Inside Track

Taking the Long View

Taking the Long View

By Eric P. Harding

As a parent, one of the certainties of life is that your children are going to grow. Those sandals you bought on sale last autumn—two sizes too big for them at the time—are now just a bit snug. Doing laundry becomes something of a guessing game: Is this my 8-year-old son’s Captain America T-shirt, or my wife’s?

But any consternation you might harbor is outweighed by the joy your children feel at getting bigger. And my kids—like many others, I’m sure—like to have a visual record of their growth accomplishments. So about three years ago, when the boys were 5 and 2, I began standing them up against a tall shelving unit and marking their heights with a Sharpie.

The boys thrilled at the stories—“Look how much in just four months!”—that the marks told. (And we are able to use those marks as evidence, when one of them turns his nose up at an unfamiliar vegetable, that our culinary choices are not made with malice.)

But we just ran into a problem. I didn’t plan ahead, and was marking both boys’ heights on the same side of the unit. And now Wallace is about to catch up to Elliott’s earliest-recorded height—chaos in the making. (Truth be told, it’s an easy fix; I’m just going to move Wallace’s marks to the other face of the unit. It’ll even make inevitable apples-to-apples [“I’m an inch taller than you were at 6 years and 3 months!”] comparisons that much easier.)

This minor inconvenience could have been avoided if I had planned ahead—if I had taken the long view. This issue’s features all concern themselves with long-term thinking and planning.

Our first feature, “Unlocking Potential,” is about combination long-term care (LTC) insurance products. As the U.S. population continues to age, the need for protection from an LTC event continues to grow. For a number of reasons, though, stand-alone LTC insurance products have had problems, and these products are not meeting the needs of consumers. Combination products—solutions that combine LTC coverage with either an annuity or life insurance—are on the rise. This article explores this intriguing category.

Our second feature, “Drilling Down on Drug Prices,” takes a look at the lengthy pharmaceutical development pipeline. Well before a new drug comes to market, it has to undergo a gantlet of testing to ensure safety and efficacy—an important process that winnows thousands of potential new compounds down to single digits in the end. As you might expect, this is a costly process, and those costs are borne across the health care system. This article looks at ways to curb the growth in drug costs in the U.S. for all parties—consumers, payers, and manufacturers alike.

In our third feature, “Taking Stock,” Allen Ellstein looks back at the golden era of mutual funds to see how we might apply the lessons learned from yesterday to our investing thinking today. Drawing upon the writings of John Bogle and James Farrell, Forbes magazine, and his own experience as a consumer and professional, this article takes the long view from 1970 to today—and the stories beneath these seemingly staid baskets of stocks may surprise you.

Finally, the issue you hold in your hands (or gaze at on your screen) is Contingencies’ 30th anniversary issue. We’d be remiss if we didn’t celebrate just a little, so you’ll find a special section complete with a letter from Academy President Shawna Ackerman on what the magazine means to the profession, a capsule on how the magazine spotlights professionalism, a rollicking interview between Tom Specht and Bono Mitchell on how the founding of the magazine coincided with the founding of their design business, and more.

As ever, I hope you enjoy the issue—and will continue to do so for years to come.

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