“I Want to Be a Changemaker”: Meet Therese Rubio, Nava Partner
Healthcare is an incredibly confusing and complex industry, and that complexity has big real-world impacts on people’s health and lives. But throughout your career, you’ve been driven to make healthcare easier to understand by serving as a resource to answer questions for clients, friends, and family. What has your support enabled for your clients and their employees?
There’s such a human aspect of healthcare — sure, it sounds obvious, but it’s often overlooked.
Think about it. A lot of people navigating this confusing system are also going through the hardest times of their life. Maybe they’re seeking cancer treatment, or having a baby, or responding to an unexpected diagnosis, they’re in a very vulnerable position. At the same time, they’re dealing with this difficult healthcare system. It’s not a good situation.
That’s why I strive to promote employee education, so people have the tools and info they need to advocate for themselves. Whether that’s through open enrollment, teaching employees how to look up a doctor that is in-network, answering questions throughout the year, or simply explaining the difference between co-pays or co-insurance, I want to act as a resource.
For example, here’s a hot tip that I love to share: never ask your doctors office, “Do you take my insurance?” 99% of the time they’ll say yes, because they usually can “take” anyone’s insurance — but that doesn’t always mean that the doctor is in-network for your plan, so you may end up paying very expensive bills.
In the end, if employees don’t know how to use their plans, then they just won’t use them. And that means less preventative care, which leads to bigger obstacles (and bigger medical bills) later in life.
As you know, the healthcare system itself isn’t the only thing about our industry that’s complicated — the way that benefits have traditionally been bought, sold, and implemented is way harder than it needs to be. What can brokers do to make this process easier for the employer and the HR person?
We need to provide them with tools to simplify the process and help them feel empowered with their choices. The market is so complex right now, and it can be overwhelming. There are hundreds of vendors out there for every benefits need — and they’re always coming out with more.
But every company is unique in what they need from their benefits, both for the business itself and for the employees. The decision-makers may need some extra support to feel that they’re choosing the best offering for their needs.
For example, the Nava Benefits Search Engine can help save employers time and energy by connecting them with the vendors that fit their culture. Offering tools like this can make the process much easier.
You’ve described yourself as a “big data person.” We’d love to hear you talk about your interest in analytics and how it’s helped you support clients more effectively.
One thing I really dislike about the healthcare and benefits industry is that if you are a smaller employer, you rarely get access to data. And I love data.
When we have data, we can see exactly where your claims are, where your spend is coming from, and trends in health needs among the employee population. And then we can create wellness programs that are tailored to meet those needs.
For example, if we know that your employee population has a high rate of treatment for diabetes, we can use that information to create a wellness program encouraging healthy habits, or show them where to get insulin at an affordable rate, or help them find providers that specialize in diabetes treatment. Over time, those programs help reduce their overall spend, while keeping employees healthy.
Data can also be a valuable tool in setting expectations and strategizing for the future. Healthcare is so expensive, but no one wants to sacrifice the quality of their benefits because of an unexpected cost increase. By using data, we can predict what might be coming down the pike during their renewal, and they can stay two steps ahead.
If you had to describe your approach to client service with one song, movie, or book, what would it be?
Working in benefits consulting, sometimes it can feel like you’re afloat in an ocean of constant change. There are so many new laws being thrown at you. The carriers can’t keep up. There’s the rising tide of healthcare costs. And we’re all out at sea together.
But you got to just keep swimming and supporting your teams. We can’t predict everything — so just go with the flow.
Brokers hold such a strong influence on our healthcare system, yet we think it goes largely unrecognized. To that end, what role do you think brokers can play in transforming healthcare?
We need to make sure HR voices are heard. They are experts at what they do, but they need more support. They have one of the hardest jobs in any company. Not only do they oversee benefits, but they’re also dealing with onboarding, payroll, employee engagement, compliance… the list goes on.
As brokers, we can clear the path for them by advocating for their support and taking things off their plate. When HR leaders are well-supported, then their employees are well-supported. And that means better benefits and better access to high-quality, affordable healthcare.
We’re so thrilled to welcome you to the team. When you were learning about Nava, what was the aha moment that made you think, "okay, I want to be a part of that"?
I was talking to Brandon about how archaic the healthcare system is. After a couple years of working in this industry, you just get used to it — but I don’t want to get used to it. I want to be a change-maker. I want to point out the flaws and figure out how we can fix it. And I think we can do that through technology.
What do you hope to accomplish over the next five years at Nava?
I want to be the go-to person for companies across California — whether that’s reaching out to just get advice or seeking help to solve problems. I’m always happy to help. I just want to act as a wealth of knowledge, ready to share with anyone who asks.
I also want to make sure that we’re shaping the future of brokerage by mentoring new brokers in the industry and giving them what they need to provide excellent client service. At the end of the day, it all comes down to helping employees.
Have a question for Therese? Reach out here.
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