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July 30, 2008

Federal Standards For Long-Term Care Insurance Policies Needed, Witnesses At House Hearing Say

Witnesses on Thursday at a House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing called on federal lawmakers to require minimum standards for private long-term care insurance policies, CQ HealthBeat reports. Bonnie Burns, a training and policy specialist at California Health Advocates, said that, because states regulate such policies, the standards offered differ based on where policyholders live. She said, "It should not depend on the state a person lives in whether they have a quality product," adding, "There's a disconnect between those services available in a community and the way they are described in a California insurance policy, and no two companies have the same definitions."

Some witnesses also raised concerns about large premium increases for long-term care insurance policies. Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler in written testimony said, "The majority of consumer complaints my office receives about long-term care insurance are about the double-digit rate increase they received on products they purchased in the late '80s and early to mid '90s."

In addition, witnesses discussed the inconsistencies in denials of claims submitted under long-term care insurance policies. Burns said that such denials often appear "completely unpredictable." However, according to Marc Cohen, president of the long-term care research and consulting firm Life Plans, a recent survey conducted by the company found that, among 1,500 policyholders who filed claims under long-term care insurance policies, 94% reported no unresolved disagreements with their California health insurers and that insurers denied only 4% of those claims.

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Posted by healthinsurance at July 30, 2008 08:43 PM