How Much Do You Charge?

“Your Fees Are Too Damn High!”

By Bill Rusteberg

Early in my presentation yesterday I was asked “How much do you charge?”

My response was “It’s High, Very High.”  Any price quoted would probably be too high in the mind of this prospect anyway. An opposite response would have been “It’s Low, Very Low.” There is no such thing as a “Reasonable” price in a situation like this one.

Any price is “High” when results are “Low.” So it’s probably correct to assume this prospect was convinced we were offering solutions to low value outcomes because “No one can solve health care. Price increases and benefit reductions are inevitable and there is absolutely nothing anyone can do about it.” (By the way, she was the group’s HR supervisor).

Here is how I wish I had responded:

It’s in the nickels and dimes category. I will be happy to provide you a number once I understand what you’re expectations are.

Our focus at this early juncture should be directed at the dollars driving your health care spend and not so much the nickels and dimes required to administer and manage a successful employee benefits program.

Claim costs will be your biggest spend by far. My fees along with all other costs for services you will require amount to pennies on the dollar.

Depending on your expectations and the scope of work you require I will be better prepared to provide you an appropriate fee based on your needs. It can be a performance based fee, a PEPM fee, or a global fee. Or a combination of all three.

Whatever we ultimately agree on, if it works, it’s cheap. If it doesn’t, it’s expensive.

This may have not satisfied the HR lady, but I am positive it would have resonated with the CFO and CEO.

So who controls the decision making process? Is it HR or the CFO or the CEO?

I asked the CEO privately “Who is the ultimate decision maker here?

“It’s the HR lady. She’s been here for 40 years and the employees love her. They trust her. If she likes your ideas so will the employees. If she doesn’t you can rest assured you will not get the sale.” said the CEO

I knew right then this project was dead. is a specialty company in the benefits market that, while not an insurance company, works directly with health entities, medical providers, and businesses to identify and develop cost effective benefits packages, emphasizing transparency and fairness in direct reimbursement compensation methods.

The shared vision of and clients who retain our services is to establish and maintain a comprehensive employee health and welfare plan, identify cost areas that may be improved without cost shifting to any significant degree, and ensure a superior and sustained partnership with a claim administrator responsive to members needs on a level consistent with prudent business practices.

Plan costs, in all areas including fixed expenses and claims are open for review on a continuing basis. Cost effective plan administration and equitable benefit payment to providers are paramount to fulfilling our mutual fiduciary duties. As we proactively monitor and manage an entire benefit program we are open to any suggestions members may make or the dynamic health benefit market may warrant in order to accomplish these goals.

Duty of loyalty to our clients, transparency and accountability are essential to the foundation of our services. To that end, we expect our clients to realize a substantial savings based upon the services that we will deliver.