Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Comment on Congressional Budget Office Long-Term Care Proposals

Received several notes from people regarding the information posted from the Congressional Budget Office's report on Long-Term Care proposals.

I thought I would share comments (below) from one leading expert whom I respect as one of the more knowledgable LTCi industry pros. On a personal note, I completely concur that the proposals will cost taxpayers and will do nothing to keep Medicaid solvent to meet the future needs of consumers. The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance is not chartered as a lobbying entity but we'll do our best to keep everyone apprised and if the time comes to raise our voices ... we will. My goal for this blog is to be information (not an ongoing rant) ... but I'm personally glad to see some folks have signed-up. You can post comments to the blog.

Let's keep building ... we have some wonderfully bright and passionate minds (on our side!)

Jesse Slome

One Expert Comments to the CBO Proposals for Long-Term Care

"I won't go into the problems the Medicaid suggestions raise: How does a minimally trained case worker in a county get info about expenditures made 7 years ago from anyone much less from a cognitively impaired 85 year old! But the LTC insurance piece does concern me. I'm surprised you were not more critical of the CBO report proposal.

As I look at it, it would severely impact LTCi sales opportunities and harm the public.
1. Even where a person made $100K over 40 years, a savings account of 1.2% of income would only accumulate about $53K. Scarcely adequate to buy LTCi for a 65 year old 40 yrs from now. If the client had used the 1.2% right along to pay premiums rather than put money into the Treasury account it would work, but not the way this concept is set up.

2. Second, I couldn't find anything in the report about treasury bills. Nothing in the report that says any interest would be paid which makes affordability of decent LTCi at 65 even more unlikely.

3. Why buy LTCi at all until 65 when the windfall occurs. We've fought the "Medicare covers LTC" myth for years. This would be a million times worse especially since the feds will be touting the plan. Windfall is also an appropriate word. The concept implies a single premium. There is no other way to explain the report's provision that allows funds remaining after the "best" policy is purchased to go back to the accountholder (after taxes). If the CBO authors had envisioned annual premiums, this would never come up because remaining funds would be premised on death or LTC eligibility .

4. The report says insurers would have huge opportunities to sell new products. I agree, but not the products we do today nor products that actually help our clients. CBO optimism is premised on the idea that the cost of LTCi is driven primarily by negative selection. Not so. If everyone had to buy coverage, the cost of policies would go down (maybe 15%), but not enough to make even modestly adequate coverage affordable under this plan. So, at age 65, people would find that unless they were willing to kick in a lot, their promised coverage would be next to nothing. As to insurers, our sales outside the 65 mandated group would be even less than they are today.

On the bright side, we'd have the opportunity to sell new products that matched the limited account funds. On the downside, those products are likely to be standardized (whatever that means to the CBO) products (like Medigap) but dominated by NTQ minimal indemnity coverage akin the old hospital indemnity policies."

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