While crisis management has seemed to become the new “business-as-usual” for the world, the newest elements are blatant attempts by our leaders and the media to stampede us. They want us to panic. While panic might serve their purposes (political backlash and selling papers, respectively), it’s rarely good for the rest of us.
The debt ceiling “crisis”, the fiscal cliff, sequestration, the U.S. debt downgrade, Social Security and Medicare cuts, layoffs of security workers (air traffic controllers, TSAs, border guards), etc., etc. And those are the panic buttons that have been pressed in just the last few months. While most have turned out to be smoke and mirrors rather than true crises, the powers-that-be hope we’ll react rashly, loudly and quickly. (Call your Congressperson! Read all about it!)
Obamacare is another example: “It’ll put brokers out of business,” “It’s the end of the brokerage business as we know it,” “Everything will move to the exchanges”. Well, the smoke is clearing, and today, there are two camps of rationale thought. First, we can take advantage of the opportunities the changes present (see private exchanges, defined contribution, etc.). Second, we can shift our business (see voluntary sales, integrated core/voluntary offerings, etc.) and watch and wait. Both camps are reacting rationally, although not all will succeed. But, only the panicked will surely lose.
So now, well into our PPACA transition, how are we doing? In Eastbridge’s year-end Voluntary Industry Confidence Index, 90 percent of respondents said they expect their voluntary sales to grow over the next 12 months. Brokers cited higher expected participation rates and a strong showing in new group growth (reaching the highest level ever recorded in this survey).
Of all brokers in 2012, only 3.8 percent had a drop in sales they believe is in some way related to health reform. Eighty-eight percent of respondents believe that growth in new groups will help their 2013 sales, while only 1 percent of respondents expect a decrease in their number of new groups.
Brokers are optimistic, not just opportunistic. Whether they’re plotting new ventures or are doubling down on their voluntary business, clearly, most brokers are not panicking. Despite the chatter, they’re doing fine, thank you.