Finally, the Federal government has recognized the devastating gap in the safety net caused by long-term care by passing the CLASS Act, a national voluntary long-term care insurance program. Don’t wait to begin a conversation on long-tem care because once CLASS Act becomes operational, employers will need to decide if they should participate or if there are better alternatives. Regardless of what employers choose, employees hearing about CLASS Act will begin bringing questions to work.
There are some important differences between private long-term care insurance and the government run program – and it is in your interest to understand them now – before a decision to participate or opt-out is required. And these differences make it advantageous to offer private coverage to employees today.
- Coverage is projected to be more expensive and the risk of future premium increases will be higher with government coverage
One size fits all coverage from the government, when available, is projected by Milliman, a respected independent actuarial firm, to be more expensive and more likely than private insurance to increase in price in later years. Because government provided long-term care has no underwriting requirements, provides subsidies to the poor, and premiums must be set to ensure financial viability for 75 years, the cost will be higher than private insurance.
When CLASS was first introduced, the expected monthly premium was $30. Compare that now to premiums projected to be $180-$240 month for a nominal benefit. The higher the premiums, the lower the participation and the more likely the government will suffer from adverse selection with participants more likely to have pre-existing health conditions that prevent them from being approved for private coverage.
- Waiting for CLASS may cause some employees to lose insurability and age based premiums get more expensive each year
Educating employees now and offering private insurance allows employees to submit applications when they are most likely to pass medical underwriting required by private insurance carriers to screen out high risk people that drive up the cost of coverage. Offering coverage today allows employees to lock in both their insurability and rates that are tied to the age coverage is purchased.
- Providing employees’ education now will help them to make informed decisions when CLASS becomes available
The CLASS Act does not include sufficient funding to provide extensive marketing or education to employees making it likely participation will be poor. Education provided as part of a private long-term care insurance benefit allows employees to learn about long-term care, how it is paid for and how to make it part of financial planning. Educated employees will be in a position to make an informed when CLASS Act does become available, and those who could not pass medical underwriting will be able to purchase coverage then.
Still think you should wait for details on the CLASS Act before implementing an employer sposnored plan? Click here to see what executives from the respected financial rating agency A.M. Best have to say about CLASS Act.
Bringing the conversation about long-term care to employers and employees addresses a serious planning issue. Offering private insurance provides an opportunity to learn about the problem now and put an affordable solution in place. And when CLASS Act is available, those who cannot pass the underwriting of private insurance will have an option to protect themselves.
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