Reflections on a Year of Podcasts
By John Hebig
Long-Term Care News, April 2021
Over the past year I have had the privilege of being the host of the Society of Actuaries’ (SOA’s) Long-Term Care (LTC) Insurance section podcast. In that capacity, I have been able to connect with a variety of experts to talk about how people are working to improve the industry in a range of different ways.
A Look Backward
A few of the discussions I had looked at the industry retrospectively. They provided a great overview of how the LTC industry got to where it is today.
Steve Brogan and Nolan Tully of Faegre Drinker provided the history of LTC rate increase litigation. They summarized how such litigation has evolved over time and grouped the history of litigation into three distinct eras. Steve and Nolan also provided insight into what policy features may increase the likelihood of litigation in a future LTC rate increase. They did caution that it is difficult to determine the likelihood of a rate increase filing resulting in litigation and that the risk for litigation always exists.
Later in the year I spoke with Al Schmitz of Milliman, who walked through the features of combination products and how they have evolved over time. In addition, he discussed why policyholders may purchase a combination product over standalone coverage and how policyholders can go about determining which product may be best for them. I found Al’s summary of the differences in benefits for various forms of coverage from the perspective of the policyholder rather than that of the insurer to be interesting.
Finally, during a conversation with Lynn Manchester of LTCG, we discussed the recent updates to the NAIC LTC experience reporting forms. She summarized recent changes to the forms and provided additional background on why the changes were needed. She also went into detail about how the industry has used experience reporting forms in ways that may not have always aligned with their original purpose.
A Look Forward
The other conversations that I had over the past year focused on looking forward in the industry. I found these discussions especially interesting as they provided insights on how people are attempting to improve the services that the LTC industry provides.
Stephanie Moench of Oliver Wyman and Shawn Stender of Milliman discussed the current LTC market and hypothesized what a “Medicare for All” type of single-payer LTC coverage might look like. They compared this to systems in other countries to get a sense of the range of government-supported care that is possible. Stephanie and Shawn were able to provide a lot of detail on their visions for the future of long-term care social insurance and how the private insurance market would evolve with it as part of a thought-provoking discussion.
I found my conversation with Ron Hagleman of Ice Floe Consulting to be very entertaining, as anyone who has been fortunate enough to talk with Ron probably would. Ron was working on a survey of LTC producers to help determine what drives policyholders to purchase LTC coverage. He described his hope that the insights gained from this survey will help carriers create products that best meet the needs and desires of policyholders. While sales of standalone coverage have been declining for years, I found Ron’s efforts admirable as he is working to keep meaningful LTC coverage available in the market.
My discussion with Claude Thau centered around a totally new topic for me: “brain fitness training,” which comprises a collection of online exercises. Claude supported the use of such training as a way to keep people living more independent lives by improving their brain function in multiple ways. He also explained how brain fitness training exercises differ from a daily sudoku or crossword puzzle, which I found enlightening.
Earlier this year, Robert Eaton and Missy Gordon of Milliman provided a summary of their recent research related to emerging LTC population management strategies. Using predictive analytics, they have been exploring new methods of population management to avoid or limit future claims. By leveraging third-party data and information that is not typically at the disposal of LTC carriers, they are working to identify insureds who would most likely benefit from interventions to avoid a claim in the near future. I found this conversation to be a great example of a win-win for the industry and its policyholders.
Finally, Marie Kolendo, of the Alzheimer’s Association, and I had a great conversation related to Alzheimer’s disease. We discussed what causes Alzheimer’s and how its impact manifests over time. Marie then made a point of discussing how the effects of the disease directly impact the LTC industry. She summarized the research that is being done and why finding a cure for the disease has been so difficult. I found this conversation to be one of the highlights of the past year as Marie and I were able to discuss so much on a topic that is important for me to understand on both a professional and personal level given the pervasiveness of the disease throughout our communities.
I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to be the SOA’s LTC section podcast host for this first year and am looking forward to continuing to learn from others in the industry going forward. Over the next year I will continue to reach out to industry experts from as wide a range of backgrounds as possible within the LTC community. I encourage anyone with ideas for speakers or topics for future podcasts to contact me. Please visit the LTC Insurance section resources page to find all the podcasts recorded to date.
Statements of fact and opinions expressed herein are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Society of Actuaries, the editors, or the respective authors’ employers.
John Hebig, FSA, MAAA, is the host of the SOA’s LTC section podcast and a consulting actuary with Milliman. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org