Abraham Lincoln has been quoted as saying that good things come to those who wait, but only things left by those who hustle. The first person who took the initiative to open a gasoline station when Henry Ford started rolling cars off his production line would certainly attest to that fact. As it has always been, success comes to those who look for where a market is headed and then get there first with products and services.
The provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) have changed the entire structure of American health insurance and have given health insurance brokers good reason to be concerned about their role in the industry. Now, much like that gas station entrepreneur, brokers need to uncover new business opportunities and develop strategies that position them not only to survive, but also thrive in the era of post-healthcare reform.
There are three ways for brokers to stay relevant amidst all the changes:
- 1. Become a valued consultant
- 2. Take advantage of emerging opportunities
- 3. Stay current by working closely with professional associations
Think Like a Consultant
It’s time for brokers to stop relying on the price game exclusively and begin looking for solutions to real business problems. To start, brokers should take steps to deepen their industry expertise to demonstrate to customers their value as benefit consultants. By becoming well-versed in data analytics — things such as the cost of x-rays or hospital stays from one institution to another and the changing dynamics of the federal law, brokers can shift their role from salesman to consultant; becoming a partner, not just a broker and/or vender.
Some companies may need help to understand the comparative economic impact of the new options. Therefore, the new role of the broker is to help them explore new opportunities, such as ways to increase coverage affordability while still meeting government mandates. In this way, the function of the broker must shift from spreadsheet salesman to trusted partner.The bottom line is that the new healthcare law is complex and companies are in need of sound advice. A good broker will be smart to listen to the customers and focus on providing problem-solving strategies instead of concentrating solely on the price.