Not-So-Long Term Care

On the news this a.m. there was a segment regarding mounting problems with people collecting on the benefits of Long Term Care Insurance that they have paid premiums on for years and now have a hard time collecting or even getting the benefits they paid for. The insurance companies spokespeople replied, “Many of our companies didn’t realize how expensive it would be to carry this kind of insurance”.

EXCUSE ME: That’s what actuaries are for. As the old saying goes, they can tell you exactly how many people will die this year, or get sick, etc. They just can’t tell you who.

Funny, now that they can’t make the big bucks on investing the premiums the insured pay, they are giving the payees the run around claiming some of the same dodges that the Mortgage companies did (probably still do). “We didn’t get the faxes. We lost the overnight package you sent. You missed filling in line 126 on form 36, Etc. Or … the person is not sick enough to qualify … or you didn’t pay enough in premiums so we now have to have you pay more or co pay”.

In the old days, fire insurance was when your neighbors helped you rebuild (and of course you helped them rebuild). It was when extended families took care of each other. It was when we trusted those we knew, not some huge financial institution that was too big to fail and who could care more for a hill of beans than us. Back in the 1960’s my dad noted that during the depression most folks bought staples “on account” at their corner grocer. It worked because they were all neighbors anad would pay at some point when they could. Likewise the grocer would manage on account, as well. Then my dad offered, “Try walking into your local Krogers/Food Lion and asking them to do that for you.”

Unfortunately,(n a global, technologically connected and humanly disconnected world), turning back the clock is probably not possible, but making realistic promises based on realistic projections is possible and there must be a way to do it. A great little book called “The Art of The Long View” published twenty or so years ago, talked about how Royal Dutch Shell not only weathered the 1970s energy crisis but did well throughout it. The reason … when they market planned they had three scenarios: A – The best case. B – the middle case. C-The worst Case. When things changed all they had to do was put the appropriate alternate plan into place. I worked with Union Oil management at that time and I can tell you, they never saw the OPEC embargo coming and had no plan in place.

We need more people (individuals, businesses and government) taking The Long View.