Women may soon pay more for long-term care insurance

Long-term care insurance may soon be getting more expensive for women. That’s because two of the country’s biggest long-term care insurance providers have announced plans to introduce “gender-based” pricing.

The simple fact is that, on average, women live longer than men. Life insurance has long recognized this fact, and life insurance premiums typically vary based on gender.  However, long-term care insurance has always been gender-neutral.

This started changing recently when Genworth Financial decided to charge more for policies purchased by single women. John Hancock quickly followed suit, and other insurers are likely to fall in line.

Genworth hasn’t said how much it will raise rates for women, but according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, women will likely end up paying 20 to 40 percent more than men.

Women not only tend to live longer than men, but they also file more long-term insurance claims, and their claims are for longer periods. About two-thirds of all long-term care insurance payouts are made to women, according to the Association.

Genworth’s new rates won’t apply to existing policyholders or to married couples who apply for joint insurance. (Insurance companies usually give married couples a discount on rates.)

Several other companies also have gender-specific pricing requests on file with state regulators, and some of them plan to charge more to a married woman who outlives her spouse.

The gender-based increases will be on top of recent rate hikes for long-term care insurance in general. Over the past five years, premiums have risen between 30 and 50 percent.

The Affordable Care Act requires gender-neutral pricing for health insurance, but it doesn’t apply to long-term care insurance. However, Colorado and Montana have specific laws requiring unisex insurance rates, so the long-term care rate changes presumably won’t take effect there.

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