Women seeking to prepare for their future by purchasing a long-term care insurance policy may soon see the prices of such plans hiked by as much as 40 to 60 percent, according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI).
In an unprecedented move in the world of long-term care insurance, Genworth Financial recently announced that it will be implementing price increases for single women opting to buy long-term care insurance. (Couples who apply for long-term care insurance together may still be able to access lower prices using a combined rate model.)
Industry experts predict that other providers, caught in a quagmire of increasing costs and dwindling numbers of healthy enrollees, will soon follow suit. In the coming years, it may be that only those women who live in states that mandate unisex rates for long-term care insurance (Colorado and Montana) will be safe from gender-based pricing models.
"In the past, long-term care insurance did not discriminate based on gender. However, that is changing," says Sean O'Connor, Media Content Manager at GoHealthInsurance.com, an online health insurance comparison service. "When it comes to long-term care insurance, being a female is about to become a liability."
Women present a particular problem for insurance companies—they live longer.
Seventy-one percent of long-term care insurance claim dollars are paid to women, according to a study conducted by Genworth.
A longer average lifespan means that a woman can theoretically collect more benefits.
The numbers don't lie. While a little over 70 percent of long-term care insurance claims continue for less than four years, a 2009 industry study found that some women have been claiming long-term care benefits for much longer. One woman was found to have collected almost one million dollars over the course of her nearly-sixteen year claim.
Advancing age also translates to a greater risk for developing chronic ailments (such as Alzheimer's and heart disease), and increased chances that a woman will be widowed and living alone.
O'Connor says that insurance providers have recognized these staggering statistics, and acted accordingly by hiking rates for female applicants.
By far the best way to save money on long-term care insurance is to purchase a policy sooner rather than later, says O'Connor. This is especially true for women as Genworth recently gained government approval to begin their rate increases for the fairer sex as early as this coming April.
Here are some additional resources to help you begin the long-term care planning process: