Last week, I wondered in a column why the disability insurance market seems to be doing better than the long-term care insurance (LTCI) market, even though the two markets seem to have a lot in common.
I was wondering whether the fact that almost every worker who pays payroll taxes has Social Security Disability Insurance somehow helps the private LTCI market. Maybe so, maybe not. Maybe it’s just one of these ideas that seems interesting when one is trying to write a column on the fly but ends up producing leads that are way better than the conclusions.
But then, it hit me: One huge, obvious difference between the disability insurance market and the LTCI market is that most folks seem to be reasonably comfortable with the existence of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, whereas many LifeHealthPro readers are horrified by the idea of any efforts to extend federal acute care insurance or federal Medicaid nursing home benefits to workers much above the poverty level.
Certainly, I have some readers who are serious about being free-market libertarians, and those readers would oppose the concept of SSDI.
Many people have pointed out that the SSDI program operates poorly and is in danger of running out of cash in just a few years. But it looks as if making SSDI solvent is a lot easier, payroll-tax-increase-wise, than making Medicare solvent, and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a single e-mail spontaneously suggesting that the country ought to abolish the SSDI program. If anything, private disability insurers seem to see SSDI as a wonderful tool for holding down claim costs.
And I’ve certainly never even seen a message board post here or anywhere else suggesting that the country should get rid of the Social Security survivors benefit program, which is, in effect, a kind of mandatory life insurance program that pays out annuitized benefits streams.
So, what’s the difference between government mandates that infuriate and those that purr along unassaulted?