Where's the indignation been from providers?
James M. Berklan
Finally. That was my immediate, silent reaction when I received the email from a top long-term care provider.
What took so long? That's still my question to all of you.
The email was a well-reasoned, yet unmistakable rebuke of a McKnight's Daily Update article that reported Lincoln Financial Group projected the national average charge for a private room to be $102,900, up 3.3% from what it had reported a year earlier.
“Every time I read this story, I find it so irrelevant and damaging to the long-term care sector, and extremely self-serving,” my long-time acquaintance fumed in his email. He went on to call the insurer's report “distorted information, disguised as a research study, as a tactic to sell” to people who “in all likelihood will never need care for a year in a nursing home.”
Well, that took a long time, I thought to myself.
For years, McKnight's has run similar stories, usually generated by reports from insurers. But not until this instance did a single provider ever question an article about these publicized costs of care. Ever.
We view them as an industry stakeholder publicizing data on a subject of interest to our readers, who can interpret the assertions as they wish.
My email correspondent (who asked that his name and position not be mentioned) clearly disdains the insurers' tactics. He sees such reports as a basic “ploy” to entice long-term care insurance sales, and he thinks long-term care insurance is “one of the worst financial decisions they could ever make.”
His biggest gripe is that the publicized costs of care are just allegations — unproven, that is — and at a minimum, a distraction. Further, he says, the big prices insurers continually attach to long-term care make caregivers look bad.
He's right. The insurers aren't trying to tell anyone that care is economical and affordable.
My agitated correspondent urged McKnight's to “stop giving free marketing when they persist in distorting reality through some inane extrapolation of daily private charges.”
In these cost-of-care stories, we will always specify the sources so the reader can further interpret the information. Additionally, whenever we write about this subject in the future, we will seek more comments since this has emerged as a contentious issue.