LTC Bullet: 50 Ways to Survive in LTCI--Book Review

Wednesday, August 6, 2003

Orlando, FL--

LTC Comment: Long-term care insurance agents struggle to sell people protection the government's been giving away for 38 years. We review a new book full of ammunition to add to their arsenal, after the ***news.***

*** Today's Bullet is sponsored by the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance http://www.aaltci.org/. AALTCI is the national non-profit professional organization serving the needs of insurance and financial professionals who market LTC insurance. The Association is a co-developer of the new Long-Term Care Professional (LTCP) designation program and will be conducting three 2-day review programs in New York (October 20-22), New Orleans (November 14-16) and San Antonio (October 13-15). The San Antonio class will also be a session for potential trainers. For more information on the Long-Term Care Professional designation program, visit their Website http://www.aaltci.org/ltcp/classroom.html or call Teri Burks at 866-763-3543. Thanks to AALTCI for their generous support of the Center. Won't you help too? Please go to http://www.centerltc.org/support/sponsor_bullets.htm to sponsor an LTC Bullet. Find out how you can sponsor other Center activities (e.g., articles, speeches, conference exhibits) by contacting Amy Marohn-McDougall at 425-377-9500 or mailto:amy@centerltc.org . ***

*** Center for Long-Term Care Financing President Steve Moses' latest article, titled "Avoid the Long-Term Care Trap: Know the Truth About Who Pays for Long-Term Care and How You Can Protect Yourself and Your Family," was published in the July/August issue of Assisted Living Today magazine. Reading Assisted Living Today is a good way to follow developments in the assisted living industry. A one-year subscription (nine issues) is $30 unless you're a member of the Assisted Living Federation of America, in which case it's free. For details, write to mailto:altoday@strattonpub.com . We'll be glad to send a free copy of the ALT issue with Steve's article to any new donors at the $150 level or higher. Just ask for it when you make your contribution. Contribute online at http://www.centerltc.com/support/index.htm or send your check to the Center for Long-Term Care Financing, 2212 Queen Anne Avenue North, #110, Seattle, Washington 98109. ***

*** LATEST DONOR-ONLY ZONE CONTENT: Here's the latest Zone content followed by instructions on how to subscribe.

LTC E-Alert #3-048--Will Medicare Coverage of Adult Day Care Crowd Out LTCI?

(When government pays for services people want--like home care, assisted living and adult day care--instead of only nursing home care, does it chill demand for LTCI?)

The LTC Reader # 3-035--Mayo Clinic Geriatrician Recommends Private LTCI

(America has precious few geriatricians, so when one strongly recommends private insurance for long-term care, it's news.)

The LTC Data Update #3-020--GAO Says Fix SS or Slash Benefits One Third by 2039

(What better reason to take personal responsibility for long-term care than the impending insolvency of America's social insurance programs?)

Don't miss our "virtual visits" to major LTC industry conferences in The Zone. You'll find our comparison of the conferences, session summaries, interviews and pictures at http://www.centerltc.com/members/index.htm .

Individual donors of $150 or more and corporate donors to the Center for Long-Term Care Financing receive our daily email LTC Bullets, LTC E-Alerts, LTC Readers, and LTC Data Updates for a full year. You'll also get access to the donor-only zone where these publications are archived along with other donor-only features. If you already qualify for The Zone, you can click the following link, enter your user name and password, and go directly to the latest donor zone content and archives: http://www.centerltc.com/members/index.htm . If you do not already qualify for The Zone, mail your tax-deductible contribution of $150 or more to the Center for Long-Term Care Financing, 2212 Queen Anne Avenue North, #110, Seattle, WA 98109. Then email mailto:damon@centerltc.org your preferred user name and password (up to 10 characters each). You can also contribute online by credit card or direct withdrawal at http://www.centerltc.com/support/index.htm . ***

LTC BULLET: 50 WAYS TO SURVIVE IN LTCI--BOOK REVIEW

LTC Bullets' review of Margie Barrie, editor, 50 Ways to Boost Your LTCI Sales, Wiesner Publishing, Centennial, Colorado, 2002. Order the book at http://www.seniormarketadvisor.com/ or look it up on http://www.amazon.com/ or http://www.bn.com/ .

If your goal in life is to make a lot of money, you might want to consider a career outside of long-term care. Medicaid pays nursing homes the equivalent hourly rate of a baby sitter to care for the nation's frail and infirm seniors. Nurse's aides often make minimum wage. Nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home care agencies struggle to survive financially. Long-term care insurers are consolidating or exiting the market, disappointed by low or nonexistent profits.

And then there are the long-term care insurance agents. The rule of thumb is that companies have to recruit, hire, train and maintain ten new agents at great expense in order to keep one who will succeed in the business over time. Despite the excellent training and professional certifications available to LTCI agents (e.g., CSA, CLTC, LTCP, and outstanding trainers like Phyllis Shelton, Marilee Driscoll, Wilma Anderson, and others), LTCI market penetration remains disappointing. No wonder. It takes an "AMG"--an altruistic, masochistic genius--to sell something the government has been giving away for the past 38 years.

In our experience, the rare breed of exceptional people who succeed over time in long-term care insurance sales have one thing in common--a passion for the mission. Most of the successful agents have either lived through a wrenching personal long-term care experience with a loved one or they have felt the pride and motivation that comes from having helped someone who suffers a debilitating illness shortly after purchasing LTCI protection. They fight on in the business, despite heavy negative odds and constant rejection, until they finally succeed.

Thankfully, America's LTCI AMGs have a new tool to help them help others cut through the fog of denial and obtain long-term care financial protection. That new tool is Margie Barrie's anthology of "50 Ways to Boost Your LTCI Sales." We don't usually review books on how to sell, but with the aging American public so out of touch with the reality and risk of long-term care and with the deck stacked so much against the tiny cadre of LTCI agents who are trying to wake them up, well, something has to be done.

Margie Barrie's little book--a treasure chest of proven techniques to answer objections and close the sale--is an important step in the right direction. Barrie is President of LTCI Consulting Group, Inc. and she writes a monthly column for Senior Market Advisor magazine. If you've been around the LTC insurance business for long, you'll recognize Margie and husband Bernie as longtime soldiers in the battle to expand private long-term care insurance protection.

In this 198-page book, Margie compiles her own best sales practices with those of a couple dozen leading LTCI agents whose names anyone in the field will know. Sales veterans will recognize most of the ideas and techniques described in the book, but will probably find the review worthwhile nevertheless. Agents new to LTCI sales will steer clear of numerous pitfalls and avoid re-inventing the wheel by reading this book. Prospects considering the purchase of LTC insurance might benefit from reading it too. Not only does the book answer many key questions and confront the usual objections, it would help the consumer recognize thoughtful and creative salesmanship.

Here are a few examples of the chapters in "50 Ways to Boost Your LTCI Sales."

Chapter 5: "Before You Knock, Be Ready to Rock!" This chapter talks about the subtle details of setting up an environment for the sales interview which maximizes the prospects' receptiveness to the message.

Chapter 7: "Powerful Stuff: Phrases to Set You Apart." What could be more valuable to new agents struggling to find their way in a difficult field than the actual words and phrases proven by successful experts to open prospects' minds and help them overcome sales inertia.

Chapters 9 and 10: "Questions to Ask that Will Lead to More LTCI Sales." LTCI is complicated. New agents make the mistake of telling too much and asking too little. "You have two ears and one mouth: use them in that proportion" is good advice. These chapters provide verbatim questions to ask that will help agents understand and provide what prospects really want to know and achieve.

Chapter 14: "Dr. Kevorkian Doesn't Make House Calls Anymore." How to deal with the common objection: "Won't happen to me; I'll never go to a nursing home; I'm going to shoot myself first."

Chapter 21: "I Might Never Use It." For some reason, people never think car insurance premiums are wasted unless they have an expensive accident, but they feel LTCI premiums go down the drain unless they need long-term care someday. This chapter explains how to confront that fallacy.

Part IV: "Closing Ceremonies," is four chapters on how to close for the sale and what exactly to say. To people not in sales, the idea of "closing" sounds manipulative. But closes are rightfully just techniques to help someone who needs a product satisfy that need in spite of their natural sales reluctance. If the salesperson has properly qualified an LTCI sales prospect medically and financially, and if the salesperson has identified the best possible product to meet a real, objective need, then closing is appropriate. Closes are simply bridges to cross the gap of hesitation that remains after objections have been answered and removed.

There's much more to this book, such as defining benefits, getting referrals, tips for marketing and seminar selling, but you get the drift. Here's a handbook to help you succeed in LTCI sales, make your living helping people prepare for the risk of long-term care, and help your country confront the challenge of long-term care by removing financially qualified people from the risk of Medicaid dependency.

So much for the lather, here's the shave. Like so many other books and articles by people in the LTC sales profession, this one tries to convince people government LTC programs are only for poor people. For example:

"For welfare [Medicaid] to pay, you must have very low income and few assets. Generally, people will qualify for food stamps before they qualify for Medicaid. To qualify for Medicaid, you must spend-down to government-established poverty levels. This means getting rid of most, if not all, of the assets you've spent a lifetime accumulating." (pps. 61-62)

If the foregoing statement were true, LTC insurance would not be hard to sell. People would flock to LTCI agents to buy protection against even a small risk of such a catastrophic loss. In truth, however, it is not true that people have to be poor to get Medicaid and, therefore, this scare tactic does not work to get people to insure for long-term care. The public doesn't know who pays for long-term care, nor does it matter to them. They have a pretty good idea someone pays and that's all it takes for most people to ignore this risk and discount even the best sales presentation.

What is the truth? Income rarely interferes with Medicaid nursing home eligibility because Medicaid only requires a cash flow problem, not poverty-level income. Anyone anywhere in America who lacks adequate income to pay for private nursing home care--which averages $5,000 per month--qualifies easily for Medicaid based on income. Nor are assets usually an obstacle because unlimited assets may be held in exempt form, such as a home, business, automobile, burial trust funds, and many others. Only people with very high assets need to consult attorneys; most Americans qualify with little or no spend down of assets, and such spend down as is necessary can be done merely to purchase more exempt assets.

Because Medicaid nursing home eligibility rules are so generous, Medicaid is the primary payor of long-term care in the United States and long-term care insurance is hard to sell. "You can't sell apples on one side of the street when they're giving them away on the other." As we said at the beginning, it takes an AMG to sell something the government's been giving away for the past 38 years. Unless and until the LTC insurance industry awakens to this reality, little progress will be made to expand the market for their product. The solution is simple and we've covered it repeatedly in this space: target Medicaid to the genuinely needy and use the savings to fund above-the-line tax deductibility for LTCI. You'll find all the evidence and logic to support this position at http://www.centerltc.org/ .

The main reason to purchase LTCI is to avoid the deficiencies of Medicaid-funded long-term care--serious problems of access, quality, low reimbursement, discrimination and institutional bias. "50 Ways to Boost Your LTCI Sales" should focus more on these risks of going bare and ending up on Medicaid, and spend less ink trying to convince readers that Medicaid is not available without catastrophic spend-down. The latter argument has two major drawbacks: it isn't true and it doesn't work.