How One Of America’s Most Innovative Benefits Leaders Reduces Clients’ Healthcare Spending 20%

David Conterno

When the industry goes to higher deductibles, we remove them. When the industry goes to narrow networks, we remove networks. When the industry goes to narrow formularies, we expand them. When the industry invests in specialty care and surgical centers, we invest in primary care. When the industry looks to bring in more insurance products, we bring in less. Instead of increasing obstacles to getting any and all care, we need to be removing all obstacles to getting the right care.”

Published on Published onOctober 9, 2017

Dave Chase

Founder Health Rosetta Institute (501-c3)/Group (investments); Exec Producer, The Big Heist (Big Short for healthcare)

David Contorno is a great example of the folks highlighted in The Job That Could Save (or Crush) the American Dream. I believe benefits consultants are the single most underestimated role in the entire healthcare system. At their best, great consultants are worth their weight in gold and are underpaid — after all, no consultant that I know of can contribute to both a high performance workforce (see Chapter 9 of my book) and create a major earnings increase that would be almost impossible to replicate via increased sales. At their worst (sadly, the mainstream), perhaps no other role has done more to crush the American Dream. Fortunately, the old guard is going the way of the dodo bid and being replaced by a new species of benefits consultant.

I thought I’d share the mindset of the leaders, such as David Contorno, as it is instructive for everyone. The following is from a LinkedIn post (click for a lively exchange) Contorno posted a couple days ago:

I get asked a lot how we lower costs as much as we do on an employer’s healthcare spend (like the 20% reduction, after already being below their fully insured costs of 4 years ago that Tara Derbick Conger, PHR, SHRM-CP, CPCHCis helping achieve at Palmer Johnson Power Systems.) The answer is simple…..if you want results opposite of what you have been getting, trying taking steps opposite of what people are doing currently. When the industry goes to higher deductibles, we remove them. When the industry goes to narrow networks, we remove networks. When the industry goes to narrow formularies, we expand them. When the industry invests in specialty care and surgical centers, we invest in primary care. When the industry looks to bring in more insurance products, we bring in less. Instead of increasing obstacles to getting any and all care, we need to be removing all obstacles to getting the right care. What is your opposite? What are you doing to #breakthestatusquo?

While the pain is palpable when pondering over the WSJ/Brookings graphic below, it’s gratifying that in the short time since we launched the Health Rosetta benefits consultant certification, we already have consultants such as David Contorno representing 2% of the entire workforce. At first, that can sound small but consider this is over 2 million people who are on the path to receiving Quadruple Aim achieving care which is great for them, their families and the clinicians in the new care models. In the early days, exponential growth is easy to ignore until its momentum is unstoppable. It’s our theory of change in action.

As alluded to in the dodo bird article referenced above, the smart stock brokers of 20+ years ago reinvented themselves as financial advisors with aligned incentives and proper disclosure of fees. They successfully grabbed huge market share from their laggard counterparts. Likewise, the vanguard benefits consultants are ensuring the plans they implement adhere to the Plan Sponsor Bill of Rights while the consultants themselves adhere to a professional Code of Conduct including proper Advisor Compensation Disclosure. Naturally, this is highly appealing to employers particularly in light of what a risk management practice leader at a Big Four consultancy called the largest undisclosed risk they’ve seen in their career (dereliction of ERISA fiduciary duty). Unfortunately, laggard benefit brokers/consultants are going to have clients be blindsided if they don’t alert them to this rising risk.

Since we want to ensure that every health plan sponsor is aware of the risks and opportunities of having a modern health benefits plan, we’re broadly/freely my new book — the CEO’s Guide to Restoring the American Dream: How to Deliver World Class Health Care to Your Employees at Half the Cost (click for a free download of the book). For the certified consultants, they are also broadly sharing the book so we’ve created special pages for them — see Lake Norman Benefits’ special book page as an example. Wise consultants are using these pages to partner with professional/trade associations in their region offering them a free book download. They not only provide the association with a valuable tool, this is a great tool to build the consultant’s business. Once plan sponsors realize how much more they should expect from their health plan investment, it’s a no-brainer to want to work with a forward-looking benefits consultant that is delivering high performance benefits plan. The woeful status quo becomes clear so they’re eager to replace it.

Follow the link to the book below for a free download of the book that expands on the themes in this interview.

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Dave Chase is the co-founder of the Health Rosetta Institute (a LEED-like organization for healthcare), Managing Director of the Quad Aim Fund, Executive Producer of The Big Heist, and author of the book, “CEO’s Guide to Restoring the American Dream – How to deliver world class healthcare to your employees at half the cost.” Chase’s TEDx talk was entitled “Healthcare stole the American Dream — here’s how we take it back.” The Health Rosetta Institute is transitioning from two years of self-funding/bootstrapping and recently achieved 501-c3 status. See the Health Rosetta Institute website for how to get involved, resources and how to join others to support its mission.

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