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The question could be asked, "Was PPACA/Obamacare intended to create planned obsolescence for Brokers?"  If so, how can Brokers beat the system?

 The past is gone forever - When it comes to Brokers working with Employers on Employee benefits plan design, PPACA/Obamacare has changed the game!  A the major component, Health Insurance has an entirely new set of rules and choices. Brokers who are not changing will become obsolete!

Its time for Brokers to quit pondering the future of reform and worrying about lost commissions and renewals. They need to begin offering Employers and Employees Strategies and Solutions for dealing with Reform! The Brokers business and financial future depends on creating new paradigms.

 2014 is on the way! - With only 4 months to go until the traditional enrollment periods begin in October for a January 1st effective date, many Employers - and Brokers - have no idea what to do. Reading, or listening to, the barrage of media is enough to scare an owner to death. Just look at these Headlines:

  • ChiefExecutive.net - "Can CEOs Find Relief From Skyrocketing Health Costs?"

  • The Wall Street Journal "ObamaCare's Health-Insurance Sticker Shock"

  • The Washington Free Beacon - "Obamacare to Increase Premiums Nearly 100 Percent"

The good old days - In the past Employers were accustomed to a Broker stopping-by, gathering information, discussing price increases, and offering ideas about cost-sharing, higher deductible, and other bandage solutions. This year PPACA - and the mountain of HHS, DOL, and IRS guidelines - combined with the real threat of Taxes, Penalties, and Fees - presents a new, ongoing set of problems that have Employers searching for compliant Strategies and Solutions. To survive Brokers need to be at the Employer's side to assist in this time of confusion and need!

 New competition - To take advantage of this disruption, competing Brokers - as well as PEOs, TPAs, Payroll Companies, Enrollment Companies, and Technology Companies, etc. -  are knocking on Employer's doors - actual or virtual - to steal business by offering options for dealing with PPACA/Obamacare. They are differentiating themselves in the Marketplaces with new Starategies and Solutions. As Nelson Griswold pointed out in the Employee Benefit Advisor, the competitors "Turn PPACA compliance into profit". In addition, the traditional service providers - who were in the Brokers' ally in the past - are becoming commission based competitors. They are offering Voluntary and Ancillary plans for the lucrative commissions. Unlike Brokers who are still worrying about their lost Health Insurance commissions and renewals, the Service Providers are discounting their services to gain the Voluntary /Worksite Commissions. What's a Broker to do?

Get Moving - Schedule a meeting with current and potential Clients and offer them Strategies and Solutions. Here are 25 ways to get started:

  1. Answer questions and address concerns they have about PPACA/Obamacare.
  2. Make sure their current plan documents are compliant. Help them avoid hefty Penalties, Taxes, and Fees.
  3. Run through a timeline for Reform Implementation. 
  4. Help calculate the Full Time (FT) and Full time Equivalent Employees (FTEs).
  5. Explain how Reform differentiates between Small and Large Employers.
  6. Determine if they qualify for Tax Credits as a small business? - Help them with the paperwork?
  7. Determine if their Employees qualify for Subsidies?

  8. Explain the Play or Pay options. Help determine what is best for them and their Employees.
  9. Review the Penalties, Taxes, and Fees.
  10. If they have a Union Negotiated Contract, help determine when they need to make changes to be compliant?
  11. Explain Self-Funding as an alternative to a Fully Insured Plan? If appropriate, assist in selecting a TPA. Help select stop-loss coverage.
  12. Explain Qualified Health Plans (QHP) and the Essential Health Benefits (EHBs). Most Employer's major concern this year will be the Health Plan, Compliance, and Cost!
  13. Explain Exchanges (Marketplaces): Federal, State and Private.
  14. Review the "Metallic Plans" - Bronze, Silver, Platinum, and Gold. Explain the "Actuarial Values".
  15. Determine if introducing HRAs and/or HSAs combined with a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) is appropriate.
  16. Assist in selecting a Carrier(s) for the Health Insurance Plan(s).
  17. Suggest a "Menu" of Voluntary/Worksite and Ancillary Benefits utilizing the best-of-class of Carrier/Providers as well as Plans, Programs, and Services to meet the Needs and Price-Points of the Employees. 
  18. Suggest pre-taxing Employee contributions for qualified Plans under Section 125 and tax-advantaged Reimbursement Accounts. Assist them with the Model Plan Documents and in selecting the TPA?
  19. Work with them in dealing with Part-Time and Seasonal Employee's.
  20. Determine what Plans could be offered to the Part-Time and Seasonal Employees.
  21. Discuss Defined Contribution (DC) as an alternative Benefit Plan Design to assist them in Budgeting Benefit Costs and in offering a Menu of Employee Benefit Choices.
  22. Offer a Private Exchange Platform - utilizing emerging technologies - for offering the Benefit Plan Choices
  23. Help design and implement the Education, Communication, Enrollment an Data Management Processes. Help co-ordinate the Enrollment.
  24. If appropriate, discuss the Insurer's Medical Loss Ratios (MLRs) and the impact on your  revenues - as well as your capacity to provide required services. Start discussing a shift to a partially "Fee Basis" Model!
  25. Let them know you will be at their side to assist as new Guidelines and Regulations roll-out to keep them compliant and avoid Penalties, Taxes, and Fees - Become Their Trusted Advisor!

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What's next for the Broker? The above is obviously a major shift from old norms! The disruptive changes generated by Healthcare Reform demand new Strategies and Solutions! To survive in this new environment, Brokers must gain an understanding about the intricacies of PPACA/Obamacare and the plethora of Guidelines and Regulations. In addition, Brokers need to revamp their established business plan to cope with the lost commissions from Health Insurance Plans and new demands for Services.

 For several months we, BenefitPlace.biz, have been suggesting "Five Strategies for Survival" that we will assist in implementing!  Quite simply these are:

1) Utilize Inbound Marketing to Shorten Selling Cycles, Reduce Marketing Costs, and Increase Revenues.  Our Listings on BenefitPlace.biz and becoming an Exhibitor on BPTradeShow.com are a fast start toward success.

2) Integrate Technology Solutions to create efficiency and cost-saving. 

3) Integrate Employee Benefits and Plan Choices to meet the needs and price-points of the Employers and Employees.

4) Utilize Defined Contribution (DC) Plan Design to help the Employers budget Costs and provide Employee Choices. 

5) Offer Employers access to a Private Exchange to provide efficiency and for you to remain competitive. 

 Keeping Brokers Ahead of the PPACA/Obamacare Learning Curve, we have developed a series of 6 one hour Coaching Sessions on PPACA/Obamacare. The affordable Recorded Sessions - including Power Point Presentations -  will be available this week at $29.99 per Session or $129 for the entire package. You will have 24/7 access! The Session Sessions are titled:

A) An Overview of PPACA and other Health Insurance Reform - From the Employers Perspective - A Focus on their Myths, Questions, and Concerns 

B) Decisions and Calculations Required For Remaining Compliant and Alternative Strategies - Dealing with the Play or Pay Choices and other Related Decisions 

C) Status of Health Insurance and other Plan Choices Under PPACA/Obamacare - A close look at the ailable Plan Options - Core, Voluntary/Worksite and Ancillary - as well as Tax-Advantaged Reimbursement Accounts

D) Employer and Employee Focused Plan Design Strategies - Meeting Employer's and Employee's needs within their Price-Points while dealing with PPACA/Obamacare Guidelines and Regulations

E) A Focus on Small Business Owners and Dealing with PPACA/Obamacare - The Small Business Owners face an entirely different set of Guidelines and Regulations - as well as Plan Choices under PPACA/Obamacare.

F) Broker Survival in 2013 and Beyond - A Focus on Viable Strategies and Solutions for Brokers in Re-Tooling their Operations and Working with Employers in 2013 and Beyond

 For more information about these Sessions -- Email - max@benefitplace.biz - or Call 216.577.1307.  Watch for announcements and how to order the Recorded Sessions on our Linkedin site - http://www.linkedin.com/in/benefitplace

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