If you’ve been paying attention at all, you know there is a new era of solutions taking hold in the industry. If you haven’t been paying attention, well, you need to get up to speed and fast!
And, to be fair, it’s not so much that these solutions are completely new. In fact, many take us back to the basics of what healthcare used to be. You know, back before it started falling apart.
A few of the strategies/solutions increasing in popularity
Direct primary care – Contracting with a primary care physician outside of a network arrangement. For a fixed fee, patients have access to all/most of the primary care services they need.
Transparent medical markets – Another direct arrangement where, for a fixed, all-in cost, the provider provides all of the care necessary for services ranging from specific conditions (e.g., diabetes care) to specific treatments (e.g., knee replacement).
Reference-based pricing – Instead of starting at an artificially created price point and providing a pretend discount amount, this approach starts at a base price (usually based on Medicare approved amounts), adds in a reasonable profit for the provider, and then pays based on that amount.
Partially self-funding – Yeah, this one has been around and present for years, but there is a renewed interest. I list this one here because it gets to the root of how insurance should work. Insurance is intended to be a financial safety net, not the first dollar benefits we have come to expect.
Through a combination of these type of solutions, employers are enjoying unprecedented results. Many are measurably improving their level of benefits while reducing their costs. If you want specific examples, read Dave Chase’s book, The CEO’s Guide to Restoring the American Dream.
Let’s do this!
It is exciting times in our industry! We are on the cusp of addressing one of the most challenging issues facing our country and economy today. However, in order to bring these new ideas mainstream, it’s going to take a great effort on the part of many. For you to play your role, you will have to commit to levels of education, communication, and collaboration at levels you’ve likely never been challenged to do before.
When you think about everything you need to learn in order to bring these new strategies to your clients, it can be a bit intimidating, even overwhelming. But, constant learning is part of what makes you the professional you are. Besides, you’ve already proven your ability to take on a task like this.
Think back 10 years ago. It would have been overwhelming and intimidating if someone had told you that you were going to have to study and understand a 15,000 piece of legislation and know it well enough to advise and counsel your clients.
Then ACA came along and you knew you had no choice. You knew your clients were going to depend on your advice and counsel; you knew your survival depended on your ability to deliver that advice and counsel. And, by the fact you are still working in this industry, you have proven your ability to study and understand one of the most complicated pieces of legislation ever written and know it well enough to provide the advice and counsel your clients need.
The situation with these creative solutions and strategies is no different. Your clients will demand your advice, counsel, and ability to implement these solutions on their behalf. And now your survival moving forward will depend on your ability to deliver on these new demands.
You need to be discussing these ideas and strategies at every opportunity. You need to discuss them with your team and you especially need to discuss them with your prospects and clients. If you don’t, they will never know they are an option.
In order to successfully integrate these solutions/strategies into your value proposition, you are going to have to build them into every aspect of agency operations.
Obviously, you need to build them into your sales conversation. But, for those sales conversations to be effective, you have to first build them into your marketing strategy.
In order to effectively prepare prospect/clients for these ideas, they must be a focal point on your website. You have to be writing about them regularly in your blog. You must be out on social media sharing these ideas and participating in discussions about them. You have to integrate these ideas into your automated marketing campaigns.
One of my fears is that advisors are going to see these strategies/ideas as simply another “insurance solution” and feel the right time to introduce them to prospects and clients is at renewal. But, given the complexity and newness of the solution, renewal time is too late.
Now, more than ever, you must be meeting with prospects off renewal to effectively start preparing them for strategies and options you can introduce at renewal.
For change on the magnitude of what we need to happen, we are going to need a great deal of collaboration. As a friend of mine, Josh Butler, observed, “Change is only scalable through collaboration.”
In order for us to have the critical mass of direct-contract providers these solutions require, providers of care will have to collaborate with one another to create the framework.
You may not like this, but you, as advisors, are going to have to collaborate with other advisors (even in your own market) to create the awareness of these solutions necessary to drive the critical mass of demand.
We have to recognize, as entrepreneurs and salespeople, we're hardwired to be competitive. That competitiveness can get in the way of your ability/willingness to collaborate. It gets in the way of the creativity your clients need you to tap into in order to bring them new solutions.
When your primary drivers compete, your creative mind shuts down. Some argue that competitiveness is a bit of a scorched earth policy. When you compete with one another, everyone loses. I don't agree. I believe in healthy competition, I believe it makes you stronger.
However, we need to be realistic about where we are as an industry. Before you focus on that healthy competition, you have to ensure you are tapped into your creative side, you have to push through the discomfort that might keep you from collaborating.
The future of this industry is anything but assured. We have to first do the hard work, together, in order to ensure it survives. With a newfound stability, we can then focus on increased levels of success. However, in order for the industry to survive and succeed, you have to have competitors to survive and succeed along with you.
You can retreat into a corner and fight on your own. You can choose to work alone, but, if too many do that, we will all lose together. Or, we can all choose to work together and win together. It seems like an obvious choice to me.
When we collaborate for the greater good, it’s like the rising tide that raises all ships. We all win. We can celebrate one another's successes because we know they lead to more opportunity for ourselves.
It’s exciting times guys and gals, but for everyone to reach their potential, we all have to be committed to those new levels of education, communication, and collaboration.
Are you in?!
Photo by Lightspring