DALLAS — Woke up a little fuzzy in a hotel room this morning, somehow managed to start that little, single-cup coffee maker and turned on the television. Over the next 10 minutes or so, at least three different insurance company ads flashed across the screen.

Maybe that's been going on for a while now and I'm just late to this party. (We took a chance late last year and canceled cable right around the holidays. We wanted to find out if a combination of all the video-streaming services would work for us instead. Jury's still out….)

At any rate, as the UnitedHealth ad wrapped up and Ann Curry started talking to Herman Cain, it occurred to me this pharmaceutical direct-to-consumer approach might look like some kind of threat to the traditional broker role, and I wondered if maybe, just maybe, carriers really are trying to circumvent brokers altogether.

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