By Matthew McCormick, Partnership Executive, MMS Analytics, Inc.
As the pandemic known as COVID-19 came to the forefront of our daily lives, my mind, like many of yours, undoubtedly leapt towards “What are the consequences of this virus upon my career?” First and foremost, I am fortunate that, at the publishing of this blog, I am still gainfully employed. That’s the immediate consequence for many of us, and I am grateful to be on the fortunate side.
Now I begin to consider the second-order consequences. Given that I operate within the employee benefits space, the increased focus upon the impact to employers, employees, and their health insurance benefits are intensely magnified. How will employee’s health plans change as a result of this pervasive illness? Will the solution that I offer to employers gain or diminish in value from their perspective?
As I read more and more reports and forecasts, I’ve come to the conclusion that my platform will provide a real, practical solution to the impending boom of healthcare costs. I’ve also concluded that my platform, services, and features should be implemented immediately, in order to get out ahead of this impending doom and gloom.
Now “immediately” may be the obvious conclusion for me, but I recognize that it could be a little too fast for some brokers and their clients. Understandably so. And after a few years in this space, I’ve come to realize the slow-moving nature of the health benefits industry, where patience and thorough communication often win out over an aggressive barrage of sales-driven messaging. This raises an important reminder for myself and others in the B2B sales space: there are other major issues decision-makers must face, such as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the PPP, to name a few.
But as these last two months have progressed, and the focal points of this pandemic begin to crystalize, I’ve been met with the same response from brokers, those tasked with providing guidance and advice to employer groups in order to manage their enterprises responsibly. I’ve been disappointed (although I can’t say totally surprised) by their acceptance, and I suspect in some cases, complacency, to allow their employer clients to maintain the status quo when it comes to their health plans and designs. This path is riddled with imminent disaster, both in the form of negative employee experience as well as financial ruin.
We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when the problems were first created.
Would a plan change be disruptive? Uncomfortable? Anxiety-inducing? Yes, yes, and yes—as is inherent with any change. In any other space within the innovative American economy and society, disruption is so often looked upon kindly, as a means to achieve better. An improvement upon what once was. And yet, this same connotation does not apply in the health plan arena. There is a preference and willingness to accept status quo, avoid change, and congeal like lukewarm bacon fat. The old kick-the-can-down-the-road is such a popular game in this space. But the bill will come due. Wages will inch up, while workers’ share of out-of-pocket costs and premiums will surge. And the employer group as a whole, nationwide, will accept the role of victim.
I challenge you to be an advocate for change. Positive disruption. Aim higher. The ongoing battle to contain healthcare costs will continue to be waged unless a wedge is inserted. I’m a zealot for consumer-driven health plans paired with price transparency. I believe in high-deductible health plans and low out-of-pocket exposure plans, which can and should be one and the same. Are you going to promote change? What change are you looking to implement? Why do you believe in those changes? If you don’t make some sort of change, I can promise you that you will end up where you’re going.