It seems that it is primarily similarities that define generational progression, specifically as it regards common experience resulting from the age cohort’s place in history—social, political and economic. The most agreed upon period of time appears to be in the 30 year duration range per generation. More than enough ink has been spilled on the effects and affects of the Boomers and the incoming Gen X’s that find themselves participating in the proverbial financial and emotional stress as members of the “Sandwich Generation,” caring for both parents and children.  There does seem to be some unavoidable optimism brewing in the chronic illness marketplace. We are apparently back to levels of company participation in some form that we haven’t seen in over 15 years. While it is true that these attempts to address the problem at some level run across a very broad playing field of product option, quality of benefits paid and under what circumstances care dollars will be delivered, we do have choices!

    Recently I was asked, “What seems to be making the pot boil again?” May I humbly suggest that it is exactly what made the pot boil 20 years ago. The underlying absolute of every consumer research I have ever seen is that those who buy are most often the adult children—those being scorched by the fires of the rising cost of care for their parents. The tinder of Baby Boomers caring for aging parents is rapidly building to a  fiercely combustible crescendo and their numbers will peak in the year 2022. The fuel for the current market movement should at this point be obvious to all concerned:

    • Seventy-five percent of Boomers struggling to facilitate the longevity concerns of their own retirement are also burdened by family caregiving issues.
    • There are 70 million plus Boomers and 71 percent of them have an aging parent, creating 50 million catalysts for purchasing action.
    • As many as 60 percent of Boomers are already assisting an aging parent while at the same time as many as 90 percent are also financially helping their adult children.
    • Boomers are, of course, also keenly aware that they are likely to live longer.
    • Adding more fuel to the fire is a recent fact gleaned from the 2016 United Health Foundation that these same Boomers are, in general, in poorer health, as they are aging with higher rates of obesity and diabetes than prior generations.
    • And to throw even  more gasoline on the fire, the largest and most consistent rise in inflation is in the wonderful world of modern medicine and health care.
    • Just because you can reasonably expect to live 10 or more years longer than in the past, frankly the current most popular idea of working longer is not a terribly realistic expectation for all Boomers.
    • A few miscellaneous Boomer facts might add some food for thought for those involved in sales: Twenty-six percent of the US population are Boomers; California has the greatest number; Vermont the greatest concentration; one-third have college degrees; there are now more females than males; two-thirds are married; and the majority own a home.

    The inevitable sermon must now follow. It is expected by the loyal readers of this column and all those LTC specialists who I must honor because they also keep banging away at America’s largest unprotected risk. They do so because it is the right conversation to have to begin any and all insurance strategies—necessary for the economic health of an industrialized planet sharing a common fate and, based on the statistics outlined above, you probably have your own family personal story to drive you forward.  

    There are three chronic illness markets:

    1. Those five million households with enough income and assets to trade or leverage insurance dollars for catastrophic protection.
    2. The 34 million middle class households who require supplemental protection to remain private pay consumers. According to a recent USA Today article, “The average nursing home patient runs out of money within six months and must go on Medicaid.” This is where you must draw the line in the proverbial sand. Leave no customer behind this time! Supplemental protection is very affordable and combo policies with inherent guarantees is where you must dig in and give no ground in a sales conversation.
    3. The growing “Point of Need” market must be added to your practice. It is almost never too late to offer some form of help for those facing immediate care concerns.

    Each of these feeds on the other. Each of these crisscrosses the generations, leading forward and backward to new sales opportunities. None should exist in a sales vacuum. No conversation about the cost of care can be complete without a basic knowledge of all three, as well as the courage and skills to take action on all three!

     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: