efforts.

An unusually high percentage of the AARP panel members had LTC insurance: 79% of the 836 respondents said they had LTC insurance.

Among those who have LTC insurance, respondents’ level of being informed ranged from a high of 64% for how long the insurance company had been in business to a low of 24% for the ratio of the number of claims filed to claims paid. Another 57% said that they were informed of a company’s financial rating; 49%, about how many dollars the insurance premium increased; and 47%, about how often the insurance premium increased.

About 54% of the LTC insurance owners said they were not informed about the number of complaints against the insurer. That was the most common information shortfall.

Only 20% of the LTC insurance owners said they lacked information about how long the insurer had been in business.

Of those who had purchased LTC insurance and said they were informed buyers, 70% said available information made them more confident in selecting a company, and 73% said that it made them more confident in selecting a policy.

Of those who had not yet bought LTC insurance, 83% ranked how often the insurance premium increased as the most important piece of knowledge to have in making an informed decision and 82% cited the number of complaints as the most importance piece of knowledge.

The range of percentages for those who did not consider items of information important was small, ranging from 15% for the number of LTC insurance policies in force to a low of 8% for both the number of complaints and for how often the insurance premium increased.

A poll of regulators suggested that the current model regulation has been adopted in many states: 36% states have adopted, are in the process of adopting or intend to adopt the August 2000 rating practices and enhanced disclosure amendments found in the current model, and 25 states have adopted the rating practices and enhanced disclosure amendments.