I enjoyed the article, "Is stop-loss the answer?" on page 14 of the April issue. I started my insurance career marketing and selling self-funded plans and spent time as a stop-loss sales representative for a managing general underwriter, so self funding is near and dear to my heart. I agree with the comments in the article that self funding is a viable option to consider for larger groups. Heck, I even had a couple of 20-life groups that ran successful self-funded plans for many years. That said, there are deep issues to consider if you are not proficient in self-funded plans. Check your E&O coverage if you are going to be marketing stop loss. Stop-loss related claims could be excluded, so make sure you are protected. Learn the terminology of self funding so you will know what terms like lasering, accommodation, disclosures, etc., mean. Meet with TPAs and stop-loss carriers to learn their process, underwriting requirements, and learn the extra steps involved with these types of medical plans. There are things that can come back to bite you if you are not diligent and detail oriented.


Your role as educator

Communicate! That is the message I got from the article on page 18, "Complications of preventive care coverage." We (employers and advisers alike) all have to remember that not everyone is tuned into all the PPACA changes. Most people don't read and study this stuff in their free time. So, we need to educate employees and the population about the changes and new terminology, so they know what to expect. And not only do this at open enrollment, but do a constant "drip information" campaign throughout the year to catch those not listening the first time.

Do you have a presentation on health reform and these topics? Do you have information pieces for newsletters, updates, and for that employee who stops by with questions? You should. Part of our job is to educate, and we should be doing that.


Teach your children well

April's cover story, "Rising tide," (p. 40) hit home on many issues for me. First is the comment Brian Ashe makes that regulation drives many of our products and solutions for clients. In this age of health reform, I think about the financial services industry, which is great at creating products that address a certain new regulatory or tax issue. Compliance is a huge factor in that field, and it will become bigger in the health insurance world, very soon.

Second, Ashe makes a good point that many parents don't have proper protections in place. Life policy sales are down and some families are one step away from a financial crisis in the event of disability or death. I'll remember that during my presentations - our mission is to protect people.

Third, I really like the approach Ashe has taken in bringing his son into the business by making sure he understands accountability. It would be easy for a successful father to ensure a child's success, but how would that create drive in the child?

A successful parent's drive to be successful was created by something in their past. If you hand over the keys to your kids without teaching them about the "hard knocks" of life, how are they going to get that drive? Make it too easy on them, and the family business may not last into the next generation.

Bryant, founder of Woodlands, Texas-based SB&K Benefits, can be reached at toddb@sbkbenefits.com.

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