• Long-Term Care: It’s Not Just a Women’s Issue Anymore

    Posted on May 24, 2016 by in Breaking News, Insurance Articles

    We recently wrote an article about women being the primary caregivers. It’s women, after all, who typically bear the primary responsibility of caring for aging and ailing family members. It’s women who have historically sacrificed career opportunities and shortchanged their own families because of what can become the overwhelming burden of caregiving.

    Caregiving affects the entire family, not just women

    But anyone who’s been part of a family where mom’s providing care knows that it’s not just a woman’s issue—it has a profound effect upon the entire family. Caring for an ailing parent can become a full-time job. It takes time away from the rest of the family, stirring up resentment that lingers for years and ripping families apart. Many children are too young to understand the demands of an old person who needs constant attention—endless doctor appointments, picking up medications, special meals. There is often a financial impact when Medicare and meager savings don’t cover the cost of extended care.

    Women’s longer lifespan equate to the need for more care

    These statistics provide some insights into women’s health and potential long-term care (LTC) and long-term care insurance (LTCI) needs. According to a blog by Stephen D. Forman, CLTC, on the Long-Term Care Associate’s website:

    • A healthy 65-yr old woman has a 67% chance of living to 90 and a 38% chance of living to 95. Women live about 5 years longer than men, and have 10x the chance of reaching 85.
    • Women older than 75 are much less likely to be married than men (38% to 74%).
    • Compared to men, women are confined 50% longer.
    • 65% of all claims are paid to women.
    • Women are more likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s (which is the claims leader in frequency, length, and dollars).
    • Women provide 60-75% of all informal (unpaid) care, which leads to depression, illness, and loss of lifetime earnings and future Social Security benefits.

    But the balance is shifting; women’s lifespans are now shortening

    The trouble with these statistics is that they’re backward-facing; the dynamics and demographics of American women are rapidly changing. Women’s lifespans are now shortening for a variety of reasons.

    • Women are working outside the home in record numbers, and they’re vulnerable to the same job-related stress and accidents as their male counterparts.
    • Alcoholism, drug abuse and smoking may also be consequences of stressful environments.
    • Women who have immigrated to the US from other cultures often face diminished lifespans for a wide variety of reasons, including lack of access to good healthcare.

    A growing gender balance among seniors; 40% of caregivers are now men

    The male population is growing much faster than the female population in the age 60+ group, creating for the first time a gender balance among America’s seniors. To the surprise of many, 40% of adult caregivers are now men—up dramatically since 1996, when just 19% were men.

    Sociologists expect this shift to continue trending upwards, altering the role of caregiving from a primarily female burden to a responsibility that’s shared. The new gender balance in the oldest age groups has wide implications for family relationships in old age and caretaking; it also means more potential partners for older women.

    The cost of LTCI and the emergence of gender-based pricing

    It’s clear that the LTC and subsequent LTCI needs of women exceed those of men, though the landscape is now changing. This, of course, affects LTCI pricing. There has always been gender-based pricing, but the cost of women’s and men’s care was “blended”. The reality is that men have been subsidizing women’s care for a long time.

    But several insurance companies are now offering true gender-based pricing—not a “blended” pricing schematic. What this means for women is that they will be paying more than their male counterparts for the same coverage. Women’s rights advocates are aggressively opposing this, and the ACA bars sex discrimination in healthcare. This is especially disturbing in relation to new statistics that show the increased lifespans of men—whose needs for LTC and LTCI will be growing.

    This is an important topic, and we’ll be providing more information about this in a future blog.

    If you have questions about LTCI, please contact me: carly@cjbins.com, 510.342.2670, cjbins.com

Comments are closed.