We’ve all heard the advice “It pays to shop around,” but this has never been truer than with the current market for long-term care insurance.
According to the latest industry figures, the spread between the lowest and highest cost for virtually identical coverage was as high as 243 percent. “This is the largest spread I can recall in recent years,” said Jesse Slome, director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI), an industry group that issues an annual Long Term Care Insurance Price Index. “It’s rare to see one policy costing more than twice another policy when both are large insurers but each company gets to set their own pricing and each has their own target market.”
Slome was referencing the results of AALTCI’s 2019 price index, which found that a married couple who are both 55 years old would pay an average of $3,050 a year combined for a total of $386,500 each of long-term care insurance coverage when they reach age 85. But the percentage difference between the lowest-priced and highest-priced policies for such a couple is 243 percent, meaning that a consumer could wind up paying more than triple what they might have paid for similar coverage. Slome told ElderLawAnswers that the quoted premiums ranged from $2,898 to $9,932.
The price differences between policies for single people were lower but still significant, according to the index. A single 55-year-old man can expect to pay an average of $2,050 a year (up from $1,870 in 2018) for $164,000 worth of coverage. But there is a 123 percent difference between the lowest-priced and highest-priced policies. The same policy for a single woman averages $2,700 a year, down from $2,965 in 2018, although again the spread between the least and most expensive policies tops 100 percent.
For the first time, the index suggests ways for couples to save on their premium by electing less coverage or a “shared care” option. Couples purchase 65 percent of policies, according to the AALTCI. But clearly one of the best ways to save is to review the offerings of a number of different insurance companies. “We really recommend the importance of talking to a specialist who is ‘appointed’ with multiple insurers,” Slome said.
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