Aflac’s Workforces Report for Brokers, released at the end of June, confirms what many in the industry have been hearing all along: It hasn’t been an easy road for brokers. Virtually half of the 300 brokers surveyed said they’re considering leaving the biz, while 67 percent say they’ve seen many of their peers leave in just the past year. Concerns over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is the main culprit, but there are other issues concerning brokers.
Aflac’s report details the top five issues brokers are facing.
5. Client uncertainty about health care reform (27 percent)
Now years into PPACA, a common theme still emerges: confusion over the complex law. Employers and consumers alike are having trouble understanding the law. According to Aflac, just 21 percent of employees say they understand how health care reform affects their lives extremely or very well. Nearly eight in 10 brokers “at least somewhat agree” their clients aren’t prepared for health care reform, while 31 percent “strongly agree” they’re not ready.
Though it doesn’t spell good news for the law itself, it does spell opportunity for brokers, Aflac executives say.
As a result of PPACA confusion, 45 percent of companies surveyed as part of the Aflac WorkForces Report intend to increase their reliance on brokers or insurance providers when making changes to their benefits plans.
Companies’ use of brokers increased from 56 percent in 2011 to 61 percent in 2013 to 64 percent in 2014.
4. Diversifying benefits offerings (26 percent)
No surprise here: The benefits industry is changing. And that includes what employees want, and what they’re offering. And that means brokers have a lot to keep up with.
“The health care industry has certainly changed over the last several years, but with these changes also comes opportunities,” says Tye Elliott, vice president of core broker sales at Aflac.
“The findings indicate that brokers now have an opportunity to redefine their role in designing a benefits strategy that is aligned with employers’ business goals. In response, brokers have expanded their product offerings and services by creating consulting practices and taking full advantage of the evolving health care landscape,” he says. “Brokers are achieving growth and will continue to find innovative ways to position themselves as vital to shaping employers’ benefits programs.”
Voluntary benefits continue to increase in popularity. In the next year, Aflac found, 38 percent of brokers say they’ll increase the number of voluntary benefits they’ll sell, and 53 percent say they plan to increase their firm’s revenue from voluntary insurance benefits.
3. Remaining relevant (29 percent)
This is one issue certainly taking its toll on the business. Aflac found that nearly 50 percent of brokers say they’re considering leaving altogether, while 67 percent say they’ve seen many of their peers exit the industry in the past year.