Long Term Care Is A Women’s Issue…Or Is It?
Lately, the notion that Long Term Care is a women’s issue has been generating a lot of buzz, but the truth is, our industry has been tugging at this thread for years. In my possession are studies, statistics, articles and agent presentations dating back to 2007 and I’m certain I could dig deeper.
Statics are the scaffolding upon which out Long Term Care house was built. I could choose from literally hundreds, but let’s cite just a few so we speak a common tongue:
• A healthy 65-year-old woman has a 67% chance of living to 90 and a 38% chance of living to 95. In general, women live about five years longer than men, and have 10 times the chance of reaching 85.
• 80% of Nursing Home admissions are women
• The average age at admission for these women is 82.
• At that age, most of these women are single. Women older than 75 are much less likely to be married than men (38%-74%).
• Women are confined 50% longer than men.
• 65% of all claims are paid to women.
• Women are more likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s (which is the claims leader in frequency, length and dollars).
• Women provide 60% to 75% of all informal (unpaid) care, which leads to depression, illness and loss of lifetime earnings and future Social Security benefits.
It’s an extremely challenging portrait, is it not? One LIMRA article suggests that women lag behind men in retirement planning for any number of reasons, including choice of more flexible career roles and lack of financial literacy (sigh) – as if financially literate men are knocking down doors for Long Term Care insurance.
Never have innocuous powder-blue and bubblegum-pink data points had such dire consequences as when plotting “gender-distinct pricing.” But the trends had become too obvious to ignore. Besides, as one actuary put it, “We’ve always had gender-based rates: We just blended them here in the home office before the ratebook reached the field.”
In other words, men have been subsidizing women for a long time. The companies depended on receiving and issuing a certain ratio of male-to-female applicants, and all was right with the world. But what if this decade-long “LTC is a women’s issue” campaign really took off? What if one company received an extraordinarily high number of female applicants? They are costlier claimants who don’t pay the premiums they should. Without enough men to balance them out, it could topple the ship.
Enter gender-based rates: men pay what men cost, and women pay that women cost. No longer does it matter how many men or women apple (and are issued). Neither can upset the balance of the ship. For this reason, gender-distinct pricing is said to provide greater protection against the need for potential rate increase.
It’s A Family Issue
In the end, of course, I’m not an actuary. It’s easy for me to read pop-culture articles and throw pot shots from the gallery. However, statistics only take us so far. I’d like to go beyond the numbers, or “beyond dollars” to use the expression Genworth coins in their landmark report.
I’d like to re-visit and enrich the original premise: Is Long Term Care a women’s issue?” Respectfully, I would suggest it is much more.
First, our language should evolve from that of the 1970’s. Rather than varying between “compartmentalized” and “holistic” psychobabble, we could speak directly by choosing language appealing to “primary earners” versus “caregivers” (regardless of sex). The former is concerned with keeping his or her financial commitments into retirement, while the latter relies on the income of the former to provide for the day-to-day needs of the family.
In both cases, a sales is impossible if love for others is not present.
Just as importantly, if you’ve ever provided care, then you know that Mom’s extended care is not her “issue” alone. It cuts a swath through the family like a tornado cutting through a small town. It sweeps to Dad. It becomes Daughter’s issue and Son’s issue. Siblings who don’t actively participate in the caregiving or the funding still participates by stirring up resentment that lingers for years and helps to rip the family apart. Caregivers miss time with their own families – spouses and children of any age. (“Beyond Dollars” identifies them as secondary and tertiary caregivers).
So you see, our premise falls to live up to the hype. Long Term Care is not a women’s issue – it’s an everybody issue. Extended care impacts everyone. Not only has this been true in the past, but it will become more pronounced as longevity between the genders equalizes. Our messaging must reflect this reality or risk alienating significant markets.
Abe Glickman, LTCA, LTCP
Member: AALTCI, NAHU, NAIFA, SOA
Abe Glickman Insurance Group
Toll-Free Phone: 877-298-5824
“It is better to create a plan 10 years too soon than one day too late.”
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