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5 Ways to Keep People With LTC Insurance Healthy

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What You Need to Know

  • Typical LTCI issuers went into the pandemic with little data on how the crisis was affecting their insureds.
  • Assured Allies has a scoring system that predicts how well people will do as they get older.
  • One way to improve the old-age odds: Check people’s hearing.

Assured Allies has an idea about how to make long-term care insurance (LTCI) more sustainable for insurers and better for the insured: Keep the insured healthy.

The Boston-based startup recently attracted $18.3 million in capital for its efforts to use a combination of modern data analysis techniques and knowledge about aging to reduce the odds that those with LTCI will suffer from severe dementia, or from other disabilities that interfere with their ability to handle the activities of daily living.

Roee Nahir and Dr. Afik Gal started Assured Allies in 2018, to make commercial use of a homegrown risk scoring system. The system can help users predict what will happen to people as they age.

Assured Allies is now working with LTCG, a company that runs many insurers’ LTCI programs, to market the Age Assured elder wellness program to LTCI insureds. Assured Allies will work with LTCG to offer program participants case management services, fall prevention support, caregiver training and other support services.

Assured Allies and LTCG are hoping the Age Assured program will improve participants’ quality of life in the short term, reduce the risk of rapid decline, and reduce aging-related costs.

One sign that funders are rooting for Assured Allies: One of the companies contributing to the new round of funding is Wilton Re. Wilton Re is the company that agreed to reinsure a large block of CNO Financial Group LTCI policies in 2018. Wilton Re then hired LTCG to help it manage the policies.

Here are five ideas about long-term care, long-term care insurance and LTC wellness programs that came out of an interview with Gal and with Andy Freedman, Assured Allies’ chief product officer.

1. The COVID-19 pandemic shows why LTCI issuers need better data and better data analysis.

Many investors, and people with a general interest in the well-being of older people, want to know how the pandemic and pandemic-related social distancing efforts have affected the LTCI insureds who are still out in the community and LTCI insureds who are using their benefits.

For the most part, “the LTC carriers do not have any of that data,” Gal said.

2. The little things count.

An LTCI issuer may not be able to do much about some of the most common reasons that people need LTC services, such as cancer and dementia.

But Gal said issuers may be able to protect insureds against the effects of some of the other causes, such as falls.

Gal cited hearing loss as another cause that could be addressed by a well-designed elder wellness program.

About 8% of dementia can be attributed to untreated hearing loss, and “untreated hearing loss is luckily quite preventable,” Gal said. If an LTCI issuer can use a hearing care program to reduce the odds that an insured will develop dementia by 8%, “that’s a huge amount of quality of life gained.”

3. Updating regulations can help.

Gal said Assured Allies faced a strange regulatory obstacle when it started up: Some thought regulators might treat offering wellness programs for LTCI insureds as a form of “rebating,” or an illegal effort to induce consumers to buy insurance by giving the consumers gifts.

State insurance regulators helped the company clear that obstacle by ruling that trying to keep LTCI insureds healthy is not an illegal form of rebating.

4. Offering a wellness program can help LTCI issuers get closer to the insureds.

In many cases, Freedman said, consumers bought LTCI coverage years ago.

Only about 40% of the policyholders understand what they bought, Freedman said.

Offering the Age Assured program might be a way to help consumers learn more about the coverage as well as a way for the issuers to get to know the insureds, Freedman said.

5. Successful wellness programs could change LTCI economics.

Today, in the LTCI market, “there’s a lot more demand than supply,” Gal said.

Many U.S. LTCI issuers have suffered because of the effects of low interest rates on investment earnings and the effects of inaccurate predictions about policyholder behavior on projected benefits totals.

If wellness programs lower LTCI insureds’ risk of using their benefits, that might improve the finances of existing blocks of LTCI business and make the idea of selling new LTCI coverage more appealing, Gal said.

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(Image: potstock/Adobe Stock)