5 hopes for the benefits industry under President Trump

What the heck happened? At 9:30 p.m. Tuesday evening, I am not sure I would have put money on either candidate winning the presidential election. It’s funny how one can become the leader of the United States when a majority of the Americans who voted for you did so because they didn’t like your opponent and a large chunk of the country does not like you. Call me crazy, but that is not a great win. It is kind of like getting the invite to the prom after there is no one left to go.

This election season seemed like it had been going on for years and really took a toll on our country. They spent so much time attacking each other they forgot to discuss what they would be doing to drive change for us, the citizens who they serve. Trump kept saying how he was going to make America better, drain the swamp, but I never really heard him provide detail.

However, one thing that I did hear him say as it relates to our industry: He will take Obamacare down. He actually said, “On day one, we will repeal and replace Obamacare.”

Although I am confident that I am not the only one not feeling united, I am also feeling pretty confident that President-elect Trump has not targeted the employee benefit adviser as public enemy No. 1. My bet is that he will focus on bringing the fractured country together, with his No. 1 priority on fixing the anger across the country.

As I see it, here are the realities of a Trump presidency:

Guaranteed not to happen
· The sky is not falling;
· The citizens of this amazing country are not backing down, we want change;
· President Trump will not eliminate brokers, intermediaries or consultants.

Guaranteed to happen
· Many of us will continue to feel like we have a major hangover. More than 50% of the nation feel as if they lost;
· Employers will need help, advice, support, direction and so much more that we, as benefit professionals, can deliver;
· Employees will still need to protect their lives, their families, their incomes and their health. The majority of employees will continue to purchase these solutions through the workplace. You, as a benefit adviser, will have a job — if you want it;
· With change will come opportunity for growth. My hope is that President Trump engages benefit professionals when his administration reviews the Affordable Care Act and tries to make the necessary changes to control cost.

Likely to happen
· At a minimum, the Cadillac tax will be repealed. This is great news for employers. In my humble opinion, it did not make sense to penalize for a strong benefit program;
· If Obamacare is President Obama’s legacy, he will not have a legacy;
· Trump must focus on affordability. For some reason, the individuals who created the ACA confused access with affordability. I believe one of the primary drivers of affordability will come from a healthier America. The No. 2 driver will be a smarter and more educated employee and consumer, another opportunity for us as benefit consultants to impact change.

Top 5 changes I’d like to see for our industry
1) All products will be net of commissions. We, as advisers, can work with our clients to determine what the appropriate compensation should be. We should be able to decide if it is a percentage of premium or a flat fee. Most important, employer size should be irrelevant.
2) Claims experience, once again regardless of employer size, will be released at renewal. I am not saying that two years of claims is credible for a 50-life group. What I am asking for is full transparency from the carriers.
3) Commercials for drugs will be banned from TV. Really, someone needs to watch TV to figure that they can buy a drug for their pneumococcal pneumonia?
4) The FDA is revamped and they are now required to meet live timelines and approval standards.
5) Eliminate multiple quote bidding. The cost to the carriers and our firms, when engaging in the bidding process, would be eliminated.

What now?
Remember how you felt on March 23, 2010, the day that the ACA became law? At that point in time, did you ever think you would still be in the business? What happened is the successful benefit advisers have adapted; we became less transactional and much more consultative.

Regardless of what you are feeling about the 45th president, do not sit down; do not let it hold you back. We will once again come together, we will once again thrive and we will once again prove to the marketplace that the employee benefit adviser is needed. We will be the ones who help the employers and employees continue to navigate through the choppy water of healthcare. We will be the ones who advocate for our clients and we will be the ones who help deliver solutions that protect families, incomes, lives and health. I will continue to have a political hangover for sure, but I will not let who is president determine the fate of my firm. I hope you join me.

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