Broker talk with Mark Mabbott

We love to connect with brokers to talk about their businesses, and find out how we can make their jobs easier. Recently we talked with Mark Mabbott, CEO of Integrity Advisors.

Q: HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE BUSINESS?

A: I got my producers license in 2008. At first I was representing voluntary benefits, but soon realized that my employer groups wanted more support around group health insurance. In November of 2013 I went out on my own and started my own agency.

Q: WHAT WAS IT LIKE STARTING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?

A: It was challenging. Capital is always an issue for start-ups. I had to build my client base from scratch.

Q: HOW DO YOU BUILD RELATIONSHIPS, AND HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN THEM OVER TIME?

A: Relationships begin with understanding the situation of the Client. Your agent should be asking A LOT of questions, and engaging in a conversation about the your needs. From there, it’s about being diligent, responsible, and available. You build and maintain trust first and foremost by showing someone all of the options, discussing the nuances from plan to plan and carrier to carrier, and really looking for the right fit. That part is the same whether you’re working with individuals or groups.

With groups, you really have to be aware of their bottom line. They want to support their employees, but they have budget requirements. I help them sort through the information and make those critical administrative decisions.

Just as important as choosing a plan, what happens AFTER enrollment is critical! My job is to make sure they get what they’re paying for. They’re buying a contract. When they sign that contract, I become their advocate, making sure the carrier is fulfilling their side of the agreement.

Q: WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR FROM AN INSURER? WHAT MAKES YOU TRUST THEM?

A: For me, it’s about transparency. Not all carriers are transparent. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), insurers have been mandated to be more transparent in what they’re offering. Some, like Oregon’s Health CO-OP, have transparency built right into their bones. That’s not the case for everyone.

Secondly, I look at the customer service side. How does the insurer handle problems—like it or not, problems happen. Are they responsive? Do they call people back? Are they resolving the problems? Bottom line, how do they resolve difficult and complex situations?

Q: HOW DOES OREGONS’ HEALTH CO-OP STACK UP?

First, Oregon’s Health CO-OP has absolute transparency in plan design! The SiMPLE plans are very easy for people to understand. The flat copays and no deductibles make the plans different from everything else in the marketplace. People can actually predict their costs. With other carriers, deductibles for certain services are applied and the patient is charged a percentage of the contracted rate. The customer never knows what this rate is, or that there is such a rate until a bill arrives. That’s unacceptable from a consumer perspective. Since the start I’ve been excited to see what the CO-OP is doing with SiMPLE plans, and I’ve been a huge advocate for them.

Secondly, and most importantly, I have a deep relationship w/ everyone at Oregon’s Health CO-OP. If one of my clients has an issue, I can literally pick up the phone and speak with people at the executive level to help resolve it. I’ve had only positive experiences in these situations.

All together, Oregon’s Health CO-OP is making a huge difference in the state’s insurance marketplace. You’re driving other carriers toward being more transparent, even adopting flat copays. I think transparency will become the norm rather than the exception over time, and Oregon’s Health CO-OP is really driving this change.

Q: DO YOU HAVE ANY ADIVCE OR TIPS FOR PEOPLE OR GROUPS?

A: Be sure to vet out a few different brokers. Sit down with them, talk with them on the phone, ask them questions and see who clicks. At the end of the day, it’s a relationship. If you’re working with someone who just wants to enroll you, but who won’t be there to keep the insurer on track, then keep searching until you find a broker you can hang your hat on for service AFTER enrollment.

Thanks Mark! You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn with your own health insurance questions. He’d love to hear from you.