Talking about old age is hard. Talking about a possible need for long-term care (LTC) services in old age, or, heaven forbid, long before old age, is harder.
Insurance companies have sold all sorts of good, bad and ho-hum products for managing all sorts of risks, ranging from house fires to tuberculosis to, of course, a need for LTC services.
But one thing just about all of those campaigns have done, whether the products worked exactly as anyone had hoped or not, is to get people to have difficult conversations.
The conversations about fire risk led to modern fire safety codes that have saved countless lives, because the people who were writing the coverage and the people who were selling the coverage wanted to make money.
The conversations about tuberculosis led to modern sanitation in dairies, and to pasteurization of milk, because the people who were writing life insurance and the people who were selling the coverage wanted to make money.
Conversations about long-term care insurance may not have not gotten enough ordinary people thinking about either LTC risk or how to pay for LTC services, but at least they’ve encouraged some people to think a little along those lines, and they’ve prodded high-level policymakers to think more about the issue than they might have otherwise.
The policymakers’ immediate thought may be: Why does it look as if some of those private stand-alone LTCI policies are going to cost way more than the issuers thought?
But, then, if the policymakers take a moment to consider why even sober, careful private LTCI issuers set prices so unsustainably low, they might remember another important point: that the government is the default LTC provider of last resort for people who will otherwise end up on the sidewalk. State governments, local governments, the U.S. federal government, and the governments of other nations are as much in the LTCI business as any U.S. LTCI issuer.