As the Chinese curse goes, “May you live in interesting times,” and 2010 has been interesting indeed for the life and health industry.
The passage of both the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as well as the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act have rattled many industry professionals, with the promise of unwelcome surprises to come as the reform packages are implemented in the near future. Meanwhile, the economy creeps along, with experts suggesting that the lingering effects of the Great Recession may not end until 2014. Individual life numbers are at a 50-year low, and the retirement age looks to increase to nearly 70. And a sudden, unforeseen crisis over the use of retained asset accounts underscored the industry’s ongoing public relations problems.
But despite all of this, there have been bright spots, too. The fixed indexed annuity industry turned back the SEC’s dreaded 151A rule in what can only be described as a David vs. Goliath legal and legislative victory. Critics of Obamacare and the Dodd-Frank financial services reform were much relieved to see the Republicans retake the House of Representatives in November. The tax cut compromise that followed was even more good news, especially to budget-watchers, but also to those who hope the reinstatement of estate tax might help life insurance sales. Other developments, such as a New York State ruling that protects the sale of STOLI set the stage for interesting developments over the coming year.