Andy Neary worked his way through the minor leagues as a scrappy undersized pitcher in the Milwaukee Brewers organization, and he often uses sports analogies when discussing health insurance.
“How many of you have ever witnessed a home run derby?” he asked attendees during a breakout session yesterday at the 2018 BenefitsPRO Broker Expo. “What is the goal of a batter in a home run derby? To knock it out of the park.”
In a home run derby, the odds are stacked in the batter’s favor. There are no Cy Young candidates painting the corners of the plate. Instead, there’s usually a middle-aged pitching coach lobbing the ball right down the middle to make it easier for the hitter. They know right where the ball will be and the speed that it will reach them.
The driving force of change
Gaining that trust is easier said than done, according to Neary, who described a bleak picture where “medical bills are eating away at average families” and the cost of health care is far outpacing wages and inflation.
“It’s safe to say that the cost of health care is one of the biggest threats we face and one of the biggest threats our clients face,” Neary said. “And we need to do a better job of explaining that to our clients.”
Neary said brokers won’t find solutions by following the “box scores” of legislation and regulations. Quoting Hall of Fame baseball player Yogi Berra, Neary said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.” His point: Brokers and advisors can’t wait around for the health care system to change. They need to be the driving force of change. “And the time to drive change is now.”
Disrupt the status quo
During his baseball career, Neary did not fit the prototype of a professional pitcher. Usually pitchers are imposing figures, standing well over six feet tall. Neary never reached five foot ten and relied on fearlessness and a willingness to get out of his comfort zone to achieve success. And those are the same traits brokers and agents need to disrupt the status quo.
“Helping our clients battle the complexities of the health care and health insurance industry is a is a daunting challenge, but you know you have what it takes to win,” Neary said.
To see that change materialize for clients, brokers and agents need three pitches in their arsenal, he added.
Strike One: “When we stop letting our clients accept these predictably bad outcomes with their health insurance every year, we’ve thrown strike one.”
Strike Two: “When we help our clients build a health plan backwards, by focusing on the employees’ interaction with the health care system first, then we’ve thrown strike two.”
Strike Three: You save this pitch to help those “that need the most help within our client’s health plan.” As Neary put it, “You want to call in Mariano Rivera from the bullpen to close out the game.”
The end result is worth it, he said. When you put together this game plan and these pitches, “you will see reduced health care costs, improved health care outcomes and clients who love us.”