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The Boomer Iceberg Is Right Over There

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This is Disability Insurance Awareness Month, and, sadly, I barely have any time to think about that, let alone actually write articles about that.

It’s also earnings season. I find myself writing upbeat articles about insurance companies that are coping with this or that new marketing rule, or financial risk control measure, by providing less protection to fewer people.

(Related: 5 Opportunities to Turn Valentine’s Day Into Life Insurance Day)

Insurers are withdrawing from markets, selling fewer products within the markets they serve, narrowing the scope of any guarantees they still offer, and, generally, trying to sit quietly in a corner somewhere and not get into trouble.

It’s hard even to pay enough attention to write about all of that because, really, all that seems to matter, going forward, is what happens in Washington, in connection with health insurance, taxes and financial services. Until Washington decides what it’s going to do, or not do, we have no idea whether companies should expect to play chess, checkers or backgammon, let alone what strategy they should use.

The most visible players in Washington still appear to be much more intent on winning at any cost than on making the kinds of compromises that could lead to positive action.

In the past, companies might have operated under the assumption that, if Congress failed to change the rules, the executive branch would simply keep carrying out any old rules it disliked in an unenthusiastic but traditional, stability-preserving way. That no longer seems like a safe assumption.

I personally am suffering from a temporary work disability: I watched “Titanic” over the weekend, and “My Heart Will Go On” keeps playing in my head. It’s hard for me to do much with that song distracting me.

Maybe, however, the theme song is trying to remind me of something important: That the youngest boomers are now 53; that this is likely to be the last decade we have to do anything much about trying to get the boomers the kind of post-retirement years they’re expecting to have; and that the problems that now occupy policymakers’ minds may be like a tough plate of cod served in the dining room aboard the Titanic.

Yes, that cod might have been inexcusably tough, and bony, but there were other topics the passengers should have been thinking about.

— Read Insurers Get 180 Days of SIFI Designation Relief on ThinkAdvisor.