Saturday, October 5, 2013

Heres' My Story

I am past my 65th birthday and while I have Medicare, I still need some sort of supplemental insurance. So, the search is on for the most (and best) coverage I can get.
“No names please”. Company #1 quoted me $80.00 more per month than Company #2. I have a list of other companies whose names I never heard of; so I ignored them and compared the differences between Company #1 and Company #2.
While Company #1 wants more upfront money, the premium cost, than Company #2, their co-pays are overall a lot lower than Company #2 (ex. The out of pocket for me if I need an ambulance with Company #1, is $125.00 less than what they would be with Company #2. Likewise, Company #1 has no deductible for prescription drugs and Company #2 does.)
Ok! Sad to say I am getting old, and while for so many years I paid for medical insurance, I could have done without, I have to look at the coming years as payback time for all those premiums I paid and never took advantage of.
My decision was made, I went with Company #1. Pay more upfront and avoid getting hit with all of the (extras) I would have to pay Company #2.
What’s all this got to do with Funeral Service? People are living longer and while a common fear with “old” people had always been “out living their money” this is now a reality for many. And, the cost of what someone wants and what they can afford regarding funeral services comes well behind what it’s going to cost to live.
Now here’s the rub! Funeral Directors are people too, they want everything everyone else wants. Hence, rising funeral costs.

Basically, no one wants to die. Alright, there are a few and they usually want company when they go, so we have Suicide Bombers and Looney’s that fly airplanes into buildings. Fortunately, there aren’t many.
Anyway, let’s look at funeral costs. The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), tells us that in 1960 the average cost of a funeral was $780.00 and in 2012 (52 years later) it was $7,075. What I can’t tell you is, are these figures correct. What I can tell you is, in 1965 I was making $6500.00. a year. I paid my own medical insurance (family plan) about $100.00 a month. Was this coverage enough? I guess it was, it paid for the hospital and doctor to bring my two daughters into this world. After taxes and insurance, I was supporting a family of 4 with $5000.00 a year. Is the story any different today? Yes and No! Why! yes and no? Because, first of all, those people who work (sometimes) inside the beltway (our elected officials, who care more about themselves but will swear they put their constituents needs above their own) are not listening to us. Some people, “I’m one of them” call this greed. And second, that funeral director who is fighting for his own survival in a very unstable economy.
What can we do? Regarding our elected officials, short of a revolution, not much. We elected them and I guess we’re stuck with them.
Regarding funeral directors, pray that more of them begin to lower prices
(Yes, Virginia!) There are a few around that are actually doing just that. And, start expanding on services that require little or no out of pocket expense. Like what? Try expanding viewing hours! And don’t use the excuse that the families you serve don’t want it. Fifty years ago your fathers and grand-fathers started nibbling away at calling hours. Mostly, I think they wanted to be home in time to watch “I love Lucy” In 1960 most funeral homes were offering calling hours from 11 AM to 11 PM and viewing was anywhere from 2 to 3 days. And, consider this: The large firms, the ones with multiple locations and may even be traded on the stock exchange, can’t do this as easily because they have to pay an employee to be at the funeral home during those hours. You’re just missing out on a TV show that you can catch later. What else can you do that will help your families and hopefully your bottom line? Stop pushing death notices that cost money and don’t put any in your pocket. Who reads these death notices in the newspaper anyway? Funeral directors, they want to know what the competition is doing and real estate brokers are checking to see what properties may be coming up on the market.
What else can you do? Think about the cost of embalming and allied services. If a family is opting for a 2 day viewing and a better casket than they would buy for a direct cremation this seems to be a small price to pay.
With all that said, think about all of those services you provide and would price adjustments be in order?
The idea is to make yourself more appealing to the families you serve, so they want to use you rather than because they have to.


1 comment:

  1. This has been interesting article. I do not like thinking about death very often. If I had the choice I would be happy to live forever. I am always surprised by the cost of funeral expenses. You would think that the grieving family could griev in peace without having to worry about the cost of money of losing their loved one. On the other hand, people who work at funeral homes need to make a living as well.