I once heard a broker, when in competition for a piece of business, tell a client, “A trained monkey could come in once a year and give you your renewal.” Other than the fact that said broker showed a lack of professionalism in the marketplace and maybe that is the uniqueness that broker felt set them apart, it raises a question that each of us brings to the market. Let me ask you, “What is your unique ability that brings value to your client?” If really all you do is once a year walk in and tell your client that rates went up and that you checked prices with other carriers and the client’s carrier is still the cheapest, you really are about as useful as a trained monkey. Of course, it costs the client a lot more than a bunch of bananas and you probably are not as cute and can’t do any other tricks. On the other hand, if you happen to be always striving to assist the client in finding new and innovative ways to drive health care rates down and by doing so, ultimately their insurance rates, then you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Clients are looking to you today, more than ever, to be the resource and the voice of health care. As the outlook for reform is sometimes cloudy and each day seems to change, your constant insight is exactly what small business owners and individuals are looking for and believe it or not, are actually willing to pay for your assistance. I recall when HSA plans were first released in 2003, we looked at the law and realized that these actually made sense and could help drive costs down for our clients. We talked with carriers at the time and most were nonchalant and said that it was just a fad and would fade away. The only carrier at the time that believed enough to push the idea was Starmark. Now, I am not plugging Starmark but the facts were, they could see the value of these plans. There were those of us who understood that HSA plans would bring the consumer back into the buying process. Now, 8 years later, every carrier presents HSA plans and the market has grown substantially. Yet, even today, I hear from producers that the premium difference is not enough to warrant the deductibles. When I hear that, I just shake my head and think of trained monkeys. The proof on HSA plans is evident and yet there are those pushing co pay plans that are more likely to bankrupt a person simply because of unlimited risk. Now personally, I don’t mind that there are producers out there with that mentality, because if I ever go back into the field to compete, I know I will find plenty of banana skins. Unfortunately, these producers will finally come around to HSA plans but by the time they do, the true professionals will have moved on to more innovative products and services. I am actually excited about what I see is the next big change in health insurance and what it will mean to our clients and the industry as a whole. I would suggest that you find and stay on the cutting edge of the industry rather than dragging along at the tail end. I don’t know a lot about horses but I can tell you that I would rather be towards the front and not dragging by the tail. It definitely smells better. “CHANGE YOUR HABITS, CHANGE YOUR WORLD”.