Over the past few months, I’ve come across an increasing number of reports that I’m filing under “FUD” media: stories that employ tactics of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt to influence their audience. The articles are certainly attention-grabbing, and I appreciate the passion and interest their authors display as they interpret a consequence of some hot-topic legislation. The piece of legislation is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), and the “FUD” interpretation is that health care reform will bring about the end of the health insurance broker in America.
The stories are attracting a lot of media buzz nationwide, since a majority of businesses use brokers to help them make employee benefit decisions and find the best available coverage. As a Vistage member, most of the CEOs I know rely on brokers for advice, so the possibility that insurance brokers may no longer be necessary is interesting. Unfortunately, the stories are ultimately under-informed.
Health care reform is changing the dynamic of health insurance and health insurance brokerage. My firm assists health insurance brokers and consultants as they help their employers understand the new structures and incentives created by health care reform. We have conducted detailed analysis for over 280 employers using our CHROME Compass platform. Fewer than 8% of these employers would be better off terminating their health plans. Meeting minimum requirements, modifying premium contributions as cross-referenced with employee’s household income and auto-enrollment constraints are challenging employers across the country. For brokers and consultants to stay relevant, they need to help their customers understand the implications of health care reform at a granular level. They should then build on that understanding by helping their clients by creating a customized plan designed to transition from their current strategy to one that is “optimized” for the new structures and incentives of health care reform.
Benefits strategy and proactive planning are vital even for companies not affected by most PPACA mandates. With tax incentives and coverage requirements changing, it’s more important than ever for brokers to be informed and educated strategists for their clients. These are hurdles that require informed guidance, and if brokers do not know how to do this, they should get some help. Otherwise, as the media says, they may indeed be headed for a career change.
For more information about Health Care Reform or CHROME Compass, follow ContinuousHealth and Vistage member Eric Helman, CEO of ContinuousHealth, at @CHealthUpdate or visit www.continuoushealth.com. ContinuousHealth is an independent organization located in Atlanta, Georgia, that uses proprietary technology to help employers optimize their investments in employee benefits programs. ContinuousHealth distributes its products through an exclusive network of certified brokers and consultants.
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