Date: July 26, 2007
For more information contact: Mikaela Reck, Public Information Officer, (608) 267-9336 or

Commissioner of Insurance offers long-term care resources

Madison, WI—With health care costs rising and longer life expectancies, funding long-term care is an increasing concern for millions of people. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), about 9 million Americans, now 65 or older, will require long-term care.

HHS expects that number to rise to 12 million by 2020. The average annual cost of nursing home care is $74,806, according to Genworth Financial's 2007 Cost of Care Survey, but that figure can fluctuate depending on the level of care required and the state in which the care is provided.

To help consumers make more informed decisions about long-term care insurance coverage, the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) offer tips for consumers through public education programs and publications.

"Consumers who would like to protect their assets, minimize dependence on family members and control how they receive nursing or home care, should carefully consider their options in funding their future long-term care needs," said Sean Dilweg, Commissioner of Insurance. "It's a highly individualized decision that requires people to look closely at multiple factors including their family health history, dependent relationships and personal financial situation."

When people are unable to perform activities of daily living - such as eating, dressing and bathing - long-term care insurance can help pay for the services of nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and in-home caregivers. Long-term care insurance may also cover expenses for those diagnosed with chronic illnesses that Medicare and standard health insurance policies do not usually cover.

"People are living longer, and sometimes don't have the ability to take care of themselves as they reach older ages," said Dilweg. "Because these costs can become prohibitively high, interest in long-term care insurance is increasing. We encourage consumers to use the resources available on the OCI Web site and the NAIC Web site to learn more about their options."

OCI offers a comprehensive handbook to long-term care insurance entitled Guide to Long-Term Care, which covers the basics of long-term care insurance as well as tips for consumers. Also available on the OCI Web site is a list of long-term care insurance policies approved for sale in Wisconsin. In addition to OCI's resources, the NAIC also offers an online program called Insure U - Get Smart About Insurance at This site offers tips and considerations for consumers interested in long-term care insurance, as well as a quiz that tests their knowledge on long-term care.

Wisconsin has chaired the NAIC's Senior Issues Task Force which has drafted model laws pertaining to long-term care insurance that have been adopted by many states. Wisconsin's current regulatory structure for long-term care insurance is modeled after the NAIC's model long-term care insurance laws.

"As chair of the Senior Issues Task Force, we see the many difficult issues seniors have to deal with," said Dilweg. "Wisconsin is committed to helping consumers in any way we can by providing education as well as developing standards for the insurance industry to follow."

For more information about long-term care insurance options, or to view helpful publications such as the Guide to Long-Term Care or Long-Term Care Insurance Approved Policies in Wisconsin, visit the OCI Web site at Hard copies can also be ordered free from the agency online, by writing to OCI Publications, P.O. Box 7873, Madison, WI 53703-7873, or by calling 800-236-8517.

Created by the Legislature in 1871, Wisconsin's Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) was vested with broad powers to ensure that the insurance industry responsibly and adequately met the insurance needs of Wisconsin citizens. Today, OCI's mission is to lead the way in informing and protecting the public and responding to its insurance needs.