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Call Me a Pollyanna But Im No Ostrich

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Over the past few months, I have seen an unprecedented number of doomsday rhetoric in the trade and mainstream media.

SEC’s 151A spells an end to the independent distribution channel. PPACA spells an end to the independent health insurance agent, to long term care insurance, to Medicare Advantage.

(OK, that last one, about Medicare, was ours.)

When you take a step back and look at the big picture – not just in the insurance industry, but as a whole – things look even worse. While we’re not yet technically in a double dip recession, we appear to be headed in that direction. The modest job growth we saw this past spring seemed to be a product of 411,000 temporary Census positions. According to a July 2post on Time magazine’s Curious Capitalist blog, 1 million Americans simply stopped looking for jobs in June, removing them from the unemployment rolls, but not from unemployment. Consumer confidence is dropping at the fastest rate in 15 years. Housing prices started to recover, then slumped again.

Phew! I want to take a nap just thinking about all of it.

Yet it’s too easy to get lost in all of this. It would be ideal if I could vow to never read another news article again. As the editor of a national business-to-business publication, that would be a silly vow indeed. So instead, I keep this in mind: Until things actually fall apart, until I lose my job and then can’t find any work and fail to have enough money for groceries and get evicted and live on the streets – I’m not going to worry about all that.

That’s not to say I won’t prepare. I’m no ostrich. But it’s too easy to whip myself into a frenzy about the downward spiral that I haven’t even yet found myself in.

And here’s the point at which I relate this all back to you. Whether health care reform means no more agent, or regulations mean no more insurance, or housing prices slumping mean no more civilized society – I don’t know. Neither do you. The best course of action, I’ve heard, is preparing for the worst while putting one foot in front of the other. This month, we explore the benefits market with the results of our 2010 Employee Benefits Market Study, and our associate editor, Heather Trese, poses the question to which I alluded earlier: Is Medicare Advantage undergoing a transformation for the worse?

But don’t let all that deter your progress. If you’re employed today, and selling policies, the best you can do is keep moving forward. Your positivity and confidence will be rewarded tenfold once things do look up.

And I’m no economist, but I believe they will.


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