Despite uncertainty over the fate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, NAHU says health reform will happen in some form or another, and brokers need to be ready to embrace it.
“If we would have just gone with ‘repeal and replace [PPACA]’ we would have gone nowhere,” NAHU president elect Bruce Benton said Thursday at a Colorado State Association of Health Underwriters event in Denver. “Nonengagement is baffling to me. The sky is not falling.”
Dealing with regulatory measures in health care isn’t a new concept.
“We’ve been dealing with national legislation for a long time,” he said, citing HIPPA, ERISA, COBRA and prescription drug part D as examples, and it hasn’t been all bad. That's the same view he has on PPACA.
There are parts of PPACA that makes sense, Benton argued. First, there’s the coverage for adult children up to age 26—which, for the most part, puts healthy kids in the health care pool. And then there’s the wellness aspect, which the law places more emphasis on.
About 70 percent of all health care costs are due to lifestyle choices and chronic conditions.
“If you can get early detection, it can drive down the costs,” Benton said. “This isn’t a Republican thing or a Democrat thing; we’ve had this discussion for years.”
Alan Katz, former NAHU president, referred to “skyrocketing premiums” that have made it hard for employers to provide coverage and employees to pay their share. Staggering costs make it obvious why PPACA passed in the first place.
“Health care costs is unsustainable,” Katz said. “Something has to break this cycle. Even if PPACA isn’t passed, health reform will be back.”
And brokers need to be at the forefront of it.
“For all businesses, a healthy work force is a bottom line issue.”
Pushing paper isn’t enough, Katz said. There needs to be more substantial value in what brokers are doing.
“What we need to do is move from a transactional role to a transformational role," he said. "You need to tell [clients] ‘I’m going to give you ways to improve your bottom line.’”