Wednesday, May 20, 2020, is the "Just Help One" day (this month’s version of Just Ask one). Let's encourage our members to reach out to help someone, some group, etc. in whatever way they like. It could be sending meals to a first responder, mowing a neighbor’s lawn, making a donation, etc. We may not be "Healthcare Heros" but we are "Health Insurance Heros" always committed to helping consumers and our community.
I have learned a few guiding principles in my first 50 years of life. One is that the only consistent thing in life is “change,” and not the kind you carry in your pocket. Does anybody even do that anymore? See, even currency and taxes have changed over the years. I don’t like change, but I certainly have learned to embrace it. It took me a while, but over time I have learned that when one door closes, another door opens! And, it’s usually a new door with opportunity waiting. It is with that sprit that the NCAHU board takes on the changes thrust upon us by Covid-19. Just 60 days ago we were returning from Capital Conference with Symposium-InsurEXPO20 ready for attendees, Annual Convention in our sights, and a Medicare Summit in the works. This past month, the NCAHU Board and Committees have been working on ways to continue delivering value that these events would have offered, while dealing with the changes associated with the current shelter in place orders. It has forced us to look at new ways to bring value to our members while also considering how they want that value delivered. In all honesty, we are still working our way through the changes but, in the paragraphs that follow, I hope you will see the hard work of the association leaders. To help fill the void that was left by the cancelation of our April 16th and 17th Symposium and InsurEXPO20, NCAHU has been working on an alternate plan. Since no one knows when it will be safe to hold a face-to-face conference or more importantly the interest in attending a face-to-face conference, we have elected to hold a “Virtual NCAHU Symposium Series”. The webinars will implement components of programing from Symposium, offering CE credits and creating opportunities to promote our Champions Circle Sponsors. The first Webinar will be held on May 27th and highlight three speakers: Joe Stewart (IIANC VP of Governmental Affairs)- legislative update, David Smith, (“The Answer Man” and EBEN VP of RM and Compliance)- Single Payer Systems update, and Jennifer LaTour (President-MZQ)-Compliance Update. Another webinar offering ethics CE, Street Level Ethics with Vince Sorgi, is scheduled for June 3rd. Both events will be held from 1:00 to 4:00 and will be live web conferences. A test will not be required to earn the credits, but the webinar will be proctored. The cost is $30 per web conference. Be on the lookout for registration information for the events and other like these. The good change is you get all this from the comfort of your computer or mobile device. Don’t like the room temperature, you’re in control. In similar fashion, the NAHU Annual Convention to be held in Chicago this June has also been canceled. The good change is that it reduces the barriers of travel and considerable financial investment to attend. However, the event will be held using a Virtual Convention Center and will offer all of the same information and professional development opportunities as the face-to face event would have. The cost of the event is $99 for members and $199 for non-members. If you have never attended a national Convention, now is your chance. You can access the preliminary agenda here . While we are talking about electronic communication, I just have to highlight a resource that is always there when you need it. The site is fluid in its content and a great communication tool. The NCAHU award winning website: https://www.ncahu.org . The website host information on Local Chapters, NCAHU Leadership, NC Symposium, Media and more. If you want to know about chapter news, legislative news, membership or a suite of topics, it’s there. Also, visit the “Forums” tab under “More”. My personal favorite forum happens to be the NCAHU Presidents News, check it out and leave a comment. Be sure to take a moment and send a link to the site to a non-member. Speaking of non-members our membership is in growth mode. Please check out Chris Ross’s VP forum for updates on our membership drive going on through the month of April. Discounts on membership and rewards for member recruitment are available. And, be sure to use the NCAHU website as a recruitment tool. Covid-19 has made us look at life from a different perspective. I have recently had one of those light bulb moments. What was always there, yet overlooked, is now crystal clear. I have realized the power that NCAHU has in supporting our industry in a peripheral way, if not directly. Several weeks ago, Tony Gutierrez, our Media Chair, sent me a text about answering some questions for a reporter. The question was, “what has changed to make Insurers pay for Telehealth?” His initial perspective was that there had to be some pressure or legislative change that forced carriers to make these policy changes. We health underwriters know that the changes were made to help providers care for insureds in a safe way for both the insured and the medical professionals. I was able to communicate this message with the eager to learn reporter and the news article (click here) that followed was a more accurate representation of the reality. I have to stop here and say “a good question brought to us by change…AKA Covid-19. The experience opened my eyes to the value that NCAHU brings when we work with the media. The world is quick to judge our industry so I was happy to be part of highlighting the good we produce as an industry. So, your op-eds, press releases and contact with the media are so valuable and make our association valuable to the industry. Keep them up and speak with one voice. I was so excited to have represented NCAHU and the industry in such a way. Acknowledging the loss of life and economic impact we strive forward for the silver lining in this pandemic. Covid-19 has certainly been a disrupter, and hopefully not an interrupter, in many areas of business and communication. As in the Telehealth news article there are changes implemented out of innovation or necessity that will not return to the days of just two months ago. I already hear members talking about the new practices they will keep in their own agencies after everything returns to “normal.” Which I don’t think will be so normal based on the good changes that stick. NCAHU is no different. Covid-19 has forever changed the way telehealth will be offered and rocketed its utilization. I’m excited to see in what ways this pandemic rockets forward and changes the way NCAHU communicates and brings value to members. I invite you to get involved at the local chapter level or on a state committee and come be part of the “Change”. PS: I’ll close by asking you this: How active have you been this past year as a Health Underwriter? Each year in July the leadership of the Local and State Chapters elect new boards of officers and appoint committees. Now is the perfect time to get involved. Let leadership know you are interested. How? Pop Quiz, visit NCAHU.org for contact information on NCAHU leadership and local chapter web sites. How can you bring value to NCAHU? Come be part of the change.
Given the rapid pace of how our industry and our work is changing I ask you to consider these three questions:
How are you repositioning your business? Have you thought about it? Have you considered what our industry and our market is going to look like in our post pandemic world?
Whether you are an individual producer, a broker, have your own agency or specialize in individual products, it is important for you and your business to start planning for the unknowable. For many of us in this industry bumps and alterations have become more of a "normal" than not. The years of getting your license, getting appointed with a carrier and building a small hometown agency where a couple dozen accounts could sustain you and your family for decades is gone. Market consolidation, the ACA and now the pandemic are going to require that we think outside the box. What do prospective clients need? And how are you meeting that need?
Here is what I know, the days of touching your accounts quarterly with most of your work done at renewal, those days are long gone. The market is more complicated and what clients need from you, from us is a trusted business partner. Not a "benefits" partner. We need to understand their business, understand the market, we need to understand that products are a financial opportunity to help our clients and prospect prepare for long term business stability and continuity. Our own sustainability, personally and professionally is incumbent upon your deep understanding of how to help our clients.
My recommendation for you this month is to take some time to think about your business, think about what messages you conveying and really ask yourself if you are positioning yourself, your agency and our industry for the new world that is ahead of us.