I just finished reading an article from the New Yorks with the title “One-Third of All U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Are Nursing Home Residents or Workers.”
The figures in the article mean that since the current total U.S death toll from COVID-19 is said to be 86,600, and roughly 28,580 people have died in a nursing home. Even if a vaccine is created in the near future, the death toll attributed to nursing homes is a first-rate indictment of the nursing homes themselves and the government agencies that are supposed to be policing them.
I understand the stresses, strains, financial realities, and other constraints that nursing homeowners need to operate under. This being said, as things move forward, an already tight market for long-term care insurance is likely to find increased resistance to a product that is designed to pay for the bills associated with being in a nursing home which we already know are very steep.
I think the men and women that design insurance products need to take notice. If I am correct, more and more people will be looking for a product that pays to have a professional come into the home to provide for a person who cannot perform two or more activities of daily living and they would be willing to forgo any nursing home coverage or take it in small chunks of additional coverage. If I am correct, most people would opt for staying at home in all but the most dire of circumstances.
An unbundled product such as the one I am describing would allow insurance companies to create a policy that was significantly less to purchase by the consumer as they eliminated the most costly part of the product. For those that wanted nursing home coverage, the cost could be based on a variety of bundled choices that added specific dollar amounts for nursing home stays.
But why stop there? How about having a policy that will provide education to a family member (son / daughter; niece/nephew; grandchild etc.) so that they can provide basic care services for a disabled person. How about a policy benefit that would not only pay for the costs of renovating a home to make it possible for an ill person to remain at home but also provided additional dollars to pay for medical expenses not covered by Medicare (especially if the individual does not have a Medicare supplement policy) or need medical equipment that Medicare will only pay for in part.
My point is… the nursing home industry and the state regulators will have a great deal of soul searching to do as they attempt to win back the public trust. In the meantime, why should the insurance industry serve up a product which many people find too expensive and bloated when all they want is a product that will make it easier for their family members to get the help and support they need to allow the person to stay in the familiar and happy place they call home?
Jerry Cohen is a broker in the life, health and Medicare supplement insurance markets. His office is in Port Jefferson Station, New York.