Stories that portray someone being “wronged” always get people worked up. Make it a bully taking advantage of the weak and people really get emotionally involved.
Such could have been the case with a March 26 article by Charles Duhigg in the New York Times, titled, “Aged, Frail and Denied Care by Their Insurers.”
The article leads by telling the story of a well-intentioned widow who “scrimped together” about $100 a month from her grocery fund for a long term care insurance policy that promised to pay eventually for a room in an assisted living home.
The company doesn’t pay her claim, and based on this example an entire industry is branded as being full of heartless, money-grubbing executives who do not honor their own policies.
The article accuses some long-term care insurers of developing procedures “that make it difficult – if not impossible – for policyholders to get paid.” Ouch. Readers intuitively recalculate their opinions about long-term care insurance, and the job of selling LTCI just got harder.
The article gives a black eye to a pair of companies in particular, but the punch took aim at the industry in general. How do you defend an entire industry against media attacks? What can be done to mitigate the damage a mainstream article like this does to consumer perception of LTCI providers?