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Buyer Beware: 3 Reminders for Employee Benefit Advisors

Mar 06, 2019

Have you ever tried to transform a four-year-old into a grandpa? Trust me, it’s no small task! 

My three kids recently celebrated the 100th day of school where preschoolers are asked to dress up as if they were actually 100 years old. This local custom is new to me and my wife. Still, she proudly made plans to transform our youngest child into a sweet old man – courtesy of the Grandpa Kit!

Despite the image depicted on the package, the Grandpa Kit did NOT contain a white wig, white eyebrows or black glasses. My son looked nothing like an elderly gentlemen. 

Big promises with unmet expectations are nothing new in our industry. Hardly a day goes by without someone touting the next big thing to “transform healthcare.” 

Today, I’m sharing 3 important reminders for all of us who sell and advise in healthcare…. 

1. Paint an accurate picture 

The Grandpa Kit clearly portrays an image that causes people to expect a costume identical to the one pictured. Yes, if you read carefully, the packaging lists only clothing items are included – but a picture is worth a thousand words, right?

When you’re prospecting for a new client or walking through your next renewal, take a step back to ensure there’s no gray area for misrepresentation or misunderstanding…

  • When switching to the new carrier with a lower rate, what disruption will it cause the group?
  • What modifications will employees need to embrace if the employer goes with an HSA?
  • What consumerism tools will employees need to help with the cost burden that comes with a high deductible health plan? (Pssst - freshbenies is a perfect complement to that change!) 

Go above and beyond to accurately represent a full picture of solutions you promote.

2. Be candid about risks

There are things we cannot control when it comes to our industry. Employees get sick -  sometimes seriously sick. If this happens, a seemingly healthy group can suddenly lose millions because they switched from fully-insured to self-funded. 

Was switching to self-funded a bad strategy? Not at all. Healthy groups will almost always perform better on self-funded plans. But, there are always risks involved. As long as the risks of any recommendation are clearly stated and understood by all parties, then nobody should leave disappointed.     

I recently saw this post on LinkedIn by Tim Olson and thought it made a lot of sense…
“Is being self-funded best? Yes 
Is being fully insured best? Yes 
Is having a carrier network best? Yes 
Is reference-based pricing best? Yes 
All of these are a yes for some groups and a no for others. There are no silver bullets in health insurance. Every company has their own culture, workforce, cash flow, and other unique challenges. What’s best for one company is not necessarily best for another. It’s important that you have a strategic plan in place that addresses the multitude of factors that makes each of these funding mechanisms and provider payor strategies best for your organization!”

3. Be creative and deliver alternative solutions

My son was pretty devastated when he opened the Grandpa Kit. But rather than get angry at the mis-leading packaging or the school for their silly ritual, my wife and I went to work with alternative solutions. I fashioned a stick from our yard into a cane while my wife re-worked a mop into a wig. 

In the same vein, make sure you’re offering new solutions and not just presenting routine ideas to your clients. Below are a few ways some of our top brokers are using freshbenies with their clients…

  • For groups that have a good year and get a rate pass: While some brokers would choose not to rock the boat, others think it’s exactly the right time to introduce freshbenies to help continue to bend the cost curve
  • For groups with large part-time populations that need to reduce high turnover: This is a perfect time to introduce the freshbenies freshSAVINGS pack. Any freshbenies package is great for contractors, part-timers or employees who don’t opt in to the benefits program. 
  • For groups that had a great first year on a self-funded plan: Introducing non-insurance services with consumerism tools generates even more savings for employers and their employees.

The point here is that there are a lot of new ideas out there that can help address your employer challenges and complement any benefits plan. The trick is to be on the lookout and start trying a few.

My wife and I made a few costume innovations and we were rewarded with a huge smile from our son. If you bring similar innovative solutions to your clients, you’ll be rewarded too!   

Now it’s your turn! What are your thoughts with misleading or disappointing buyer experiences in our industry and how have you worked to address it? Comment below to tell me your story or email me at


Neil is Vice President of Sales for freshbenies where he strategizes with brokers and employers on how to control their healthcare dime, time and peace of mind. He previously worked for Cigna in a strategy and marketing capacity and also ran sales and marketing for a provider-owned health plan. Neil and his wife are raising three young (energetic!) sons. He can be reached at 

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Tanya Boyd
Tanya Boyd
President of Tanya Boyd & Associates

I didn’t want to go to urgent care or the ER. Using Doctors Online in my freshbenies membership, I went online to ask a doctor. The doctor responded and said to check my blood pressure. He followed up with the next day to make sure my numbers were OK. By then, the feeling was starting to go away. He told me if it persists to contact my doctor. It was great that I didn’t have to go somewhere and wait forever, and it was free.” - Kelli from Texas

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Marta from NC

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