Dennis HartinDennis Hartin has apassion for helping others, whether in his profession, community orcircle of friends and family. HartinDynamics is the culmination of years of service to his clients,finding ways to make their lives better and more profitable.

|

Paul Wilson: How did you get your start in the benefitsindustry?

|

I didn't grow up thinking I would get into insurance. I'vealways been an entrepreneur at heart, so I tried to findsomething that would be a good fit. When I saw the benefits model,I liked that I got to go out and speak to people, and it requiredmore time than money to get it off the ground. I fashion myself anentrepreneur more than an insurance professional, it's just thatinsurance is the avenue I chose. It wasn't haphazardly, it wasbecause this is such a good business model. I've been in thebusiness for about 25 years now. It's been a long run.

|

PW: What changes have you seen in 25 years?

|

I was on the carrier side for most of that time and thenswitched over to the broker side a few years ago. I was in Kentuckyduring Hillarycare and had a relationship with a lot of brokersthere who did a really good job for their clients. I saw a lot ofunique and forward-thinking plan designs, because if you didn'thave your plan self-funded, you were stuck in the state high-riskpool when carriers left because of the laws.

|

When I got to Florida a few years ago, I wasn't seeing a lot ofthose strategies being deployed. I realized I didn't loveeverything I was hearing brokers say to their clients and I didn'talways feel like they were sharing the best information. I couldn'tunderstand why no one was trying to control the claims cost; I justwasn't hearing that in the circles I was in. So I felt like therewas a lot of opportunity to bring those same strategies toFlorida.

|

Then I stumbled across Dave Chase's book “The CEO's Guide toRestoring the American Dream” and that philosophy was very alignedwith the strategies I'd seen years ago in Kentucky. I am now aHealth Rosetta certified advisor, but a lot of these ideas havebeen happening for a long time. It just wasn't a global revolution.I did research to understand why it wasn't happening in Florida.We're a very carrier-centric state, so it's often been a matter offinding the level of least resistance. I just felt like there wasopportunity for someone who could tackle it a little bitdifferently.

|

PW: What are the biggest challenges and opportunitiesfor advisors right now?

|

I think the biggest challenge is that we've done a really goodjob as an advisor community of teaching companies that they need tohave a PPO and be in a network or they're not safe. And I realizedthat I was actually part of the problem; I would go in andcommunicate that they need to raise their deductible to lower theirhealth costs, not knowing the byproduct of that is an entirecompany that is basically functionally uninsured. If you look atthe statistics about the average American having $500 or $1,000 inthe bank, and then look at a $5,000 deductible on average, thatmath just doesn't work.

|

An opportunity is presented, because the costs have gotten sohigh that it just can't be ignored anymore. Advisors who aregenuinely independent and sitting on the same side of the table asthe employer are where the industry will go. It won't happenquickly, but for clients who are tired of being told the same oldstrategies with no long-term results, it's a great fit.

|

Costs have gotten so high that the employers and employees arefed up with it. But if we don't have a better story, our risk isMedicare for All. The politicians know there is an issue and theonly way they know to try to tackle it is to expand Medicare. Idon't think anyone's under the impression that's a great idea, butwhere are people getting better ideas from? If you're thepolitician and Medicare for All isn't the answer, then whatis?Dennis Hartin

|

PW: Are you seeing employers and employees who arebecoming more open to trying new things?

|

I think most are trying to do one of two things. One is tosay:“We can't afford it; we can't do it,” forcing employees to gowithout health care. I actually had an employer last week say, “Whywould I spend money for anything, including a direct-primary caresolution? My employees have figured out that they can just show upat the emergency room and they're not going to be turned away.”When that's the environment we're in, it will only create moreproblems in the long term.

|

Employers are frustrated and feel absolutely trapped. Advisorswho they're paying to help them attract and retain talent areshowing up with a limited toolbox. Too often, it ends up being thesame old things. So when employers see someone who's looking at itdifferently and showing them they're on the same side of the table,it's resonating.

|

PW: Is there also a lot of pressure to get things rightvery quickly? Is the window closing? Are you optimistic this canget fixed?

|

I genuinely feel like we have an opportunity to fix it, but wehave to bring real value. We can't just show up and sign a documentand get paid a ton of money. There's work in doing it right, andnot everybody's interested in doing that work. Unfortunately, we'reputting our own industry at risk. There's very few brokers who aretrying to do what's in the best interest of our industry and tokeep it alive and thriving. The number is very limited comparedwith how many could be involved.

|

PW: How do you keep from gettingoverwhelmed?

|

In my old career, there were thousands of people who'd been onthe same path, so all I had to do was find someone who had alreadydone it. I'm finding now that the bigger challenge is that thereare very few people who have successfully gone down this road.There are a lot of talking heads and people who say they're doingthese things, so I try to research all the groups of advisors thatare out there and then determine, to the best of my ability, who'sreally getting the job done? Outside of all the noise we see onLinkedIn, who's actually performing?

|

When you find the right group for you, those are people you canlean on. I won't meet with a vendor unless they understand theHealth Rosetta philosophies and I find one of my peers to vouch forthem and say, “That's a solution you should look at closely.”

|

PW: I'm fascinated by the groundswell in the industry ofpeople who are genuinely trying to fix a brokensystem.

|

One thing I've shown in my career is I'm not afraid of a bigfight, as long as it's for the right reasons and will help people.I'm 45 and feel like I have one more rodeo in me. I want to spendthe next 20 years trying to help from a much bigger perspective.One of the things that drew me to this industry was I felt like Icould help people.

|

PW: How can the industry attract the people who canhelp?

|

I'll frame it with my nephew and son in mind. Their generationwants to help and they realize the world isn't a perfect place. Ifthey're going to put energy into something, it has to be somethingthat will leave things better than when they found it.

|

There's a company I'm working with now called Autism Shifts thatrecognized 90 percent of the autistic community is unemployed. Somany people they work with would make perfect employees in theright space. But somebody has to take the time to find the rightspot.

|

With my son and others in his generation, it has to be aboutsomething bigger than the dollars. My generation just wanted nicecars, nice watches, big homes, big vacations. My son doesn't careanything about that; he cares about leaving the world a betterplace.

|

NAHU's Vanguard Council has gotten behind the Children's DreamRacers. We place these child-sized versions of NASCAR race cars inchildren's hospitals around the country and they have TVs and videogames inside. That's one of the ways NAHU is attracting that nextgeneration to the industry. It's not just about the money; it'sabout helping the client and leaving the world in a betterplace.

|

PW: Finish this sentence: The key to success in thisindustry going forward is…

|

Absolute blind grit. Go and do.

|

Read more from our Face of Changeseries: 

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to BenefitsPRO, part of your ALM digital membership.

  • Critical BenefitsPRO information including cutting edge post-reform success strategies, access to educational webcasts and videos, resources from industry leaders, and informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM, BenefitsPRO magazine and BenefitsPRO.com events
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com
NOT FOR REPRINT

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.

Paul Wilson

Paul Wilson is the editor-in-chief of BenefitsPRO Magazine and BenefitsPRO.com. He has covered the insurance industry for more than a decade, including stints at Retirement Advisor Magazine and ProducersWeb.