A Recommendation

This column has tried for 18 years to simply comment from the grandstands about the pomp and circumstance of the passing parade. It was always an attempt to admire the vivid color and theme execution of the individual parade float offerings and not to pass judgement on the motivations behind the need to be in or out of the parade. This was to be the home of a contemplative analysis of normative values of truth, fairness, equity of access, economic justice and freedom of choice. In other words, go to your favorite flavor news wire service and drink your fill of current events. Here we would at least try to simply explore what it all means and where it might drag or push us.

Recent columns have unfortunately been forced to drift into a growing concern that a particularly flamboyant, politically extreme and disruptive market alternative is on final approach. This unique aberration is now developing with certainty and significant disregard of how its revolutionary presence may alter forever the long term care risk mitigation universe as we know it.

The implementation of the Washington State Cares Act has been postponed. A memo from the Washington State Democrats dated December 17,2021, confirms the temporary delay until the next legislative session is complete before April 2022 with premium collection in limbo potentially for calendar year 2022. Please allow the stated goals time to sink in: “Pausing the program so that it can better serve disabled veterans, military spouses, non-residents, and near retirees will improve the program.” And, “A pause will give the Long Term Care Commission the ability to study and make recommendations about residents who move out of Washington to retire and assure that those who opt out of the program maintain their private insurance solutions.”

The quote “It’s a poor general that does not have an adequate plan of retreat” has been so often used it’s source is uncertain. Its sentiments are not. Suffice it to say we cannot go back. There is no plan to retreat and frankly no possibility to fall back to a market that is comfortable and familiar. Going forward will necessitate what have been historically irreversible structural choices. What we here choose to accept or resist will dominate our market/product destiny for a generation. Will we live in a world abundant with recommended choices and free market decisions or one of mandated political control only allowing humble supplemental options from the sidelines?

  • There is no possibility of the resurrection of past success as we knew it. Robust, comprehensive stand-alone individual accident and health policies have no foundation to build upon. To my knowledge there is no company or reinsurance appetite for a mass influx of this premium.
  • The temporary gold rush of policies in Washington State which will now soon protect against intentional lapse immediately turned off the product spigot. Any possibility of this aberration igniting additional production windfalls will collapse that market overnight.
  • COVID has altered the future permanently. According to a recent report from The Society of Actuaries, deaths have increased in particular among the disabled with 47 percent showing an increase in “active life and disabled experience.” Incidence rate for claims showed an early decrease but is returning to pre-COVID levels. The American Academy of Actuaries was quick to add they are concerned about future health and disabilities that may show up as caused by COVID. It is also worth noting that COVID deaths are predominantly occurring among those least likely to be insured.
  • Institutional warehouse care, both nursing homes and assisted living, are experiencing a serious retraction. Close quarters, inadequate training and being structurally unable to quarantine or socially distance has for now moved the care market home.

Events on the West Coast require our attention. In addition, recent Supreme Court decisions on mask mandates could not have better illuminated the precipice of choice on which we are now perched. Government controlled and funded entities must comply with mandatory behavior fiat decisions. Free and independent business does not.

Do we now wish to live in a world of behavior recommendations (strongly incentivized) or inflexible government decree? Personally, it is very difficult to understand those who might prefer OHSA to be their permanent, omnipotent, omniscient parade Marshall.

Other than that I have no opinion on the subject.

Ronald R. Hagelman, CLTC, CSA, LTCP, has been a teacher, cattle rancher, agent, brokerage general agent, corporate consultant and home office executive. As a consultant he has created numerous individual and group insurance products.

A nationally recognized motivational speaker, Hagelman has served on the LIMRA, Society of Actuaries, and ILTCI committees. He is past president of the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance and continues to work with LTCI company advisory boards. He remains a contributing “friend” of the SOA LTCI Section Council and the SOA Future of LTCI committee. Hagelman and his partner Barry J. Fisher are principles of Ice Floe Consulting, providing consulting services for Chronic Illness/LTC product development and brokerage distribution strategies.

Hagelman can be reached at Ice Floe Consulting, 156 N. Solms Rd., New Braunfels, TX 78132 Telephone: 830-620-4066. Email: ron@icefloeconsulting.com.