Aflac study highlights broker shift from “old-school” ways, rethinking traditional benefits packages and exploring new channels like private exchanges.
After several years of uncertainty about the effects health care reform would have on their business, brokers’ fears about the negative impact of new legislation do not seem to have materialized. According to the 2015 Aflac WorkForces Report for Brokers released today by Aflac, the leading provider of voluntary insurance at the work site in the United States, more than half of brokers say they are confident about the future of their firms and their industry, while 41 percent agree that health care reform represents an opportunity for their business, up 14 percent from 2014.
“Now that health care reform is a reality, our survey shows that brokers are showing an uptick in confidence, resulting in a drive to find new opportunities in the industry,” said Dan Lebish, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Aflac Group Insurance. “Client and employee needs are changing, and those brokers who recognize this are discovering great success in pursuing new revenue streams that address those evolving needs.”
New outlook, new revenue stream
Brokers are thriving in their new environment. Thirty-nine percent reported increases in their client base over the past 12 months, and 36 percent said their companies’ sales/revenue grew in the past year. But many are aiming even higher by adopting new strategies and adjusting their target markets. More brokers than ever before are now acting as navigators for insurance products, considering setting up private exchanges for clients and expanding their consulting services.
- Almost half (47 percent) of brokers say they are now functioning as a navigator for insurance products handled through an exchange.
- Fifty-two percent are currently functioning as a producer for insurance products handled through an exchange.
- More than 75 percent at least somewhat agree they have expanded consulting services or created a consulting practice in the past year.
Brokers are also leaving behind outdated benefits packages and including nontraditional product offerings to achieve success. A recent poll by Gallup found that nearly 90 percent of American adults have access to major medical insurance today,1 either through workplace plans or the health care marketplace, but many are discovering that major medical insurance is merely a foundation that is more effective when supplemented by employer-sponsored policies. These types of voluntary policies, such as accident insurance, help pay bills major medical insurance was never intended to cover.
Sixty-four percent of employees see a growing need for voluntary insurance today and brokers are taking notice.
- Close to 6 in 10 (58 percent) brokers plan to increase the amount of voluntary benefits revenue at their firm in the next 12 months, a 9 percent increase over 2014.
- Forty-five percent think the proportion of voluntary benefits sales will increase in the next 12 months, an 18 percent increase over 2014.
In addition, the phrase “to satisfy the needs of clients’ employees” was the most frequently mentioned reason that brokers gave for why their firm included voluntary benefits as part of their portfolio. This was followed by “to remain competitive with other broker firms” and “to offer broader benefits options to our clients.”
Clients still affected by the changes resulting from health care reform
While health care reform isn’t as overwhelming for brokers as expected, many clients are still dealing with the effects. Almost 4 in 10 brokers said client uncertainty about health care reform is one of the top-two issues facing their firms, an increase from the previous year, when less than one-third shared that concern.
In response to health care reform, brokers cited the following changes clients made most frequently to their benefits last year:
- Twenty-seven percent moving toward more employee-paid benefits.
- Fifteen percent moving to high-deductible health plans and health savings accounts.
- Thirteen percent moving to a public exchange.
Lebish adds, “Changes to the way health care is purchased and delivered in the U.S. remain on clients’ minds, enabling brokers to provide guidance to clients and strengthen their role as a trusted advisor in an ever-changing landscape.”
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About the Aflac WorkForces Report
The 2015 Aflac WorkForces Report is the fifth annual Aflac employee benefits study examining benefit trends and attitudes. Conducted by Research Now on behalf of Aflac, the research contained two components – employer research and employee research.
The Employer Survey was conducted online within the United States between Jan. 26, 2015, and Feb. 11, 2015, among 1,977 benefits decision-makers at companies with at least three employees. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.
The Employee Survey was conducted online within the United States between Jan. 23, 2015, and Feb. 11, 2015, among 5,337 adults ages 18 and older who are employed full or part time at a company with three or more employees and not retired. The first 3,076 interviews were nationally representative and were weighted as needed to match U.S. demographics and to enable year-over-year trending, while the remaining 2,261 interviews were conducted among the top 20 U.S. DMAs — approximately 100 interviews per DMA. No theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.
The Broker Survey was conducted online within the United States between Jan. 20, 2015, and Feb. 10, 2015, among 306 insurance brokers or producers employed at a company with three or more employees. No theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.
To learn more about the Aflac WorkForces Report, visit AflacWorkForcesReport.com.
About Research Now
Research Now is the leading global online sampling and online data collection company. With more than 6 million panelists in 38 countries worldwide, Research Now offers a full suite of data collection services. For more information, please visit researchnow.com.
About Guest Author Aflac
When a policyholder gets sick or hurt, Aflac pays cash benefits fast. For nearly six decades, Aflac insurance policies have given policyholders the opportunity to focus on recovery, not financial stress. In the United States, Aflac is the leading provider of voluntary insurance at the work site. Through its trailblazing One Day PaySM initiative, Aflac U.S. can receive, process, approve and disburse payment for eligible claims in one business day. In Japan, Aflac is the leading provider of medical and cancer insurance and insures 1 in 4 households. Aflac individual and group insurance products help provide protection to more than 50 million people worldwide. For nine consecutive years, Aflac has been recognized by Ethisphere magazine as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies. In 2015, Fortune magazine recognized Aflac as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in America for the 17th consecutive year. Also, in 2015, Fortune magazine included Aflac on its list of Most Admired Companies for the 14th time, ranking the company No. 1 in innovation for the insurance, life and health category. Aflac Incorporated is a Fortune 500 company listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AFL. To find out more about Aflac and One Day PaySM, visit aflac.com or espanol.aflac.com.
1 Gallup, “In U.S., Uninsured Rate Dips to 11.9% in First Quarter,” accessed on Aug. 17, 2015 – http://www.gallup.com/poll/182348/uninsured-rate-dips-first-quarter.aspx?utm_source=Well-Being&utm_medium=newsfeed&utm_campaign=tiles