According to Hendrickus van Bulck, a partner with Van Bulck & Company (Sumter, S.C.), health benefits are at a crossroads, especially with the move toward health care reform. "No one knows what will happen," he states. "However, what is certain is that, in the foreseeable future, health care will change one way or another. If you are in that market, it is important to be prepared."
Van Bulck believes the processes of marketing and selling in general will not change. What will change are the reasons people buy. In addition, what the product will do for the buyer also will change, from a more or less specialty service to a commodity item. "Once everyone is required to be in that market, health care or similar benefits will be like buying gasoline," he suggests. "The products will be more and more similar to each other."
The Trend Toward Tech
Both van Bulck and Barry believe that technology is an important component of the growing need for consumer education. According to van Bulck, education is becoming much more Internet-based. However, as people become more Internet-savvy, education needs to become less transactional and more relational.
"In other words, it is important to use the Internet, but also to be very personal with it," he suggests. Certainly, according to Barry, younger people are very tech-savvy and prefer being educated this way. But older people are also becoming comfortable with electronic education.
Combs holds these meetings around renewal time, during open enrollment. Part of the process also involves educating existing enrollees on any new changes.For some of her clients that don't have formal HR departments, Combs is actually the "HR arm."
"When they have a new hire, they have that person contact us directly, and we go through their benefits with them," she reports. "In addition, if there are a number of options, we discuss these with them. We will ask them for a list of their doctors and let them know which ones are in-network."