This guest post comes to us courtesy of Dean A. Hill, an independent life and health agent in Michigan who specializes in individual health and small to mid-sized business planning. He founded Brightside Consulting in 2005.

Now more than ever, we must remain positive about our role and maintain clarity of purpose in our daily dealings.  The mere peddlers of product will certainly fade in to the background, making way for the true thought leaders and health plan navigators of our time.

If you are excited about this, please read on.  If the skepticism remains, we wish you well.

The final decision on how we are compensated in the future is, in many ways, yet to be determined.  Rather than reacting, we can respond to reform through our actions and interactions with clients and prospects.  Through these conversations and deeds, we can position ourselves as industry experts who just happen to sell health insurance as a byproduct of our role.

If we can paint that picture with our clients and prospects, then the “commission question” becomes inconsequential.  We become their consultant, not their agent.  We become their advocate and business partner.  Advocates and business partners not only will be guaranteed a living – they will be guaranteed a life.

A case in point

Several years ago, I worked with a client who owned a chain of retail auto parts stores.  Many of their employees were morbidly obese, and the sedentary nature of their job didn’t help this problem.

We worked with the client to obtain a nutritionist and registered nurse through a local nonprofit organization, who would come and speak with the employees. The cost was nominal.  Over the course of several months, they held sessions to educate employees about basic nutrition.  My wife and I attended the meetings as well, as a show of support and as an example to the employees.

In the end, a young store employee weighing in at 300-plus pounds decided to change the paradigm.; through the process, we discovered that he was a trained chef, but had never quite understood the mechanics of nutrition in the kitchen.  He set a goal that he wanted to meet the weight restrictions of sky-diving – and within six months, he did so.

I am humbled to have been given the chance to partner with a client who understood the need to do what we did.  I am also proud to be a health insurance agent who can find themselves in the position to help companies and change lives.

What you can do

Take the time to understand your clients now, more than ever.  Become students of their business, talk to their employees, and learn to genuinely appreciate the role they play in being an economic engine in your community, city, or state.  This mindset will translate to permanent relationships that will stand the test of health care reform, and ultimately generate more business and opportunities for your firm.

Now, go help someone!

Dean A. Hill can be reached at dean@thinkbrightside.com.