“In sickness and in health”—does your spouse’s wellbeing affect LTC insurance?

The influence of “contagion” among spouses has been widely studied and observed for everything from emotions and depression to dementia, obesity, and mortality. Does spousal contagion affect long-term care (LTC) needs, too?

Spouses often serve the role of informal caregiver, which can result in both physical and psychological “wear down” effects that eventually lead to LTC claims for the spouse providing the care. Alternatively, when one spouse dies, the other may no longer be able to care for himself or herself and may require formal LTC services.

Milliman consultants Al Schmitz, Ali Yeager, and Jeremy Hamilton studied LTC insurance claim data of married couples, where both spouses have LTC coverage, to examine the influence on claim incidence (or frequency of claim occurrence) for one spouse when the other spouse commences a claim or dies. The higher level of claim incidence in the presence of a contagion factor is significant. The consultants provide high-level results of spousal claim analysis and discuss potential implications to the LTC insurance market in their article “Is your spouse contagious?

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