Brokers and PPACA: Outwit, outlast, outplayNews added by Benefits Pro on June 26, 2013

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Joined: September 07, 2011

My Company

By Kathryn Mayer

It's no wonder some brokers feel as if they’re playing a version of the reality program, “Survivor.”

With all the new regulations and changes under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — and everything that goes along with it — many brokers are having a hard time seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Some are getting out of the business, some are admitting defeat to the massive health overhaul.

But there’s always a way to win “Survivor,” James Lloyd, a motivational speaker, told a group of brokers Tuesday attending WarnerPacific’s annual ancillary/worksite symposium in Denver.

“One of the secrets to winning the game is making the right alliance,” he said.

Lloyd encouraged brokers to partner with carriers, with colleagues, with clients and consumers — everyone that will “help us get through this.”

“That way you can not only survive, but thrive,” Lloyd said.

Throughout the day’s sessions, industry insiders encouraged others in the business to embrace — rather than fear — health reform by helping consumers and employers navigate the new landscape and offer new products.

Much of the talk focused on the new importance of voluntary benefits on the industry. Though they were important before, brokers need to really embrace the market to pad their commissions and make themselves — and the products they’re selling — vital to consumers.

Some said to consider the upcoming open enrollment in the public exchanges beginning Oct. 1 as a “giant shopping experience” in which brokers have an important role to help present consumers new products.

And those brokers with a positive attitude and great customer attitude — not the ones concerned about the impending doom coming — will be the ones accruing business.

An agent’s positive attitude is the No. 1 factor in productivity, Lloyd said. And if that’s not reason enough, he said, those with a positive attitude will be healthier and live longer.

Also important to succeed? To be an early adopter.

Lloyd referred to a similar talk he gave about the same lesson.

“I was asked to speak to a group of agents. Most of them were telling me what I’ve been hearing from brokers here — that the end is near, we are distressed, we are doomed. Our commissions being cut in half and there are new exchanges coming selling what we sell.”

That was about 10 years ago, Lloyd said. And it wasn’t insurance agents he was talking to — it was travel agents.

Despite all the doomsday predictions when those new exchanges arrived — sites like Orbitz and Expedia — there are still about 105,000 full-time travel agents in the county, and many more part-timers.

“They still book 85 percent of cruises, 75 percent of tours, 50 percent of airline tickets,” Lloyd said. “And the ones that made it were the ones who had extreme customer service.”

And, according to the Department of Labor, their employment is projected to increase by 10 percent from 2010 to 2020.

Insurance brokers and agents are anything but doomed, but they do have to work for success.

“When there’s major change, be an early adopter,” Lloyd said. “Don’t get left behind.”

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