The Texas Maverick

A conversation with Josh Butler, Butler Benefits

Anyone who attended the NAHU national conference in San Diego may have heard Josh Butler speak, a convincing evangelist for altering the focus of the industry from insurance to health care. His story goes like this: not so long after he and his wife opened Butler Benefits in Amarillo, Texas, Butler had a crisis of conscience. As he put it, he simply couldn’t face another employer and tell them their rates where going up and their benefits were going down. Searching for solutions, Butler found Health Rosetta—a consortium of industry mavericks determined to find fixes and work-arounds for skyrocketing health insurance. A couple of years down the road and he’s happily—though slowly—converting employer groups to direct contracting with health care providers (costs are based on a percent of Medicare).

“In a nutshell, what we do differently than a status quo traditional broker is we have become more population health managers than just people who sell a product,” explains Butler. “We do broker insurance. Yes, of course, we do because there comes a point when a company needs to transfer risk and they do that through insurance policies. But a lot of our time is now spent showing companies and their employees how to mitigate risk and how to manage it. If you have a gallbladder surgery coming up, what if I can save you $9,000 on that procedure as an employer?” Butler points out that when the big savings are achieved, some of that is naturally passed along to the employee too. Employees routinely walk away paying absolutely nothing for procedures they may have had to pay hundreds for previously. One group Butler is aware of saved so much money, in fact, they took all 45 employees to Aspen, Colorado, for a summer retreat. Butler says all of this is hard work, but he sleeps better at night because of his change in business focus. “I think consultants should be paid on value and not on what the health insurance costs.”

Butler says everything he’s doing may not be as easy in California, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen here. The Health Rosetta has gone from a few dozen original consortium members to now roughly 130 — and growing.

Josh Butler is the president of Butler Benefits and Consulting in Amarillo, Texas.

—- Victoria Alexander