The Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the costs associated with it are a major source of fear for many companies in the U.S. today, but for distributors the law is a “huge opportunity,” said Ron Williams, marketing director for Fey Promotional Products Group (asi/54040) and a retired health care provider. Williams detailed the economic impact of the sweeping law as well as how a distributor can boost profits by targeting the growing health and wellness market during his session, “The Affordable Care Act: How It Will Affect Your Clients’ Buying Decisions” at ASI Dallas yesterday.
The ACA is expected to cost around $2 trillion to implement over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office. It’s a nearly incomprehensible and largely unsustainable figure, without filling the funding gap through new taxes and fees on corporations, Williams said. “These taxes are hurting your clients little by little by little, and it’s going to steamroll,” he said. Some businesses are seeing their taxes increase by 40% and health care costs jump an average of 30%, Williams said.
Distributors need to become familiar with the details of the ACA in order to position themselves as go-to experts for clients, according to Williams. “The opportunity is staggering if you are out in front of the tsunami that’s coming,” he said. The main opportunity Williams outlined is in corporate health and wellness programs, which many firms will be mandated to develop to comply with their coverage.
There are two types of wellness programs: participatory and inclusive. In participatory programs, companies might reimburse the cost of a gym membership for employees who opt in, creating a “very loosey-goosey type of system,” Williams said. They have low upfront costs, but the benefits cannot be tracked. Inclusive programs, conversely, are goal-oriented and provide strong metrics and real results. “They always lead to lower healthcare costs,” Williams said. They’re also very lucrative for savvy distributors.
Though inclusive wellness plans have high upfront costs, it's important to stress a client's potential returns. For every dollar invested in such a program, a corporation can expect to see a return of anywhere from $6 to $15, thanks to fewer sick days, increased productivity and lower health care costs. As Williams pointed out to the Dallas audience, any company that can guarantee such big returns will do so all day, every day.