The Power Of Word Association

Some things naturally go together. When we think of one, we automatically think of the other. Let’s take food, for example. Peanut butter and jelly are a winning combination. From eggs and bacon to french fries and catsup, spaghetti and meatballs to salt and pepper, the list of perfect food combinations are numerous. Taking the dynamic duo of words beyond food, I immediately think of high and dry, thick and thin, knife and fork, ladies and gentlemen, peace and quiet, bubbles and bath, and rock and roll (my personal favorite). I’m sure you get the idea. Unfortunately, there are also negative word pairings: pretty and ugly, clean and dirty, fun and boring. Here, a positive word is paired with a negative word and together, they create dissonance—two ideas not in harmony with one another. Another perfect example of a negative word pairing: Long term care and nursing home. Yes, I said it.

Long term care and nursing homes have a negative connotation as a word pairing. Mention long term care and most people will associate the term with a nursing home setting. As most of us know, care at home is the predominant setting when it comes to long term care needs, followed by assisted living, and lastly nursing homes. Similarly, when most people discuss long term care, it’s thought of in terms of being an insurance policy. Long term care is simply the need for care that is expected to last for 90 days or longer because someone can’t perform life’s everyday activities of living on their own or they are challenged by a cognitive impairment. It could just as easily apply to someone who underwent surgery and requires a prolonged period of recovery as it could mean increased care as we grow older. I would say that a more accurate and holistic view of long term care is that it’s a lifestyle and not a specific setting or an insurance policy.

For just a moment, picture what it would look like if you needed long term care. Where are you? How is your care being received? Who are you surrounded by? When we think about long term care we are envisioning a lifestyle for ourselves or loved ones, and we want to make sure it plays out exactly as we see it whether it be tomorrow or 20-30 years from now.

Think about every important decision you’ve made so far in your life: Where you decided to go to college, what type of career you chose to pursue, who you married, where you decided to work, if you wanted to have children, and where you chose to live. These were life-changing decisions. Did you let someone else make those decisions for you? No, of course not. So, why would you let someone else make the decision as to how and where you will receive care?

When we talk about long term care or present long term care as part of a holistic plan, there are four positive words that should be used in every conversation: Effective, efficient, access, and control. Each of these words are powerful when it comes to positioning long term care solutions and preserving a lifestyle. Ask anyone who is savvy with their money and they will tell you there are three things that are important: Preservation of capital, effective and efficient use of their assets, and maintaining access and control over both their money and the situation. We don’t want someone else controlling our money or making our decisions. Now, let’s use those four positive words.

We’ve all heard people say that, in the event of a long term care event, they are going to pay for their care out of pocket (because they believe it’s never going to happen to them). Your reply, “I can see you’ve given this some thought. That could be an effective plan. My compliments to you since most people don’t have a plan. But is it the most efficient plan? Additionally, you may have the money to self-fund a long term care event, but do you maintain access and control not only of your money but over your entire lifestyle?” Money does not mean access and control. We are talking about access to people and services and the ability to control the setting in which those services are provided.

So, while money is important and you could pay for this care on your own, I can show you a more effective way to create greater efficiency. In addition, you can make this happen while maintaining access and control over your money and care and solving for an unlimited and unfunded liability.”

With asset based long term care protection, you can effectively create a solution that more efficiently covers the costs associated with a long term care event. Should the client never need long term care, their money will pass to their estate and beneficiaries, in some situations tax free. This allows all parties to maintain access and control over their dollars whether it be for long term care or in the form of a death benefit. Asset based long term care can be framed in these terms for you—you either use it, you use it, or you use it. Live, quit, or die, asset based long term care is an effective means of creating greater efficiency while maintaining access and control of your money and care.

Asset based long term care solutions provide individuals and couples with options to help them protect against the threat of long term care expenses—and still provide value if care is never needed. By using the time-tested products of life insurance and annuities as their foundation, asset based long term care may help prepare for concerns such as living a long life, covering long term care costs, helping with asset accumulation, or assisting with wealth transfer. An asset based long term care solution can offer premiums that never increase, benefits even if long term care is never needed, and flexibility of either a single or two-person contract.

As you live and as you grow older, your chances for needing long term care increase and an asset based long term care policy will provide you with long term care benefits, potentially for your remaining lifetime. If you quit and decide to surrender the policy, a cash value has accumulated that can be returned to you. Finally, if you die, an asset based life insurance policy will pay a death benefit to your loved ones or to your estate. With an asset based solution, you create a win-win-win scenario.

So, when it comes to word associations, let’s change the paradigm. From now on, if I say, “long term care,” no longer should your clients immediately think of “nursing homes.” No more should long term care be synonymous with an insurance policy or a certain setting. Long term care does not translate to care in a nursing home, care in an assisted living facility, or, for that matter, care at home. Through each of our daily conversations, whether it be with distribution partners, existing clients, prospects, or care providers, we have an opportunity to work together and change a negative stereotype while creating a new definition and a new image of long term care.

Long term care is a lifestyle, and today’s solutions are effective and efficient at creating the ability for the policyholder and their family to maintain access and control.

My sincere thanks and gratitude to my colleagues Michelle Prather and Kevin Riley of OneAmerica. They, unknowingly, provided inspiration for this article. I’m always listening to this powerful duo. We’re better together.

Time for some pizza and beer, wine and cheese, margaritas and chips.

Jeff L. Levin is a divisional vice president with OneAmerica Care Solutions ILFS, responsible for advancing growth of the Care Solutions product line including life and annuity asset-based long term care products. He leads a team of Care Solutions regional sales directors and supports key business relationships. He is a 25 year veteran of the long term care industry.