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Life Health > Annuities

On Longevity Risk, Annuities and Johan Santana

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History was made on June 1. Yet unless you follow baseball religiously or are a lifelong New York Mets fan like me, you probably didn’t realize it. That’s the day Mets left-handed pitcher Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in the club’s 50-year history. Yes, we Mets fan have waited a long, long time.

So what does this have to do with longevity and annuities? Quite a lot when you think about it.

I mean, here is a 33-year-old athlete doing what he’s supposed to do, right? Except there is a backstory to Santana’s extraordinary feat: He spent all of 2011 rehabbing from serious surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. We don’t need to go into the medical details. In layman’s terms, his pitching shoulder was broken and doctors put it back together again.

If Santana’s injury had occurred say, 10 or even five years earlier, he might have been forced to retire. But sports medicine has made tremendous surgical advances and injuries that once doomed an athlete’s career can be repaired now and after a prescribed rehab period, a player can come back better than before. Think of the countless careers Tommy John surgery has saved after a pitcher tore up his elbow.

Think, also, of how common hip and knee replacements are today. Without those new joints, many boomers and seniors would have been wobbling around on canes or worse, confined to wheelchairs. Now, they can lead active lives thanks to an increasingly commonplace operation.

That’s not to say all ailments will be so easily cured. It will take medical science many years and countless dollars to defeat cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. But strides are being made.

As researchers find new treatments and hopefully cures for not only dreaded diseases but conditions that simply diminish our quality of life, your clients will be living longer, healthier lives. That’s the good part. The bad part is our elongated lifespans require a steady stream of income further into the future. Once in retirement your clientswhether seniors, boomers or Gen Xersdon’t want to compromise their lifestyles. And that’s where lifetime income products like annuities come in.

It’s ironic at a time when people are living longer lives that several annuity insurers are pulling back on their offerings and sales are in a bit of a slump. Let’s hope when market conditions permit, they will get back into the game of designing and selling annuities of all product types, suitable for every consumer.

Because there are sure a lot of boomers and seniors who want and need the benefits an annuity offers, especially in an era when company-sponsored pensions are a relic of a bygone time when people actually dressed for dinner.

Who knows? We may actually live long enough to see the second no-hitter in Mets history.

Maria Wood is the annuity channel editor for and managing editor of Senior Market Advisor.

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