If you stare at it, you’ll hit it.


Confession #1: I’m a bit of a car nut.

Confession #2: I have committed the sin of target fixation.

Of what?

Target fixation is an attentional phenomenon observed in humans in which an individual becomes so focused on an observed object (be it a target or hazard) that they inadvertently increase their risk of colliding with the object. It is associated with scenarios in which the observer is in control of a high-speed vehicle or other mode of transportation, such as race-car drivers and motorcyclists. In such cases, the observer may fixate so intently on the target that they steer in the direction of their gaze, which is often the ultimate cause of a collision.

Just last month I was treating myself to the indulgence of a BMW track day.  I’m always fascinated with how well run these events are and the quality of the instruction.  And without fail, the one big takeaway is always about where to focus your eyes.

Not speed, not movement, but your vision.

It’s where you train your eyes to look, that your car will go.  In driving, this is because your hands follow your eyes.

And in racing you will need to correct your mistakes, but if you stare at the obstacle you want to avoid–you crash.  If you stare or point your vision in the area you need to go, your hands will steer you away from your crash.


And how is this about my health plan renewal?

The renewal of your plan is a huge focal point.  You, your team and your broker will spend 70% or more of their yearly efforts focused on the renewal rate.

Every year, your rates go up and you cut benefits and create barriers to care as a means to reduce your renewal costs.  For your employees, everyone is bracing for the impact of your renewal rate increases.

Everyone is staring right at the collision point and praying they can afford the damage and live to walk away from the inevitable wreck that is your annual renewal.

Yeah, exactly like racing.   You have an obstacle that comes around your track every year and you stare right into it and you crash.

This is insurance target fixation.


Train your eyes to look further down the road


I’m sure you have a suspicion that there are health insurance vendors out there that aren’t part of the Big 5.  But the Big 5 insure over half of the US Population, and most likely that includes you.

So, if most of us are approaching the same curve and we know there is detriment ahead, how do we look across the horizon and see where to look for a path of safety?

It can’t be about the renewal.  It has to be about your organization, empowering your people and your long-term philosophy.

Just like highly efficient teams work together for less money if they believe in the cause—your healthplan will work better if it is aligned to your philosophy towards your employee.

I’m just guessing here,  but I bet you never wanted to offer a plan with an insurmountable financial barrier to care which causes your employees to prolong an ailment.


Looking for the Innovators and Early Adopters


If we believe in anything close to the Law of Diffusion of Innovation,  we need to focus on behaving like we are in the first 16% of society when it comes to innovation.

We have to be identifying the innovators and exploring the pitfalls of the early adopters.

After digesting the landscape, it may even be wise to become an early adopter as these are were the greatest potentials to gain control exist today.

In health insurance, we are seeing the biggest change today is a demand for better transparency into claims data–not just for fancy boardroom reports, but for the purpose of changing purchasing behavior.

And the early adopters who will realize the savings will be willing to invest into more employee education and wellness style initiatives to create not just cost-saving behaviors, but healthier treatment outcomes.

Along with this push comes a need for aggressive network strategies from high performance all the way down to pure reference based pricing plans devoid of network contracts.

Along with these plans come the services that epitomize the phrase that “everything old is new again”, as we see a big push for better care through Direct Primary Care arrangements, Direct Surgical Care contracts and on-site clinic contracts.


Where do we start? We are racing headfirst into our renewal.


Do you have that traction control button in your car?   Is it fancy and called something special DSC or ESP?   I bet you do.

Do you know it’s primary function?   It cuts your accelerator if your tire slips.

Why?  The best way to keep you from spinning out of control and crashing is to make the car smart enough to quit applying the gas pedal even though you keep your foot firmly applying pressure.

Novel concept, right?  Don’t speed up into the crash.

Yes, the renewal does need to be dealt with.   In most cases, it might be a baby step that needs to be taken immediately, or you might be an ideal candidate to speed to delivery.

It starts with a conversation and education about the trends, technology and vendors that are driving innovation forward.

Do yourself a favor–back off the gas pedal for 1 hour, checkout the landscape and see if you don’t just realize where to train your eyes to avoid the pitfall of target fixation.



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Bret Brummitt

Bret Brummitt


About the author: An avid learner and resourceful leader with a passion for problem-solving, Bret is a calming force in the chaos and fast-paced evolution of health insurance, employee benefits, and the growing burden of regulatory compliance. He helps people develop the confidence to see beyond the problem at hand and start to re-imagine their goals. Whether he’s helping a client or a colleague, Bret believes a successful interaction is one that allows us all to dream a little bigger when we’re done.

About Generous Benefits:  Generous Benefits (www.generousbenefits.com) focuses on solutions that improve the community you serve.