Now that I’m (mostly) recovered from last week’s Benefits Selling Expo—our biggest, by the way, with more than a 1,000 people crowded into the Marriott Marina in San Diego—I’m struck by a couple of things.
One, just how big a deal next year is. I know that almost sounds naive, but we’ve been talking about this legislation for so long that it’s almost become this vague, esoteric threat that’s always seemed to linger at the periphery, threatening, to be sure, but so far out there that it’s exact impact on our day-to-day lives has been hard to quantify. But now that it’s almost here, it’s seems more overbearing than ever before.
And on that note, the second thing that still gnawing at me after talking to dozens of brokers last week is just how little time we have left. Enrollment in the exchanges kicks off in October—talk about your trick or treats. That gives us less than five months to get our (stuff) together.
Which brings me to the big question on everyone’s lips at this year’s show: Will the feds (and by extension the states) actually hold to that October deadline? Everyone seems divided and that scares me more than an IRS mandate investigator (or whatever they’re gonna be called). Because the uncertainty we’ve been operating under for the past three years has been bad enough, and we simply can’t go on like this.
Our first big headliner, Rick Santorum, argued passionately against accepting Obamacare, as if we had any other option. And while I might agree with him in spirit, in this case, he’s dead wrong.
Sure, you can write all the letters you want, or even stand in some picket line (although whose office you’d march in front of exactly is beyond me), but at the end of the day it’s not like we can secede from the union. And you’re only hurting yourself by stubbornly sticking your head in the sand. Because I can guarantee you that your competition isn’t.
The carriers are already on board, like it or not, so you can bet they won’t be pushing to delay the opening of the exchanges. They actually stand to get more business. So without their deep pockets and deeper lobbying benches, regulators have no motivation whatsoever to delay the inevitable. And that’s why I’m confident the October deadline will stand. Face it, there will be no reprieve.
Santorum meant well, and we should voice our opposition as loudly as we can, if for no other reason than to clear our own collective conscience. But at the end of the day—or in this case, summer—we’d be foolish not to prepare ourselves for an entirely new marketplace.