Inside Track

Weathering Changes

Weathering Changes

By Eric P. Harding

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about transitions. Maybe my musings are brought about by the advent of a new school year; my kids are gearing up for a return to in-person instruction as I’m writing this, and the excitement is palpable. (My younger son is starting at a new school this year and has totally reimagined his aesthetic; would that we adults could pull off such daring feats.) Or it could be that I’m preoccupied with transitions because as a society, we are resuming some of the activities of a pre-COVID lifestyle … even as we strap in for another wave—delta? lambda?—of this pernicious virus.

No matter the root cause, this mental meandering on metamorphosis has me feeling a bit wistful. And when I’m feeling this way, I like to sit under the pergola on my back patio and watch the clouds roll by.

Oh, did I not mention that I finished the pergola? The pergola that I started back at the beginning of the summer? The pergola that chewed up my weekends (and my wallet)? The selfsame pergola that occupied my thoughts while on vacation in northern Michigan because I wasn’t able to complete it before departing?

Reader, it’s done. And I’m very happy with the results.

I can sit on my swing under the neatly arranged crossbeams and listen to the birds in the trees overhead. We’re training grapevines to climb the four front posts; the thought of our kids’ kids enjoying those grapes one day brings me great joy. And the lights that we’ve draped over the beams twinkle in the twilight just so.

But if I’m being utterly truthful, the project is not yet completely finished. See, the structure is up, and it’s sound, but it needs to be sanded and stained to protect it from the elements.

I’ve transitioned, in a way, from one project to another. I guess the 20th-century philosopher was right when he said, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

This issue’s features all concern themselves with life’s transitions as well.

In “Realigning LTCI—Private Long-Term Care Insurance and the Health Care Continuum” (page 16), author Paul Forte considers how we position long-term care insurance. At its core, LTCI can be thought of as a transition product—one to bridge the gap between an episode of acute health care needs and the resumption of everyday life. It’s puzzling, then, that LTCI has become marketed primarily as a wealth-preservation tool. Forte makes the case for rethinking how we view LTCI—to realign it within the realm of health care.

As an insurance policyholder, you might decide to take an action that the insurance company would rather you didn’t—cancel a policy, for example—or be hesitant to follow through on an impulse to invest more money, say. Typically, a company might use a human-to-human touchpoint to try to persuade you to take (or not take) a particular action. Now, though, the advent of natural language chatbots allows insurance companies to try to get you to change your mind … all without you talking to a single person. Indeed, the transition from human-based to AI-based customer support continues apace. Read more in “A Robot That Can Change Your Mind” (page 28).

I hope you enjoy this issue—and that my rhetorical transitions didn’t give you whiplash.

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