As a profession we can hold our own when it comes to the ability to ask, “What if?” Perhaps the word malaise works best to describe our chosen market. There seems to be some speculation that we are on a great new venture. That indeed things have changed forever. However a consensus as to the trajectory of this alteration in goals or approach seems much more illusory. Let’s try on a few of the open conundrums out for consideration:
- Looking back at the death to birth ratio as far back as the U.S. Census has records, COVID has provided us with a new and possibly permanent reversal of our fate and fortune. For the first time, deaths outnumber births. It is not only the dramatic increase in mortality but a commensurate decrease in birth rates during the Pandemic. Isn’t it, after all, the capricious nature of our mortality and the responsibilities that accrue with new life that creates and sustains our fiduciary marching orders?
- In a recent informal conversation with a Senior Actuarial State Regulator, a conversation about the level of activity concerning new long term care or chronic illness filings, the question of product or benefit relief rose to the surface. It appears that, with the exception of chronic illness ADBRs on life policies, the cupboard is bare. Nothing new or pending portends and defines an acquiescence in our market condition that should not be conducive to a good night’s sleep.
- I recently got my own annual long term care policy review. As frequently reported in this column, at the dawn of TQ Comprehensive Options I was sufficiently brilliant to buy a 10 pay, lifetime benefit, five percent compound COLA with indemnity payments. It will currently pay $417.89 per day or $152,524.85 annually. Does this strike anyone as, at the very least, the faint whisper of an incentive to claim?
- “Careful what you wish for” could never be more significant than with the simmering pot of idealistic reform brewing in Washington State. As expected, Governor Inslee has signed two new bills into law amending the existing establishment of a new social insurance program. House Bill 1732 and House Bill 1733. Under Bill 1732, the implementation of the new mandatory payroll tax will now go into effect July 1, 2023. The adjustments meaning benefits will not be available until July 1, 2026. Vesting however can now be graded for those born before 1968. Under Bill 1732 those disabled Veterans, those with non-immigrant visas, and those with a permanent out of state residence may be exempted. My prayers are that there may yet be additional revisions before the legislative session comes to an end in March.
- Establishing a mandatory revenue funding mechanism constructed with required employee or employer payroll taxes, founded on no pre-x, with an initial premium rich social insurance trust fund placed into the hands of even hopefully well-meaning politicians struggling with Medicaid costs in any state is precarious at best.
- Be alarmed, actually be very alarmed. There is a large white flag waving in the Pacific breeze. Acknowledged defeat in the face of overwhelming odds is acceptable even to my hard head. However, holding in my right hand my paid up potentially multi-million dollar policy demonstrates that our capitulation may be premature.
That empty flag is not the birth of answers, it is a graveyard of solutions.
Other than that I have no opinion on the subject