Recently, I ran across a pamphlet published in April 1931 by the Union Central Life Insurance Company.
The pamphlet’s simple, faded cover was not too exciting. The title was “Fundamentals of Safe Investment.” But the first page contains a single-sentence paragraph worth slogging through:
“During the past sixty-four years, the Union Central has invested considerably more than half a billion dollars, and the broad principles which this Company’s experience in the field has proved to be practical and essential are given here in the hope that they may serve the individual investor.”
One sentence declares the company’s competence and the hope of what the company wanted to achieve by giving away 32 pages of content. Perhaps naive, but sincere, the publication is simply what Union Central knew about investing, delivered in a sober moment after the chaos of 1929.
What Your Peers Are Reading
This pamphlet got me thinking about the Affordable Care Act, in the non-linear way I go about jumping from thinking about old pamphlets to health insurance.
Here’s my attempt at writing the first sentence, 1931 pamphlet style, in an open letter to anyone talking to consumers about health insurance:
“If you want to talk to us, the consumers, about enrolling in health insurance, first be prepared to have a conversation about the fundamentals of insurance. Otherwise, we’re likely to act irrationally; perhaps not on purpose, but with detriment nonetheless.”
Union Central opined on the fundamentals of investing in a straightforward, conversational style. The pamphlet is a great read.
Union Central gathered up bits of investment philosophy scattered around the company and published a pamphlet, a written conversation of sorts.
Today, for health insurance, the task is similar, the outcome equally noble: Pull the pieces of information together in a simple conversational framework for the benefit of consumers, and we’ll have met our obligation in the smart evolution of the markets.
Today, benefits professionals can build a conversation around three fundamental concepts of health insurance, which are always in order: Risk, plan and optimization.
Or, to restate that in 1931 pamphlet style: Know the reason for insurance, what plans are the best possible fit, and how to use the plan you choose.
Risk: Know the reason for buying.
If someone is hurt or sick, the care can be costly.
There are also indirect costs, such as lost wages and loss of quality of life.
Make consumers think of their health as property and acknowledge the risks surrounding it.
Don’t limit the conversation to, “Hey, there’s a new law that makes health insurance mandatory but more affordable. Want to know more?”