Time flies.

Some people who file long-term care insurance (LTCI) claims have one terrible health problem, but plenty have two or more chronic conditions at the same time.

Are claimants with multiple conditions, or certain “packages” of conditions, different in any interesting way from patients who just have one serious condition? 

The planning office at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently hired consultants to analyze data on Medicare enrollees who have “multiple chronic conditions” — MCCs.

One package of conditions — metabolic syndrome — is hot.

Another common, much-studied package is a combination of depression, substance addiction and dementia.

HHS is thinking that there could be other packages out there that could be good targets for improving the quality of care and reducing the cost. 

Researchers are just in the early stages of studying MCC packages, rather than studying one condition at a time, but maybe this way of thinking could eventually be useful to the LTCI community as well as to the acute medical care community.

For people in the LTCI community, one way to use the research might be to come up with much-needed reasons for optimism. Maybe some MCC packages will turn out to have single, relatively easy-to-fix causes, and one wonderful magic bullet will eliminate most of the claims associated with those packages.

LTCI carriers might be able to use MCC diagnosis codes to figure out which insureds who are not yet on claim might soon be coming around, and which insureds could be kept off claim with a little bit of medical elbow grease.

Maybe, for example, an insured who has depression along with certain physical conditions is more likely to file an LTCI claim than an insured with depression and other types of medical conditions. Maybe an LTCI issuer could find ways to encourage the patients most at risk from depression to get help with the depression.

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