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Insurance regulators to hold meetings before putting long-term care rules in place

State regulators may be getting closer to implementing long-awaited rules aimed at protecting consumers against steep rate increases for long-term care insurance.

The Massachusetts Division of Insurance plans to hold a series of meetings and a public hearing in the coming weeks about long-term care insurance rate increases, which have angered consumers and left them with few options as they age. The division anticipates putting the new rules in place at the end of this year or early next year, according to Chris Goetcheus, a spokesman for the agency.

State legislators approved changes to the law in 2012 an effort to protect consumers from sticker shock. Policyholders have been waiting for rules governing the law to take effect since then.

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Division of Insurance officials have blamed delays on conflicting priorities and the inability to reach a consensus among the industry and consumer advocates.

Long-term care insurance covers everything from in-home care and adult day care facilities to assisted living care. The insurance is meant to bridge the gap between Medicare, the health insurance for the elderly that covers short-term rehabilitation and recovery services, and Medicaid, the program for the poor that pays for long-term care after a senior exhausts assets and meets income requirements.

In many cases, consumers bought these policies years ago when they were working and now as they age face premiums that may have doubled. Many are being forced to pay the higher premiums or cut back on benefits. Insurance companies argue that they need to raise rates to pay for the benefits as health care costs increase and seniors live longer.

The state will hold three meetings across the state on Nov. 16 in Worcester, Nov. 17 in Hyannis, and Nov. 18 in Boston.


Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at deirdre.fernandes@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @fernandesglobe.

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