Health care reform starts with broker reform

Broker of the Year finalists on stage (Photo: Torrey Schenewerk, GCS Photography Inc)

Fee-for-service. Pharmaceuticals. Employee engagement. Unhealthy habits. There are so many aspects of our health care system that need to be fixed that it’s hard to know where to start. But on stage at this year’s BenefitsPRO Broker Expo, our Broker of the Year finalists proved they’re more than up for the task.

“We really need to consider economic diversity,” noted Kim Eckelbarger of Tropical Benefits. “I traditionally only designed benefits for people who used our plans, but there’s a whole other population that we need to get resources to.”

“Mental health is huge,” PeopleStrategy’s Elsa Glorioso added. “People are quitting their jobs; they’re not happy.”

Related: 2022 Broker of the Year: Meet the finalists

Ecklebarger and Glorioso, along with Braden Monaco of Blue Horizon, Ami Shah of Corporate Synergies and 2022 Broker of the Year Josh Butler see clearly the reforms needed in our health care system. But before they can truly make an impact on health care for employers, benefits brokers will need to reform their own industry and reshape their relationship with employers.

“Our core foundation is to be a partner,” Monaco said. “Helping our clients understand that we’re not just benefits advisors but business consultants, strategists.”

“We wear a lot of hats, and we’re expected to know a lot,” Butler agreed. “HR, marketing, law. That legal side is going to get bigger in the next few years and employers are going to look to us for guidance.”

As Broker of the Year finalists, these five advisors are trailblazers redefining what it means to work in the benefits industry, but they can also attest to the challenges faced along the way. For those who might at times feel frustrated or discouraged by the momentous task ahead of them, the panelists shared some words of wisdom.

“Ask the fearless questions,” Shah said. “We’re in a position where our clients look to us to help take care of their employees. The more you learn, the more you’re there to help.”

“There has to be a level of perseverance,” Monaco said. “Continuing a course of action no matter what the outcomes.”

“What we do or try to do to keep this momentum going is stay creative, stay innovative,” Butler said. “Just stay at it. There’s no replacement for time. You’re not always going to be the smartest, but you can always work harder.”

“Figure out what’s important to you,” Glorioso said. “Why did you start this company, where do you see this company going, your employees? Once you define that and have your priorities straight, that’s the best thing that can happen.”

And once brokers have redefined themselves, they can become evangelists for the industry. “I’m a big believer in this concept of paying it forward,” Shah said. “Everybody in this room should either be a mentor for somebody or have a mentor. It’s not just in insurance. We all must pay things forward.”

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