2019 NAHU Convention Coverage



 Photos essay by Ramon Sandoval 

The National Association of Health Underwriters held its annual convention at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina June 29-July 2. NAHU outgoing president Rusty Rice gave a moving speech and received repeated serenades for his birthday, which happened to coincide with the event. Karen Kirkpatrick’s Friday night thought leadership dinner attracted a team of innovators and LAAHU’s Saturday evening soiree at Coasterra Restaurant provided a lot of good conversation plus some ridiculously beautiful sunsets (oh, yes, and some great margaritas). The keynote speaker at the conference, U.S. Army Master Sergeant Cedric King, brought down the house. King lost his legs serving our country and yet somehow gained mind blowing insight and strength. Oh and did we mention that underwriters awoke one day for a 6:30 a.m. meditation and yoga? Even the ones who attended the Trailer Park After Dark Vanguard event seemed to rise and shine just fine for a very early morning breakfast discussion. Of course, there were sessions: wellness, cannabis, Medicare and a whole lot more. Naturally, Region 8 showed up in force — especially for the boat events. In a nutshell: The event was high energy and positive, with the brightest and the best in the industry acknowledging the obstacles yet determined to find a way to push forward.– Victoria Alexander


We asked some attendees to share their insights and takeaways from the NAHU conference. Here’s what we heard…

“The 2019 NAHU Convention in San Diego was exceptional. It drew several hundred like-minded insurance professionals from all over the country, who all share deep passions about improving health care and increasing the availability of health insurance coverage. When we get together, think together, and innovate together, we get to change people’s lives. That was the shared theme of the four-day event. When we improve health care, we impact the lives – and health – of our residents and country. Improved care leads to better health and lets people thrive, while creating the opportunity for them to change the world. The ripple we get to create globally is massive and deeply meaningful, and it was inspiring to be among the thought leaders and innovators leading the charge together at NAHU.”

Paul Roberts

Compliance Manager

Word & Brown General Agency

” What a special gathering of so many beautiful industry thoughts leaders. The energy was so special as for #healing #collaboration #solutions and #love. We are truly super fortunate to be part of this amazing event. It felt like a family gathering!

 Naama O. Pozniak

Chief Executive Officer

A+ Insurance Services


“The NAHU leadership dinner pointed out repeatedly where the market is headed, and it is following the financial world foot steps. Regular health broker commissions are going away. Instead, health benefit consultants are desired for two reasons. First, this creates financial alignment and eliminates the financial misalignment. Second, employers want real solutions to skyrocketing healthcare bills instead of paying a larger health insurance bill blindly every year. This dove tails into our medical cost transparency business model which includes a one-of-a-kind executive report of medical cost drivers by test name, provider name and real prices paid. The benefit consultant is empowered with the ability to consult and manage cost drivers.”

Bill Hennessey, M.D.

Founder and CEO, Pratter



“I’m so glad I attended the NAHU 2019 Convention in San Diego this year.  The content and speakers were outstanding.  But above all else, the opportunity to be with friends from all over the country was priceless.  I am consistently impressed with this group of people that are committed to advocating on behalf of their clients and working with legislators to improve the industry as a whole.”

Bobbi Kaehlin

PayPro Administrators

Immediate Past President Los Angeles Association of Health Underwriters

Board Member of EBPA – Los Angeles

“It was clear that industry leaders are embracing continued change, proactively educating themselves and their clients, and preparing now for inevitable transformations to come. The widespread enthusiasm in the conversations I had with brokers, carriers, and other industry stakeholders left me feeling excited for the future of our industry.”

 Eric Rentsch

VP of Product Management


“For anyone who wasn’t able to attend, there are two main things I’d like to relay: Broker compensation – The argument is not that brokers should not be compensated for the work they do; the request is that compensation and additional bonuses be disclosed so that true value in the exchange of service and compensation can be measured, and perhaps adjusted where needed.  It is understood that in small group markets the commission cannot be stripped from the rate, but it CAN be disclosed to the client to help the broker align their interests with the client they are representing. And then there’s reference based pricing – This is not the solution to the mismanagement of healthcare costs; it is the payment mechanism required to remove the carrier network, which has been perpetuating the issue with ‘discounts’ and network dilution.  Reference based pricing is simply the replacement we need in lieu of a network so we can implement the real cost and quality management strategies like direct contracting, direct primary care, and pre-negotiated bundled care services.”

Emma Passe

Chief Operating Officer

E Powered Benefits

“My favorite experience was the sharing of ideas with industry peers. And in my favorite session I learned about Josh Butler championing a Texas law that needs to be national. The law makes sure clients own their loss ratio data all the way down to groups of two employees!”

Christopher Yarn

Managing partner

Walk On Clinic, Inc.

Be sure to check out Yarn as his alterego Frank MicDroppa on YouTube https://youtu.be/EzFgbxm6Ar0

“My takeaway was that the health and benefits landscape is changing more rapidly than ever.  However, we should rest well knowing we are in such good hands with the current thought leaders, innovators and change agents within the NAHU organization today.”

Daniel Corliss

Benefits Professional & Healthcare Journalist

 “In my two years speaking at NAHU annual meeting I have been so impressed with the knowledge and expertise of members who attend, it gives me great confidence as I enter this space to encourage business owners and benefits advisers to declare their health spending tipping point and start bending the curve back to pay less for health benefits and improve access and overall care. Keep up the great work NAHU!”

 Dr. Josh Luke

Futurist, Keynote Speaker & Podcaster 

Adjunct Faculty, University of Southern California

“I spoke on the subject of ‘learning with a twist.’ Remember we all learn differently.  As professional learners in employee benefits we thrive in any situation presented. Success is not always easy to define. It takes hard work, dedication, and an open mind. Be authentic. Be kind. Be a mentor.” 

Susan Rider, MS, CSFS, CDHC, ASF

Vice President, Employee Benefits & Human Capital Strategies | Gregory & Appel Insurance

Twitter: GA_SusanRider

NAHU Region 8 

Welcome the new NAHU Region 8 2019-2020 board members:


Patrick Burns – President

Dave Fear, Jr.- Legislative

Keith Wallace-  Membership Retention

Jolene Bryant- Membership

Maggie Stedt- MediCare

Emma Passe – Chapter Leadership Development

Naama O. Pozniak – Media

Kelly Pastore- Professional Development

Heidi Sterner- LPRT

Cathy Dogherty- HUPAC

Ryan Dorigan – Vanguard

Sarah Knapp – Awards