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Wellthie Recognized in Inaugural InsurTech 100 List of Tech Pioneers Transforming Global Insurance Industry

Leading Insurtech Company Included Among the World’s Most Innovative Providers of Digital Solutions Having A Lasting Impact on the Insurance Industry

NEW YORKOct. 16, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Wellthie, a leading insurance technology provider offering the only national small group benefits marketplace that connects small business owners, insurance carriers, and brokers, announces that it has been included in the inaugural InsurTech 100 list of technology pioneers who are transforming the global insurance industry.

InsurTech (insurance technology) is one of the largest and most important sectors within the FinTech space. Over $7bn has been invested in InsurTech solution providers since 2015 as insurance and reinsurance firms as well as investors realize the huge impact new digital models are having on the industry. As incumbent financial institutions grapple with rapid innovation and digital transformation challenges, the InsurTech 100 was produced to identify the 100 innovative companies that every leader in the insurance industry needs to know about in 2019.

“We work hard every day to create a thriving ecosystem for small businesses, carriers, and brokers that is powered by great technology and human empathy,” said Sally Poblete, founder and CEO of Wellthie. “The Wellthie team is proud to be recognized on the InsurTech 100 list along with other global insurance innovators.”

The standout businesses were chosen by a panel of industry experts who reviewed an analysis of 637 InsurTech companies undertaken by FinTech Global, a data and research firm. Companies making the final cut were recognized for their innovative use of technology to solve a significant industry problem, or to generate cost savings or efficiency improvements across the insurance value chain.

A full list of the InsurTech 100 can be found at http://www.TheInsurTech100.com.

About Wellthie
Wellthie is helping to modernize the insurance shopping experience, offering the first and only national small group benefits marketplace designed to help small businesses find health insurance online, insurance carriers maximize product distribution, and brokers optimize small group sales. Wellthie’s enterprise-ready SaaS platform is available to small business, carriers, and brokers nationwide. Visit www.wellthie.com to learn more.

5 Health Insurance Tips for Small Business

By Sally Poblete

Summary:

For a small business owner, offering competitive employee benefits is a crucial way to attract and retain strong talent. Whether you currently provide them and are planning next year’s renewal, or you are thinking of offering them for the first time, here are five things you should consider before your employees enter the open enrollment period for next year on Nov. 1:

Small Businesses Don’t Have to Wait

While your employees won’t be able to enroll in health insurance plans until November comes along, small business owners don’t have to wait at all to secure health insurance for their employees. The sooner you act, the better, to guarantee that you and your employees are protected. According to recent studies, healthier employees are happier employees and, as a result, will contribute to a more productive workplace. A more positive and constructive work environment is better for you, your employees and your business as a whole.

Health Literacy Is Important

Whether you’ve provided health insurance to your employees before, or you’re looking into doing so for the first time, it is always worthwhile to prioritize health insurance literacy. There is a host of terminology and acronyms, not to mention rules and regulations that can be overwhelming to wrap your head around.

The internet is full of relevant information, ranging from articles to explainer videos, that should have you up to speed in no time. Having a good understanding of insurance concepts such as essential health benefits, employer contributions, out-of-pocket maximums, coinsurance, provider networks, co-pays, premiums and deductibles is a necessary step to being better-equipped to view and compare health plan options side-by-side. A thorough familiarization with health insurance practices and terms will allow you to make the most knowledgeable decisions for your employees and your business.

Offering Health Insurance Increases Employee Retention

Employees want to feel like their health is a priority and are more likely to join a company and stay for longer if their healthcare needs are being met. A current survey shows that 56% of Americans whose employers were sponsoring their healthcare considered whether or not they were happy with their benefits to be a significant factor in choosing to stay with a particular job. The Employee Benefit Research Institute released a survey in 2016 that showed a powerful connection between decent workplace health benefits and overall employee happiness and team spirit. 59% of employees who were pleased with their benefits were also pleased with their jobs. And only 8% of employees who were dissatisfied with their benefits were satisfied with their jobs.

Alleviate Health Insurance Costs

High insurance costs can be an obstacle for small business owners. A new survey suggests that 53% of American small business owners stress over the costs of providing healthcare to their employees. The 2017 eHealth report reveals that nearly 80% of small business owners are concerned about health insurance costs, and 62% would consider a 15% increase in premiums to make small group health insurance impossible to afford. However, there are resources in place to help reduce these costs. One helpful way to cut down on health insurance costs is to take advantage of potential tax breaks available to small business owners. All of the financial contributions that employers make to their employees’ premiums are tax-deductible, and employees’ financial contributions are made pre-tax, which will decrease a small business’ payroll taxes.

Additionally, if your small business consists of fewer than 25 employees, you may be eligible for tax credits if the average yearly income for your employees is below $53,000. For small business owners, the biggest driver on insurance cost will be the type of plan chosen in addition to the average age of your employees. Your employees’ health is not a factor.

Use Digital Resources

You don’t have to be an insurance industry expert to shop for medical plans. There are resources and tools available that make buying medical plans as easy as purchasing a plane ticket or buying a pair of shoes online. Insurance is a very complex industry that can easily be simplified with the use of the advanced technology and design of online marketplaces. These platforms are great tools for small business owners to compare prices and benefits of different plans side-by-side. Be confident while shopping for insurance because all of the information is laid out on the table. Technological solutions such as digital marketplaces serve as useful tools to modernize the insurance shopping process and ensure that you and your team are covered without going over your budget.

(Article previously published on Insurance Thought Leadership’s website: http://insurancethoughtleadership.com/5-health-insurance-tips-for-small-business/)

Health Insurance Literacy for Small Businesses 101

By Sally Poblete

We all know that small business owners like you are looking out for the best interests of their employees. Now that you’ve decided to offer health insurance, all of the options can seem overwhelming. You’re not alone — more than half of Americans struggle to understand health insurance terms.

Even though you may be the decision maker for your business, you do not have to go through this process by yourself. Keep reading to learn which factors to consider in deciding what health insurance coverage is best for your organization and how to get started.

What does all of it mean?

All of the different terms involved in plan benefits are complicated, but we broke down some of the most important ones for you.

Premium: The amount of money paid monthly to an insurance company for coverage.  Premiums are determined by a combination of factors including geography, age, smoking status, and who is covered (single employee, employee and spouse, or family), and the type of plan. (Don’t worry, the premium is the same for a given plan regardless of where you buy it from).

Employer contribution: The percentage of employees’ premiums that you would cover as the employer (many employers contribute between 70%-80%; the national average is about 72%).

Deductible: The amount of money a beneficiary must pay before the insurance company begins paying claims (if a deductible is $1000, the beneficiary has to spend that much towards medical costs before the insurer pays)

Co-pay: A fixed fee the beneficiary has to pay for doctor’s visits, prescription drugs, or other services (a $20 co-pay for doctor’s visits means the beneficiary $20 each time they go to the doctor)

Coinsurance: The percentage of the total cost of a medical service that the beneficiary has to pay (if the coinsurance rate is 20% and a doctor’s visit costs $150, the beneficiary will pay $30)

Out-of-pocket maximum: The most money an individual can pay for covered providers and services during a policy period (usually one year) before the insurance company begins to pay for covered costs (if the out-of-pocket maximum is $5000, that’s the most a beneficiary will have to pay for care that’s covered)

Essential health benefits: Health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have to cover these ten essential health benefits: preventive care, ambulatory services, emergency services, hospitalization, mental health services, maternity care, prescription drugs, rehabilitation, laboratory services, and pediatric care.

Network: The providers (including physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare organizations) that are covered by a health insurance plan; some plans may also provide plans for “out-of-network” providers.

Then there are all of the metallic designations you may have heard about for health insurance plans — bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. All of these plans will meet the minimum standards, but a bronze plan will cost your employees less money on their premiums and more money when they need to use medical services. Platinum plans will cost significantly more in premiums but will have lower out-of-pocket costs at the doctor’s office.

Preferred Provider Organization (PPO):  A type of health insurance plan that typically has a broader list of participating providers and hospitals for which you pay less. In a PPO, you can also visit out-of-network doctors at a higher cost.

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO): A type of health insurance plan that limits coverage to in-network doctors and the hospitals that work with those doctors. HMO’s typically won’t cover out-of-network care unless it’s an emergency and requires a referral from the primary care physician to see a specialist.

Exclusive Provider Organizations (EPO): A type of health insurance plan that allows individuals to use the doctors and hospitals within the EPO network, but won’t cover care that goes outside of the network. In EPOs, there are no out-of-network benefits or requirements to get a referral to see a specialist.

Association Health Plan (AHP): A type of health insurance plan in which multiple small businesses (and now sole proprietors) can band together to purchase insurance together; costs may be lower, but benefits are not equivalent to traditional health plans (they are not required to cover the ACA ten essential benefits outlined above).

Finally, small group employers should also think about whether they want to offer any other benefits in addition to health insurance. These can include dental, vision, life, disability, and other ancillary offerings. While there are additional costs for these types of benefits, they are typically much lower than medical coverage and can serve as appealing incentives for employees.

For additional health insurance terms you may not be familiar with, visit https://www.healthcare.gov/glossary/.

How to get started

Now that you’re armed with this knowledge, it’s time to start comparing options. You can view the benefits and costs of different plans side-by-side. You’ll need to enter some basic information, including the name and address of your business, your industry SIC code, and details about your employees (name, age, number of dependents, and zip code).  

 

Visit wellthie.com/smallbusiness today to see what plans are offered in your area.

Why Small Business Owners Should Care about Health Insurance

By Sally Poblete

It’s no secret that small business owners care about their employees — they are like family. Making sure employees stay healthy is a priority for most business owners. One important way to promote employees’ health is to provide health insurance, but many small business owners may think doing so is out of reach for them due to the cost and complexity.

Small business owners do have a unique set of pain points in offering health insurance, including costs and administrative tasks. Here are several reasons why providing health insurance is important for small businesses, despite the challenges.

Why is offering coverage important?

Small business owners want to provide health insurance to employees. In fact, 40% of small business owners consider it a moral responsibility to offer coverage. Many of them are concerned that employees would not otherwise be able to afford a health insurance plan.

Moreover, offering health insurance is an effective way to attract and retain talent. Health benefits continue to be a main reason that employees choose a particular job, and 60% of employees say that they would stay at their job if they were happy with the benefits provided. Small businesses especially have limited time and resources, so incentivizing the right candidates is an effective business strategy to maintain profit margins and reduce turnover.

In addition, providing health insurance means that employees will have better access to healthcare resources allowing them to take advantage of different types of care to stay healthy. Employees who are healthy are also more productive, which is better for everyone in the workplace.

Costs are often a barrier, but there are ways to mitigate them

Nearly 80% of small business owners worry about the cost of providing health insurance to employees. According to 62% of them, a premium increase of 15% or more would make group coverage unaffordable. However, there are a number of ways small businesses can keep costs down.

Business owners can use online marketplaces to compare prices and benefits of different plans side-by-side. There are a breadth of choices available, including bronze, silver, gold and platinum plans, which all differ in terms of out of pocket costs, as well as their monthly premium. Exploring various networks of providers covered by a plan can result in lower price points. In addition, business owners can decide how much they want to contribute to employees’ monthly premiums depending on what is right for their business. Typically, this ranges from covering the total cost to covering half of the cost.

Small business owners should also keep in mind the tax advantages they would receive by offering health insurance. Employer contributions to premiums are tax deductible, and employee contributions are made pre-tax, lowering a small business’ payroll taxes. Small businesses with fewer than 25 employees may also qualify for tax credits if the average annual income of employees is under $53,000.

Conclusion

Providing health insurance is an important step small businesses can take to not only attract and retain employees, but to make sure they stay healthy. While many small business owners may think they can’t afford health insurance, it is worth investigating creative solutions. There are great ways for small businesses to offer health benefits and take care of their most important asset — their employees.

 

Association Health Plans: What Small Businesses Need to Know

By Sally Poblete

The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced regulations that will allow for the expansion of Association Health Plans (AHPs). But what exactly are AHPs, and what do they mean for small businesses?

Essentially, AHPs allow small businesses to band together to purchase health insurance. The definition of a small business varies by state, with most states capping it at 50 employees, and California, Colorado, New York, and Vermont at 100 employees. While we have seen efforts to promote AHPs since the 1980s, the new rules are unique in that they also allow sole proprietors ?- or someone who owns an unincorporated business by themselves – to join the associations. Previously, sole proprietors could only buy individual coverage, but now they have the option of participating in the association plans.

The new rules allow carriers to introduce AHPs as early as September 2018, so we may see plans on the market as soon as this fall and early next year.

How many businesses and sole proprietors does this affect?

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration there are over 5 million small businesses in the United States, which in total employs almost 40 million people. There are also about 23 million sole proprietorships which will likely continue to increase along with the growth of the gig economy and number of freelancers in the workforce. The expansion of AHPs, therefore, has the potential to impact the lives of a huge number of people.

Today, there are more than 35,000 associations in the United States organized by geography (state or greater metropolitan area) or industry. ?Some examples include your local Chamber of Commerce, the National Restaurant Association, and the National Writers Union. Existing associations can be grandfathered in under the new AHP regulations, but new associations will have to meet the following criteria: 1) be in the same geographic area or the same industry and 2) have another business purpose other than offering health insurance.

Existing options for these small businesses and sole proprietors aren?t going away. Small businesses can still participate in the small group market and Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), while sole proprietors will still be able to purchase individual coverage. AHPs will just add another layer of choice to the market.

Lower premiums

AHPs provide small businesses with the opportunity to offer health insurance at lower premiums, which is important because cost is one of their main concerns Healthcare costs are an issue for almost everyone, but are especially significant for small businesses, which are usually juggling between growing their business and paying for increasing costs of growing their team. AHPs are likely to provide lower premium options for two reasons: 1) they are exempt from requirements to cover the ten essential benefits required by the Affordable Care Act, and 2) the law allows for more flexibility in the way AHP premiums are set.

Thus, AHPs allow some small businesses to be able to offer health plans with lower premiums. In turn, these lower premiums may mean that businesses can offer insurance to their employees when previously they could not afford to do so.

But with some caveats

While AHPs offer lower costs for some, it’s also important to remember that you don’t get the same benefits as you would with a traditional health plan. The Affordable Care Act outlined certain essential benefits that have to be included in health insurance plans, including preventive care, ambulatory services, emergency services, hospitalization, mental health services, maternity care, prescription drugs, rehabilitation, laboratory services, and pediatric care. AHPs are exempt from these regulations and may not cover some of these things.

The new AHPs are better for relatively healthy individuals without high needs for medical services. If you need any of the services mentioned above, or just generally utilize care more frequently, be aware that AHPs may not cover all the benefits you frequently use. The expansion of AHPs makes it especially important to understand plan benefits before purchasing health insurance. Buyers should compare premiums, benefits, and network coverage between AHPs and other existing options on the market (including fully-insured or self-funded plans). By doing this research, you can make an informed decision and pick a plan that best meets your employees? health needs.

Conclusion

Providing health insurance as a small business can be costly, and Association Health Plans are an attempt to lower premiums and increase choice. While AHPs will result in more lower cost options, it is important to remember the plan benefits may not be the same as those in other more expensive health plans. Now more than ever, it is critical for consumers to do their research and make informed choices about health insurance. When in doubt, seek out the help of licensed experts who can guide you through your options and help you make the best decision for your business and your employees.

(Article previously published on The Network Journal’s website: https://tnj.com/association-health-plans-what-small-businesses-need-to-know/)

3 Ways Health Insurers Can Win Over Millennial Small Business Owners


By Sally Poblete

The Millennial generation – which generally refers to individuals born between 1980-1996 – continues to fascinate businesses. Millennials are now the biggest cohort in the workforce and are opening the majority of small businesses. That means they hold a lot of power, both through the products and services they purchase and by way of social influence. Companies are motivated to understand Millennials and win them over.

That is not an easy task, considering Millennials show high levels of distrust in major institutions and most businesses. The health insurance industry, which struggles with public opinion more broadly, has a long way to go in terms of gaining Millennials’ business and trust. Below are three factors they should consider to convince Millennial decision-makers that health insurance is an important purchase.

Costs are a bigger concern than for other generations

Millennials are more concerned with costs than other generations. Many young adults are saddled with student loan debts while at the same time, salaries have largely stagnated and costs of living continue to increase. Millennial business owners understand these struggles because many of them have experienced them personally. Many Millennials would rather go without health insurance than enroll in an unaffordable plan, especially since they are often relatively healthy and may not see an immediate need for healthcare services.

In order to convince Millennial business owners that health insurance makes sense for them, health insurers will have to prove their value. Insurers need to persuade Millennial business owners of the short-term and long-term benefits. They should create targeted, relatable ads that emphasize coverage of preventive services, which can reduce costly health care services down the road. Millennials treat health and wellness as a daily, active pursuit, so this message may resonate well with them. Small businesses should also view health benefits as an appealing incentive in order to attract and retain Millennial talent.

Transparency is crucial for Millennials

While costs are important, Millennials also place a high value on other brand characteristics like transparency. Considering the high levels of distrust among this generation, it makes sense that Millennials want clear and honest information.

In a dense and complicated industry like health insurance, companies can benefit from making information as simple as possible. It is especially important to be clear about pricing structure so that potential customers can quickly understand what plan benefits include and don’t include.  Insurance providers should also utilize social media and other channels to communicate with Millennials and make it clear that they care about members. According to Ambassador, 71% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand after having a positive experience with them on social media.

They prefer digital experiences

Millennials grew up with technology and are comfortable using the Internet and their smartphones for all sorts of things, from banking to shopping. Taking care of their health is no exception – Millennials are more likely to engage with insurers digitally and use telehealth services than older age groups. Millennials are coming to expect these capabilities, and some companies are doing better than others. For example, Millennials’ retail expectations are based on the ones they have with Amazon, Spotify, Airbnb, and others.

Insurers who focus on providing more streamlined digital services, like e-commerce marketplaces, online portals, and subscriptions to mobile health solutions, will be in a better position to win over Millennial consumers.

Conclusion

To appeal to more Millennials, health insurers will have to adapt their business strategies to prove their value, increase transparency, and provide more digital offerings. Millennials are skeptical and cost-conscious, but they also care about their health a great deal. By meeting or exceeding Millennials’ expectations, companies can gain loyal customers and increase the number of Millennials who are insured.

Learnings from Auto Insurance for Health Insurance

By Sally Poblete

Consumer expectations have decidedly pivoted towards an e-commerce experience that guarantees value. Yet, in spite of the high level of complexity, health insurance seems to have remained the exception – until now. Below are three lessons health insurance incumbents can learn from the auto insurance industry to better meet customer expectations, boost sales, and ensure long-term competitiveness.

One price doesn’t fit all

Auto insurers like Progressive, Allstate, and State Farm are using the Internet of Things (IoT) to monitor behavior – driver habits, changes in speed, how often they drive, and the time of day they drive with the expectation are just a few examples. The hope is that doing so reduces costs by more accurately pricing driver risk. For consumers, this is a strong incentive to drive well and maintain lower premium rates.

This behavior-based model is a great example for health insurance companies in their product and pricing models for health plans. Walking 10,000 steps a day, getting an annual checkup, and other health-related behaviors can be a good indication that overall health can be incorporated into innovative behavior-based health insurance products.

This is particularly appealing to millennials, for whom wellness is a daily activity. Recent Goldman Sachs research indicates that millennials are exercising more, eating better, and smoking less than previous generations. This generation is using apps to track training and nutrition data, all of which can be incorporated into risk assessments to help insurers stay competitive. This data also presents insurers with more opportunities to incentivize healthy behaviors by rewarding members who reach certain milestones.

Insurance shopping has to be an online experience

Insurance is complicated, and there are many factors that go into understanding the value of coverage. For consumers, choosing the best plan for your needs is much simpler when marketplace comparisons can be made. In the auto insurance world, such comparisons exist. For example, NerdWallet allows users to compare quotes from multiple car insurance companies at once. Comparing exactly what is being offered – and at what price – simplifies the process of choosing a provider and plan.

Similarly, consumers would greatly benefit from health insurance marketplaces where they can get educated, view quotes, and enroll in plans within minutes. Easier-to-understand product information, reviews, and price comparisons should guide the transition to a marketplace model for the health insurance industry.  Considering that we may soon see more short-term plans and association health plans (which are not as comprehensive) alongside standard plans, it is especially important for consumers to understand exactly what they are purchasing and what services will be covered. An e-commerce platform would help ensure that consumers are actually comparing similar plans that will provide them with what they need.

Empowered agents can make personalized recommendations

Auto insurance companies such as Goji and CoverHound operate data-driven platforms that help agents match customer needs with the correct coverage through integrated networks of insurance carriers. In the health insurance industry, there is a similar opportunity for carriers to enable their agents to find more personalized options for customers at a fraction of the time it typically takes.

Brokers add value to the health insurance experience of many consumer segments, and there is a lot more agents can incorporate into their recommendations through technology. For example, a small business owner in the retail industry might want to know what other similar companies in the area have purchased based on their demographics. Through better use of data at the point-of-sale, a broker should be able to make those suggestions with ease.

Conclusion

Streamlined e-commerce experiences and improved value are key for consumers across industries, including health insurance. Health insurance providers would benefit from incorporating things that the auto industry has been doing well already — using technology to incentivize healthy behaviors, having easy-to-understand information available on marketplaces, and utilizing data to help agents show personalized offerings.

4 Trends to Expect in Health Insurance

As debate continues to swirl about the future of U.S. healthcare regulation, here are the four high-level trends we may expect, and how stakeholders could be affected:

1. Healthy people may start leaving the individual market

Recent changes eliminate the penalty for not having health insurance. Under the ACA, consumers were charged a penalty for the year they lacked coverage. But now, when consumers file their taxes, they won’t be charged a penalty. Without the penalty, younger and healthier consumers may choose to not have individual coverage. However, this doesn’t mean they don’t need or want health insurance coverage. Expect employers to play an increasingly important role in filling the gap. That being said, not all employers offer health insurance. It’s still ambiguous what the self-employed (think contract, freelance or gig workers) will do. Under the likely scenario in which many of the self-employed forgo insurance under the new regulation, the uninsured rate may increase.

2. Carriers may have to adjust their business

The premiums received from healthy people are generally a great hedge for the unhealthier, or higher-risk, populations for carriers. With the changes occurring in the individual market, carriers can expect a worsening loss ratio: The ratios paid by the premiums to the insurance company to cover settled claims begin to decrease. With the risk pool looking worse, carriers may concentrate on boosting their sales in relatively more stable segments.

3. Employer-sponsored coverage will be critical for employee retention

If the ACA’s employer mandate is repealed, small businesses may no longer be required to provide affordable, minimum-value coverage to their full-time employees to avoid penalties. That being said, with many people losing their individual health coverage, employees may increasingly expect health coverage from their employers. Employer-sponsored benefits have always played a critical role in attracting and retaining talent, but, with the current instability in the market, many employees will appreciate the security of an employer-sponsored coverage plan more than ever.

4. States may have increasing regulatory power

States may gain further flexibility to develop new healthcare models, including changes to affordability and choices offered. A number of states are pushing for their own legislation that could potentially give additional protection to residents beyond the federal level. Keep an eye on states like New York and California, which seek to create programs to increase benefits and requirements set by the ACA.

Infographic: The Unmet Needs of Small Businesses

With the expansion of the employer mandate this year, more businesses are offering coverage. But for the market segment of businesses with 50 employees or less not included in the mandate, the rate of adopting health insurance has not changed dramatically over this time period. These small businesses refrained from offering coverage in the past and today they remain concerned about the rising costs of health care to their business. Despite this fact, most of these small businesses want to offer coverage- they just need help finding an affordable option. So how can you help a business who can’t afford to buy group coverage, but still cares about the welfare of their employees?

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A recent Robert Wood Johnson Foundation survey showed that 74% of small business surveyed used brokers to guide their health insurance decisions. Small businesses who currently don’t offer group insurance is an untapped market opportunity for brokers. These businesses need guidance and assistance to solve their cost conundrum. Wellthie offers the tools to advise and find the most affordable solution.

NAHU Infographic: The Value of Insurance Brokers

According to a recent Robert Wood Johnson polling of small businesses, 74% used a broker to help them navigate the health insurance landscape and enroll in coverage for their businesses. Their need for brokers digs deeper than just assistance in navigating the health insurance environment and policy complexity- brokers are also helping their clients save time and money.

Brokers are spending the majority of their time in a direct consultative position, assisting their clients as an external HR resource, leaving little time to tackle the hassle of the quoting and enrolling process. Simultaneously, while more and more time is being spent on the client, commissions either haven’t changed or are decreasing. We’re working to help brokers get back to what really matters: