Just how cold was the room for private long-term care insurance (LTCI) at a recent panel discussion on aging organized by the Altarum Institute?
So cold that even the economist from the American Enterprise Institute sounded skeptical about the idea of private LTCI doing much to help the United States cope with the baby boomers’ likely coming need for long-term care (services).
Joseph Antos, a health care analyst at the institute, argued that using private, voluntary insurance to meet the nation’s LTC planning needs would be difficult.
When people buy insurance for acute care, they know the services used might be needed soon and would probably make them feel better, Antos said.
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“There’s a light at the end of a very short tunnel,” he said.
When consumers are thinking about buying LTCI, they assume the insurance would pay for care when their lives are, essentially, “over.”
“Why pay for that?” Antos asked.
Another problem, Antos said, is that private LTCI arrangements trap both the issuer and the policyholder.
“Everyone is making a bet on what there will be 20 or 30 years out.”
Antos said he thinks combining LTC benefits with an annuity makes more sense.
“But it’s really painting lipstick on that pig,” Antos said.
Another panelist, John Rother, president of the National Coalition on Health Care — a group that includes many traditionally liberal groups but also includes the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and the International Foundation for Employee Benefit Plans — was tougher on private LTCI.
When an audience maker asked about ways to encourage people to take personal responsibility for insuring against LTC risk, Rother said he disagrees with that idea.