Las Vegas -- Several brokers and exhibitors who attended the annual convention of the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) this year said all the fear of and uncertainty about the future of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) may have helped make the convention an unusually good event.
Thomas Coffey, a group sales manager at Assurant Health, Milwaukee, was one of several convention attendees who said NAHU had gotten the event off to a positive start by making Bert Jacobs, a founder of Life is good Company, Boston, the opening session keynote speaker.
Trade groups often schedule keynote speeches by motivational speakers, but Jacobs, whose company makes clothing and accessories, was so positive and so good that he affected the mood of the whole meeting, Coffey said.
The Assurant Health booth was two doors down from the booth where Jacobs signed copies of his book after the opening general session.
Jacobs attracted a long line of autograph seekers, Coffey said.
"Everybody wanted to talk to him," Coffey added.
But Coffey and others said another factor -- PPACA -- also helped.
People at the convention seemed to want to support NAHU, Washington, and the health insurance industry, and to learn what they need to know to do well no matter what direction regulation takes, Coffey said.
"I think the attendence has been great," Coffey said. "When you look in the rooms for the breakout sessions, they're all full."
"I was surprised by the level of attendance in the classes," said another exhibitor, Gerald Alt, president of NetStudy, Buffalo Grove, Ill.
Alt is an expert on breakout session attendance: His company provides continuing education (CE) program support services, including services for verifying that attendees have met state CE program credit attendance and participation requirements.
Carlo Mulvenna, a vice president at Pan-American Benefits Solutions, New Orleans, said concerns about PPACA may have helped foster an increase in producer interest in Pan-American's limited-benefit health insurance products this year. Brokers seem to want to hear about new ideas, he said.
Bob Tretter, a former NAHU president, is now selling group life and group disability products to medical and dental practices in the Leawood, Kan., office of MGIS Inc. He said he thinks that, in part because of PPACA, some NAHU members are now showing more interest than they might have in the past in selling products such as disability insurance and dental insurance.
"You have to diversify your product offerings and your marketing efforts," Tretter said.
Tretter said NAHU members are carrying the passion they developed selling major medical coverage into efforts to sell more lines.
"We're saes people that really care about our clients," Tretter said. "It's about more than making the sale; it's about keeping the sale."
Correction: An earlier version of this article described NAHU's location incorrectly. NAHU has moved to Washington.