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LTCI Watch: Photo service

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Today, I blew $30 on putting 20 family photos in a couple of hardbound books for my parents.

I get to pick up the books from the drug store tomorrow after about 9:30 a.m.

My guess is that if, getting those books at the last minute, in such a disorganized way, was so cheap for me today, maybe the real cost of the books is something like $10 for the drug store company.

What if regulators and some great big clever company got together and let companies sell a little bit of long-term care insurance (LTCI) — really, short-term care insurance — as a “free” add-on to an online photo and personal papers organizing service?

Maybe the company could offer the service “for free” for about three months, then start charging the consumer $50 per month when the consumer forgot to cancel the service.

Then, after a year or so, the company could add an extra: Short-term care insurance.

Maybe the market of people willing to pay $50 per month for photo organizing services is so much bigger and healthier than the market for individual LTCI that the company could end up offering a decent amount of actual LTCI without the consumers really noticing that they were protecting themselves against LTCI risk.

Of course, today, this kind of arrangement would violate all sorts of time-honored marketing rules, but, in the real world: It’s just a lot easier for consumers to think about splurging on flashy Web services than on financial security.

Why should it be easier to get the consumer on the hook to spend $50 per month on an online photo organizing service that may have virtually no intrinsic value than to sign the consumer up for an insurance product that could give the consumer emergency help when the consumer most needs emergency help?

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