Garrett Gardi is a Managing Advisor at Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners. An industry veteran of 16 years, Garrett likens the industry to a NASCAR race. “It's moving at lightning pace. You can't see what's coming around the corner but you better be ready. An accident can happen at any point in time, creating a detour. You need a great, specialized pit crew to be successful. It’s basically the Daytona 500 everyday.”
We asked Garrett (aka Dale Earnhart, Jr, in this instance) about his insights into a benefits industry that requires expert navigation. Here’s what he had to say.
Q. With all the changes coming in healthcare, how should your clients best prepare themselves?
A. I would say be open-minded and be proactive. Always be listening and align yourself with the right consultant that is going to provide you with information that's easy to understand. Now's not the time to assume that everything will go back to the way it was because there's been a presidential change. More than ever, you need to pay attention to what will change and how it will impact you from a cost or compliance perspective.
Q. Speaking of consultants, what characteristics should companies look for when choosing the right partner to help them navigate complex benefit options?
A. That’s a great question. But it’s fairly straightforward.
- Full transparency. Everything needs to be clean, neat and clear so the employer understands the cost of goods and breadth of services.
- Alignment with the employers’ needs. The right partner understands, from the employer’s perspective, how to attract and retain key employees while delicately balancing internal costs.
- Alignment with the employees’ needs. As a broker, not only are you representing the employer, but you're protecting the financial interests and well being of the employees and their families.
Q. What do you find is a common misconception about insurance or benefit options?
A. The common misconception I hear is that there is a lack of transparency to costs and a lack of innovation in solutions. Yet, I would argue there's more innovation and transparency now than there's ever been.
For example, I often hear it's hard to determine the price of services because the facilities or providers don't provide it, but in reality there are plenty of resources and tools to do that and be a smart consumer. As advisors or consultants, we just need to educate the market and the consumer about how to access those things.
Q. What role do you think telemedicine plays in an employee benefits or insurance package?
A. I think it's going to play a major role. I recently read a statistic that by 2018 81% of employers will have some form of telemedicine. The millennial workforce will demand it and employers must offer it to attract and retain employees. It is such a great way to provide a high value employee benefit at minimal cost and make a return on that investment through reduced absenteeism and increased productivity. It is a no‑brainer for employers to offer to their employees.
I use First Stop Health personally, and it's been an absolutely great experience for me. If I'm using something and I'm having a good experience with it, I want to share that story with my colleagues and clients.
Q. How are your clients benefiting from having First Stop Health as a telemedicine benefit?
A. Well, number one it makes the employee benefit offering more robust. It helps employees and their family members deal with normal day-to-day healthcare issues in the most efficient way.
I can't tell you how many people have told me that First Stop Health is the greatest healthcare service they've ever experienced because they were able to chat with a doctor and pick up a prescription on a half-hour break or lunch break and not miss their eight-hour shift. Hourly employees can't afford to miss those hours. I also think it's powerful enough to help create a better lifestyle.
It is so difficult to get into the doctor nowadays. For the 98% of situations where you have an idea of what the issue is -- flu, cold, pink eye, rash -- the ability to talk to a physician and get a quick diagnosis and possibly a prescription in 15 to 20 minutes, that improves one's life in my opinion.
I think it's also a huge benefit to working parents because their life is very, very busy and they don't always have time to go to the physician and take care of themselves or their children. Having the luxury of picking up the phone and handling some of those day-to-day things that I just mentioned is a huge time-saver for them and a financial savings as well.