When I first thought about writing up the diabetes research hearing testimony on the Senate Aging Committee website, I thought the witnesses would be talking mainly about the kind of diabetes fat people get — Type 2 diabetes.
Then I read further and found that most of the witnesses were talking about the other kind of diabetes — Type 1 diabetes. Juvenile diabetes. The kind of diabetes that anyone with an immune system that starts attacking the pancreas can get.
The Type 1 diabetes research conversation relates to aging and long-term care insurance in a roundabout way because Type 1 diabetes seems — like Alzheimer’s, and like Parkinson’s — to be an autoimmune disorder.
There are some researchers who speculate that conditions like Type 1 diabetes and Alzheimer’s could have some kind of interesting connection.
But we don’t know, because we barely know how Alzheimer’s actually works, let alone what causes either Alzheimer’s or Type 1 diabetes.
The LTCI industry is in state analogous to the state the consumers are in.
The consumers are scrambling to scrape up enough money to meet day-to-day expenses and too tired and addled to act on the idea that they could pay for a solid private LTCI policy, even with the rate increases, by giving up one latte per day.
The insurance industry is scrambling to scrape up quick sales of whatever short-ter products can do OK in Ben Bernanke’s World of Ultra-Low Interest Rates.
The people in the LTCI operations are, I suspect, busy trying to sell the importance and potential future profitability of what they do to senior corporate executives.
But, in the long run, of course, consumers should give up the lattes and buy the LTCI coverage.
In the long run, the insurance industry should be supporting researchers’ efforts to get beyond our current primitive understanding of the human body and to learn, for example, whether Alzheimer’s and diabetes are somehow related.
In the long run, the easiest way to make LTCI cheaper, more profitable and quicker to sell is to have doctors cure or prevent a much higher percentage of the conditions that force people to use long-term care in the first place.