As 2011 approaches, many trade magazines (National Underwriter among them) will be pursuing the time-honored tradition of forecasting industry trends for the year ahead. It’s a worthwhile exercise, but one often forgotten by editors by the time the next issue goes to press.
That’s too bad, because then readers don’t learn whether the predictions proved accurate. To help close this unfortunate gap in coverage, I revisited 2010 forecasts published in NU. Here’s a sampling.
In February, NU reported that healthcare reform is “on life support” because the Congressional leadership didn’t have the votes to push a bill through. Prospects for overhaul of the healthcare system, already dim in the eyes of many observers because of GOP opposition, sank further after the election of Republican Scott Brown to fill the Senate seat in Massachusetts vacated by Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy.
In tune with the negative outlook on healthcare, former Editor-in-Chief Steve Piontek speculated that whatever legislation passed was “likely” to impose as many new regulations on health insurers as contained under initial proposals. And he suggested the companies would not secure the millions of new customers that a comprehensive bill would provide.
But a comprehensive bill we got–and more than many producers bargained for.
Turning to the estate tax, AALU Director of Policy and Public Affairs Sarah Spear speculated in our January 4 edition–as have numerous other observers during the year past–that Congress would likely reinstate the estate tax at 2009 levels, retroactively applying the $3.5 million per person estate tax exemption and the 45% top tax rate for that year to January 1, 2010.
Alas, we’re still waiting with baited breadth for this happen. In our Nov. 8 edition, we learned that a compromise under the new GOP-led Congress appears likely; and that, yes, an extension of the 2009 estate tax regime remains a distinct possibility–for next year.
To be sure, some forecasts have panned out. Many advisors interviewed for our January 4 “Year Ahead” feature predicted continuing rises in policy premiums, particularly for term contracts. Thus, it was no surprise when Donna Kinnaird, president of Swiss Re Life & Health America Inc., and an expert on term life pricing, noted in an October Q&A with NU Editor-in-Chief Bill Coffin that term premiums rose on average 1% in 2010 and were up 6-7% since 2009 Further rises, she said, should be expected.