Brokers need to change the conversations they are having with clients away from the Affordable Care Act and toward other topics, including voluntary, since little will change with the law until the next presidential inauguration, a carrier rep says.

The ACA, since March 2010, has been the No. 1 thing brokers are talking to their clients about. But James Slotnick, assistant vice president of broker education at SunLife, said Thursday that brokers should say to clients, "Listen, everything we put in place will be absolutely fine" until January 2017 and because "of that, maybe we can have a different conversation."

But, he admitted, convincing clients there will be no change to the ACA until January 2017 is the hardest challenge.

The carriers need to help move the conversation too, he added at an industry convention in Arizona. “We had to take a step back and say, ‘How can we convince you as a broker/consultant to take your precious time you spend with clients talking health care reform and take that time to talk about ancillary,” he said. “As an industry, we probably haven’t done as good a job … to [have you] talk to your clients about something besides health care reform.”

A new conversation

Despite all the data available in benefits, ancillary carriers have done a “poor job” using that data to sell the products. “We are now starting to get on that train,” Slotnick said. “To take the data that we have and give you ways to talk to your clients.”

Changing the conversation to focus on voluntary and using the data the carriers have available to get that conversation started can help clients build their benefits plan. “Health insurance is the most important benefit, but health builds on the rest of the employee benefit plan,” Slotnick said. He added that carriers struggle, when talking with both brokers and employers, with emphasizing the need to build the employee benefit plan beyond core insurance to keep up with or beat competitors.

According to Slotnick, carrier data can help by:

  • Matching products to employee demographic: Carriers can take an employee census and run the data to understand how employees are using products. It “allows you to match the demographic of the group through products offered,” he said.
  • Benchmarking against peers: What do clients want – The richest benefit? What competitors are offering?
  • Evaluating employee buying patterns: Sun Life breaks down segments that are not buying or aren’t buying enough to consider strategies to increase sales.
  • Creating plans that appeal to all employees
  • Comparing participation year over  year


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