• In Super Bowl 51, the Atlanta Falcons had a 28-3 lead, with 2:12 left in the 3rd Their victory was a sure thing.

 

  • During World War II, the German Army was within 12 miles of Moscow and took 3.3 million prisoners of war. Their victory on the eastern front was a sure thing.

 

  • Man-made global warming was going to render the north pole ice-less by the summer of 2013. It was a sure thing, just ask Al Gore.

 

I love a good sure thing more than anyone. One can’t help but crave sure things. There is comfort that comes from knowing, for sure, that things are going to be fine. As we get older, we learn that sure things are an impossibility. It’s called life and in life, the unpredictable happens (good and bad).

 

Tim Ferris had a great quote; “People will choose unhappiness over uncertainty.” This sits on my mind when we interact with employers who are under the false impression that despite the incredibly large expense of their group health plan, they have certainty, predictability, and stability that being with a flagship carrier brings.

 

I get the sense that employers have resolved that all health plans stink, health insurance for employees is ridiculously expensive, and they should just “embrace the suck.” I think “big healthcare” recognizes and plays off the proclivity of people choosing unhappiness over uncertainty. They are just exploiting what they see in the market as a desire for comfort in brand names.

 

If you have group coverage with one of the big 5 carriers, whether you are fully insured or self-funded, one of the tactics that the sales agent sold you on was their size and stability. They are selling you on the false premise of certainty; if you just pay your premium, however large it might be, the insurer/administrator will take care of everything.

 

Think about what you are missing when you resign yourself to that. You are missing the opportunity to be a hero for your employees. You’re closing the door to real price shopping and offering a value proposition to the people who are partially funding your group plan; the employees themselves.

 

It turns out that real, cash prices, outside the carrier network contracts, are often better than what your employees are accessing when using their high-cost insurance plan!

 

We have seen several examples of real prices being less than the “in-network” amount. The latest example was a CT scan that in-network was over $1300, while outside the network on a cash basis was only $350. The $1300 was the known price. Per the insurance contract, it was the easy button. The $350 was the unknown. It took some time and engagement with the employee, but once we found it, the relief and happiness experienced from the employer and the employee provided satisfaction and appreciation from all. That’s providing true benefits, not just insurance to employees.

 

Everyone loves an underdog and a good comeback story. Seeing my team overcome a 25 point deficit when a loss was a certainty, the allies defeating Nazi Germany after it seemed doubtful that anyone could, and currently requiring an ice-breaker to reach the north pole are all more satisfying when it was all but a sure thing that none of those things were going to happen.

 

Embracing a responsible degree of uncertainty in business, especially when it comes to HR and benefits, often proves to be a rewarding experience and an opportunity to take care of those who are responsible for taking care of your business.