Perhaps you saw the Time magazine cover, featuring acherubic baby and the caption, “This baby could live to be 142years old—Dispatches from the frontier of longevity.” The articlesdescribe several of the advances being made in extending the humanlife span well beyond the three score and 10 cited in Psalm 90.

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The article got me thinking about the potential impacts ofextended life spans on benefits. In today's world, we've begun toidentify life cycle needs of employees and their families. We inthe voluntary business have been doing this in enrollment meetingsfor many years.

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Technology hasn't changed the messages, just refined them.Voluntary enrollment systems and exchange systems are being builtwith life cycle logic in them. In the end, people with youngfamilies tend to need lots of term life insurance; peopleapproaching retirement are in need of asset preservation productslike long-term care and critical illness, and so on. What will ourmessaging be, though, in the world of a life expectancy at birthnearly double today's?

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Today's millennials are putting off such decisions (and triggersfor benefit needs) as marriage, home purchase and raising a family.In the future, it's likely that the waiting period betweeneducation and commitment will continue to increase. Surely accidentcoverage will be more emphasized than today, since most diseaseswill be cured or prevented by enhanced treatments in the future andthe greatest perceived risk to good health will be accidents. Infact, life insurance rates will probably approach today's AD&Drates into a person's 40s and it will hardly make sense to discuss“permanent” life insurance until a person is 50 or so.

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Plus, the entire concept of retirement is likely to change, aspeople begin to experience multiple careers. Government benefitslike Medicare and Social Security will change radically. Longerlife expectancy will mean these programs will need to be able topay benefits for decades more than their current designanticipates. Insured benefits will need to change as well.Disability benefits based on retirement at age 65 with reducedbenefits for those working after age 65 will become obsolete. Grouplife insurance reduction schedules will be, again, obsolete. Forretirement planning, products in the immediate annuity family needto be revised.

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But the biggest change will be the expectations and attitudes ofindividuals. While we don't need to start planning benefit productsthat provide 142 years of benefits quite yet, the probability ishigh that our current portfolio will change significantly as welook forward, as will our generational messages to employees duringenrollment.

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