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LTCI Watch: Where Are the Clicks for Alzheimer's?

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So, why aren’t LifeHealthPro readers drowning the federal Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care and Services with comments about how you think the country could best help people with dementia and their caregivers?

LifeHealthPro gets tons of hits, and we’ve been getting more and more hits (make that “page views”) since our website was redesigned back in October.

Many readers (maybe not you personally, but many) ADORE horrible, scary news about carriers leaving the long-term care insurance (LTCI) market. I can’t even read that sort of article after I’ve written it, because I hate scary stories, but readers will click on those stories, click again, print them out, share them, re-post the entire text of the articles on their own websites, etc., etc.

You would think people who are interested in scary LTCI news would be interested in articles about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, because a huge percentage of the policyholders who file claims will file claims as a result of Alzheimer’s or some other cause of dementia.

If current trends continue, about 1 in 6 of the people reading this article could develop dementia. What could be scarier?

The National Alzheimer’s Project Act of 2011 has created a panel, the Advisory Council of Alzheimer’s Research, Care and Services, that’s supposed to create a national plan for eradicating Alzheimer’s, or at least getting a real start on finding a cure, by 2025.

At first glance, that goal sounds like naive, legislative do-gooderism, along the lines of Congress trying to outlaw rudeness in general, or dreary Mondays. On the other hand: We’re now in a golden age of brain scanners and gene reading machines. Scientists are publishing all kinds of exciting news about how Alzheimer’s seems to work. With a little extra money and a lot of hard work, maybe finding strategies for preventing and curing it really could happen within the next 20 years.

But our stories about the Alzheimer’s council’s work have just been doing so so.

Of course, that could be the fault of the articles, but I don’t see much evidence that our readers our reading up on the council anywhere else.

The council has, for example, expressed lukewarm support for encouraging consumers to make more use of private long-term care (LTC) savings and insurance arrangements, but I’ve only seen a few comments from LTCI agents or carrier executives calling for more support for LTCI. I’ve seen many more comment letters from people calling for investigations into what (frankly) sound like crackpot notions about what causes Alzheimer’s than I do from people supporting private insurance options.

The next meeting of the Alzheimer’s council is set to start 9 a.m. April 17, in the offices of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Will anyone reading this be there, or be submitting written testimony?

If so: We would be delighted if you could e-mail us a copy!

If not: Er, why not? Maybe I’m missing something about why the LTCI community feels the council effort is misguided, or misshapen. It would be great if you could explain what you think is wrong with it.


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