These days you know there’s trouble when the blogosphere takes up a subject, and blogging was hot and heavy after a recent spate of negative press on the topic of long-term care insurance.
The New York Times launched the attack, with tales of helpless and fragile elderly people denied coverage, made to resubmit paperwork over and over, and forced to rely on their children’s assets for care when they’d purchased policies to avoid just such a scenario. Other newspapers across the country followed, with cases from their own circulation areas and editorials severely criticizing the industry as a whole and calling for reform.
That’s when the blogs got into the act. From HealthLawProf Blog to Thoughts of an Average Woman to titusonenine to the Daily Kos, the air was thick with comments. The Daily Kos was particularly outspoken, with its title “Murder by Spreadsheet: Insurance industry targets elderly.”
While the Times article made serious allegations–that some companies were denying legitimate claims, stalling aged clients sometimes until they died, and engaging in other improper practices to avoid paying for care–it also focused on a few companies with the highest complaints. Many readers, however, took the problems to be industrywide, and insurance companies took umbrage. Insurance blogs responded with statistics and warnings of turbulent times ahead.
Whether the problem is as serious as the broad news coverage implied, one thing is clear: the problems that do exist have created a public relations nightmare, and 2008 presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama have asked for the U.S. Government Accountability Office to step in, with Obama also calling for investigation and possible further regulation of the industry.