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NAHU 2013: Bruce Benton looks back

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Bruce Benton, the outgoing president of the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU), took a few minutes before the start NAHU’s 2013 annual convention to give us his thoughts through an e-mail interview. 

Benton is a classically trained musician who once had a recording contract with a record company. He is the co-founder of Genesis Financial & Insurance Services. He holds the Registered Health Underwriter (RHU) professional designation.

The following is a lightly edited version of his replies to our questions.

Bruce Benton

What, in general, do you want to say to insurance agents and brokers?

The far-reaching implications of health care reform are obviously yet to be determined.

As of this writing there are some members of Congress who supported the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that are deeply concerned with the laws unintended consequences.

Even in my home state of California, in an environment where all stakeholders actually did come together in the development of our state based marketplace (Covered California) creating a structure most likely to succeed, the marketplace (exchange) is required to be self-sustaining after one year.

This requires a lot of working together.

But just like with any massive law or experiment, changes and adjustents are likely to occur.

The most important message I have for your readers is that we as insurance professionals and as an industry are highly resilient and innovative.

We have always been nimble, adapting to change, arguably coming out stronger and more knowledgable on the other side.

For those who do their homework, the future remains bright.

What would you tell a young producer who’s not sure whether or not to get involved with NAHU?

NAHU is our nation’s premier trade group representing agents, brokers, consultants and benefits professionals.

Any insurance professional deriving an income from the sale and servicing of health insurance and related products should be a member of NAHU.

Strength and political clout comes in numbers.

The best way for anyone to get involved is to become a member and get engaged with NAHU. Where else can you hire your own personal lobbyist for $23 a month?

To quote Theodore Rooevelt, “Every man owes a part of his time and money to the business or industry in which he is engaged. No man has a moral right to withhold his support from an organization that is striving to improve conditions within his sphere. “

A year from now, when you’re organizing the sessions on the ACA, what do you think the hot topics will be?

It is likely we will be having discussions on the matter of rate shock, albeit the issue may be somewhat premature 12 months from now considering the varying affects in the states.

Additionally, we will be able to start observing the success of state based marketplaces, the federally facilitated marketplace and partnership arrangement.

We are likely to realize some impact from the employer community as they respond to the pay-or-play environment.

We will be watching the success (or lack of) enrollment of subsidy eligible individuals in the marketplaces including the impact of navigators and non-navigator assisters.

It is also highly likely we will observe employer (and perhaps payroll company) reaction to the administration of rating reforms.

Specifically, rate changes based on actual atained age.

Moreover, we will likely start dealing with the other elephant in the kitchen – doctor shortages.

Is there anything other than the new health care law that you folks wish were getting more attention right now?

Health care transparency and cost containment.

There is no one magic answer to healthcare cost containment, and there are many reasons health care costs are skyrocketing.

Addressing this massive societal problem requires a multitude of comprehensive actions both by individual citizens and their government.

While the ACA does make an attempt to control the cost of healthcare, specifically by incentivizing wellness programs, promoting transparency and establishing entities such as accountable care oOganizations, other programs must be enacted to fully realize any cost containment potential in the healthcare system.

NAHU believes there are a number of steps Congress could take to help reduce both government and private-sector healthcare costs and promote medical care cost containment amongst all Americans.

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