Empty Bed in Nursing Home

Americans are increasingly looking into long-term care insurance policies. The number of new individual long-term care insurance customers nearly tripled in 2021, S&P Market Intelligence reported

Experts believe this is a one-time bump, spurred on in part by the state of Washington’s upcoming public option program. The WA Cares Fund, which  the state legislature approved in 2019, requires employees to pay a premium of 0.58% of their total paycheck; funds are used to help pay for nursing care and other long-term care services and supports for those who need it.

Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association of Long-Term Care Insurance, told S&P Market Intelligence that there is “no question” that many people in Washington applied for policies in lieu of the state’s alternative coming down the pike. However, the media outlet said, the fate of WA Cares is still unclear. 

The legislation has undergone challenges in the courts. In April, the state’s first-of-a-kind, public long-term care insurance program survived its first legal challenge. A group of workers who opposed the WA Cares fund program had filed a lawsuit in November, petitioning the Western District of Washington seeking to stop the initiative. The federal judge ruled that taxpayers can still challenge the law through the state’s administrative and judicial systems, but it is not a federal matter, according to court records.

Across the board, insurers reported increased demand for long-term care insurance. According to S&P Market Intelligence, of the 11 major insurers that issue these policies, only the affiliates of Mutual of Omaha Insurance Co. and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. reported year-over-year decreases long-term care insurance customers.

Demand for long-term care insurance was so high in 2021 that Transamerica stopped issuing new individual long-term care policies during the year because of the record number of inquiries. About 93% of the insurer’s new 2021 customers were residents of Washington, the media outlet reported.