Turning dreams into reality

A better health insurance option for the roofing industry is in development

As part of my job, I have the opportunity to travel and speak with hundreds of roofing contractors. As I have mentioned before, the concern I most often hear centers around workforce issues. However, during the past few months contractors have brought a new problem to my attention: health insurance and its rising costs. It is no mystery why more roofing contractors are using subcontracted labor; by doing so, they sometimes can forgo the insurance and benefits costs of having actual employees.

Health insurance has been a problem for a long time in the U.S. One only needs to tune into talk radio or any cable news channel to hear about it. Politicians offer all kinds of potential solutions like "Medicare for all"; "free market, patient-centered health care"; "Obamacare"; or "single-payer health care." There is no perfect solution, and therein lies the problem. Over time, the health insurance market has moved from an insurance-based system to a prepay system. Actuaries be damned.

One thing is certain: You and your employees are feeling the pain. Even with health savings accounts for high-deductible plans and efforts to control worker behavior, workers are beginning to wonder what they are getting for their insurance money. With rising premiums and unbearable deductibles, employees often ask what is actually being covered? I suppose it depends on your plan and your willingness to pay, but unless you have an expensive health condition, it's likely little essentially gets paid. Add to that the co-pays imposed, and you have a mess as well as dissatisfied employees. What's tragic is employers want to do what's best for employees and are also frustrated about the system.

What's equally unfortunate is the roofing industry ought to be a target-rich environment for health insurers. The demographics of roofing workers, though aging, still is younger than other industries. It's also made up of more males than females, and overall health care costs for men generally are less expensive than for women. So what's going on?

One problem is though demographics work in our favor, company size does not. Individual roofing companies aren't large enough to draw the most competitive pricing. The smaller the company, the greater the pain. When a company does not have many employees, the risk pool does not have many people with whom to share the health risk. But what could happen if we took all these roofing companies, pooled them together and created our own health insurance program?

NRCA, as always, is listening and trying to respond. In February, we began to ask members whether they might be interested in joining a much larger (and much less expensive) health insurance program written specifically for the roofing industry. We were overwhelmed by the response.

Recently, I had the privilege of speaking at the GAF Wealth Builders Conference in Austin, Texas, and I asked whether anyone in the room would be interested in participating in a national program. I was not surprised 157 contractors responded they would. What about you?

Imagine a day when you controlled the beast rather than the other way around. Imagine an environment where not just cost sharing occurs but, if we do it right and big enough, profit sharing, as well. Most important, imagine a health insurance program that focuses on better health outcomes rather than just treating health issues. That's what NRCA is working toward.

But to get to the next step, we need health-related data from you to provide a better health insurance product for your company.

Interested in learning more? If so, please reach out to NRCA Director of Enterprise Risk Management Rich Trewyn at rtrewyn@nrca.net. If we can pool together at least 5,000 participants, we believe we can begin to create a health insurance program with better outcomes and lower cost. Sound too good to be true? Welcome to the new NRCA.

Reid Ribble is NRCA's CEO.

This column is part of News + Views. Click here to read additional stories from this section.



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