Updated throughout the day after Obama's re-election, hear what industry leaders and industry groups say the president's win means for the broker community. Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments, too.
Also, don't miss our post-election podcasts with executives from ASPPA, NAIFA and NAHU here.
Tinker Kelly, president, Voluntary Employee Benefit Advisors
“My friends in the industry are all in shock. But, to get to the heart of what it’s going to do to the business, I still maintain that substantial change creates opportunity. I’ll go to my grave on that. Now, who’s going to win and who’s going to lose, only time will tell. But certainly the voluntary benefits world is going to have tremendous opportunities.
“The key component of health care reform should have been cost control measures and for whatever reason that is not a component of health care reform, and that’s the biggest problem, the cost. These new things are going to come into play but I think the cost of health care is going to skyrocket. Which means plan design changes — and it’s not going to be consumer-friendly. I think you’re going to see a whole lot of high deductible plans … and that’s going to create a lot of opportunity for us.
“Entrepreneurial insurance people that are willing to understand the changes and be in a position to deliver new services to their clients and to the market in general it’s got the potential to be a bonanza. A real game-changer.”
Rob Lieblein, executive vice president, MarshBerry
“It obviously removes the risk that [health reform] can be repealed by the Senate and the House. So I think the House will continue to try to pass something that will draw out the law but still be defeated in the Senate. … I think you’ll still have people that try to challenge the legality of it, but for the most part the president will move forward with the assumption that the law will be fully implemented. The positive of that is I think with the threat of repeal being taken away I think you’ll see some flexibility by the administration [on] implementation deadlines.
“The carriers have been doing a lot on this, so I think they’re, to a certain extent, glad it’s going to move forward. The states are going to have to do something to keep up with what’s going to be happening in the market.
“I think Health and Human Services has a tremendous amount of work to do as far as rules and regulations to actually get things up and running, according to their own timetables, so it would not surprise me at all if the deadline for state exchanges got pushed back one way or another. … I’m cautiously optimistic that people will try to work together a little better recognizing that it’s not just something that’s going to be thrown out by the House and Senate.”
Ron Leopold, independent consultant
"A similar sentiment to what transpired with the Supreme Court decision, I think an awful lot of folks in the industry on the broker and consulting side as well as on the employer side fell prey to the same thing before. Which is, ‘Let’s wait and see. Let’s see what happens with the election.’
"The way I describe it is it’s like we fell asleep on a train. So the train has continued to move in terms of a timeline and all of a sudden we’ve woken up and we realize we have a lot to do and prepare for before we get to the end station. Anybody would have agreed that an Obama win means we have to start pedaling a lot faster in terms of getting employer clients ready for the Affordable Care Act.
"So I think we’re going to see brokers and consultants start accelerating their educational efforts for clients about what needs to happen. I think employers are going to be a lot more interested in those messages."
Janet Trautwein, CEO of the National Association of Health Underwriters
“The National Association of Health Underwriters congratulates President Barack Obama on his re-election. We appreciate the president’s goal of ensuring that all Americans have access to high-quality and affordable health care.
“Americans want our elected officials to work in a bipartisan fashion to forge real solutions to reduce costs, improve quality and expand access and choice. Most Americans like their private health insurance coverage and want health reform to strengthen and build upon what is working, and address those areas where there are shortcomings.
“We look forward to our continued work with the administration and members of Congress to bring our real-world consumer perspective to this debate and share our experience to help enact sensible, bipartition healthcare reform because insuring America is in everyone’s best interest.”
Thom Mangan, CEO, United Benefit Advisors
No surprise at all. I thought [President Obama] was going to win from the beginning. What surprised me was there’s great statistics from the exit polls on the health plan. When you add the number of people that want to keep it and/or make it more [extensive] it actually outnumbers [those who] want to get rid of Obamacare. I don’t think it was a deciding factor, but I do think it is going to be a deciding factor as far as Congress. They’re going to look at these exit polls and I don’t think there will be a death by 1,000 cuts anymore. It’s my hope that they will start working together to make the plan more palatable and actually budgetable.
I’m not hearing panic [from brokers], but here’s my prediction: The capital gains tax is definitely going to go up. It’s not going to be 15% come January 1. And I know for a fact in speaking with the consultants … that they have almost a deal a day going with small health insurance brokers. We’ll see a slew of more activity in the last two months of this year than took place in the previous ten months.
Nelson Griswold, president of Bottom Line Solutions
The president has been re-elected. We have to come to terms with the fact that the Affordable Care Act is going to be implemented. Compensation for benefits brokers has changed. We’re moving to a fee-for-service model. I don’t know how quickly, but it’s already happening in certain markets in the country. With those two realities the question becomes what do agencies do to reinvent themselves to be profitable and relevant going forward?
A lot of agencies and a lot of agency principals were waiting. They were waiting and hoping and praying that this election would allow for the repeal of PPACA and dramatic change wouldn’t be required. Well, I’m sorry. Dramatic change is going to be required for agencies to survive and thrive going forward. That’s the bad news. The good news is for those agencies that will change, that will adopt a more updated business model … and abandon the 1960s business model that most agencies are still operating under, the agencies that change in the right away are going to be able to capitalize on all of the opportunities that are going to be created both by PPACA and the demise of a lot of their competition.
NAIFA President Robert O. Smith issued the following statement on the Nov. 6 federal election:
"Yesterday the American people spoke and re-elected President Obama for another term, while maintaining the status quo in the House and Senate. The president has many tough challenges ahead, but he has also pledged to represent all Americans.
"The election results tell us that our country remains sharply divided over how to move forward. NAIFA members serve main street. We have been vocal in our desire for modifications to the new health care law to better serve middle America. We are eager to work with the Administration and Congress in a nonpartisan manner to develop workable policies and legislative solutions.
"With a NAIFA member in every congressional district, NAIFA stands ready to build new relationships and strengthen existing connections in order to establish a basic level of understanding among all members of Congress about the value of insurance protection and financial planning.
"If the lame duck session is successful in avoiding the fiscal cliff, the resolution is not likely to permanently address the most significant tax and economic issues. Comprehensive reform will remain a challenge for a divided Congress to address. In addition to in-district meetings, NAIFA members will come to Washington in April to explain the financial security and peace of mind that our products provide to 75 million American families while also serving as an economic break wall for government safety nets such as Social Security. The products we offer and the services we provide are clearly the solutions, not the problems. That will be our message."
Susan Combs, president of Combs & Company in New York City
“From an industry standpoint, I think everybody that does health insurance is probably going to be some sort of disappointed. But I will say the House and Senate are still pretty much equally divided. So I really don’t think that whoever was elected president was really going to change that much since there’s still that gridlock and deadlock with the House and the Senate. I don’t think enough people were brought in that are really going to be game-changers who are a little bit more open-minded.
“I think a lot of brokers are going to look at getting other certifications and things like property and casualty if they have that license but haven’t really been using it. I just really think that people are going to start looking for other avenues because I think health insurance is going to eventually become a fee-for-service on broker stuff. If you’re going to service an account you’re going to have to get a broker’s fee instead of a commission.”
Mel Schlesinger, independent consultant and former NAHU president
“I’m not an Obama supporter, but I knew the Republicans were going to blow a huge opportunity. It’s what they do. There’s not much that could have been done about it short of Mitt Romney actually being the Mitt Romney that was governor of Massachusetts. I think he could have won had he embraced that but he allowed the far right to move him to the far right.
“My own personal opinion is it didn’t matter who got elected because they were both going to screw up the economy. You didn’t really know where either one was coming from because they were never going to be honest about what their true belief system was.
“[Republican governors] have drawn their line in the sand and they think they’re doing something that’s going to help their constituents, or at least make them look good, but at the end of the day PPACA is going to move forward with all the force of a hurricane.
“We’ve lost seats in the Senate and some of the people that are now in the Senate, like Elizabeth Warren, they’re so far to the left that they would make Lenin blush. So I don’t know that there’s any hope of getting [the pending medical loss ratio legislation] passed in the Senate. My gut instinct is that by losing additional seats in the Senate we’ve lost any hope of passing that.”
Craig Davidson, founder of futureofficenetwork.com and mysalesrockstar.com.
“Obamacare is here to stay. That’s the one thing you have to walk away with from yesterday. For many brokers, Obamacare is going to be death by 1,000 cuts. Despite everything that we do in thought leadership for our industry there’s still a lot of brokers that just don’t get it.
“As a result of the election the dust has settled and brokers are going to have to re-establish their identity and their purpose. This is a tough strategic question for a brokerage to analyze themselves because they don’t really think that they’re the problem. But in reality there’s a lot of brokers out there, what is their identity? What do you need this guy versus that guy for? What is the purpose of the broker?
“The brokers are going to have to really say, ‘I’ve never been faced with such a game-changer before. What am I going to do to show to my customers that I really am still relevant?’ That is a big issue.
“The days of fat and happy are gone.”
Michael Wilson, CEO of the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, says that Obama's re-election provides "American employers with the referendum to fully begin implementing the Affordable Care Act.
"Even after this summer’s Supreme Court ruling, many of our members were still awaiting the outcome of this general election before they addressed health care reform," he adds. “We are still at the beginning of the process, much like when ERISA was enacted in 1974. I would expect the health care law to undergo the same process of review and implementation and we will probably still be working to adjust the ACA in 30 years."
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