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Rising insurance rates in Mass. will affect health care planning

Fears are abounding that more and more seniors will have trouble affording their long-term care, according to experts. Rising long-term care insurance rates in Massachusetts mean that health care planning has become more complicated for the state's elderly population. Coverage for nursing homes, assisted living and other health support continues to rise in price.

Premiums have been on the rise since early last year, when the Massachusetts Division of Insurance began approving sweeping premium increases of as much as 10 percent. But that isn't enough for insurance companies, who are now asking regulators to approve hikes of up to 50 percent, a number that will translate to thousands of dollars per year in additional fees for an individual plan. This is placing seniors, and those approaching retirement age, in a precarious position.

The insurance in question is designed to offset the costs of assisted living and potential nursing care later in life. However, the rising premiums mean the 150,000 people in this state with this coverage are having to scale back their coverage or drop it altogether. The insurance meant to be a stepping stone between Medicare and Medicaid is quickly becoming an insurmountable climb for those it is meant to support.

Health care planning is integral to any Massachusetts resident's long-term plans post-retirement. When the rules of the game change, as they appear to be doing right now, it is important for individuals to remain educated on how much their coverage costs and what they can do to structure those benefits to get the most out of them. Residents approaching retirement age are urged to seek out additional information on these topics to help prepare them for their Golden Years.

Source: The Boston Globe, Long term care insurance premiums on the rise as its future in doubt, Deirdre Fernandes, Sept. 6, 2013

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