Running Out Of Time

It was December 30th, 11:56 PM.  The client sent me a question via email and had every expectation that I would immediately answer her.  She was wrong.  I had turned off my computer about five minutes earlier.

14 hour days in December?  Crap, I thought that I was a kid again working in retail.  I told a friend that once October hit that I wouldn’t have a full day off the rest of the year.  I’m sure that he thought that I was exaggerating.  I wasn’t.

The last three months have been my industry’s perfect storm.

  • Many of my business clients focus on January 1st.  we review their policies and make any changes, including switching carriers, with the goal of having everything in place for the first of the year.
  • The annual Medicare open enrollment is October 15th to December 7th.  Many of my senior clients come and visit for coffee and reassurance after the seasonal barrage of TV commercials, junk mail, and the phone calls from insurers and AARP.
  • October 1st was the first day of open enrollment for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA or Obamacare).

Rules changed daily.  A large part of my time was killed by redoing whatever I had done a week or two before.  Websites crashed like junkers at a demolition derby.  No one really knew what was really right, what was really going to work.

 The only thing I knew for sure was that anyone on television speaking with absolute certainty was undoubtedly wrong.

I have been getting up at 5:20 AM and going to bed around 12:30 AM.  The first thing I noticed, the first casualty, was that my Blackberry was dying in the early evening.  It took a few days to realize that the phone wasn’t the issue.  It wasn’t getting properly charged at night.  Damn, the phone needed more rest than me.

The second casualty was this blog.  I wanted to post.  I tried to write at 11:30 or midnight, but I couldn’t.  I had nothing left in the tank.

I have been writing, just not here.  And I missed you guys and I missed this platform.  Since October 1st I have posted seven Health Insurance Issues With Dave and emailed seven full-length updates about the PPACA to my health insurance clients.

I love my job and there isn’t anything I’d rather be doing, but it can’t be healthy to live and breathe anything non-stop fourteen plus hours most days.  And when you find yourself in the office on Thanksgiving or knocking out a quick four hour shift on New Year’s, you know that you may be in too deep.

I had to stop and take my temperature.  I needed to know how much of me might have gotten lost along the way.

This blog, which is a large part of me, didn’t get lost, just misplaced.  Jennifer, my daughter, contends that I need to write even if it is only to vent.  I thought about this blog every day.

I replayed in my mind much of the last three months.  Even with all of this work, I found time to visit Jen and her husband Matt; my son Phillip, his wife, Allison, and her parents Bill and Anita; and Sally’s children Alec and Raqui.  I was wherever I needed to be and never rushed through the moment.

A client came by the office last month to tell me that he was dropping his health insurance.  His employer was finally ready to cover him and his family.  I congratulated him and wished him well.  And I meant it.  It is important to me that I didn’t lose my empathy nor my focus through this.

A group of us, agents with over thirty years’ experience, were talking last week.  One compared the last few months to the Medicare Part D (Rx) roll out of 2005.  Others thought this resembled the melt down of 2008-2009.  But the fall of 2013 remind me of the preparations we all endured for Y2K.  The turmoil.  The computer issues.  The gigantic waste of time, energy, and resources.  And we survived.

So I wish all of you a Happy and Healthy New Year.  And if I don’t post quite as often as I have in the past, it is not for lack of interest.  I will be back when I’ve got the time.