Long-Term Care Cancellations Require Better Notification

It should never happen again.
And whether it’s by passage of a new law or a rule change at the Virginia Bureau of Insurance, maybe it never will.
A recent story in the Richmond Times-Dispatch brought to light the plight of people left without long-term care for the elderly. The story focused on the Pirron family. For more than a decade, David and Anne  Pirron paid almost $400 in premiums a month long-term-care policy offered by John Hancock Life Insurance Co.
“Their son, Michael Pirron, had helped them research a policy, and later he was added as a third-party designee so that he also would get notices about changes to the plan,” according to the story by Tammie Smith.
“About a year-and-a-half ago, my mother had a major health issue,” Michael Pirron, the CEO at Image Makers, a Richmond-based technology consulting company, told the newspaper. “Realizing my father was not managing my mother’s health well, I called the long-term-care (policy).”
“To his surprise and dismay, Pirron said he was told the plan had been canceled seven months before because of nonpayment,” Smith wrote. “Apparently his father, who had begun to show some of the cognitive impairments of Alzheimer’s, had inadvertently canceled the automatic payments while intending to cancel another automatic bank draft. Pirron said the company that wrote the policy sent letters to his father, who just stuffed them into a drawer. As the third-party designee, Pirron was supposed to get notices as well. The insurance company said a separate letter was sent to him, but Pirron is adamant that he never got anything. If he had, Pirron said, he would have corrected the matter.
“The company refused to reinstate the policy. Pirron appealed but was denied.”
Although nothing can now be done for his parents, Michael Pirron has been working to get a bill passed in the state’s General Assembly that would force long-term policy insurers to notify third-party designees by certified mail when a policy is canceled.
“The bill this year, House Bill 719 sponsored by Del. Jennifer L. McClellan, D-Richmond, was considered by a House subcommittee in January but did not make it out after state insurance officials said they would work on an administrative fix,” according to the Times Dispatch. “The state Bureau of Insurance … filed a notice of a proposed rule change that addresses Pirron’s concern about third-party designees getting notices. The proposed change also requires companies to keep receipts showing cancellation notices were sent.
“McClellan said that because the rulemaking process was in the works, her bill did not go forward.”

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