Survey Finds Brokers Agree Health Care Reform is an Opportunity for Success

Press release from the issuing company

Friday, June 27th, 2014

Due to uncertainty about the evolving health care landscape, brokers found themselves at a crossroads of either redefining their role in the industry or exiting it entirely. In fact, nearly half (49 percent) of brokers at least somewhat agree that they've been considering leaving the industry and 67 percent of brokers at least somewhat agree that they've seen many of their peers exit the industry in the past year according to the 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report for Brokers. However, this new study released today by Aflac, the leading provider of voluntary insurance in the United States, shows that health care reform is presenting new opportunities for those choosing to stay in the business.

Conducted by Research Now on behalf of Aflac, the online survey of more than 300 brokers found that more than one-third (36 percent) completely/strongly agree that health care legislation represents an opportunity for them and their business and half (50 percent) say they completely/strongly agree that they have confidence in their firm and the industry's future.

"It's encouraging that many brokers have a positive mindset about their business and clearly see the opportunity in the marketplace," said Tye Elliott, vice president of Core Broker Sales at Aflac. "Many are adapting to the changing health care environment by expanding their focus to be more consultative and to offer a wider range of products and services. Our data shows that this has been a successful strategy as many businesses are now relying more heavily on their partners for guidance."

Brokers Are Needed Now More Than Ever

Despite many brokers exiting the industry, employers are relying on experts more than ever to help them make smart benefits decisions. In fact, employers have steadily increased their use of brokers over the past three years, with year-over-year use of brokers growing from 56 percent in 2011 to 61 percent in 2013 to 64 percent in 2014. Some of that increase could be related to employers' lack of preparedness for health care reform. The Aflac study found that:

  • Nearly 8 in 10 (79 percent) brokers at least somewhat agree that their clients aren't prepared for health care reform and nearly one-third (31 percent) completely/strongly agree with that statement.
  • 27 percent of brokers named "client uncertainty about health care reform" as the top issue for their firm right now.
  • Almost half (45 percent) of companies will be relying more on brokers or insurance providers to help make changes to benefits due to the changing health care environment.

Growing Business Through Voluntary Insurance Benefits

Brokers are going beyond their usual product offerings and taking advantage of new avenues to achieve success. In the next 12 months, about 4 in 10 (38 percent) brokers say the proportion of voluntary insurance benefits they sell will increase, and 53 percent say they plan to increase their firm's revenue from voluntary insurance benefits. Brokers who have leveraged this strategy are seeing it pay off. The study showed:

Brokers who offer voluntary insurance benefits are 35 percent more likely to have their client base increase over the past 12 months than those who don't offer voluntary insurance benefits. In addition, brokers who offer voluntary insurance are 12 percent more likely to be maintaining and/or growing sales, while brokers who don't offer voluntary are more than twice as likely to have declining sales.

These new products come as employers are shifting additional health care costs to their employees who may not be ready to assume that responsibility. The Aflac study found more than half of companies (56 percent) increased employees' copayments and/or share of premiums in 2013. To address this issue, brokers are encouraging clients to consider offering voluntary benefits.

  • 64 percent of brokerage firms say the reason they include voluntary insurance benefits as part of their portfolio is to satisfy the needs of their clients' employees.
  • The majority of workers (63 percent) agree they see a growing need for voluntary insurance benefits compared to previous years.

Elliott adds, "The advantages of offering voluntary insurance benefits can have far-reaching impact both for brokers and for their client's workers. Considering almost half (42 percent) of American employees say they are not at all, or not very prepared to pay out-of-pocket expenses associated with a serious illness or injury, offering voluntary benefits gives workers a meaningful safety net."

Developing New Services to Respond to Market Realities

Not only are brokers achieving growth by increasing their product offerings, they're also taking advantage of new revenue opportunities created by health care reform and other changes to the health insurance environment. Brokers are now creating consulting practices, acting as navigators for insurance products and helping clients purchase policies from both private and public exchanges.

  • 78 percent of brokers at least somewhat agree they have expanded their consulting services, or created a consulting practice, in the past year.
  • More than one-third (35 percent) of brokers say they are now functioning as a navigator for insurance products handled through an exchange.
  • 38 percent of brokers are currently functioning as a producer for insurance products handled through an exchange.

To learn more about the current broker mindset revealed by the 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report for Brokers and access study data fact sheets based on brokerage size, visit