Congrats to the newest member of the “Brokers Who Excel” team, Stella Vicanovic. Stella has been working with Excel Health Plans for a couple of years and her Q4 this year is book-ended with two 100+ member launches. The October 1st launch went off without a hitch and the January 1 launch is right around the corner. Let’s chat with Stella from Des Moines, Iowa by way of North Risk Partners, to see what else she’s been up to.
What is your focus when consulting with a client?
I’ve been in the industry for a long time and my focus has always been to nuture long term relationships with my clients. Some of them have been with me since the beginning. Because we’ve been together so long we need to look for innovative ideas, so we don’t stay stagnant. That’s what lead me to Excel Health Plans.
What has your experience been like selling Excel Health Plans?
Everything comes down to simplicity. The quoting process? Simple and straightforward. Implementation? Aither had ID cards in the members hands in a few days. Simple. We also love the systems they use. Fully self-funded can be so time consuming to bring all the different parts and pieces together. However, my allegiance is to my clients, so if the self-funding/level-funding route is what’s best for them I’m going to figure out how to make that happen. Again, it comes down to Excel making it simple. They already have all the parts and pieces in place. It’s like self-funding that doesn’t feel like self-funding.
I can kind of compare creating a plan from scratch to building a house from scratch. 20 years ago I built a house from a blank plot of land and it was one of the most difficult experiences. You don’t reallize the sheer volume of decisions that have to be made. At first there are big decisions like what type of foundation to do, but by the end you have to choose which 25 door knobs you want. It’s crazy. That’s always how I felt about self-funding/level-funding. I don’t need to build an entire plan. Choosing between Excel’s 3 levels of plans is plenty. These pre-built solutions are proven, so I know they work.
What has support been like with Excel Health Plans?
The members love it. The plan that went live a couple of weeks ago on October 1st had been on a BlueCross plan for 17 years. Switching to Excel Health Plans saved the company a good amount of money, but bringing the plan details to the employees was the big win. Some of the employees literally did not believe how many $0 cost options there were. They thought there was a catch. Immediately everyone was feeling the uniqueness of the plan. It was a huge differentiator.
Recently we had a member drive an hour away to get a free MRI. They were happy to travel a bit to ensure the service would not cost anything out of pocket, but to make it even better, Excel covered their travel costs. No one (including me) had ever heard of a health benefit plan doing anything like that before. I don’t even know if Excel wants us telling people that they cover travel costs, but it created an amazing customer experience and it shows that they really do care.
How about renewals? How have they been?
Great. Can’t complain at all. Simple. Last year one of our accounts had a member who required a full hip replacement. At the start of this new benefit year, the member moved off the plan to Medicare. With traditional insurance companies, it wouldn’t have mattered that they were off the plan now. Their hip replacement from the previous year would have been considered in the quote for 2024. However, with Excel they actually treat every renewal like a new group. As a result, there was no retaliation for a procedure from a previous member in the previous year.
To close it out, any favorite quotes you want to leave us with?
I actually have two.
The first is a sentiment I like to remember, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” In life, it’s inevitable, we will experience loss and disappointment. Nothing lasts forever. We have to remember to focus on the good experiences and memories we once had.
The second is, “Never forget where you came from.” Everyone starts somewhere. No one succeeds alone. There are people in our lives that help us along the way. Even the most successful surgeons, business owners, and athletes didn’t become successful without hard work, failure/defeat, and support from other people. A reminder daily to never become so successful that you forget how you got there and who helped along the way.
Thanks to Stella for taking time out of your schedule to talk with us. A lot of us here are glass-half-full people, too. We appreciate what you are doing and look forward to your next launch on January 1.