Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller is launching a probe into long-term care insurance, following complaints from seniors who say they're not receiving the benefits they were told their policies would deliver.
Miller launched the probe after the state's chief insurance regulator said he had insufficient authority to handle the investigation.
The attorney general's office can use the state's tough Consumer Fraud Act to subpoena witnesses and prosecute offenders.
Miller has long taken an aggressive stance towards fraud aimed at seniors. The state ranks second in the nation in the percentage of residents age 85 and over and is often seen as a primary target of elder scams.
Besides denied claims, elderly consumers say their long-term-care premiums have risen faster than they anticipated.
A recent New York Times series documented problems and abuses nationwide, sparking a Congressional investigaiton into two of the leading LTC issuers, Conseco and Penn Treaty.
Long-term care insurance is sold with the promise that it will help pay for in-home health care, assisted living or other types of elder care. Seniors are told the policy will help them remain in their homes or, if they must be in a nursing home, will pay a major portion of the cost.
Seniors often fear that if they become unable to care for themselves, they will have to spend down their assets before Medicaid will help with nursing home costs.