worker helping man with walker

The pandemic is forcing many older Americans to make a choice between abandoning the long-term care benefits they’ve paid for over the years or face increased risk of contracting COVID-19.

According to an analysis in Bloomberg Tuesday, Credit Suisse in June predicted more lapsed long-term care insurance policies and fewer claims as a result of concerns that moving into a nursing home or bringing a caregiver into one’s home could increase policyholders’ potential virus exposure. 

The decision is especially tough on medically compromised seniors, including those battling cancer, as well as those without support from family, Marlee Kiel, an oncology social worker with the nonprofit CancerCare, told Bloomberg.

“Unfortunately, there really isn’t much of an option, if they need that care to survive,” Kiel said.

Almost 7 million Americans were covered under long-term care policies at the end of 2018, according to the most recent data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Genworth Financial is the biggest issuer of individual policies; John Hancock is second with about 13% of the individual market.