Despite pressure from clients to provide an immediate solution for rising health care costs – brokers need to proceed slowly and cautiously when discussing solutions such as private exchanges, according to a speaker at Employee Benefit News’ Private Healthcare Exchanges conference. Increasingly, employers are turning to their brokers for answers to the health care cost conundrum, but at the same time they are not willing to provide more money. “That’s a tough role to be in,” said Joseph Bucci, strategic benefits consultant at gbac during the conference in New York City Thursday. Further complicating matters, many employer clients also don’t want to be involved in benefit decisions. “They hate it, [benefits are] costly and it’s unfortunate,” Bucci explained. Mixed messages don’t help, but at the same time clients are asking their brokers about private exchanges, they are also hearing about it from multiple sources including their accountant and payroll vendor. Clients also question if they are too small to have a private exchange. While Bucci said the answer to all of that may be ‘yes,’ it is incumbent upon the broker to spend more time with the clients and understand their needs. That discussion, however, needs to be with the people in the company at a high level. “If a private exchange is not championed from the top and not integrated with the decision maker, it’s not going to work,” he said. “It’s the same thing with a wellness program.” The leader is important, he says. If the higher ups aren't driving the decision, “there is no [incentive] for an employer to go about changing and no reason for you as a broker to go about it and say ‘let’s make things better.’”

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