I’m such a fishing nut that it is only natural that some of my earliest memories are about the fishing trips I made with my dad and uncle. Actually it was my great uncle Al, who had a small beach house on Leete’s Island off the Connecticut coast. He also had a small wooden boat, you know the kind that is uncomfortable by modern standards and isn’t practical to make anymore, with wooden side strips over cured wooden ribs. But to this young boy, it was a magnificent craft. Every summer, Dad and Uncle Al and I would try our luck for blackfish (tautog). We probably never went out more than a mile or two in the bay, but to me we were serious fishermen braving the open sea.
I was given a small pole that was easy to handle, rigged with two hooks and a sinker. All I had to do was put half a sandworm on each hook, lower away, and pull in one small fish after another. To catch a lot of blackfish, good reflexes are necessary. They are notorious bait stealers and their bite usually occurs the moment the bait hits bottom, and often just before. Every year I delighted in catching twice as many fish as either my Dad or my uncle, and both were quick to praise my “unbelievable skill”. But I couldn’t help but notice that both of them used much heavier poles and usually fished with crabs instead of sandworms. And even as a five year old, I was sharp enough to notice that their fish were usually much bigger, even if they didn’t catch as many. For a few years, I was perfectly content winning the “most fish” award. But before long, the “biggest fish” award also became my goal.
Finding the right balance between quantity and quality is something we all deal with from time to time. In the insurance business, I could never decide which was more satisfying, so I’ve tried to do both. As it turns out, especially with healthcare, I’m glad I did. Let me be clear that when I’m talking about quantity vs. quality, I’m talking about small case vs. big case, since we’ve always strived to provide quality care regardless of case size. So step by step I built my business with both individual accounts and group accounts, mostly in health insurance but not ignoring any viable disability, life, dental vision, or travel insurance opportunity. As I grew older, so did my client base, and when questions arose on ways to enhance their latter-life planning, it was obvious that I should add medicare supplements, part D prescription plans, and long term care to my repertoire. I’ve enjoyed solving problems for individuals and I’ve enjoyed working in the bigger group market.
Everyone knows that Obamacare has turned the healthcare industry on its head. Such massive overhaul cannot be made without consequences, both good and bad. Every single aspect about healthcare delivery in our country has been affected and the learning curve for career agents like me is challenging and will continue to be challenging for the foreseeable future. My individual cases are experiencing the challenges as we speak. My group cases have been a safe haven but they too will be in the crosshairs in the near future. Insurers are merging to become super providers in order to weather the storm. The old rules of competition are out the window. We will all watch with interest how this grand experiment shakes out. But as it does, I am more and more thankful for my good mix of clients, both small and large, and their spread of interests over many forms of insurance. Quantity and quality have turned out to be equally important as the saving grace during these changing times.