Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Could long-term care insurance become mandatory for some people (for example, the childless)?

Another question occurs to me out of the health care debate, particularly with the question of making health insurance, whether through employers or individual purchase, mandatory for all individual people.

Could we make the same proposal some day about long term care insurance?

Imagine an argument where people who did not have children able to provide them eldercare could be required to purchase it, perhaps as a way to settle their own filial obligations, which are becoming a bigger issue with longer life spans and fewer children (especially in traditional middle class families). It sounds like a shocking proposal with a right-wing knife edge, but I can definitely imagine how it could come about -- say in a fictitious screenplay, at least. We saw how conservative talk show hosts behaved on the eldercare issue last week (Saturday Aug 1 posting); we can expect to hear more of this in the future, I bet. If such LTC coverage became mandatory for some people, it would need to become a guaranteed issue, which the insurance industry would fight over anti-selection concerns.

I don’t think Congress would take on proposing such a law yet, because the Massachusetts-style individual mandate for ordinary health insurance is itself controversial and smacks of intrusive big government to some people. But I can imagine it down the road.

I did talk to Genworth about the long term care idea for myself in early 2008, and found that even at my age (then I was 64), the medical monitoring required to qualify for coverage is quite intrusive and nosey.

But I can see the debate coming.

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