Susan Rider is an employee-benefits account manager at Indianapolis-based Gregory & Appel Insurance. On July 1, she will become president of the Indiana State Association of Health Underwriters. She spoke about the first-year implications of the 2010 health reform law and further changes to come.
IBJ: In the past year since health insurance reform became law, what’s the most surprising effect you’ve seen the law have on employers?
A: Grandfathering. [Employers could have dodged most of the health reform law’s new rules by invoking an exemption and making few to no changes to their current plans.] A lot of the groups, there was really no benefit to them to grandfather. I actually did think it would be. But I only had two groups that grandfathered out of my entire block of business [about 25 employers]. It wasn’t cost-advantageous.
IBJ: Once we get to 2015, and the exchanges and other key parts of the law are fully up and running, what's the one thing that you think will be the biggest difference in employer benefits compared with the situation now?
A: I think employers are going to have to hire people that have knowledge of legal compliance. They’re going to have to have knowledge of an employee’s [entire] family income so they have knowledge of [whether employees qualify for a federal] subsidy. I think they’re going to have to expand their HR department. They’re just going to have to have more people, especially to comply with all the [employee] notices that are required.
IBJ: How do you see the function of an employee-benefits broker changing over the next five to 10 years?
A: I went back to school because I saw all these things changing, graduated in December with more of an HR background. People are just going to have to be more cognizant of the changes. They’re happening so rapidly. You have to be in compliance in such a short amount of time. Some agencies even have their own actuaries now. The larger employers, they’re wanting more and more data. I just really think that brokers are going to have to invest in technology solutions, and they’re going to have to do it as a benefit add that they can provide to their clients.