LTC Bullet:  The 15th Annual ILTCI Conference:  A Virtual Visit

Friday, March 27, 2015

Seattle—

LTC Comment:  In case you couldn’t be there, today’s LTC Bullet provides a little glimpse and some of the flavor of an exceptional industry meeting at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, CO after the ***news.***

*** AGENT REVIEW, Harley Gordon’s and Jonas Roeser’s new enterprise has gone live.  Check it out here.  They say:  “Agent Review offers non-biased guidance for consumers looking for core insurance products on the Internet and insurance agents the increased opportunity of working with them by creating a visibility and credibility-positioning platform. 80% of consumers looking for insurance now start their search online, however the experience can blindly lead them to frustrating dead-ends. Agent Review aims to solve these problems by combining online reviews and insurance-specific profiles, with data you can relate to!” ***

 

LTC BULLET:  THE 15TH ANNUAL ILTCI CONFERENCE:  A VIRTUAL VISIT

LTC Comment:  The annual Inter-Company Long-Term Care Insurance Conferences are always something special.  But this year’s meeting exceeded all that came before. 

It exceeded by breaking past records:  over 1100 attendees, up from the 900s; 72 vendors, up from 56; 44 sponsors and 170 speakers.

It exceeded by offering new programs including:  demonstration rooms where exhibitors could make scheduled presentations; a “social media” room with Twitter feeds;  a “future leaders” program; a new Sales and Distribution combination track; and a new “Alternative Solutions” track, honchoed by Eileen Tell and John O’Leary, which replaced Policy and Providers, and captured me for all seven break-out sessions on the agenda.  (See the write-ups that follow.)

It exceeded with an expanded and improved mobile app, which replaced the thick and awkward hard copy agenda of the past; and numerous drawings with excellent prizes.

It exceeded by the venue (the five-star Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs) and the quality and variety of the free food and drink.

It exceeded by raising over $5,000 for the USO.

As always, the networking opportunities were abundant, well lubricated and very enjoyable. 

All in all, this was an event not to miss.  But just in case you missed it, here’s a taste:

Opening General Session

This year’s conference theme was “All Roads Lead Forward.”  Well, let’s hope so.  Isn’t it always darkest just before the dawn?  Read through to the closing general session and see how “happy warrior” and actuary Roger Loomis painted a positive picture of premium prospects.

Master of Ceremonies David Kerr from Oliver Wyman introduced the program at the opening general session.  We learned next year’s conference will be held March 13-16, 2016 at the Grand Hyatt on the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas.  Jim Glickman, Sandra Latham and Vince Bodnar were recognized for long and faithful work on the ILTCI conferences.

The opening session was a major hit.  Carol Golden of Transamerica introduced aviator and astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, who visited the international space station four times.  Captain Kelly is also the husband of Congresswoman Gabriel “Gabby” Gifford who was shot in the head, but survived.  His talk, titled “Endeavor to Succeed” captivated the audience with inspirational anecdotes illustrating the importance of persistence, communication, and independence:  “None of us is as dumb as all of us.”  He closed with a message from his recovering wife:  “Be bold; be courageous; be your best.”  A standing ovation followed.

Selected Break-Out Sessions

Following are snippets about each of the break-out sessions I attended.  Follow the links provided to find details in the presentation materials for each session.  Check out all the conference sessions here

Economic Modeling to Explore Alternative LTC Financing Options with Gretchen Alkema, Howard Gleckman, and Don Redfoot.  You know that number everyone tosses around—70% of seniors will need LTC?  Well it’s based on a “micro-simulation” done a decade ago based on 1993 data.  I critiqued it in LTC Bullet:  Microsimulate This! On March 28, 2006.  Hey, we can do better according to these three presenters.  They recounted how the Urban Institute and the actuarial firm Milliman are collaborating with a large number of organizations interested in long-term care funding to develop newer and better methods of modeling the demographics of aging.  The goal is to come up with blocks of objective data on which everyone can agree.  Then we can argue on the value propositions without disagreeing on the foundational facts.  Ambitious, yes.  Delusional, maybe.  But worth a try?  Absolutely.  Expect results by late summer or fall.

Calculating The Value of Private LTC Insurance, with Marc Cohen presenting and Jodi Anatole reacting.  Thank heavens for Marc Cohen.  He’s done more for the credibility and reputation of the long-term care insurance industry than practically anyone else.  The new study he reported on in this program is another example of why that’s true.  LTCI gets so much negative news, yet hundreds of thousands of people are being positively impacted by the LTCI product every day.  Want to know exactly how?  Click through to his presentation slides at the link above.  You’ll find plenty of evidence to share with prospects and clients who need to be persuaded of the benefits of a large insurance premium investment.  Just comparing, as Marc does, the bang consumers get for the “insurance” buck vs. the “savings” buck should close the sale right there.  But there’s much more to mine in this data.  Check it out.

The Bipartisan Policy Center LTC Initiative, with Katherine Hayes and Brian Collins.  The BPC was founded in 2007 by four former Senate Majority Leaders.  It has special projects focused on health policy and long-term care reform.  The BPC supports the predictive modeling project described above.  The interesting thing about this session was that attendees could vote—using the conference app on their cell phones—for various possible changes to LTC insurance.  Do you want indexed premium increases?  Cash deductibles?  Auto-enrollment?  The process went too fast for me to capture the polling results so hopefully they’ll post them later at the link above.

Consumer View of Alternative LTC Solutions, with Josh Wiener and Gallina Khatutsky; Don Redfoot reacting.  What do people want when it comes to long-term care?  They have multiple concerns.  Chiefly, they’re worried about losing independence.  While they express many concerns, they don’t know much about long-term care.  They don’t understand Medicaid, the cost of services, or how long people need care.  They trust private solutions more than government.  They prefer voluntary to mandatory solutions. Even at $25 per month, they’re reluctant to buy LTCI.  On several dimensions people’s expectations and values don’t match up with actuarial requirements.  So, Josh Wiener asked:  Could you make people economically indifferent to the cost of LTC insurance by giving them a government-financed subsidy?  How much would it have to be? 

LTC Comment:  Our take on this:  stop anguishing over how to find enough government money to subsidize insurance until people will buy.  Just stop providing Medicaid LTC to the middle class and affluent after the insurable event occurs and the market will take care of the rest.

State Innovations for LTC Financing, with Larry Minnix, Olivia Mastry, and Loren Colman.  Olivia Mastry of The Collective Action Lab gave one of the best overviews of the LTC financing problem I’ve ever seen.  Do check out her slides here.  But when she gets around to discussing the seven “pathways” of reform under consideration, we part company.  She, and most everyone else, expects too much from “public” solutions and too little from “private” solutions based on personal responsibility.

The Economics of Using Savings to Fund LTC, with G. William “Bill” Hoagland, Vickie Bajtelsmit, and Karl Polzer.  All I’ll say about this program is it was about time somebody talked about the desperate financial challenges this country faces related to deficits, debt, and unfunded entitlement liabilities.  Hoagland especially nailed the big picture.  Kudos to Karl Polzer also for emphasizing the need to put stricter limits on Medicaid LTC eligibility, especially reducing the welfare program’s gigantic home equity exemption.

Closing general session:  Outlook of Market Trends and Premium Rate Stability, with economist Patty Born, A.M. Best’s Jeff Lane, and actuary Roger Loomis.  I couldn’t find a link to the presentation materials for this session.  In a nutshell, the economist described economic conditions as of 2000, 2007, and 2014 with an eye to applying what happened after the first two dates to imagining what may happen going forward from 2014.  Likewise, the A.M. Best presenter delivered a less-than-sanguine report of the likely future.  Roger Loomis, however, showed how the LTCI industry has tightened up its actuarial assumptions to the extent that future premium increases are much less likely than they were at the earlier times.  That bodes well for the LTCI market going forward.

Alzheimer’s Session, presented by representatives of the Alzheimer’s Association.  Closing this year’s conference was an excellent three-hour program updating attendees on Alzheimer’s Disease and the research underway for prevention and potential cures.

Presenters highlighted myths about the disease and countered with the facts.  A highlight was a presentation by a couple: he with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and his wife his primary caregiver.  Their story was sad, moving and indicative of how vulnerable the public is to lack of information and mis-information about long-term care risks and costs. 

After three days of beautiful Rocky Mountain weather, the 15th Annual Inter-Company Long-Term Care Insurance Conference ended with a wet blanket of snow followed by a bright sunny day, hopefully a metaphor for the struggling industry this conference so ably profiled.