Tom Harte started in the insurance business in 1989 at Prudential. In 1997, he opened his own business, Landmark Benefits in Hampstead, N.H., where he provides benefits to a range of employers: from small businesses to companies with 1,000 employees or more. He's been involved with NAHU since 1996. EBA spoke with him about his new role as president.
What are your goals for the year?
Well first of all, my platform has always been health care affordability and accessibility. So a lot of what I've talked about since 1996, but more specifically since I became secretary of NAHU, is talking about tools and resources as it relates to wellness programs. What I know is this: 70% of the cost of health care comes from preventable health conditions. ... So as the president of NAHU, I'm working on implementing tools that our members have access to [for these issues].
... Goals are tricky, they're tricky for anybody, but ultimately I picked a goal for NAHU that doesn't necessarily represent what I would like to see from an idealist standpoint. Rather, [my goal is to increase] our membership from where it is today [at] 19,000 to 20,000. [It's a number] we haven't seen since May 2008.
Ultimately, for me as a president of NAHU, I want to be able to deliver comprehensive tools to all of our members so they can be more productive, they can be more successful, more efficient in their business. And in my 21 years in this business I know that one thing is for certain: the role of the employee benefit broker has been transformative.
Why increasing membership?
For years our membership has been declining. Since 2008 we've been falling a little bit every year. But ... now we have brokers coming to NAHU in droves and they realize - "It's up to me"- ACA is here to stay. They realize, "I need to a strong advocate and NAHU is my partner." The other side of it is, on the health care reform side, benefit brokers need to understand the law better than anyone else, better than the media and insurers. ... In your own marketplace, less than 1% of the brokers are certified for health reform. And if you want to differentiate yourself, [NAHU's ACA certification] is the best way to do it.
Where do you see this industry five years from now?
It is my expectation that the private health care system is here to stay. It is the American way. The thing is ... we have to allow the health care industry to become a marketplace where it can become competitive, where people can pick and choose their doctors and hospitals based on quality outcomes and pricing. The role of the employee benefit broker will become even more important five years from now than it is today. The fact is, 15 years ago their role was fairly easy. ... Today, it's so much more sophisticated and complicated ... and there's only going to be more responsibility ... [and while not prominent yet,] may be more toward a fee-based system [of compensation].
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