Explosion in Obesity Poses Risk to Insurance Companies

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The recent explosion in obesity caused a number of medical problems among Americans and led to an increase in long term care claims. LTC Tree explains how preparing for these potential situations is crucial as long term care costs continue to rise.

Obesity has been on a steady incline in both children and adults across the United States since the 1980s. In June, the American Medical Association (AMA) declared obesity a disease in an effort to remove the stigma and merit the topic more attention and funding. According to the CDC, more than one-third of Americans adults are now obese, a trend that poses a significant threat to insurance companies who are already seeking higher premiums due to higher costs. LTC Tree, a virtual long term care insurance marketplace, encourages consumers to look into their long term care options before obesity constitutes a possible problem in order to better protect your finances and your health.

Obesity is now one of the main reasons that people require long term care services, because it often impedes physical activity and can present certain obstacles. Obesity is officially defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI ) of 30 or higher, compared to a “normal” BMI, which falls within the range of 18.5 and 24.9.

Besides the commonly known risk factors of obesity, which the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) identifies as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, all the extra weight that obese people carry around also leads people to require assistance with daily activities. Class 2 obesity, defined as having a BMI of 35 or higher, is especially limiting and most commonly causes trouble with mobility and incontinence.

Women, who are already more likely to need long term care than men, are also more prone to obesity. The percentage of women who fall into the category of Class 2 obesity recently experienced an increase of 70% in just 18 years. The CDC released information detailing the increase in obesity, as well as the medical costs, risk factors, and other diseases associated with obesity.

  • In 1990, 10.7% of women were considered Class 2 obese.
  • By 2008, that number had risen to 17.8%.

This change in obesity among women represents a massive increase in a relatively short period of time and poses a threat to insurance companies who may be experiencing an increase in associated long term care claims due to conditions stemming from obesity.

The prevalence of obesity as a basis for a long term care claim aligns with this marked increase in weight gain across the nation. This trend dictates the need to plan early for potential long term care, especially if obesity is already a concern. Almost all long term care insurance companies consider obesity a high risk trait that makes the consumer ineligible for coverage. Because companies are already experiencing a decrease in profits due to increased life expectancy and advanced medical technology, the carrier underwriting standards are becoming stricter.

It is not uncommon for obese people to need help with various tasks throughout the day, which requires long term care services. The cost of long term care is high and continues to get more expensive every year with inflation. Genworth, the nation's largest long term care insurance provider, reported the median annual cost of an in-home health aide at $45,000 a year in the United States. Most people cannot simply absorb those costs into their budget. Medicare, the public health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, does not cover the cost of long term care, so someone will have to foot the bill. Long term care requires a great deal of planning to avoid a chaotic or stressful situation should the need for care ever arise.

Long Term Care Insurance helps people prepare for their future long term care needs and protect their assets from the rising cost of care. However, while purchasing an insurance policy is important, maintaining your health is also vital to prevent a long term care situation. In addition, a “normal” BMI is a key component of good health. LTC Tree strives to provide clients with the latest health research and information to help you keep up your health, both physical and mental.

LTC Tree is a nationwide network of licensed agents based in Atlanta, Georgia whose goal is to help educate people about their Long Term Care Insurance options. LTC Tree helps clients shop all the major companies to find the best Long Term Care Insurance plan at the best price and strives to give consumers a laid back, no pressure process of buying insurance.

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Darrick Wilkins
LTC Tree
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