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Long-Term Care Actuaries Start Considering COVID-19

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Long-term care insurance (LTCI) industry actuaries are thinking about the kinds of COVID-19 impact data they want, and what they might do with that data.

But, at this point, LTCI industry actuaries mostly are relying on the same types of federal government data and Johns Hopkins University tracking site data that members of the general public are using.

“There are no known industry sources of this data as of August 2020,” according to members of the Long-Term Care Reform Subcommittee at the American Academy of Actuaries.

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The subcommittee members talk about COVID-19 data and questions in a newly released issue brief, “Impact of COVID-19 on Long-Term Care Insurance,” that was drafted over the summer.

The academy is a Washington-based group that aims to advise federal, state and local policymakers on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public employee pension plans, and other programs and issues that involve insurance or pension risk.

The academy issue brief authors write that the kinds of pandemic statistics collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) may not necessarily give a clear picture of what’s happening to the people who have private LTCI coverage.

CMS, for example, collects data on what’s happening in the nursing homes that care for people with Medicare or Medicaid, the actuaries write.

The CMS nursing home statistics may be more relevant to private LTCI issuers than the CDC statistics are, but “careful consideration is warranted,” the actuaries write.

Even when industry data sources become available, “working with too little data or data too early could lead to misleading conclusions,” the actuaries warn.

Here are some of the questions that the actuaries considering, as they wait for data sources to emerge:

  • In the medium term, will COVID-19 lead to lower death rates, by accelerating the mortality rate for LTCI insureds who were already very sick, or higher death rates, by weakening the survivors?
  • Will the impact of COVID-19 be different for LTCI insureds who are still active and for insureds who are already using their LTCI benefits to pay for care?
  • Will increased consumer fear of living in a nursing home cause many current LTCI policyholders to drop their coverage?
  • How will COVID-19 affect products that combine LTCI benefits with life insurance?
  • Will COVID-19 have somewhat different effects on some types of life-LTCI combination products than on others?

— Read How Nursing Home Mortality Rate From COVID-19 Varies in 50 Stateson ThinkAdvisor.

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