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NCOIL To Ponder LTC Insurer Practices

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A National Conference of Insurance Legislators committee has announced plans to check into allegations of abuses in the long term care insurance market.

The Long Term Care and Health Retirement Issues Committee at NCOIL, Troy, N.Y., says it will discuss industry practices in a special session to be held July 20, during the NCOIL’s summer meeting in Seattle.

The inquiry was motivated by an article appearing in The New York Times in March. Some individuals quoted in the article accused some LTC insurers of treating consumers unfairly, according to a legislator heading the committee.

“The New York Times article raised concerns regarding arbitrary denials of benefits, unaffordable premium increases and insufficient inflation protection for consumers of long term care insurance,” says Susan Westrom, a Democratic state representative from Kentucky who is chair of the committee. “Long term care coverage is an important product, particularly as the baby boomer generation ages. We must ensure that people don’t need to perform a song and dance before their policies pay benefits.”

The NCOIL investigation is the third official investigation inspired by the Times article.

Soon after the article appeared, several federal lawmakers, including presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., called on the U.S. Government Accountability Office to look into LTC industry practices.

In May, leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee asked for LTC claims data from 2 companies cited in the Times article, Conseco Inc., Carmel, Ind., and Penn Treaty American Corp., Allentown, Pa..

NCOIL President Alan Sanborn, a Republican state senator from Michigan, said the July 20 meeting will look into whether states are regulating LTC insurers adequately.

Among those expected to participate in the discussions are consumer advocate Bonnie Burns of California Health Advocates, Los Angeles; a representative of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo.; and insurance company officials, according to the NCOIL.