Message from Mark Gaunya, MassAHU President

| January 6, 2011
2010 was a legislatively challenging year for our industry. With the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the federal government inserted itself more deeply in our business and created the blueprint for a massive expansion of their authority over it.  On the state level, our Attorney General authored a white paper that was supported by the Division of Healthcare Finance and Policy pinpointing the driver behind rising health insurance costs – unit cost (price) disparity and annual increases issued through provider contracts (75% of trend) and over utilization by consumers (25% of trend).  This public acknowledgement of “health insurance is expensive because healthcare is expensive” is finally starting to resonate and it’s a message we will continue to reinforce in 2011.

However, despite the overwhelming evidence of the real problem, a number of policymakers continued to “vilify” the health insurance industry and use it as a “political football.”  We witnessed artificial insurance premium rate caps in the small group market from April through August that did nothing to address the underlying driver of costs. This resulted in a loss of $100m in health plan reserves (used to pay claims) and a significant amount of work for employers, health plans and all of US.  As most of us know – in our market, $.90 of every premium dollar is spent on doctors, hospitals and prescription drugs and $.10 is spent on administration.  Instead of embracing the facts in the AG’s report, our state government directed its focus on the “dime” and waged its cost control efforts on the health plans and US rather than the provider community – politically, much more tenable in an election year, but misguided nonetheless. 

In 2010, the MassAHU Board of Directors actively engaged legislators
and regulators on a wide range of reform topics – and we invested an enormous amount of time answering questions and doing our part to educate the general public.  As your voice in the health reform debate, we attended many meetings with local, state and federal legislators, local health plans and other key stakeholders to ensure health reform employs policies that are market-based and build on the core principle of “shared responsibility.”   We advocated for OUR role in health insurance and started educating those that believe we only sell (broker) insurance products to make a commission rather than serve our clients as a trusted advisor, helping them develop, implement and service customized solutions that meet their unique benefit and budget needs.

MassAHU worked hard for YOU and made YOUR voice heard – how do we know this?  We scored a couple of legislative wins…what was the biggest?  In July, 2011 a member in good standing from our association will be appointed by the Governor to the Connector Board of Directors.  This person will represent the business community and provide market perspective for the Board as it contemplates additional changes in how products are sold through the connector of the health insurance industry.

What else have we done to make YOUR voice heard?  In an effort to educate policymakers and the general public about what we do – MassAHU secured a grant from the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) to develop and launch a broker awareness campaign on local radio.  Starting on January 17th – we will be airing 2 commercials on WRKO and WEEI, authored by employers who understand and value what we do…in their own words.  The theme of our message – the word Broker is a label, it’s not what we do – we are trusted advisors and highly valued strategic partners to our clients and we make a difference to thousands of people in the Commonwealth every day.

2011 will be another challenging year as payment reform unfolds on the state level and PPACA requirements continue to unfold.  In addition to the aforementioned awareness campaign, we will build a grassroots based legislative strategy to influence future health reform policy.  This strategy will rely on you to stay engaged and leverage YOUR relationships with key policymakers – frankly, OUR future in this business depends on your engagement and willingness to serve a purpose higher than self-interest.

Thank you for your continued support – now is the time to make a difference by getting involved!  Please contact one of our board members or email at kbardsley@massahu.org if you are interested and want to learn more.
Make 2011 a healthy, happy and prosperous new year!

Thank you,

Mark Gaunya
President
MassAHU

Category: Our Commitment

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