“A healthy 55-year old man can expect to pay $1,060-per-year for $164,000 of potential benefits, compared to $925 last year,” reports Jesse Slome, director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI). ”The average cost for a 55-year-old single woman is $1,390, an increase from $1,225-per-year (2014).” Each January, the trade group releases the findings based on top-selling policies offered by leading insurers.
“Rate increases are the result of both higher claim costs and the historic period of low interest rates,” Slome explains. Last year, long term care insurers paid out a record $7.5 billion in claim benefits and the Association predicts the industry will pay some $34 billion in annual claim benefits by 2032.
According to the 2015 Price Index, a married couple both age 60 would pay $2,170-per-year combined for a total of $328,000 of long term care insurancecoverage. In 2014, the Association reported a couple could expect to pay $1,980. Adding an inflation growth option that builds their benefit pool to a combined $730,000 at age 85 will added $1,760 to the couple’s yearly cost.
A wider spread between the lowest and the highest available costs for each segment analyzed was found by the Association. “The largest spread now represents a 119 percent difference between the lowest available cost and the highest rate one pays for virtually identical coverage,” Slome points out. Much of the difference still impacts single women as insurers continue the trend of charging single women more for coverage due to their increased likelihood of needing long-term care.
Costs Vary By 34-To-119 Percent; How Consumers Can Get Best Rates
AALTCI reported a larger spread in costs than in prior years. “In some situations the difference between the lowest-cost policy and the highest-cost was 34 percent but it could be as much as 119 percent,” Slome points out. “Our average 55-year old woman could pay as little as $890-a-year or as much as $1,829 based on which insurer she buys from.”
“Long-term care insurance policies today vary in terms of cost, available discounts and policy benefit options,” Slome explains. “It’s a complicated product and almost impossible to compare on your own.” Insurance companies do not sell long-term care insurance policies directly to consumers. “They will merely direct your inquiry to an agent that favors their particular company,” Slome acknowledged.
“When you step into a Ford car dealership, you understand the salesman is trying to sell you a Ford,” Slome adds. “If you want an objective comparison, we believe working with a long-term care insurance professional able to offer multiple policies from multiple insurance carriers could be in your best interest.”
The Association suggests ways to determine an insurance professional’s expertise. “In insurance industry jargon, the word ‘appointed’ actually means an agent can actually sell you that particular company’s policy,” Slome explains. “An insurance agent who focuses on long term care insurance will typically be appointed with between four and six leading LTC insurers, so it pays to ask who they are appointed with.”
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