Rates for comparable long-term care insurance coverage from leading insurance companies can vary by as much as 41 to 48 percent, according to the 2011 Long-term Care Insurance Price Index, published by the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI).
The report analyzes rates for 11 long-term care policies for both individuals and couples at varying ages, and with varying health conditions, as well as the spread in costs among insurers for the same coverage.
A healthy 55-year-old couple purchasing long-term care insurance today can expect to pay an average combined $2,350 per year for about $338,000 of current benefits. Those benefits would grow to about $800,000 of combined coverage when the couple reach age 80. If the couple did not qualify for preferred health discounts, their annual cost would increase by $325.
The AALTCI says the average age of an individual who purchases long-term care insurance is 57; 76.3 percent of long-term care insurance purchases are made between ages 45 and 64.
The study reported rates for individuals who qualify for good-health discounts, and for those who qualify for standard rates as a result of having one or more health issues. For the first time, the analysis included a 3 percent compound inflation growth factor versus the 5 percent formula that has been used in prior studies.
"More purchasers are opting for this formula, which significantly reduces the cost of coverage and can be quite adequate in terms of future benefits," Jesse Slome, association director, said in a press statement.
The index also looked at rates for policies that include the newer "shared care" option, which lets two policyholders access a combined pool of benefits, an attractive feature for couples.