It has a LOT to do with us in the benefit and HR industry. Candles replaced light bulbs, cell phones replace land lines, and the Luddites lost. Yes the Luddites.
We are driving ourselves crazy trying to keep up with the PPACA and companies like Zenefits seem to be flying past us. The market is changing and brokers and landlines and HR managers and candles seem to be headed into the same history.
Being part of the past is not our collective desire for the future ... because it is NOT a future at all. So, what are we to do. What John Henry did in the tale is a short road to death. The Luddites lost and many died with a mysterious leader who sought to stop the industrial revolution.
First, we need to recognize that this is a cycle and we cannot stop it. The Luddites would have been far better off in so many ways had they learned that lesson first. Next, consider finding a niche and get there first. With an average of 65,000 brokers in each state on the east coast, many are going to be changing jobs. There is not room for that many brokers in the new world of the PPACA. Not quite to the level of being a candle maker or a Luddite or a John Henry but probably half way there ... because of the new rules and increased automation and integration.
The truth remains, that the trusted relationship between a broker and an HR professional is facing changing dynamics. Benefits are certainly headed to being a commodity and just a "checkoff" on the list of things to do with enrollments and plan designs moving to clicks for employees to make. Notifications and compliance still matter but that too will be put on the auto pilot of "clicks" for all but the newest smallest employers.
That is another trend to remember. The cycle includes a trickle down of abilities for administration and benefits. Remember when only the large companies had multiple plan choices and 401(k) plans. Now PayChex (whose average client is 5 employees) has more 401(k) plans in place than just about all the others administrators put together and it is rare for a company of 20 or so employees not to have at least two or three medical plans, two dental plans and vision coverage as well. The cycle we need to see is simple ... what big companies have today, small companies will have soon.
Next ... more change. If the Supreme Court throws out the subsidies in 36 states, something will plug that hole quickly and could even be worse for the current market situation. If the subsidies are upheld, the markets should settle down for a season ... but not for long. Premiums are far too high without a reduction of participation. We moved from indemnity to PPO to HMO to High Deductible to Marketplace to ... (what ever is next)
The ONLY thing we have in our control are the two things that make all successful people successful. These two things measure every successful person I have met and in a USA Today study 20 years ago it was true and remains true today. Successful people are Life Long Learners and Effective Collaborators.
Think about it ... that is what it takes to succeed. We don't need some new law or plan or industry protection. We need to be committed to learning and work well with others that make 1+1=3 or 5 or 10.
Instagram had 16 employees when it was sold in 2012 for $1 billion. Wait. 2012 was a bad year right? Not for Instagram. Life Long Learning and Effective Collaboration ... $1 billion. Now, there is a formula!