Back in October, Society of Actuaries held a Long-Term Care Think Tank workshop near Chicago.
Moderators from Maddock Douglas Inc., a consulting firm, tried to help people like Brian Collins of the Bipartisan Policy Center, Patrick Reeder of Genworth and Terry Truesdell of National LTC Network bring out their inner science fiction writers.
The goal was to come up with original, potentially practical ideas for improving the quality of long-term care (LTC) services, increasing the supply and, if possible, doing a better job of paying for services. Maddock Douglas consultants recently posted a report based on the workshop brainstorming.
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Data-related ideas included developing a health longevity app and a care-locating portal.
The two top ideas in the paying for care, or “pay-fors,” category were creating a “flex 401(k)” that could be used to pay for LTC services and a family LTC account.
In the category of service evolution and expansion, the workshop participants came up with the idea of developing a long-term care insurance (LTCI) policy that would look much more like an ordinary acute medical policy, and the idea of “Uberification.”
Workshop participants suggested that services resembling Uber’s ridesharing could create highly efficient new LTC services markets, lowering the cost of some types of LTC services by making it easier for people to supply them.
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Participants thought that consumers might trust local entrepreneurs more than they would a big corporation, and that getting into the business of offering some types of simple home health care would require little overhead.
For a look at some ideas about how today’s LTCI agents and brokers might fit in an “AirLTC” world, read on.
1. You could figure out how to tell clients about the Uber-like LTC services that already exist.
Many older Americans start to think about whether they need to move into a facility after losing the ability to handle tasks such as shopping, and getting to the doctor on their own. Adult children used to a suburban lifestyle may think the only realistic answer for parents who have lost the ability to drive is an assisted living facility.
In areas in which Uber is active, Uber itself can keep the loss of a driver license from leading to a loss of independence.
General-purpose errand-running services like TaskRabbit can keep an inability to go grocery shopping, change light bulbs or do the laundry from becoming a crippling inability. The Autism NOW Center and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network have included TaskRabbit in a grant-funded guide to home and community-based services. TaskRabbit appears right under Meals on Wheels.
Meanwhile, in some communities, companies are already trying to offer “gig economy” services aimed at the LTC market.
SitterCity, for example, offers a section for consumers who are looking for care for adults. The site encourages families to use its site to look for rehabilitation care specialists, respite care providers, certified nursing assistants, and companions with Alzheimer’s and dementia experience.
Room2Care, a Miami company, lets older people who have spare room in their homes use the extra living space to attract live-in care providers.
In some communities, an experienced LTC planner might be able to get attention simply by conducting seminars that explain which services are actually available.
2. You could provide some kind of LTC gig program quality assessment.
The workshop participants gave some thought to quality concerns. Some proposed that the ideal manager of an UberLTC program would be a nonprofit, independent, quasi-government-like entity that would set quality standards and make sure those standards were met.
At this point, however, it seems as if a logical alternative might be someone like you. You could set up a local LTC services rating website, or you could simply ask your clients who are caregivers or care recipients what kinds of gig economy services they’re using, and which ones they like.
3. You could keep tabs on the LTC gig service providers.
Some LTC planners are already doing some light care management. They might check in on aging parents for long-distance adult children caregivers.
If you’re already doing a little care management, keeping tabs on gig economy services providers might not be much of a stretch.
4. You could figure out how to get paid to sell LTC gig program memberships.
Organizers of all of the new gig economy services probably think all they need to do to make book is to set up a website, buy some ads and spam everyone with tweets. They probably assume that their great services will sell themselves.
Of course, the makers of the financial services products you currently sell probably all assumed that their fine products would sell themselves.
One sign that the gig economy providers need someone like you to crack the LTC awareness is the low level of knowledge of their services among older consumers. Figures from 5i Solutions Inc. show that, as of September, only about 8 percent of Uber or Lyft riders are ages 55 or older. To attract more riders in older age groups, Uber and Lyft may need people like you to make rain.
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5. You could use LTC gig program sales as a chance to build deeper long-term care planning relationships.
Sandwich generation clients who need gig economy services to juggle child care and elder care responsibilities may be interested in hearing ideas about how they can keep the small children of 2016 from becoming the harried caregivers of 2056.
Clients who are already using the services to cope with their own loss of function may no longer qualify for traditional LTCI coverage, but they may qualify for other LTC funding tools, such as immediate annuities.
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