Claims payments by 4 large group long term care insurers rose to $172 million in 2007, up 17% from the 2006 total, reports the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance, Westlake Village, Calif.

Some 10,000 employers now offer some form of LTC benefits, according to AALTCI’s 2008 Sourcebook. More than 2 million U.S. residents have purchased coverage through the employer-sponsored LTC programs, the association reports.

In 2007, 63% of buyers of group LTC insurance were under age 55. About 12% of those receiving first-time benefits from their group LTC policies were under age 60, AALTCI reports.

Half of all new policies provided a current daily benefit of between $100 and $200 per day, and 79% of employer LTC program participants chose a benefit period of 5 years or more.

“The largest open claims ranged from $340,000 to $458,000, with claimants having received benefits for between 6 and 9 years,” says AALTCI executive director Jesse Slome.

More than 38% of benefits payments were for home care, and about 17% went to cover the cost of assisted living facilities. The rest covered nursing home care.