ASCENDing the Ranks of High Value Health Plans

by Sally Pace 

Bottom line. Superheros in the benefits industry focus on reduced benefits spend. This was the prevalent theme during this week’s ASCEND Agency Growth and Leadership Summit. Two key questions that must stay top of mind:


How does that affect a company’s EBITDA and ability to grow?

How does that impact retention and recruitment for an employer?


Reducing and eliminating employee out of pocket costs and helping executives take control of their healthcare spend is the mandate most C-suite leaders are coming to demand from their advisors and vendor partners.


BenefitsPRO Broker of the Year 2021 Finalist Mike Hill with ColdBrook Insurance had a winding path to get to a place where he could act on these key questions. After a series of setbacks, he committed to educating himself on self-funding and healthcare supply chain management. He wrote a book called “Not Rocket Surgery.” And his shift in mindset took life when he attended a CEO Roundtable as a speaker. Prior to the event, he asked the question “Within your organization, who handles your health insurance benefits and why?” One CEO responded with a frank answer - it used to be HR but I had to take it over because the rates kept going up. “The role of a CEO is to be creative and think outside the box. As an advisor, it’s so important (for me) to help support that creative decision-making process when it comes to the health plan,” shared Mike during the opening day of the ASCEND Summit.


“I appreciate the wealth of knowledge shared by so many from such diverse backgrounds.   There were definitely some common themes presented focusing on C-suite buy in and specifically how to change the conversations leading to organizations becoming stewards of their health plans,” shared Mike Riley with Sustainable Health Index. “My organization has wrestled with the idea of self-funding our health plan for years.  We have never made the jump.  However, I’ve come to understand we are essentially self-funded now, we just don’t get the benefits.  As a fully funded entity, we don’t get to share in the savings of a good year.  I know now there is a path forward allowing us to fund our plan differently.”


And, it’s not just impacting corporate America. Dan LaBroad with Ovation Benefits was working with a nonprofit and asked what their goals were for the next few years. He explained that the money they could use to achieve their nonprofit goals was sitting in wasted expenses in their health plan. Within a year and a half, he helped them reach their big, hairy, audacious goal by redirecting money without compromising care.


Matt Smith with Medxoom homed in on the importance of innovation. “Listening to the speakers, visiting with the vendors, and listening to the stories behind why so many in the industry are building and executing in ways to help change the way benefit plans are working has been truly inspiring. One thing that stood out to me is that Innovation is at the core for this group of Benefits Superheroes. These masterminds are consistently pushing the envelope to help guide employers to sustainable solutions for the unsustainable price increases employers are facing year after year. I’m fortunate to be able to meet with others who share the same passion for innovation and change as Medxoom,” shared Matt. “Innovation is the key to reducing healthcare expenses, leading to better medical outcomes, and happier healthier employees. A platform like ours allows for a marketplace of comparative shopping for lower costs, unified bill payments, and a personal CRM for your healthcare. Solutions like these weren’t available a decade ago, but now they are here to stay and disrupting the status quo of healthcare.”


Nelson Griswold, Founder and Conference Chair of the ASCEND Summit, brought in a showcase solutions lineup full of prospecting tools for making these changes happen. If you missed the event, you can still stock your tools – we at The Granite List put them all in one box with an instruction manual and built-in feedback around each one.




To search and source solutions like the ones mentioned in this article, visit The Granite List at



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