When we surveyed benefits professionals early last year, they remained dubious about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, with roughly two-thirds of them predicting the legislation would be scaled down or overturned altogether. Just 12 months later—12 months that included a Supreme Court ruling in favor of PPACA and an Obama victory at the polls—they’ve changed their tune. Now nearly 80 percent of benefits professionals believe PPACA will be implemented fully sometime next time.

Though the formal launch of the public health care exchanges is still months away, new distribution models (including private exchanges in addition to the promised public ones) already have begun to disrupt the benefits marketplace. Producers are bracing for subsidized exchange marketplaces, rating standards, essential health benefits, and several new insurance taxes and fees, all of which go into effect in 2014.

Payers are moving in several directions. Some are strengthening their relationships with producers. Others, meanwhile, are taking more of an “arm’s length” approach, slashing commissions and letting the channel compete against emerging distribution mechanisms. The channel is in need of a fresh, new approach to maximizing value if brokers are to meet the needs of clients and insurers.

With that in mind, we took advantage of this year’s Benefits Selling/Oliver Wyman 2013 Health Care Survey, to ask nearly 400 benefits professionals how PPACA would change their business models post-2014 and what strategic changes they were considering. We asked them to predict what “value add” will look like in the post-reform world and how they’re planning to compete. Here’s what they told us.

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