Seniors from Palm Beach County and around Florida said in hearings last year they felt “scammed” by requested increases up to 114 percent.
How consumers react to the deal remains to be seen. Over the next three years, agreements allow average monthly premium increases ranging from $4 to $44 for MetLife and $5 to $55 for Unum, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation said. During the next seven years after that, “rates will be guaranteed,” a statement from the state agency said.
“The Office will continue to encourage other long term care insurers to approach rate needs in a similar fashion for the benefit of their policyholders, many of whom are on fixed incomes,” Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier said. “This plan effectively balances the company’s need for rate increases against the impact that those increases have on policyholders who have invested in these products over a period of many years.”
Consumers can also choose to take reduced benefits under a variety of plan options.
Long-term care insurance pays for services such as help with bathing, dressing, eating or housework, at home or an assisted-living facility. Medicare typically does not pay for such services, and more than 10 million people have purchased policies from the private market.
MetLife has more than 22,000 long-term care policyholders in Florida, including 1,883 policies in Palm Beach County and more than 2,000 in Broward County. Under its original request, the average premium would increase from $1,593 to $2,580, according to state officials.
“MetLife appreciated the opportunity to participate in July’s public hearing and worked collaboratively with the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation on implementation details and policyholder communications,” a company statement said Thursday.
Unum Life Insurance Co. of America and related firms have more than 45,000 long-term care customers in the state, including about 1,500 in Palm Beach County. Unum’s proposed increases ranged from 75 percent to 114 percent under different plans. Unum officials could not be reached.
Many consumers said they felt betrayed after paying premiums for years for services they expected to rely on when they got older. Companies said initial cost assumptions proved to be inadequate as people lived longer and required more services.