For the last six to seven years, the long-term care industry has faced an uphill battle in providing an affordable product for a changing market. As evidenced by the recent news that John Hancock is exiting the long-term care insurance industry, the market is not going to turn around anytime soon, especially for group insurance products. Most carriers have gotten out of the business and others have had to implement rate increases and/or reduce coverages.
Nonetheless, there is still strong demand. I recently spoke to an old friend and long-term care expert Steve Cain, principal and national sales leader at LTCI Partners, about the current state of the industry. He sees high demand for LTC protection but has difficulty getting enough or the right type of products to offer to his customers.
Producers and brokers want to offer their clients a benefit that can reassure them their employees will be taken care of as they get older. But traditional long-term care insurance is no longer an affordable option for many employees. Yet, whether or not they can afford help, people will still need to navigate the maze of long-term care.
I know firsthand how overwhelming making the financial, medical, legal and housing decisions associated with long-term care can be. When my mother-in-law was diagnosed with a progressive lung disease, my family felt lost trying to determine the best plan of care for her and who should provide it. We needed someone to hold our hands and guide us through this stressful time of decision-making.
We found help from a surprising source: the legal insurance plan I have access to as an ARAG employee. The benefit has a caregiving service that connected us to an eldercare specialist. The specialist listened to my mother-in-law’s needs and our concerns. She conducted an in-depth assessment and then used a database of more than 9,000 providers to identify local, high-quality care providers that best fit my mother-in-law’s needs. She also created a detailed plan of care for us that helped us understand what to expect throughout the process. In addition, we knew that as we had legal issues or questions come up, we had access to local eldercare attorneys through the legal insurance plan.
While this service is not an insurance product that will pay for long-term care costs directly, the eldercare specialist may be able to negotiate savings of between 10 and 35 percent with long-term care providers, which could save your clients and their employees a lot of money in the long run.
Legal insurance is not a replacement for long-term care insurance, but it does provide valuable access to professionals who can help your clients and their employees. And there does seem to be a demand for these types of services. During my conversation with Steve Cain, he also mentioned that at LTCI they “are frequently asked by clients if there is a standalone long-term care advocacy solution they can purchase.”
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