That's LIFE: Insurance Group Seeks '3-Hanky Anecdotes'

Last Updated Jan 14, 2010 1:28 PM EST

Just when you thought the health care debate had reached its nadir, along comes the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE for short), asking for entries for its 2010 real LIFE stories awards program.

According to its sky blue and lime green colored website, LIFE is a non-profit organization "devoted to education." But its board of directors is loaded with insurance and former insurance executives and, "education" is often synonymous with lobbying, if not Congress, then the public.

LIFE's contest is strictly for "insurance agents and advisors," who are supposed to explain how life, disability, long-term care and health insurance make a difference in people's lives.

Even National Underwriter, hardly a harsh critic of the insurance industry, describes the contest as "LIFE Seeks 3-Hanky Anecdotes," and in its intro to the contest, LIFE lives up to its reputation. "I felt like an unknown hand had been placed on my shoulder," writes LIFE's communications consultant. And on a dark and stormy night, too!

Writing like this carries its own reward, but will also be rewarded by the Foundation. The four winning stories will appear in Newsweek, even if it's in an advertiser paid section, and the winners get an all-expense-paid trip to an award dinner in Seattle.

Perhaps LIFE should open its contest to a larger group: the 45 million Americans who don't have health insurance and won't get a free trip to Seattle. They could undoubtedly tell equally heartbreaking and moving stories about children who couldn't get health care, the perils of emergency rooms, and the long wait for free clinics.

  • Ed Leefeldt

    Ed Leefeldt is an award-winning investigative and business journalist who has worked for Reuters, Bloomberg and Dow Jones, and contributed to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. He is also the author of The Woman Who Rode the Wind, a novel about early flight.