Behind the Scenes, Health Insurers Use Cash and Gifts to Sway Which Benefits Employers Choose

This recent piece in ProPublica is the most important piece ever written on benefits. Not surprisingly, all 10 of the top benefits consultancies nationwide either declined to comment or didn’t respond.

The Curtain has been pulled back on brokers taking financial incentives from insurers. As a Health Rosetta certified advisor, pieces like this from Marshall Allen at ProPublica (in conjunction with NPR) are critical to build a more transparent healthcare system.

While many brokers will market themselves as buyers agents, they are paid like sellers’ agents:

Set sail for Bermuda,” says insurance giant Cigna, offering top-selling brokers five days at one of the island’s luxury resorts.

Health Net of California’s pitch is not subtle: A smiling woman in a business suit rides a giant $100 bill like it’s a surfboard. “Sell more, enroll more, get paid more!” In some cases, its ad says, a broker can “power up” the bonus to $150,000 per employer group.

We’ve found as many as 17 undisclosed revenue streams from stop-loss commissions to fees bakes into wellness plans (which likely aren’t saving anyone any money). The good news for employers is that a growing cohort of benefit advisors and consultants are fast abandoning these old habits and working directly to set up transparent consulting arrangements with performance guarantees. In fact, Health Rosetta certified advisors adhere to a higher code of conduct which includes a compensation disclosure agreement.

Expect more good reporting from Mashall Allen to come!

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