Dirty Little Secrets of the Health Benefits Industry: Pulling Back the Curtain with Eric Krieg: PYP 265

Eric Krieg spent decades in the belly of the beast; the benefits industry beast, that is. Until one day he asked a profoundly inconvenient question: “Am I doing the right thing?”

By way of answer, he left his job as a traditional broker and went rogue, revealing the ethically questionable practices of the benefits industry to the world.

And, putting his career where his mouth is, he formed the anti-brokerage: Risk International, a firm that advises companies on how to navigate the benefits industry, and make decisions in their own best interests. Rather than getting paid on commission, Risk International is fee-for-service; a rare case of financial transparency in the health benefits world.

OK, you're wondering, what the heck is a benefits broker doing on a podcast that features doctors, activists, farmers, and behavioral scientists?

Turns out that Krieg's industry may hold the key to real reform of the American healthcare system; the kind of reform that can enable lifestyle medicine and plant-based nutrition to take their rightful place as first-line treatments rather than fringe options or afterthoughts.

In our hard-hitting conversation, which is much more exciting than you might imagine, we covered:

  • the dirty little secret of benefits brokers: they're the sales arm of the insurance industry
  • the invisible conflicts of interest that warp client service and smash any pretense of fiduciary responsibility
  • the farce of end-of-year insurance rate hike negotiations
  • the death by paper cuts of incremental annual increases
  • the hammered middle class: meager raises don't keep up with increased health costs
  • insurance companies don't take on risk – huh?
  • insurance company stocks have a 50% rate of return over the last few years
  • brokerage industry also flush – consolidation vs M&A
  • private equity money in brokerage, and very healthy margins
  • it's just the clients and employees who are suffering
  • why Econ 101 isn't working: normal consumerism doesn't apply in a third party payer system
  • 50% of all healthcare costs in the US paid by the federal government (medicare and medicaid)
  • the Amazon/JP Morgan/Berkshire Hathaway bombshell: “we can't take this anymore”
  • the disruption on the horizon: Walmart and CVS
  • the future will challenge the standard ways of accessing healthcare
  • we spend the most and are 37th in healthcare quality
  • the top-1o systems are all single payer
  • insurance companies are not going to survive, because they provide commodity value at best
  • how to shake up and improve the system
  • what organizations can do to stop getting fleeced
  • you can find waste and fat in your healthcare spend 100% of the time
  • “facts rule the day”
  • how employees can have an impact
  • and much more…

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Risk International

Eric Krieg's article in Crain's Business Cleveland

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