Qualified consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) have been around for the last five years — but still, agents continue to complain that this lower-priced tax-advantaged combination is too complicated and that their clients, both in the individual and group spheres, just don’t get it.
Well, first of all, let’s admit that these plans can be hard to explain and for our clients to understand — at least at first. For the past 30 years, we have been selling our clients a very simple product. Basically, all we needed to show the client with traditional medical plans was the office visit copayment, the deductible, the provider network, and the premium. After shuddering over the premium, the client would select the combination of features that best met their needs — and we were done until next year.
With a product like that being the norm for so long, it’s no wonder that when it comes to selling health plans, agents have forgotten one of the basic rules: Promote the benefits and not the features.
Many agents make the mistake of introducing the qualified CDHP to their clients by saying something like, “How would you like to look at a plan that has a higher deductible than you have now, but you can open an account where you can save some money tax free?”
The client invariably responds, “Higher deductible? I don’t think so. My deductible and out-of-pocket costs are already too high.”
The agent takes that objection as, “No. I don’t get it. Why would I want to do that?” After a few more attempts to make sense of the plan, the agent drops the discussion altogether and offers to find a more competitively priced traditional PPO plan (good luck with that). Worse yet, the agent may eventually lose the case to a competitor who is more skilled at selling the benefits of a qualified CDHP.