The possibility of confronting cognitive disease late in life is motivating many clients and prospects to ask about long term care policies, notes Nancy Morith, president, N.P. Morith Inc., Princeton, N.J., an LTC agency.
“What drives people to buy more than anything is fear of Alzheimer’s and other dementias,” Morith says. “They want to find some way to live out their lives with dignity and grace.”
The unfortunate truth is, while medicine has learned to keep the body healthy longer, it hasn’t yet figured out how to keep the brain working, once it shows signs of failing. According to the Madison Institute, Madison, Wis., the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease–a major cause of dementia in the elderly–increases from about 3% of people aged 65 to 74 to 40% of those 85 and older.
So, increasing longevity goes hand in hand with a steady rise in Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, LTC experts point out.
But while cognitive diseases may motivate many consumers to buy LTC insurance, those disorders also are pushing up its cost, one carrier’s top executive points out.
“The amount of dollars our health care system is investing in caring for Alzheimer’s is going to grow exponentially,” says Buck Stinson, president of the LTC insurance unit of Genworth Financial Inc., Richmond, Va. “Half of the claims we get today are specifically associated with Alzheimer’s.”
Finding a cure, he says, “could significantly cut the cost of long term care for everyone.” It also could dramatically reduce the cost of health care overall in the U.S., he adds.