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Does the profit motive lead to unintended consequences? Here are some quotations from an article in the New York Times about companies that offer long-term care insurance.

“The bottom line is that insurance companies make money when they don’t pay claims,” said Mary Beth Senkewicz, who resigned last year as a senior executive at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. “They’ll do anything to avoid paying, because if they wait long enough, they know the policyholders will die.” …

“These companies have essentially turned their bureaucracies into profit centers,” said Glenn R. Kantor, a California lawyer who has represented policyholders. …

Conseco and Bankers Life “made it so hard to make a claim that people either died or gave up,” said Betty J. Hobel, a former Bankers Life agent in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

“When someone is 70 or 80 years old,” she said, “how many times are they going to try before they just give up?”

We expect for-profit companies to do what they can to maximize their profits. But we also expect insurance companies to take care of the people they insure. When one objective interferes with the other, is the result an unintended consequence?