Like many of you, I’m sure, the daily grind of the benefits business occasionally gets me down. Too often our focus is on controlling rising healthcare costs, handling compliance woes and keeping up with new technology, rather than helping employees live better lives and get the care they need.
It sometimes feels like people — the employees, the employers, the benefit executives — get lost in the equation.
But every once in a while, you meet someone who reminds you why it’s all worth it.
That’s what EBN’s annual Benny Awards are all about. And that leads me to introducing our winners, who are featured this week on our website:
· Angie Villamaria (Benefits Leadership in Health Care), director of associate wellness, Centura Health
· Bahati VanPelt (Benefits Leadership in Retirement Planning), executive director, The Trust, powered by the NFLPA
· Mike Greenberg (Judges’ Choice), vice president of benefits, Hudson’s Bay Company
And, of course, our Benefits Professional of the Year, BJ’s Wholesale Club’s Christine Durkee. When I spoke to Christine last month, I was immediately struck by her excitement for the field — after 30-plus years in the biz.
“I love to be a resource to people, because what comes naturally to me is a big deal to other people when they don’t understand it,” she told me. “I just love to explain it to people and see their face change from confused to ‘OK, I get it now.’”
Isn’t that what it’s all about? Helping employees understand and use their benefits? As open enrollment begins, it’s important to remember that confusion and paralysis continue to be synonymous with benefits for the majority of workers.
It’s a fact Durkee acknowledges — and a problem that has only worsened in recent years.
“I think the healthcare environment is so scary and confusing for people, between the compliance issues that are coming down through the Affordable Care Act and everything else,” she says. “You can’t expect people to understand it when they don’t do it every day. You want people to go to the doctor and get a bill and understand why they got it. You don’t want it to be a surprise.”
I’m excited that Christine will be one of the speakers at our Workplace Benefits Summit event in Nashville Sept 28-30. And I hope many of you will join us to talk about all the latest trends in the industry — and to be reminded of what’s so important about this business: the people.
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