Let go of the status quo – Suzy K. Johnson on the benefits industry
By Rick Ramos
With more than 32 years of experience as an employee benefit specialist, Suzy K. Johnson understands benefits better than most. She is president and owner of Employee Benefit Advisors of the Carolinas. I had a chance to speak with Suzy and ask her about her thoughts on the industry and where we are headed.
Rick Ramos: Suzy, you’ve qualified for the NAHU Soaring Eagle agency recognition award each year since its inception in 2010. What’s changed most in the benefits space in the last seven years?
Suzy K. Johnson: The better questions is, “What hasn’t changed?” We used to primarily do small groups under 100 employees and now we only prospect groups with more than 50 employees. Our average new case used to be 35 lives and now we average around 115 employee lives.
We used to educate about how small groups under 50 employees were rated based on their risk factor, but now it is only ACA community rates or level-funding with underwriting questions for groups of 25 or more in North Carolina.
In 2008, we received a lucrative percentage of commissions along with handsome volume overrides from carriers. This meant we had an automatic increase in annual revenue, even if our new production wasn’t what we targeted. Now we are paid a per employee per month (PEPM) fee for group health of all sizes. Now when employers lay off workers, our revenue decreases. As a result, we must continuously sell new consulting work to grow revenue and the company.