Royal Commission on long-term care chairman Sir Stewart Sutherland has told the insurance industry it has a vital role to play in ltc provision
But he warned the Government that its failure to provide a clear direction could undermine the private sector.
It came as health minister John Hutton promised a thorough Government review of the ltc.
Sutherland's words mark a substantial shift in position. He has previously been highly sceptical about whether insures should have any significant role in ltc provision.
Sutherland spoke while sharing a platform with Hutton, at a fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth.
The industry says implementation of the his report, which called for the state to fund nursing care with accommodation provided on a means tested basis, would allow ltc premiums to fall by up to 50 per cent.
Sutherland said: "We see a big role for private involvement. Our proposal divides off the higher risk element. It makes the insurance market much simpler. You would be insuring for a higher level of comfort."
Hutton refuted suggestions that all the Government plans to do is suspend the forced sales of elderly people's homes for three months when they go into care.
He said: "That was never going to be our full response. We are working on a comprehensive response – fair to the taxpayer, fair to the individuals concerned."