I don’t get a chance to attend a ton of insurance conferences, but I always love to go! It gives me a chance to hear what’s going on in the industry, and to meet up with our clients, vendors and brokers.
The Texas Association of Health Underwriters conference was last week and we took some of our newer marketing and service team members so they could have a chance to do the same.
This time, we decided to put our ear to the ground and get the temperature on the industry from the brokers who attended. This forced all of us to strike up conversations we might have easily missed. Most importantly, it helped us to better understand the industry and our clients, and discover ways we can help.
Based on our conversations, these were their top concerns…
1) Shrinking Commissions
Many of the brokers noted that they were concerned about the recent elimination and reduction of commissions. They wondered if this was a trend and how far it would go. In keeping with this concern, the breakout about “Commission vs. Fees” was sold out.
2) More Work
At the same time commissions are shrinking, the ACA is causing additional work. The burden of IRS forms and helping clients manage compliance is difficult and takes a lot more time. As one broker pointed out, “The employers don’t care about the details of compliance - they just want us to take care of it. The problem is we’re not getting paid more to do more – we’re getting paid less.” I hope that broker attended the aforementioned “Commission vs. Fees” breakout.
3) Political Uncertainty
On the first day of the conference, Donald Trump sealed the Republican Presidential nomination and we learned that Hillary Clinton was “in” that week, too. Therefore, political and legislative uncertainty had to make this list! Brokers expressed concern about HillaryCare rearing its head, and that the U.S. could “move to a single payer system and we won’t have a say in the matter.”
The “Repeal and Replace” breakout from our own always-entertaining, Eric Johnson, was also attended by a sell-out crowd. He shared the history of multiple candidates’ comments on healthcare and insurance showing that, over time, they’ve all said the same things and supported the same positions. The issue is that they can’t seem to work together to actually integrate them. He also noted that all of us in the industry need to work with whoever is in office to ensure the future is good for consumers and brokers. Also, if you haven’t taken the quiz Who Said It: Donald Trump Or Mr. Burns From ‘The Simpsons’?, you’re missing out (I think I only scored a 60%!).
4) Shrinking Networks
Just because it’s #4 on the list, doesn’t mean it wasn’t a big conversation. Multiple brokers mentioned frustration on this topic stating that they sell a plan based on the network at open enrollment. Then, the network dwindles throughout the year and clients are told the doctor is no longer accepting their insurance or new patients – to some, it feels like a “bait and switch” situation. One broker said, “We are a solutions provider running out of solutions.”
To be sure, there is no shortage of concerns and issues in our industry. As one broker put it, no matter what happens with Obamacare, legislation, politics or insurance companies, “there will always be major issues brokers will have to face.” Winston Churchill said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” All these concerns and issues can add up to a lot of opportunity if we’re looking for it!
Now it’s your turn! Would you rank these as your top concerns? What would add to or remove from the list? Comment below or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!