If you read some of my articles and look at the tag line of my blog, “Challenging Everyday Thought”, you will realize that I like to “think outside the box”. I like the idea of challenging everyday thought. I have always done that even when I was in the insurance business. As one who writes such articles I am always getting those that challenge my ideas. I really don’t mind that because I believe in healthy debate, but what happens most often is that I have people arguing for the status quo. In my opinion it is the defenders of the status quo that are fighting innovation and change in an industry, healthcare and health insurance, that is in dire need of new ideas.
Such a discussion took place this past Friday afternoon with a benefits broker after I gave my webinar titled “Zenefits raises $500 Million – What is means for benefits brokers.” You can still see this by registering here ( http://www.hrtadvisors.com/AboutUs/HRTWebinars.aspx). This broker was giving me all the reasons why employers won’t want a broker that does not provide local service. Keep in mind this is after I talked about how Zenefits sold $20 million in new business with no local service. This broker wanted to believe that the current broker model was too valuable and would never change. I was just reporting the facts and the facts were saying otherwise.
I always believed that the industry protecting the status quo invited the government in. Since Hillary threatened the industry in the early 90’s up until Obama came into power the industry had 18 years to make changes. Yet there was very little change. Brokers, carriers, and the providers, had it pretty good. This reminds me of a quote I read just this morning that said,
“Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.” – Clay Shirky
Is this what we have going on in the health insurance industry? Will benefits brokers contribute to the solution or is the desire to protect the status quo too strong? I think there are some “fake” changes going on. Private Exchanges don’t save anyone ten cents in real health care dollars yet the some sell this as a big change. Private Exchanges are a reincarnation of Cafeteria Plans from 1988. Did Zenefits create anything real new? No. They have a nice little technology that many other vendors have but there really is nothing new. Corporate Synergies was doing what Zenefits is doing in 2002. Corporate wellness programs are failing and won’t solve the problem. Disease management programs, claims analysis tools, it seems like everyone is still squeezing the balloon of health care costs with no real answers.
I believe that the health care industry is about to go through some big changes. I wrote about this in another article titled “The Coming End to the Health Insurance Business as We Know It – And What Brokers Can Do About It” (see it here: https://joemarkland.wordpress.com/2014/12/02/the-coming-end-to-the-health-insurance-business-as-we-know-it-and-what-brokers-can-do-about-it/) Boy did I get ripped by the status quo people on that one. The way I see it is that the industry is going to change but most brokers and insurance companies will either stand on the sidelines or fight the change. The people or companies that are going to change the industry don’t have an interest in keeping it as is. And with the amount of money spent on health care there are a real lot of them trying to capitalize on changing health care delivery. Brokers and insurance companies may be casualties of this change if they don’t become part of the solution.
I use a quote in my presentations from Mark Cuban that says, “Every day some stranger somewhere in the world is trying to come up with a way to put you out of business.” In this environment with Zenefits raising $500 million; more and more hospitals getting into the health insurance business; new technologies; more and more government intervention; it is not the time to fight to protect the status quo. There are many people here trying to put insurance companies and brokers out of business. When Hillary was asked what the insurance people should do if she succeeded with her health care plan she said they could get another job.
One needs to ask one-self ‘What will the benefits business look like in 10 years?” I guess if you are 55 and plan to retire it may not matter. Fighting for the status quo for a few years may be the plan. However if you plan to have a thriving business in ten years then it is time to change your mindset. It is time to be part of the solution and I am talking real solutions, not fake solutions that protect the status quo. It is time to join me in challenging everyday thought. OK status quo guardians, start tossing your darts. I am ready.