I can’t speak about life, annuity, disability insurance, health or MedSup agents with authority, but I can speak with 100 percent certainty about long-term care insurance (LTCI) specialists: They are among the noblest individuals I’ve ever met. Steve Moses calls them “altruistic masochistic geniuses.”
I’ve grown up around them since I was a child, and have met and known thousands. To me, there’s something unique about the LTCI specialist which sets him or her apart from the other professions — and I mean no disrespect to our distinguished colleagues.
But it’s this: Most have chosen this path because of a personal experience with long-term care, and have become agents in order to spare others the emotional, physical, psychological and financial heartache they’ve experienced firsthand.
Thus, LTCI specialists are “missionaries,” if you will. They are on a calling. Each believes passionately in private long-term care solutions as a fundamental part of our nation’s LTC funding crisis. Each has a story to tell. Here’s one:
My parents were beginning to have trouble living independently, primarily because my mother was at the beginning stages of dementia. My father was becoming overwhelmed caring for my mom, and my husband and I often had to run over to their house to help them. We decided it would be easier for everyone if we combined households and had them live with us so we could be instantly available to help.
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As I became a caregiver, the burden of that role drove home how huge an impact caring for someone is. For a couple of years, I couldn’t work because I had to take over my mother’s care after my dad suddenly died. It was the toughest job I’ve ever had. We were scrambling every week to make ends meet while caring for someone who couldn’t perform 5 out of 6 ADL’s and had dementia. Upon my dad’s death, we were forced to make decisions at the time of a crisis. To replace him we hired help 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, and were spending close to $5,000 a month. That left us 16 hours a day with no help. I never knew if a caregiver was going to show up or not and if they didn’t, it was up to me.
Because of this experience, I decided to focus 100 percent of my energies on helping people avoid the trauma that I experienced. If I could help them prepare for the future, they wouldn’t be leaving their care to chance. Nor would they be burdening their children with having to physically, financially and emotionally care for them. LTCI would be a lifeline that would liberate them from the heavy burden of care and free them up to provide love and support.
— Edna Martin
If you talk to enough LTCI specialists, you’ll realize that — as gripping and extraordinary as Edna’s story is — it’s an origin story, repeated innumerably by our peers. Little boys and girls may grow up dreaming of becoming doctors, firefighters or even presidents. No one grows up imagining themselves an insurance agent specializing in long term care planning — and that’s fine.
But at some point in each of our lives a trauma occurred which begat this mission in life, not unlike the personal crusades which culminated in today’s Amber Alert or Brady Bill. This is why I call ours “The Noblest Profession,” and if you are in the LTCI market and disagree, you might not be in it for the right reasons.
Are you there, God? It’s me, an LTCI specialist
Even though our industry is 40-years old, the major financial publications (e.g., Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Kiplinger’s) have a blind spot toward LTCI specialists, as if ours were not a full-time career. If there’s one public relations job we need to work on in 2015—and Long Term Care Awareness Month is as good a time to begin as any—it’s planting a flag that says, “We’re here!”
When seeking expert opinions for their articles, too many journalists go weak in the knees for designations they recognize (CFP, ChFC, CPA) over ones they do not (CLTC, LTCP, CSA). Inevitably, the media cite part-timers who sell one or 2 policies per year rather than our full-time colleagues who specialize in the occupation of LTC planning. What a disservice to their hundreds of thousands of readers.
Can you really blame them? Look at the Alliance for Health Reform’s “Sourcebook for Journalists,” which is sent out annually and bills itself as a resource of top experts in each subject area. While their 60+ LTC experts are bona fide, renowned and hail from both sides of the aisle, it is disappointing that the list is confined to think tanks, academia and government. Not only is private industry omitted, but I would wager that not a single expert on this list has ever sold a policy or taken a phone call from a distraught client.
While we’re on the topic, let’s not forget the summer of 2013. The 15-member Commission on Long-Term Care held four public hearings, each of which was broadcast, culminating in a Report to Congress. Although stakeholders from private insurance were given the option to submit written testimony as part of the record, not one LTC insurance expert was called before the Commission or appeared on camera. Egregious.
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