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Life Health > Health Insurance

Death of a broker

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I see a lot of surveys and reports and analysis in my job. Some I look over, some I ignore. For the most part, I’m never that surprised, as most of the findings say pretty much the same thing most of us have already heard or suspected. 

But today was different. When I first saw Aflac’s new Worksite Report, I actually did a double-take.

In case you missed my news story, here’s the gist: A whopping 45 percent of brokers are considering quitting — actually leaving the health insurance business altogether.

More than half of brokers say they have very little confidence — if any — in their future. About a third of them are worried they won’t remain relevant.

How worrisome is this? Extremely.

I’ve heard many concerns and anecdotes from a variety of my broker sources before, but Aflac’s report spelled out what they referred to as the “great broker-employer-employee divide.”

The fact is that though brokers are filled with self-doubt, thinking they aren’t needed, employers and employees are both saying they are in desperate need of guidance from them. Now more than ever.

The Aflac report made me recall another one I wrote about last week. LIMRA found that most Americans flunk a basic health insurance test. For the most part, consumers lacked knowledge about plan features, how various types of plans work and the costs involved.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be.

Anyone in the benefits business should know that their work is confusing to everyone who isn’t involved in it.

But do you really think your role isn’t important? LIMRA said its little IQ test showcases the important need for brokers and agents.

“Consumers need help determining what types of coverage are available and what they should buy to best meet their need,” Anita Potter, assistant vice president, LIMRA group insurance research, said in a statement. “Our industry can help by engaging and educating consumers now, so when they ultimately choose their health care insurance, it is done prudently.”

And that’s not even mentioning PPACA. The health insurance overhaul is confusing employers, consumers and the general public (oh, and of course, the administration, which rolls out delay after delay). Everyone is in desperate need of guidance and advice from benefits consultants.

The Aflac numbers really shock me — and concern me as a consumer. I’ve already mentioned this before, but negativity and giving up aren’t needed in your business right now. Adoption is. Innovation is. Excitement is. Is giving up really the only option?

There seems to be so much opportunity — aside from consulting, there’s an increasing need for awareness of voluntary products, consumer-driven plans and wellness programs that aren’t well understood.

Honestly, I have a hard time believing half of the brokers out there are planning on leaving the biz. But hey, at least if that really is the case, you folks who don’t give up won’t be short for business.

For more from Kathryn Mayer, see:

Nearly half of brokers ready to exit

The real price of a hangover

Administration quietly announces another PPACA delay


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