Speakers and thought leaders Reid Rasmussen, Chad Schneider, David Contorno & Kevin Trokey share their ideas at the CAHU Expo, March 6, 2018 at Bridgwater Conference Center in Powell, Ohio.
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How is technology impacting the health care arena?
Inside the healthcare arena, we’re seeing a lot of advancements with both artificial intelligence and machine learning. It’s helping doctors diagnose. It’s helping patients get directed through the system. For those of us that are more on the benefit side of the house, it will affect us and it will be a help to help us direct our business. For those of us on the benefit side of the house, artificial intelligence and machine learning are going to revolutionize the way that we serve our clients.
How has the client experience been improved by this technology?
A lot of us are getting used to having Alexa in our home. We’re getting used to using Siri on our phone. It’s dramatically helping people have a comfort level with that kind of artificial intelligent interaction. Probably for brokers, one of the biggest things is that we’re going to start to see chat bot experiences in people interacting with their benefits, helping guide them around the system. I think one of the things that we need to do as brokers is, accept that, lead people towards it, recognize it for what it is, which is, it’s not an entity that’s there to take our job away from us, but it’s an entity that will be a tool that will help enhance our work. As brokers and as business people in the benefits world, how can we get some of those common work habits off of our plate, have them handled with repetitive support, whether it’s marketing or sales, or on boarding of clients, or investigation, or the discovery process with clients? I think an agent who embraces artificial intelligence and machine learning will be able to sell more and serve their clients better.
Director of Channel Sales, Jellyvision
Why is employee engagement and benefits education such a problem in the workplace?
So what’s interesting is that when you look at what a company spends, it’s about $12,000 per employee on their health benefits. So it’s kind of a crazy idea that you spend this much, second largest expenditure a company has next to payroll. You have all that time and energy, and then decision support is literally the last thing you look at. Why is that? I think it is a lot of reasons. Number one, maybe it’s just there’s so much stuff to get through that they can’t get to it and it’s like that bottom of the agenda item. But I think the bigger aspect is they’re afraid and they don’t know how to do it. There’s the sacred cows of we have these open enrollment meetings, we print these booklets and this is what we do. We do it this way because we’ve always done it that way. Of course, we all know if that’s the attitude you have, well you’re just going to be ineffective overall.
How can benefit brokers and advisors improve employee engagement and education?
I think the biggest challenge that we face is that a lot of the brokers, most brokers will say who is my client and they say that CEO, that CHRO, that CFO. And yes, of course, they’re the people that are actually going to sign the check and make that decision, but the client is not them. The client is that end user employee. All these companies are spending this much money to be able to get those employees to actually change behavior and to actually say why am I spending all this? If I didn’t care about my employees, I would just pay the penalty and get out of the game. So I’m doing all this because I actually want to have that intrinsic value around benefit. So I totally completely agree. We as the insurance community, the brokers, the professionals they hire have to do a better job of challenging that client to say with all due respect, I understand you’re the decision maker, you’re writing the check, but let’s face it, you’re doing all this for that end user employee. If you’re not using it for all those things we’ve been talking about; attraction, retention, employee morale, things of that nature, then why are you doing this in the first place? So many people don’t talk about it. It becomes once again, that last agenda item, if it even makes it on the agenda. And then we have so much other stuff to do that we miss it. So I think raising it and putting it at the top of the agenda. Imagine that meeting they have with a decision maker, the first thing you talk about is an effective communication and engagement plan, because if you’re not bought into this, there’s no point doing anything else. Imagine starting with that. The delta between where the employer is and where the employee is, is huge. That’s I think the biggest opportunity in the space today, is to be able to take all that hard work that we’re talking about and actually put together a real baked in strategy.
Regional Practice Leader, Hilb Group
What is your best advice in today’s changing health insurance landscape?
My belief in change in general, whether it’s personal or professional change, is that change does not occur until the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of change. That point is different for each broker, each employer, each patient, each employee, but I think we’re all reaching a pain point that needs to be addressed. I just don’t understand why we have to get to that breaking point to start to change. The path we’re on is clear. It’s documented for decades. It is trackable and predictable to maybe a higher degree than almost any other area of our economy, and yet, not only do we do nothing about it, but the things we do, do, are the same things we’ve been doing for decades that have not only been not helping the problem, but arguably making them worse. So my number one suggestion is, do something different. I don’t care what it is, do something different tomorrow than you did today.
What could brokers and advisors be doing differently to bring about needed change?
A couple of things that I think brokers can do different. I think the number one thing that will change your mindset and liberate and free you if you’re a broker or consultant, is to start to strip out all commissions, all back end deals, all PBM fill fees everywhere you can, to first of all, get the cost, the lowest for your client you possibly can. And secondly, look your client in the eyes and tell them how much you’re making. And thirdly, create financial incentives so that if you meet agreeable goals, you get paid more money for doing that. I think that’s completely reasonable and I think most clients will buy into that. And then all the sudden, first of all, you’re freed from outside entities paying you. It’s now your client paying you. Secondly, you—I’m a good person, I want to do right by my clients at every turn, but there’s a clear extra oomph in the clients in which I have those financial incentives involved. I call a patient at six o’clock at night to help them find a lower price surgical facility or I speak to an employee on a Saturday around getting a lower cost drug. I definitely work a little bit harder in the groups that I have that. If you can’t look your client in the eye and tell them exactly how much you’re making, you’re making too much. There’s no alternative around it. So I think the first is, change how we get paid. Most of us talk about a lack of transparency as being one of the key drivers in the healthcare system that is dysfunctional, and yet, most of us get paid in a very nontransparent way. So if you believe, as I do, that transparency is one of the things that needs to occur in order for our healthcare to be fixed, start with being transparent yourself.
Founding Partner, Q4 Intelligence
What is the biggest problem in the health benefits industry today?
The problem with the industry is everybody is so afraid of all the disruption that’s going on and they’re not looking for all the opportunities that it creates. Really the greatest time to be in this industry is right now. The greatest opportunities we’ve ever had are still out there. But for advisors, the one thing that they really have to do Matt, is they have to recognize that they’re not in the product business. It’s not about chasing a product. It’s not about pushing a product. They’re in the advice and results business. The more they come to appreciate the opportunity to give advice and deliver results to clients, that’s where they’re going to find the opportunities.
What is holding everyone back?
The industry has been so slow to change for so long. And really, I think up until recent times, the industries have taken the same approach. I don’t care if it was a large national brokerage or a small mom and pop, it was the same approach. They’d show up that show up at renewal looking for a chance to quote. So it’s been a very commoditized approach. So it was only a matter of who could tell that same story a little bit better. But what’s changed as it really always is, is what the buyer needs. It’s more challenging for business owners to run a business today. They’re facing new, because of ACA, they’ve got new complexities with compliance and with reporting, a lot of employers for the first time are going to have to compete for talent because the pendulum has swung so far in terms of unemployment rate, that there’s employers out there, businesses who have never really had to compete. They were always in a power position. So it’s really the needs and the demands of their clients that’s forcing the change. And now there’s all this pent up demand for change. They’ve got to catch up with technology. They’ve got to catch up with communication strategies. They have to catch up with how to actually market themselves as an organization, create a value prop. All these are new areas for advisors. So there’s just—it’s not just any one change. It’s the cumulative effect of all the change that’s being forced on them.
What are some of the “early adopters” doing to differentiate and stand out?
What are early adopters doing to get out in front? They’re showing up. They’re showing up online. They are sharing ideas. They’re connecting with other like-minded advisors. They’re creating this community within the community that is not just early adopters of ideas, but they’re creators of ideas and they’re communicators of ideas. They’re communicating within their group, but they’re also more effectively communicating to the clients, to the buyers. They’re letting them understand the expectations of what you should have from your broker and advisor. It’s different than it’s ever been before. Your expectations need to be much higher, because when you work with the right advisor, there’s such a significant, greater impact that they can make on your business than what we have told you to expect in the past. That’s what’s getting them out in front. That’s what’s differentiating them and that’s what’s driving their growth.