Bullet: Sucker Punched in
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
LTC Comment: The
Seventh Annual Intercompany Long-Term Care Insurance Conference in
Dallas was one to remember for many reasons.
Details after the ***news.***
YOUR CENTER GRATEFULLY RECEIVED THIS MESSAGE AND SUPPORT: "I want you to know that the National LTC Network and
all of our Associates are pleased to announce that our organization's
contribution plus the contributions of individual Associates and their
offices during our 2007 campaign for financially supporting the Center
for LTC Reform has significantly exceeded our 2006 contribution.
I want to personally thank you and wish you the very best in your
continuing fight for LTC Reform. My
Best, Terry L. Truesdell, President/CEO, National LTC Network." ***
*** CENTER MEMBERS PUBLISHED. Three important members and generous supporters of the Center
for Long-Term Care Reform have published articles in the current issue
of Health Insurance Underwriter magazine.
John Wane of American Independent Marketing and Lenny Anderson of
GoldenCare USA authored "More Agents Urged to Sell LTCI" at http://hiu.nahu.org/article.asp?article=1552
and Arthur Rudnick of New York Long Term Care Brokers asks "'Long-Term
Care Insurance Sales to Grow 15% In 2007':
Say What?" at http://hiu.nahu.org/article.asp?article=1559.
Check 'em out. ***
*** LTC RADIO INTERVIEW:
"Steve Moses, president, Center for Long-Term Care Reform,
and Mary Katherine Stout, Director, Center for Health Care Policy, Texas
Public Policy Foundation (http://www.texaspolicy.com/),
join Lynn [Wooley] to discuss the 'age wave' of baby boomers that is
upon us. In addition to
warnings of the coming collapse of Medicare and Social Security, we must
address the increasing demand and cost of Medicaid long-term care to
which aging boomers seem to think they are entitled.
Don’t miss this discussion on a new report entitled “Don’t
Tread on Texans’ Long-Term care – Fix It!”
Click segments to listen. ***
LTC BULLET: SUCKER
PUNCHED IN DALLAS
LTC Comment: One
thing I've learned from observing 25 years of the media covering
long-term care issues is that you can't trust what you read in the
paper, see on the TV, hear on the radio or, lately, read in the blogs.
There have just been too many hatchet jobs on LTC providers and
LTC insurers over the years. With
half truths and anecdotes, they target nursing homes for allegedly poor
care--care that was catastrophically underfunded by Medicaid in the
first place. With
self-righteous indignation and cherry-picked problems, they blast
insurers for alleged deficiencies in their product--a product made
unpopular and unprofitable by competition from Medicaid's exponentially
more defective alternative, which is available to almost everyone free
AFTER the insurable event occurs.
So it was no surprise to see the New York Times
attack the long-term care insurance industry on the opening day of its
big annual conference. More
on that sucker punch before we close, but first let's celebrate a
convocation of good people doing their level best to offer a quality
insurance product that can and should--and ultimately will (when the
government "safety net" programs holding it back finally
implode)--save millions of Americans from the tragic consequences of
depending on publicly financed long-term care.
Leaders of the LTC insurance industry met in
Dallas, Texas from March 25 to 28.
Things haven't exactly been looking up for their business as this
teaser from the meeting's website indicates:
Long Term Care Insurance marketplace continues to face many challenges.
New business sales have declined in each of the last four years.
. . . What will it take to
regain momentum in new sales? What
changes in the product and distribution are needed to increase
penetration? How do we know
if we are truly 'making money' on existing business?
What can we do to better manage our business? How will new and expected future regulatory changes affect
business? These are some of
the questions that many professionals responsible for selling and
managing Long Term Care products are asking."
7th Annual Intercompany Long Term Care Insurance Conference sought to
answer those and many more questions.
It succeeded, as past iterations of this meeting have, which
doesn't mean by a long shot that all of the proffered answers were in
agreement with each other. Carefully
argued, but often contradictory, positions on key questions and issues
are what makes these meetings so interesting, challenging and rewarding.
year, this conference kicks right off with substantive break-out
sessions. No big-shot
headliner to address a general session first with platitudes and
rah-rah. Just right down to
business. And a great deal
of business there was: 10
tracks of educational sessions including:
Actuarial, Claims, Compliance, Field Marketing, Group, Home
Office Marketing, Management, Operations, Policy and Providers, and
of these tracks contained at least four and as many as six sessions.
Check them out at http://www.lifecareassurance.com/2007conference/tracks_ppt.htm.
While you're there, click on any one of the
sessions. You'll find all
of the PowerPoint presentations and handouts at your fingertips.
Consider that access to be a free-of-charge, vicarious visit to
the conference. Pick out a
few sessions that interest you, click the links, and have a look at the
voluminous material available. Then
consider ordering the integrated
audio/video DVD-Rom set of all 51 sessions that will be available for
$199. When we have the information on how to order that DVD online,
we'll send it your way in a future LTC Bullet.
Finally, consider attending the conference next year
As in all the previous six versions of the
Intercompany LTCI Conference, the Dallas meeting lived up to the main
standards we inveterate conference-goers expect.
The free food and drinks were OK.
The networking was great with most of the people you'd want to
meet and greet in attendance. The
CEO Forum, held at the end of the conference as an anchor to keep folks
from leaving early, as usual left a little to be desired.
But then, how can you expect brilliant revelations and
path-breaking new ideas from top management when all the competition are
One thing that strikes me every year at this
conference is the sincerity and professionalism of the attendees. Every session focuses on how to do the critical business of
spreading and pricing LTC risk efficiently, ethically, and yes,
profitably. Compare this
process of competing to offer the best product at the most affordable
price to what drives LTCI's biggest competition.
Medicaid is all about placating a majority of complacent
taxpayers while providing underfunded and mediocre services to a small
minority of highly motivated people who need extended care, but don't
want to pay for it. The
market is a constant challenge to improve; the public system is a
slippery slope toward the lowest common denominator.
Let me close with this thought. Body blows like the latest New York Times article,
past blasts like those from the ideologically biased Consumer Reports,
and the new, snide insinuations by certain presidential candidates will
continue to plague the long-term care insurance industry.
Nothing like comparable scrutiny will be applied to Medicaid, the
welfare program where most people without private LTC insurance
ultimately end up. That's
the sad reality for AMGs, the altruistic, masochistic, geniuses who
struggle to sell private insurance protection while the government gives
it away--to people who didn't insure BECAUSE the government has given
the protection away since 1965.
The LTC insurance industry should defend itself
with pride. Whatever flaws
its products and management may have pale in comparison to the
deficiencies of access, quality, reimbursement, discrimination, and
institutional bias associated with Medicaid dependency.
But it is not enough for the LTC insurance industry to deliver
facts, and arguments and case studies of the wonderful good it does.
When LTC carriers, brokers and producers fail to confront their
biggest competitor--government financed long-term care--they sanction
their own victimization.
Granted, it's not easy and often considered
un-businesslike to criticize the competition.
But consider the consequences if private LTC insurance does not
soon become a financial planning tool the public routinely buys. Long before Social Security ($15 trillion unfunded) and
Medicare ($71 trillion unfunded) go under, Medicaid will have
disappeared as a LTC funding source for the middle-class and affluent. A lot of people, especially the poor who have nowhere else to
turn, will be hurt. And in
the end, boomer heirs will learn that private insurance is the best LTC
financing option for them.
So, why can't we just cut to the chase? Restore Medicaid as a quality safety net by targeting it to people truly in need. Use some of the huge savings to educate and incentivize the public to plan and insure for long-term care. Give private insurance half a chance to do what only it can do: collect premiums and invest reserves so there is something on hand to pay benefits some day. That's a key role private insurance can play that government hasn't, won't and probably can't. End the demagoguery rampant now that is sure to lead to disastrous consequences--when the Age Wave crests and crashes on the unfunded government programs that currently suppress the private LTC insurance market.