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Proposed regulations may help with long-term health care planning

The population of our country is aging. As such, long-term health care planning -- including insurance policies to cover nursing home and assisted living costs -- becomes increasingly important. The state of Massachusetts is considering regulatory changes to the long-term health care insurance industry in the state in an attempt to provide protections for consumers.

In recent years, the premiums for these insurance policies have gone up significantly. Advocates for the purchasers of this type of insurance product have lobbied the state of Massachusetts to put a cap on the premiums. Unfortunately, the proposed regulatory changes do not include rate caps.

They do allow the state Division of Insurance some control over rate increases such as disapproving unnecessary increases in rates. The regulations would also include mandatory disclosures by insurance companies. Other provisions that would be included in the regulations include additional training and licensing for agents selling long-term health care insurance.

Until it is determined whether the proposed rules will be adopted, requests by insurance companies to increase their rates for this type of insurance are being made. In the larger scheme of things, additional planning may be needed to ensure the care of an aging loved one when it is needed. The main reason these policies exist is because Medicaid does not cover enough of the expenses.

Doing some long-term health care planning could provide the answer. Several options -- either in place of or in addition to long-term care insurance -- exist to supply funds for nursing home or assisted living costs. Taking action as soon as possible can put the minds of the individual and his or her family at ease regarding whether he or she will be cared for as he or she advances in years.

Source: The Boston Globe, "Mass. to issue new rules for long-term care plans", Deirdre Fernandes, July 5, 2014

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