John O'Connor, VP, Associate Publisher, Editorial Director

So who are the nation’s most powerful advocates for better long-term care funding?

The obvious choices might be Mark Parkinson and Katie Smith Sloan. They run the industry’s two largest trade groups.

Each certainly knows a thing or two about financial support for long-term care. Or more to the point, the lack of it.

But in her own way, an outsider sleeper candidate might be just as powerful. I’m referring of course to Suze Orman.

Who’s that, you say? Well, she’s not running a major association. But she has made a few notable accomplishments.

For starters, she’s a financial advisor, author and podcast host. She became a bit of a household name with the Suze Orman Show, which aired on CNBC from 2002-2015. Oh, and she’s written 10 consecutive New York Times best sellers on personal finance.

So what makes her a leading voice for better long-term care payments?

First is her reach. Millions and millions of people rely on her for commonsense guidance on money matters.

Second is her retirement planning message. One of its key elements happens to be support for private long-term care insurance.

“Yes, it is expensive. But the annual premium is likely no more than the current cost of one or two months of needing care at home, or in a managed care facility,” she wrote in a recent e-blast.

She also recommends putting more savings into retirement accounts and delaying Social Security payments. Those suggestions are spot on. But they affect long-term care operators in a more peripheral way.

As for more private insurance money? Direct hit!

Frankly, I’m a bit surprised that insurers who still sell the product and facilities that benefit from its existence haven’t adopted similar messaging.

As she noted, insurance is not cheap. Especially for those who put off buying it until their 60’s or later. Still, it’s a relative bargain. At least when compared to the cost of a nursing home stay. In some markets, that can easily surpass $100,000 in less than a year.

To be sure, insurance is not for everyone. The poor – who can’t afford policies anyway – must take their chances with Medicaid-covered care. The well-heeled can self-insure. But that still leaves many millions more who sure could benefit from insurance-paid care.

Of course, whoever coined the phrase “let the buyer beware” was probably on the business end of a coverage denial. So proceeding with caution and reading the fine print is something prospective policy buyers should do.

Still and all, insurance can be a great deal for consumers. As well as the skilled care operators who will soon be serving so many of them.

John O’Connor is editorial director for McKnight’s.

Opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News columns are not necessarily those of McKnight’s.