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LTC community fights for attention

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Insurance groups, insurance companies and insurance producers are trying to tap Americans on the shoulder this month and remind them that long-term care (LTC) planning is much more of a mess than acute health care planning.

Despite the controversy over the problems with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) enrollment site and with PPACA-related health insurance policy cancellations, most Americans still have some kind of public or private health insurance.

Few have any kind of protection against LTC costs other than reliance on Medicaid — a complicated, cash-strapped program for the poor — and faith in the kindness of strangers.

The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI) prepared for this year’s Long-Term Care Awareness Month campaign by persuading John Hancock, a unit of Manulife Financial Corp., and Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company to pay for an advertising insert in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

The 3in4 Association has enlisted “Dr. Marion” — famed gerontologist Marion Somers — to give interviews about LTC planning needs and California’s LTC Partnership program in California.

State partnership programs use state Medicaid asset qualification rules to give residents incentives to buy private long-term care insurance (LTCI) — and reduce the risk they will need Medicaid nursing home benefits.

The American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) has supported the effort by issuing a press release pointing out that the median cost for a one-year stay in a private nursing home is now $84,000.

“By 2030, this cost is likely to more than triple to nearly $310,000,” the ACLI warns in the release.

The long list of distribution organizations that have supported the campaign by posting LTC planning tips on their websites or sending out LTC press releases includes Combined Benefits United Inc.; Franklin & Associates, which is offering consumers free LTCI policy reviews; and Lavine LTC Insurance, which noted that its head, Raymond Lavine, recently appeared on a talk show hosted by William Shatner to explain why consumers need extended care benefits.

Many general-interest media organizations have run LTC planning articles in response to the campaign. Some of the Web articles that showed up at the top of a recent Google News search appeared in the Gettysburg Times in Pennsylvania, Bayou Buzz in Louisiana, the Times-Journal in Illinois, the Crestview News Bulletin in Florida, and Tennessee’s The Tennessean.

Terry Savage wrote a campaign-related LTC planning Thanksgiving article for The Huffington Post, and Jack Tatar blogged about the campaign for Dow Jones’ MarketWatch.

The 3in4 Association reports its campaign has led to segment broadcasts on a Fox TV station affiliate and an AM radio station in Southern California.

Organizations are also trying to use the campaign to get attention for ongoing LTC planning and LTCI sales and marketing efforts.

AALTCI, for example, is promoting an LTC sales conference scheduled to start in Kansas City, Mo., May 18. The group is noting that, this year, it will stream the conference proceedings live on the Web.

LTC Financial Partners L.L.C. has announced the hiring of a new national sales manager, Mark Goldberg, who will be helping that company — a major distributor of traditional LTCI products — expand support for annuities, life insurance policies with LTC benefits riders, reverse mortgages, critical illness insurance, and other LTC planning tools.

Meanwhile, top managers at the big LTCI issuers seem to be talking more about their sense of concern regarding the mammoth LTC planning challenge facing the country.

At Genworth Financial Inc. (NYSE:GNW), for example, executives have talked in the past about the need to look carefully at the company’s LTCI business.

But, during the company’s latest earnings call, Thomas McInerney, said he is confident the private LTCI market will be a significant opportunity.

“Most consumers remain unaware that Medicare does not generally cover long-term care needs,” he said. “While Medicaid does cover long-term care, coverage does not begin until consumers have nearly exhausted their assets. Today, 25 percent to 50 percent of state Medicaid budgets are already used to pay for long-term care for individuals. With the 76 million baby boomers retiring at a pace of 10,000 per day, government entitlement programs will become even more strained than they are today.”

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