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Benefit advisers recently gathered in Washington D.C. for the 2018 World Health Care Congress, where they heard from experts on the high cost of care and other pressing issues, and learned about new, innovative strategies to support their employer clients.
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The future of U.S. healthcare
Attendees heard from healthcare regulators, including Alex Azar II, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and former secretary Tom Price, who offered their perspectives on the direction of the Affordable Care Act and the healthcare industry as a whole.
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The adviser leadership track
Sessions at the congress were devoted to helping advisers improve their book of business. These sessions investigated topics such as approaching C-suite executives on healthcare matters, mixing commissions and fees, managing clients’ healthcare supply chain and providing pharmaceutical cost containment strategies.
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Adviser track emcee Nelson Griswold
Leading the WHCC’s broker sessions was Nelson Griswold, president of Bottom Line Solutions, a consultancy that works with benefit advisers. Griswold injected his own and his clients’ experience into each session on such topics as simplifying the management of group healthcare.
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Managing pharmacy and specialty drugs
Controlling Rx cost was a critical topic. Discussions ranged from minimize unnecessary spending and creating cost-effective contracts to utilizing analytics to simplify pharmaceutical choices.

Pictured here: Eric Levin, a partner at Scripta, a technology company that works with large employers to manage their pharmacy benefits, spoke on strategies to curb drug prices.
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Controlling the healthcare supply chain
Brokers learned why lowering deductibles or establishing health savings accounts do little to drive down the cost of healthcare. Bob Gearhart Jr., a partner at benefits brokerage DCW Group in Boardman, Ohio, broke down where employers’ healthcare dollars are actually going. Ben Krambeck, CEO of Claim DOC of Des Moines, Iowa, shared horror stories of hospital negligence that led to over $1 million in excessive medical claims costs for his employer clients.
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The most effective consultant you never heard of
Craig Lack, president of Energi Insurance Services based in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., spoke to advisers on topics ranging from how to engage with C-suite executives on benefits to winning new clients.
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About those fees and commissions
To counter the impact of the ACA's Cadillac Tax, which could reduce commissions for some brokers by as much as 50%, advisers Mick Rodgers, John Sbrocco and Scott Wood discussed how brokers need to counter the effects by expanding their business beyond benefits and acting as consultants.
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Reducing the cost of claims
Rather than auditing claims post procedure, Deb Ault (left), founder and president of Ault International Medical Management, catches unnecessary and ineffective costs before an employee enters the operating room. Ault sat on the medical management panel to explain the nuances of medical management and how to use it as a cost containment strategy.
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Direct contracting
Brokers Jeff Fox, Troy Hanratty and Deke Lape explained how they utilize direct contracting with their own provider partners to reduce their clients’ claims costs.
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Rule no. 1: Don't talk about healthcare
Mick Rodgers (right), principal and managing partner for Axiel Benefits Group, advised brokers not to use the term "healthcare," when attempting to sell their services to C-suite execs. A better approach, Rodgers said, was to ask about the employer’s biggest expenses and explain how the adviser can work with the company to help reduce them.