Regulators hope to let issuers of existing policies get their policyholders into the partnership program. (AP Photo/Genevieve Ross)

The Ohio Department of Insurance is considering an update to the rules that govern the state’s long-term care insurance (LTCI) partnership program.

The change would affect insurers that want to help holders of their older LTCI policies get into the partnership program.

Today, Ohio lets an insurer use a policy to help a consumer join the partnership program only if the insurer is still actively marketing the policy.

Ohio now wants to let an insurer use a policy that is no longer marketed but complies, or nearly complies, with partnership program requirements as a “partnership qualified” policy.

An insurer could file for Ohio department permission to sell the “non-marketed” LTCI policy as a partnership qualified policy, officials say.

An insurer can choose whether or not to participate in the partnership program, and it also can choose whether it wants to file to use an existing LTCI policy as a partnership policy, officials say in a regulatory analysis posted on the department website.

Officials say they are proposing the change at the suggestion of some LTCI carriers.

“Certain insurers asserted that due to the requirement in the rule that only currently marketed policies can be used, a number of persons whose existing long term care insurance policies conformed in every other way with the partnership requirements, or could be made to conform by a minimal rider, could not afford or could not be underwritten under the newer partnership policies’ increased benefits at their attained ages, and that this was not fair,” officials say.

A partnership program gives a state a mechanism to encourage residents to buy private LTCI coverage by letting holders of qualified coverage to use the private benefits to meet the eligibility requirements for Medicaid nursing home benefits.

Medicaid programs normally are supposed to pay for nursing home care only for poor people who have very few assets.

In Ohio, a holder of LTCI partnership coverage can keep a dollar of personal assets for every dollar of benefits paid by the LTCI policy, officials say.

Originally, only 4 states offered partnership pilot programs. Congress let other states offer partnership programs when it passed the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.