With the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act now more or less in place, priorities for those corporate managers who’ve been glued to its every mutation are shifting. The same can be said for the National Business Group on Health, an organization founded to support businesses in their efforts to contain healthcare costs and better understand the employee health insurance landscape.
At this critical time, the NBGH is undergoing a leadership change. Its long-time president and CEO, Helen Darling, officially stepped down May 1. Her successor, Brian Marcotte, brings to the position a dozen years as an NBGH board member and a career as a benefits manager at Honeywell.
In an interview with Benefitspro Wednesday, he said he looks forward to assuming the role at a time when the NBGH can get “refocused on health care costs and improving the delivery system.”
“The ACA has been a big distraction,” he said. “But the reality for companies is that health care costs continue to go up. Maybe that becomes boring as a topic, but at the end of the day that’s the real issue all employers are dealing with.”
Marcotte cited several major topics he sees as the group’s top priorities for the immediate future: helping members understand and navigate the private exchange insurance system; supporting members as their employees become health care consumers rather than plan participants; sifting through the emerging accountable care organizations to understand how to evaluate them.
Marcotte’s Honeywell career prepared him well for the position, he said. Having reported to CEOs who were driven to understand and contain healthcare costs, and who expected to see improvements in plan design and cost every year, Marcotte developed a continuous improvement approach to his job.
“You may have redesigned the plan and saved millions last year, but it’s always, ‘What have you done for us this year?’” he said. “To stick with a plan design and achieve the same results as last year was seen as a lost opportunity at Honeywell.”
Marcotte also learned that, if he was going to make significant changes, he’d better be able to back up his proposals with hard data. The C-Suite demands lots of information to back up a new initiative, and Marcotte believes that supporting the group’s members in their quest for the right data will be one of NBGH’s core missions.
“The interfaces I’ve had with CEOs over the years and my knowledge of how things are done in an organization will help me in my leadership role here,” he said. “I understand what it takes to get employers to the table to discuss a major issue.”
One quick item Marcotte intends to provide is something he calls “What your CEO is reading.” It’ll be a quick enewsletter-type communication to members summarizing recent articles on various topics of interest to members. “I was constantly receiving emails from the CEO asking if I’d read a certain article and how I thought it applied to Honeywell,” he said. “This is intended to give our members a heads-up on what their CEOs are likely to be reading so they can be ready to respond.”
Marcotte believes in getting information and support materials out in a timely manner to members. The field changes so quickly today that benefits plan managers need to know how to respond in real time, not weeks after they’ve been apprised of the latest new regulation or standard.