Karen Herzog, a retired high school teacher, bought a long-term care insurance policy 12 years ago because she didn’t want to burden her only daughter if someday she could no longer care for herself.
Then a letter arrived in May that complicated her well-laid plan. Her monthly costs would double within two years, reaching nearly $550 — a significant portion of her fixed income.
“Many of us will be forced to drop this policy,” said Ms. Herzog, 73, of Ocala, Fla. “This was supposed to be my parachute.”
Long-term care insurers have been imposing significant rate increases for nearly a decade, and the problem has the attention of the regulators in each state, who must approve premium increases. The regulators’ national group created a task force earlier this year to address the issue, although the effort probably won’t provide much relief to people like Ms. Herzog.
“There is an inherent tension as a regulator,” said Scott A. White, the Virginia insurance commissioner and chairman of the task force. “You want to protect consumers against rate hikes, but you also want to make sure the carriers remain solvent and are able to pay claims into the future.”
Long-term care insurance can fill an important niche for many retirees. It covers what Medicare generally does not: long nursing home stays, health care aides at home, adult day care and parts of assisted living. Wealthier individuals can often pay for these costs on their own, while those with little money usually lean on Medicaid.
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