Conseco Senior Health Insurance: A Strategic Problem of Reputation and Regulation

Abstract

In 2007 Conseco's CEO, C. James Prieur, faced a complicated set of problems with his company's long-term care (LTC) insurance subsidiary, Conseco Senior Health Insurance (CSHI). CSHI faced the threat of congressional hearings and an investigation by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, triggered by an unflattering New York Times article alleging that CSHI had an unusually large number of customer complaints and was denying legitimate claims. This threat came in addition to broader systemic problems, including the fact that the entire LTC industry was barely profitable. What little profitability existed was dependent on the goodwill of state insurance regulators, to whom the industry was highly beholden for approvals of rate increases to keep it afloat. Furthermore, CSHI had unique strategic challenges that could not be ignored: first, the expense of administering CSHI's uniquely heterogeneous set of policies put it at a disadvantage relative to the rest of the industry and made rate increases especially necessary; second, state regulators were negatively predisposed toward Conseco because of its notorious reputation and thus were often unwilling to grant rate increases; and finally, CSHI was dependent on capital infusions totaling more than $1 billion from its parent company, Conseco, for which Conseco had received no dividends in return. Faced with pressure from Conseco shareholders and the looming congressional investigations, what should Prieur do? Students will discuss the available options in the context of a long-term relationship between Conseco and state insurance regulators. Prieur's solution to this problem proved to be innovative for the industry and to have far-reaching consequences for CSHI's corporate structure.

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