In this month’s blog post, I’m going to talk to you about a troubling survey prepared by Aflac with information gathered from benefits decision-makers, workers and brokers. Then, I’m going to share my perspective on the world after health care reform and make a case for the enormous opportunity for brokers to not only survive, but thrive by serving employers and employees who are looking for help.

The shot heard round the industry – “the Aflac survey”

America's insurance brokers have been shaken by wide-ranging changes to the nation's health care system and economic unrest; with 45% considering exiting the health insurance business altogether and 51% are only somewhat or not at all confident about the future of their firm and industry.” 

The study reports that:

  • 29% of brokers are concerned about remaining relevant to their clients
  • 62% named "rising health care costs impacting client decisions on benefits" as the most important issue for their firm right now
  • 15% of brokers say they are completely confident in the future of their firms and the industry

At the same time, the survey shows employers and workers are dependent on the expertise of brokers and benefits consultants to guide them through the complexity. Fifty-five percent of employers admit they have done nothing to prepare for upcoming changes, 75% of employees believe their employers will educate them about changes to their coverage as a result of reform, 56% of employers say they are extremely or very knowledgeable about their benefits programs, but just 27% of brokers agree.
Carpe diem

The role of the broker is changing and change is hard. Almost everyone loves change … it’s the transition they don’t like so much. The need for expert knowledge and insightful advice is increasing and 'Obamacare' is strengthening that need. 

Employers need risk management advice and help engaging, educating and empowering employees about benefits so they can lower costs. They need a partner in health and wellness, one who can help them improve their employees overall health and well-being.  They need an expert in compliance and a partner who can keep them out of trouble with the law and all its requirements. Employers need a partner in communication and education, one who can help them educate their employees about the value of their benefits, how to use them wisely and become more self-reliant.

They need a strategic adviser who helps them offer competitive employer paid benefits and voluntary, employee paid benefits to meet the individual needs of their employees and their families.  And finally, employers need help with everyday human resource issues like handbooks, policies and procedures and compliance with state specific laws.

I’m not a marine, but the Latin term they employ “Carpe Diem … seize the day” says it all — there is opportunity, you just have to know what it looks like and where to find it.

Gaunya, GBA, is principal at Methuen, Mass.-based Borislow Insurance. He can be reached at 978-689-8200 or mark@borislow.com.

 

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