I think insurance company executives need to consult with antitrust lawyers, get together in a room that somehow meets antitrust restrictions, and figure out if they really want to be married to the long-term care insurance (LTCI) market.
The question about how committed private insurers are to the LTCI market came up recently at a Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing on long-term care (LTC) costs and LTCI.
Even Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former Congressional Budget Office director regarded as a conservative budget hawk, said he thinks the government will continue to have a large role to play in paying for LTC.
But the government could do things, such as letting LTCI into cafeteria plans, allowing for opt-out employer-sponsored LTCI programs, and reducing middle-income and high-income families’ reliance on Medicaid nursing home benefits to help expand the private LTCI market, Holtz-Eakin said.
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Another witness, Judith Feder, a Georgetown University public policy professor, noted that the private LTCI market has not grown much since she started thinking seriously about LTC finance issues 20 years ago.
Private LTCI is nice for the people who can afford it, but it’s not big enough to do much good for the country as a whole, Feder said.
I think another big question is supply.
Some of my readers are pure libertarians. They would say that it’s absurd to have the government be involved in operating any day-to-day health care program outside a war zone or an area affected by a natural disaster.
Most of my other readers, including many very conservative readers, seem to accept the idea that the government should have some involvement in paying for care, especially for very poor people, and for children, people with serious disabilities, and others who are not able to fend for themselves in the marketplace.