Helping clients move beyond compliance

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Like so many other young advisers, Suzannah Gill’s early career was shaped by the Affordable Care Act.

In law school when Barack Obama was elected, Gill had just begun practicing benefits law when the healthcare reform legislation was enacted.

But the ERISA attorney quickly realized that reforming healthcare meant more than simply remaining in ACA compliance. After briefly practicing law from 2009 to 2010, she course-corrected and joined a six-person brokerage in the suburbs of Atlanta that primarily served small-group clients. Two years later, she migrated to Mercer to work with large corporate clients, before moving to EPIC Insurance Brokers & Consultants in 2015 and finding her sweet spot in the middle market.

At San Francisco-based EPIC Gill put her compliance background to use assisting employers overwhelmed by the ACA’s requirements. That earned her a reputation as a go-to benefits expert and strategy consultant.

“When Suzannah joined EPIC two years ago as the firm’s youngest producer, she immediately established herself as a thought-leader in the benefits space,” colleague Dave Hock says of the 34-year-old Gill. “She has unique expertise and industry perspective.”

From Gill’s point of view, working at EPIC gives her the opportunity to test out new business strategies on behalf of her clients. “I’m able to be creative,” she says, “and really help take my clients from a situation where they feel like they have no control to where they can be way more proactive in addressing their healthcare issues.”

Some of those efforts include reference-based pricing, offering pharmacy benefits through more transparent PBMs and concierge services that can help employees navigate the healthcare system. Gill also works with third-parties that do intensive medical bill reviews to help her clients guard against fraud and claim inaccuracies.

The middle-market opportunity
“In this business, companies of 20 employees are very much at the mercy of the insurance carriers, unfortunately. They’re going to be fully insured, and they’re going to stay with their carrier. In the middle market where I focus, though, employers have an opportunity to do some really innovative things to actively manage their healthcare costs,” Gill explains. “They don’t have all the resources of a big company to do them on their own, however. So that’s where I felt I could make the most impact; these mid-market firms really need a trusted adviser.”

Although she has yet to be taken up on the offer, Gill has told her clients that she is willing to put a percentage of her fees as a guarantee that they will experience savings. “Saying that I’m willing to put my fees at risk gives them the trust that I’m not just a broker who is going to make more money when their health costs go up,” she says.

Gill is also a prolific speaker, sharing her benefits expertise at four to five local and national events a year. She targets audiences of CFOs, who care about their companies’ bottom lines but often don’t have a lot background in benefits and healthcare.

“That’s something I really believe in,” Gill says. “I feel that sharing best practices and ideas is a way to give back to the industry.”

And what sort of ideas does she talk about? “For me, recurring themes have been trying to be innovative for clients,” Gill says. “I think it helps when you’re young and not so stuck in your ways that you can’t be innovative.”

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