LeadingAge, SCAN Foundation report sets framework for future of LTC financing

A new study on long-term care insurance could help steer policy makers towards solutions for LTC funding, experts shared during a press briefing on Tuesday.

Fewer Americans have purchased private LTC insurance and are turning to Medicaid to fund assistance as they age, said the authors of “Financing Long-Term Services and Supports” during a presentation of their findings in Washington, D.C.

Some policy makers believe lower costs and updated plans would encourage more people to purchase LTC insurance, but experts have been “grappling for decades without finding a stable solution,” said Alan Weil, editor in chief of HealthAffairs.

The new study modeled three new insurance policy options, simulating their potential costs and distributional effects. One program had a front-end benefit that began after a 90-day waiting period, and covered a maximum of two years of LTC need. Another had back-end, or “catastrophic-only,” set-up that began after a two-year waiting period but provided a lifetime of benefits. A third, more comprehensive program began after a 90-day waiting period and provided a lifetime benefit.

The study, which was conducted by the Urban Institute, modeled each option as voluntary insurance, and as a mandatory program for workers. The results, they shared, showed “no ideal solution,” but identified important differences between the options they they say provide a framework for policy makers going forward.

“Modeling will only take us so far, at some point we need to choose to act,” said Bruce Chernof, M.D., president and CEO of the SCAN Foundation, which funded the study along with LeadingAge and AARP. “This is a need for real people.”

The study's results open a dialogue about a subject that “we don't like to talk about and we don't have a plan to deal with,” said LeadingAge President and CEO Larry Minnix.

“I have a self interest here; I'm getting older by the day,” Minnix said. “Fix this.”