Long term care insurance suffers from a generally poor view by the public, including that it’s too expensive, that it’s unlikely a given consumer would ever use it, that it’s sold by people who don’t have the consumer’s best interests at heart, and that most people could probably handle any LTC needs perfectly well without it.
Those were some of the main image issues for LTC insurance cited by a panel of professionals focusing on the industry’s public perception during the Society of Actuaries’ Intercompany Long Term Care Insurance conference here last week.
Mark Meiners, director of the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics at George Mason University, said the industry needs to be more concerned about such issues.
“If we’re limiting our message to the high end of the market, it doesn’t create public acceptance,” he said. “We need to address middle-income consumers and show they can afford it.”
State-approved Partnership policies are a way for “public perception and public policy to come together,” he said. Meiners helped spearhead Partnership policies almost 20 years ago while with the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation.
Partnerships are increasingly viewed by consumers as an efficient way to subsidize LTC, making it possible for people to qualify for Medicaid benefits, if they exhaust their policy, without having to “game” the Medicaid system, he noted.
“We don’t want to depend on Medicaid,” he said. “But it’s an important safety net, and Partnerships are an important part of improving public perceptions” of LTC.