Insurers roll out alternatives to pricey long-term care coverage

The Wall Street Journal, February 7, 2011
As long-term care insurance grows increasingly expensive and harder to get, insurers are stepping into the breach with new life policies and annuities that pay out long-term care benefits during one's lifetime. But the new products may be an imperfect substitute. Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Prudential Financial Inc., MetLife Inc., Genworth Financial Inc. and others have either introduced or expanded offerings of "combo" products?permanent life-insurance policies or annuities with "accelerated" death benefits or "living benefit" riders?which allow owners to draw down cash during their lifetime if they become terminally or chronically ill. The features were first introduced by some insurers in the early 1990s. Permanent life insurance includes both a death benefit and a savings or investment component, while annuities are contracts that pay a lump sum or a stream of income over a period of time. Long-term-care insurance pays for nursing-home care and other expenses uncovered by Medicare or health insurance if the policyholder can't live independently.

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