Margie Barrie

This month marks the 10th anniversary of November being designated as a time to create awareness of the need for long-term care insurance. Initially started by the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance as LTC Awareness Week, several years ago it was expanded to a month.

To celebrate the milestone, let’s look at this industry from three perspectives. How have the marketing messages agents are using to communicate the need changed? Where is the LTC industry today? And where is the industry headed? We’ll also look at how the new LTC awareness campaign, “3in4 Need More,” has brought the entire industry together to unite in a single cause to educate Americans about the need for LTC planning.

Today’s consumers are holding their cards closer to their chests, and anyone trying to make a go at spreading word about LTCI is in for an uphill battle. I asked several agents across the country what messages they are using to make people aware of the risks of not having LTC coverage.

IMPACT: “Clients today are motivated by a combination of factors. Their parents have lived much longer lives so they have personally witnessed the impact on the family — emotionally, financially and physically. Baby Boomers are having to plan earlier than their parents did so that they can qualify for policies and have lower premiums. Due to economy volatility, Boomers feel that if they don’t protect their assets and family, they will burden their children who may not be able to care for them financially or physically because of the economy and geographic distances. Clients can be motivated by many different feelings, but long-term care cuts to the core of the whole family unit like no other.” Andrew Moss, Boynton, Beach, Fla.

NOT BEING A BURDEN: “When I first started selling LTCI in 2001, my main emphasis was not to burden the family and to protect their assets. This still remains today, but it is even more important, especially with today’s economic uncertainty. I always open the discussion with Medicare and Medicaid. Most people under the age of 65 have no idea about Medicare and how it works. As for Medicaid, I explain how Partnership policies can help increase the value of LTC insurance.” Juliana Schiff, Raleigh, N.C.

INDEPENDENCE: “The hidden objection to LTC is the perception from the client that they will only use this policy when they can’t take care of themselves. Demonstrating that LTC policies take care of moderate disabilities as well as catastrophic ones resonates well. Being able to stay home with chore assistance, cooking, cleaning, transportation, etc. makes this policy palatable. Then they want it. Many agents now emphasize that the policy gives you independence. Since that can mean almost anything to a client, it’s not an effective driver. Instead, I tell them one of the worse things about a disability is that people start telling you what to do — they ‘dictate to you.’ This doesn’t happen with a policy, however, because you’re the boss of your plan of care. It’s amazing the response you get from a client when you make that clear to them.” Edward Pacelli, Ridgewood, N.J.

CHOICES: “Consumers today have more concern about what choices they and their families will have when they need care. Most of the Baby Boomer population has now had a taste, through their parents’ eyes, that it’s better to plan ahead and have alternative choices versus just conceding to go to a nursing home. We now have empirical evidence that consumers who use LTC planning have a greater probability to stay at home. The top 10 carriers are paying close to $11 million every day to policy holders.” Rich Horowitz, Sarasota, Fla.

MEDICAID PLANNING: “Educating clients on Medicaid and ‘Medicaid Planning’ has become even more important due to the Deficit Reduction Act. Many clients have seen Medicaid planning in their families and are not aware of the changes in Medicaid that penalize transactions.” Robert Staerk, Spring City, Pa.

State of the Industry

Where is the industry today? According to a new survey sponsored and conducted by Genworth for the 3in4Need More Association, while many people are still overwhelmed by the economic changes and in a state of paralysis, there is still a large market that has not acted yet on LTCI planning, and they need education. The survey results show a much younger group (ages 25 to 44) being interested in LTC information. It could be that this age group is witnessing the aging of the Boomers and ongoing financial “adjustments” to their savings/401(k)/retirement due to the downturns in the economy.

The survey also asked people where they go to learn about LTCI:

Internet search – 40%

Insurance company or carrier website – 33%

Family/friends – 32%

Health care professional – 28%

An insurance agent /advisor website – 27%

Financial services professional such as agent or advisor – 24%

What can we do to educate?

Welcome to the new LTC awareness campaign to raise awareness with the phrase, “Health Insurance Isn’t Enough. 3in4 Need More.”The campaign is the LTC industry’s version of the well-known “Got Milk” campaign. The dairy industry rallied behind a slogan, creative marketing and celebrities to successfully raise awareness of the importance of drinking milk.

The 3in4 campaign provides an effective and proven approach to help producers successfully explain to their clients and prospects the need for planning. The concept is based on a couple of statistics, stemming from a 2010 Prudential LTC consumer study: 77 percent of Americans age 30 to 65 think they should know more about LTCI than they currently do, and 74 percent of consumers age 55 to 65 said they are concerned about needing some kind of long-term care.

This year saw a variety of media events sponsored by the 3in4 Association, ranging from a national bus tour to a caregiver contest.

Agents can visit the association’s website (www.3in4needmore.com) to receive educational materials, as well as an electronic producer’s kit.

Margie Barrie is vice president of the 3in4 Need More Association and is national marketing coordinator for the LTCP Designation provided by AHIP. For more information on the 3in4 association, send an email to contact@3in4needmore.com.