Insurance Agonistes…

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Good afternoon, ProviderNation.

Seems there’s a-trouble a-brewing in Massachusetts. It has been more than a year since the state assembly passed laws that were designed to curb soaring long term care insurance costs, but state regulators have done, um, nothing to implement the law, the Boston Globe says.

“Regulations were scheduled to be in place by Oct. 31, but the Division of Insurance missed the deadline and recently extended the process to July 1,” crack reporter Deirdre Fernandes says. “The state’s insurance commissioner, Joseph G. Murphy, said he does not plan to approve premium increases while his agency finalizes rules, but other protections, such as making it harder for companies to deny coverage, will be further delayed.”

More than 150,000 people in the Bay State have long term care insurance, but premiums have continued to leap as the population gets older. Rates, nationally, had more than doubled by 2012 so that the average couple was paying up to $3,700 per year to keep the policies.

The Globe report doesn’t come in isolation. Long term care insurance increasingly is a contested field.

Yesterday, the National Women’s Law Center filed sex discrimination complaints with the Department of Health and Human Services. The complaints allege that the nation’s four largest long term care insurers—Genworth Financial, John Hancock, Transamerica, and Mutual of Omaha—are unfairly charging women higher premiums (up to 40 percent more) than the menfolk.

“The complaints argue that the move to ‘gender ratings’ violates provisions in the Affordable Care Act that prohibit sex discrimination in health programs that receive federal financial assistance,” the fine folks at MarketWatch say in their write-up of the complaints.

The insurers, for their part, aren’t taking things lying down. MarketWatch quotes Jesse Slome, the executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, saying that men have to pay higher premiums on life insurance because they die younger than women. “If regulators or government entities rule that everybody has to pay the same rate, men will subsidize women’s rates,” Slome says.

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