SCOTTSDALE — I always think each year could be our last.
And not in some B movie way where navigators have replaced brokers overnight like bureaucratic pod people. And certainly not because single payer’s swept the land with free health care and cell phones for all, dusting us all off in to obscurity.
Do you ever think we’ve been dreading health care reform for so long that maybe we don’t know how to act if it isn’t the end of the world?
The carriers are doing pretty well for themselves. Each quarterly report shows the big players racking up great numbers. Hell, they’re doing so well, they’re suddenly talking about buying each other again.
The brokers — despite all the requisite lamentations — are hardly out of work either. One told me last night that he hasn’t worked this hard since his first year in the business. It didn’t dawn on me until later — after several more rounds of drinks — to ask why that shouldn’t be the case. Aren’t we all essentially rebuilding? (at least the ones who plan to stick around).
Of course there’s the lingering threat of technology too, as if Zenefits will give birth to Skynet any day, threatening to replace every broker with an automaton capable of selling, enrolling and filing in the blink of an eye.
We’ve been warning against the rise of the machines for years, as well. But it wasn’t until this year that we’ve started see some progress on the front. But, again, as far as I’m concerned, brokers still emerge as the most valuable component of that equation. Technology is a fantastic tool, no doubt, but it's still just that.
And if employers decide tomorrow to stop offering health insurance — in the worst of worst-case scenarios — brokers will simply have a different market. And the’ll have to adjust accordingly. We’re already seeing that.
So I’ve finally come to accept that while it might not be our last year together, change is coming. We’d all love to keep that at bay, and fight for the status quo because its familiar, and comfortable. But, as Tolstoy said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
On a related side note, last night I had the honor of chatting with — and honoring — some of our Broker Innovation Lab partners and contributors. I couldn’t be more proud and impressed by these survivors and supporters, and walked away from the reception a little more hopeful than when I arrived.