We are now into November, which is officially “Long-Term Care Awareness Month.” Hopefully you were already aware of that.

Perhaps like me, you have run across study after study, survey after survey sounding the alarm. Despite the fact that there’s better than a 60% chance someone will need LTC in their lifetime, a dismal percentage of Americans actually have long-term care insurance. While 76 million baby boomers are already in or are quickly approaching their golden years, less than 9 million Americans actually have LTCI coverage.

While building awareness is clearly a necessary (and ambitious) undertaking, it isn’t real easy to do right now because great LTCI prospects are essentially in “wait and see” mode. They are waiting to see whether the Community Living Services and Support (CLASS) Act will be a part of health care reform legislation. CLASS would establish a federal long-term care insurance plan, and if it is part of the reform package that makes it out of Congress, Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI), says it will dramatically change the landscape for LTCI marketing and sales.

“Some predict it will be the start of the long-awaited boom. Others believe it will impede sales giving consumers one more reason to delay purchasing. To gauge which way the winds will blow, watch how the consumer media plays up the story,” Slome told me this week.

If CLASS is not included in health care reform, Slome predicts there will be some pockets of significant opportunity for those sufficiently focused to capitalize.

“Finally, the wild card is the Partnership,” Slome says. “The LTC Partnership remains the single greatest opportunity to expand sales to middle income Americans. While more states will offer Partnership LTC policies in 2010, the marketing necessary to achieve the desired market penetration is still nebulous. Until consumers fully understand the benefits of Partnership LTCI, it is unlikely that the significant growth of sales will follow.”

You can read more about Slome’s prognostications for LTCI in 2010 in Life Insurance Selling‘s special “Review & Outlook” issue, which mails with our regular December issue.