LTC Bullet:  Sucker Punched in Dallas 

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 and Arthur Rudnick of New York Long Term Care Brokers asks "'Long-Term Care Insurance Sales to Grow 15% In 2007':  Say What?" at  Check 'em out. *** 

*** LTC RADIO INTERVIEW:  "Steve Moses, president, Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc., and Mary Katherine Stout, Director, Center for Health Care Policy, Texas Public Policy Foundation (, 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!”  SegmentA     SegmentB  Click segments to listen.  ***  


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: 

"The 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." 

The 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. 

Every 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 Underwriting.  Each of these tracks contained at least four and as many as six sessions.  Check them out at  

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 yourself. 

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 listening? 

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.