|HARTFORD, Conn. -- Aetna Group Insurance announced today it has added two more major enhancements to its broad portfolio of group long-term care products - a core-and-buy-up plan for small to mid-sized employers and enhanced informal care benefits as part of Aetna's basic offering in all long-term care plans.
"Long-term care continues to loom as one of the largest and most expensive issues on the horizon for American businesses," said Janet Kennedy, head of Aetna Group Long Term Care insurance. "Whether it's lost productivity for employers or lost wages for employees, the financial impact of a long-term care need increases every year. These product enhancements offer affordable and flexible solutions that give both employers and their employees a chance to plan ahead and reduce the impact of a long-term care need."
Long-term care insurance provides coverage for care that is needed when an individual is unable to perform a certain number of activities of daily living on their own, such as bathing, eating and dressing. Depending upon plan design, long-term care insurance may cover the cost of informal care
(provided by a family member or friend), or care provided by professionals either at home or in a facility.
Enhanced Informal Care Benefits
More than one quarter of the adult population has provided care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during the past year. Based on current census data, that translates into more than 50 million people(1).
Aetna's new enhanced informal care feature gives members the option to increase the annual amount of benefits received for care provided at home by informal caregivers. It's a solution that helps individuals maintain their home environment for as long as possible, using those caregivers most people prefer - spouses, family members and others they know personally. This feature also pays for care provided by a caregiver who lives in the same house as the claimant - something that many long-term care plans do not offer. "Our initial enrollment data shows that consumers buy more informal care benefits when they're given the choice," said Kennedy.
Aetna is introducing a flexible program that offers an employer-paid base plan plus additional employee-paid coverage for employees and their families. The "core" represents the level of employer contribution; "buy-ups" allow employees the choice and flexibility to purchase additional long-term care coverage. "While this program is available to any employer with more than 50 employees, there's increased interest among mid-sized employers in offering subsidized long-term care insurance benefits to address care giving and aging demographics," said Kennedy.
- To give employees added flexibility, the plan allows employees to apply their employer's contribution to fund the core, employer-paid plan or to offset the cost of a richer plan.
- To help make the plan affordable, there are spousal discounts (in most states) on employee and spouse coverage when both enroll. The spousal discount also applies to employer contributions.
Both core-and-buy-up plans and plans with the enhanced informal care feature
- Cash payments for informal, respite and transitional care to support home care and preserve benefits dollars
- Case management services for as long and as often as they are needed to help claimants and their families with the range of emotional, financial and medical issues associated with long-term care
- Access to discounts on home health care providers and long-term care facilities nationwide to help make long-term care more affordable
Aetna is one of the nation's leading providers of health care, dental, pharmacy, group life, disability and long-term care benefits, serving approximately 13.0 million medical members, 11.0 million dental members, 7.4 million pharmacy members and 12.1 million group insurance customers, as of September 30, 2003. The company has expansive nationwide networks of more than 590,000 health care services providers, including over 355,000 primary care and specialist physicians and 3,577 hospitals. For more information about Aetna, please visit the company's web site at www.aetna.com.
(1)National Family Caregivers Association, "Random Sample Survey of 1,000 Adults," funded by CareThere.com, summer, 2000
Editor's note: These plans may not be available in all states.