Rising Star Jason Bainum Sees Benefits Data as the Secret to Employee Retention

We talked to Jason Bainum, EVP and VP of sales at HUB International, about the trends he sees in the employee benefits space, how smaller organizations can make the most of their spend, and the indispensability of data.
By: | August 2, 2023


Come see the Stars! As part of our ongoing coverage of the best brokers in the commercial insurance space, Risk & Insurance®, with the sponsorship of Philadelphia Insurance, is expanding its coverage of the Rising Stars, those brokers who represent the next wave of insurance brokering talent.

Look for these expanded profiles on the Risk & Insurance website and in your social media feeds throughout 2023.

What follows is our conversation with Jason Bainum, EVP and VP of sales at HUB International and a 2023 Employee Benefits Power Broker winner.

Risk & Insurance: How did you get into the insurance industry? What do you like about working in your field?

Jason Bainum: I started in the insurance business as I had a friend who owned a company within the industry and suggested that it may be a good fit for me. That was back in 2010, and I have been involved ever since and continue to observe the industry changing for the better each year.

As part of my role, I strive to create and develop unique ideas to help our clients improve their bottom line by controlling rising costs in the best way possible while also helping their team members feel valued by providing a quality employee experience and benefit program.

Budget and top-tier employee experience are a constant focus, and there are many ways to help improve things through the implementation of new and innovative ideas.

Overall, I enjoy working in the insurance industry as it’s always evolving. As a consultant, I believe it is our role to bring all options to the table and let our client tell us if they believe it would be a fit within their organization, and to introduce new scenarios that they may have never thought of before.

I’m very focused on data and numbers, and therefore, if we follow those, we will arrive at the pain points and be able to alleviate those through our experience and unique ideas as a consultant.

R&I: What are some of the trends you’re witnessing in the employee benefits space? How are employers attracting and retaining talent in this tight labor market?

JB: It’s more expensive to attract a new team member than to retain one. We’re seeing employers spend more, create unique benefit enhancements and so on in an effort to retain team members.

Secondly, what do we know about the makeup of our team members? Our data team will run a persona analysis of our clients’ workforce in an effort to drill down into each generational makeup, the benefits sought after by each generation, how to communicate with each generation and so on. These include:

  • Data analytics: What is the data telling us and what are we going to do with the data?
  • Health care trend: Spend continues to increase at an estimated 7.4% in 2023.
  • Rx: Some employers are approaching 45 to 50% Rx spend in their benefit programs. Specialty medications are the leading cause. Gene therapy continues to expand, but all are pricing around $2.5 million to $3.5 million for the drug. We have to plan ahead as more gene therapy drugs are FDA approved.
  • Technology: Team members today want ease of access, enrollment etc. when they consume healthcare.
  • Workplace wellness: Team members want flexibility, mental wellbeing and so on.

R&I: Smaller institutions with competing budgetary priorities are in an especially difficult situation when it comes to health care spend. What are some things they can do to maximize their health care programs and hold on to talent?

JB: There are many creative things they can do to alleviate budgetary concerns while also attracting and retaining talent — ideas such as consortiums, Rx carve-in versus carve-out, manufacturer assistance program carve-outs, ICHRAs, reference-based pricing (RBP), dependent audits, musculoskeletal (MSK) therapy programs, early cancer screening programs and so on.

R&I: How important is data to the proper management of an employee benefits program? What advantages can more or better data give a broker or manager?

JB: In my opinion, data is the driving force. If we do not know the data and your workforce, then how do we know what benefit programs to put in place to attract and retain team members, what claims classes to target to control costs and help team members, and so forth? We cannot assess our success without data points and strategy around those data points.

The data will help us as consultants to form a multi-year strategy and to think outside the box and differentiate ourselves. In addition, the younger generations are all data-driven, so we as consultants need to understand our partners and their buying behaviors. Data will be a major part of that buyer decision process.

More data allows us to dive in to the areas where we are having issues. I can tell almost all employers that they will have cancer or MSK as a top 5 claims class. What is the data telling us about what type of cancers and MSK claims we are having? What can we implement to help team members while also controlling costs for the employer?

This is what data allows us to do. Data will allow us to start being more proactive, rather than reactive, for our clients and their claims issues.

R&I: If you could travel back in time to deliver a message to yourself at the beginning of your career, what would you say?

JB: I would have joined HUB International sooner. Through the support of HUB as my employer, I have been set up for success with many amazing resources and opportunities.

I would tell myself to not sweat the small stuff and to control what you can control. My response to every situation bears the outcome of that situation. So, I would choose to not put too much time and effort into situations that are out of my control. Rather, I would approach them in a positive manner and control the areas that I can. Life is short, enjoy it. &

David Agnew is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. He can be reached at [email protected].

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