This blog post is based on an interview with David Contorno, Employee Healthcare Strategist and Health Rosetta Founding Advisor. It has been posted with his approval and permission.
Note: AB denotes AgencyBloc and DC denotes David Contorno
Continuing with our Expert Series blogs, I had the opportunity to ask David Contorno, Employee Healthcare Strategist and Health Rosetta Founding Advisor, about the movement happening today to turn the traditional healthcare coverage model on its head, and what that means for the business owner/employee/broker/agency relationship. Thank you, David, for your time and contribution!
AB: There has been a flurry of social media posts in the last 6 months by leaders in the life and health world about a variety of new approaches to bring down the cost of healthcare and insurance premiums. Can you help us sort through all of the excitement by explaining what the purpose of these posts is and why this movement is important?
DC: I think the movement revolves around a frustration with the results we have been getting and delivering combined with the fact that we are approaching (or perhaps already surpassed) a breaking point. I believe that change only occurs when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of change, and I think we are finally approaching that inflection point. But absolutely none of the ideas I have seen posted are new (including my own). Most of them are either already commonly applied to other areas of our economy (like knowing a price BEFORE services are rendered), or are being done in the healthcare space successfully, just in localized pockets. And for those employers doing it successfully for some time, none of those ideas, not a single one, came from a carrier, a traditional broker (often not from a broker at all), or a PBM. The common thread in the employers that have already fixed healthcare is that the owners took the blinders off, stopped blindly trusting outside entities, and dug in to the problem. Once they saw the complete dysfunction and misaligned incentives, they become determined to fix it. That is the awakening we need.
AB: Many times when a movement gains momentum, there are clearly polarized “sides”, if you will. I have not seen that in this case; why is that?
DC: Well, I can only speak to my posts, and I do get pushback on occasion. It usually comes when a commonly used strategy by the masses sits in direct opposition or perhaps as an obstacle to strategies we bring in. But I think the real reason there seems to be little pushback is that when I post ideas, they are not unproven or un-validated. How do you push back against something already working? Further, I think the industry and the private sector alike, see that what I promote is just plain common sense, and some even realize how backwards the way they have interacted with the healthcare system historically is. Like commission to brokers...how does that align with the client? If I am paid commission and had a strategy to save 40%, why would I bring it in when it will cut my revenue by 40%?
AB: It’s often a challenge for competitors to join together and genuinely invest the resources and faith in each other to make as great of an impact as this movement is. How is this group overcoming that challenge?
DC: It’s core principal to Health Rosetta, and I spend A LOT of time and resources sharing that knowledge in ways that don’t often generate revenue. So, we created this platform that appears to attract like-minded people. I wasn’t sure they existed until the last year where the minority voices have been growing louder and louder. Even more ironically, the ones that keep their “secret sauce” close to the vest rarely do any more than put a spreadsheet together once a year of other carriers’ products and rates. Where is the value in that? So, I try to lead by example. After all, I didn’t create anything I do. I may package it differently or tell a different story around it, but at the end of the day, it all came from elsewhere.
AB: Much of the information being shared is real world examples of agencies saving considerable dollars for employers. What advice do you have for agencies trying to gain traction with existing and new clients following some of the new models?
DC: Reach out and surround yourself with people willing to share and already doing it. Fixing this healthcare system is FAR more important than being a little vulnerable. And great things happen when you collaborate with great people.
AB: Everything new brings change, and change is very scary for some people. For agencies that are all-in on this new approach, what do they need to do to prepare their clients for the changes they may see in administration and delivery of care?
DC: I say they should experience that type of care themselves. I have a video over my own experience getting a hernia repaired. I tried to get pricing and quality metrics at all the local traditional hospitals near me, but then hopped a plane and went to the preeminent surgical facility for being fully transparent on pricing and quality (and they have never participated in any insurance plan, ever). The end result was a GREAT outcome and SIGNIFICANT savings! They can also use a Direct Primary Care provider for themselves and their families.
AB: For agencies that are energized and ready to be a part of this sea change, what’s the first step?
DC: There are some organizations helping agencies create the change such as Q4intelligence and the Agency Growth Mastermind Partnership. They can also get involved in Health Rosetta, which is an open source, collaborative movement to scale the fixes that already exist. But above and beyond everything, just do something different tomorrow than you did today.
AB: What’s your favorite thing about being an agency leader?
DC: The growing voices of employers and brokers around the country wanting to change, and my visibility to that effort, is my favorite thing about being a leader. If we are able to fix this healthcare mess of ours, it will not be my doing, it will be our doing.
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