Getting off the ‘quote and pray’ flywheel

A decade ago, I was thrown into the insurance world of ‘quote and pray’ as a producer. Like so many in their first role out of college, my desire to learn was matched only by a commitment to be the best producer that I could be. I felt inward pressure to validate my salary and outward desire to help my small business clients. And while I competed effectively, in retrospect I realize that my approach was not inimitable; competitors quoted the same products, promised great service, etc. I hoped to be most well-liked broker, and business usually could be won by just showing up, presenting quotes and illustrating the savings that could be achieved by switching carriers. Sound familiar?

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A blood pressure monitor stands in the diagnostic imaging area at the Hong Kong Integrated Oncology Centre in Hong Kong, China, on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. Equipped with biopsy facilities, body scanners, and quiet 'VIP' chemotherapy rooms, the Hong Kong Integrated Oncology Centre is the first of a string of such facilities that TE Asia Healthcare Partners, a portfolio company funded by TPG Capital, is planning in Asia. Photographer: Xaume Olleros/Bloomberg

Like a flywheel slowly gaining speed, I immersed myself in study and learned from the largest brokers—who were the best source at the time. Diving into self-funding, communication, compliance, workflow and other topics, I was starting to learn what the leading brokers did for their Fortune-level clients, and how I could replicate that model on behalf of much smaller companies. They, too, deserved the same strategies and technologies as larger enterprises. It was working, and I was learning a lot. Clients were benefitting, and I was becoming a more effective advocate for them. Then, the most interesting thing happened…

I dove into a world of smaller, independent benefit advisers that were riveted on controlling healthcare costs for their clients, which was and remains the paramount issue in the employee benefits market. That flywheel was going like mad. These guys were reducing costs by using strategies that went largely unmentioned of in the media, like introducing fiduciary pharmacy benefit managers, medical tourism, bundled pricing, direct primary care and industry transparency, along with eliminating healthcare networks and other tactics that seem to go against the grain. But these strategies worked and were bending the cost curve for many employer groups. This gave me a new focus.

Oddly enough, this wonderful assortment of consultants behind these ideas is eager to share ideas in the hopes of changing the industry for the better. In the past year, I’ve had insightful conversations with thought leaders, innovative vendors and prospective clients that are interested in breaking away from the ‘quote and pray’ model. After all, year after year of pricing increases is enough to make anyone fed up with the status quo.

Why does any of this matter, you may ask? This thought shift, newfound intellectual capital and access to revolutionary processes and technologies has supercharged my efforts on behalf of my clients. Cost-containment conversations are more engaging and effective now; they more fun as well. Clients are winning, and that’s more fun too. Everything else we’ve always done we still do, but we’ve become catalysts for industry change—one employer group at a time.

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