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Erin Cusack of MCC’s Policy Department sat down with Shelly Braun, Reform Initiatives Director at the Utah Health Policy Project, to talk about the Utah Health Exchange and lessons learned through the process of state health care reform. While some businesses that first enrolled in the Exchange dropped out because it was too complicated, the deal breaker for the majority of participants was price, as there were problems with premium quoting in the beginning (these have been remedied, but there is still no price advantage to participating in the Exchange). Our Consultants have extensive experience in the group benefits industry and will oversee the services and support provided by GBS Benefits, Inc.
Brad joined GBS Benefits in early 2015, bringing with him over 30 years of industry experience. Brad has significant experience with both self-funded and fully insured medical and dental plans, stop-loss contracts, and high deductible health plans with health savings accounts. Brad has worked with many high-profile Utah employers and looks forward to developing partnerships with other noteworthy employers as a representative of GBS Benefits.
Dennis joined the GBS Employee Benefits Broker team in 2014, bringing with him 14 years of carrier and sales experience. Gordon has over 25 years of employee benefit experience — exclusively working in the large group market with a primary focus on employers of 100+ employees. Jason Wagner has been working in the health insurance industry since 2000, and joined GBS Benefits as a Consultant in 2003.
Laura Peifer has nearly 30 years of healthcare industry experience and joined the GBS Benefits team as an employee benefits broker in 2011. At GBS Benefits, Laura works with small employers as well as large corporate clients headquartered throughout Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado. Laura has been a repeat recipient of the prestigious Chairman’s Circle Award recognizing the top 10 insurance brokers within the nationwide Leavitt Group organization. Within the community, Laura serves with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Salt Lake and founded the Kids Eat!
Mark Johnson has been with GBS Benefits for over 10 years, and brings a detailed knowledge of employee benefit programs including group health plans, dental, vision, life, long and short-term disability plans, employee assistance programs, flexible spending accounts, and 401(k)s. Riley Nelson joined the GBS Benefits team as a Broker in 2015 bringing with him a strong background in sales and ongoing account management. Stephanie Conti joined GBS Benefits in 2009 bringing 22 years of experience from Regence BlueCross & BlueShield of Utah where she was a Senior Sales Executive. Shauna Romine has lifelong experience with the health insurance industry and has been involved with GBS since its inception in 1989. Steve Cochran joined GBS Benefits in 2014 bringing 4 years of experience selling insurance in the Uintah Basin. Taun Stewart joined the Employee Benefits Broker Team in 2016 bringing with him a strong background in client services.
Tim operates the GBS Benefits Vernal office with over ten years of experience in the health insurance industry. Trent has been in the health insurance industry since 1994 and is licensed in Health, Life, and Disability Insurance. Tyler is a group benefits specialist with over 20 years of healthcare experience and is licensed in Health, Life, and Disability Insurance.
Denise has over 34 years of experience in the Healthcare industry.  She worked at Regence BlueCross Blue Shield for 22 years, where she was successful in managing key accounts of group sizes 2-3,500.
In his current role, Aaron is creating a hybrid model of sales and customer service aimed at eliminating the confusion in obtaining health insurance while providing individuals with the best customer service experience.  Aaron sits on the Board of Directors for the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and is passionate about helping Utah’s Hispanic population.
Joe has an extensive pharmaceuticals background, having worked in the pharmacy arena for over 16 years.
Penny earned her Master of Exercise Physiology, with an emphasis on Wellness Coaching, from the University of Utah and a BA in International Relations & Economics from the University of California, Davis. After completing his medical school training at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in 1999 and Internal Medicine residency at Yale, Greenwich Hospital in 2002, Dr. Susan served as an Assistant Attorney General with the Utah Attorney General’s Office for fourteen years. Winners were selected from all areas of Utah and represented a wide range of services, including after-school exercise activities, housing for low-income families, and educational resources for those with special needs.
Join SelectHealth at “Military and Federal Employee Appreciation Day” at Weber State University Nov. Though the 60-mile, seven-hour ride wasn’t easy, Young eventually made it to the finish line. Tour de Cure is a series of fundraising cycling events held in 43 states nationwide to benefit the American Diabetes Association.
And — like workers at other thriving tech companies from Google to Facebook — Thumbtack employees are treated to one of the most coveted benefits of all: a freshly prepared lunch every workday. Meet the 60 companies in Utah that received the highest ratings from their employees in 2015.
What were some of the guiding principles in building Utah’s State Health Insurance Marketplace, or State Exchange?
The State Exchange is designed to be a one-stop shop, like Travelocity or Expedia, where individuals and small businesses can easily search and make “apples-to-apples” comparisons based on plan price and quality.
The board had 9-11 seats, including slots for the Hospital Association, insurance representatives, the Medical Society, and advocates. Also, plans will have to be placed into the “metal tiers” according to cost-sharing levels (bronze, silver gold, etc).
He began his career with BlueCross & BlueShield of Utah working his way up to the Commercial Accounts Representative. Having worked for a carrier earlier in his career (BlueCross Blue Shield of Utah) and at another regional insurance agency, Brad’s background allows him to effectively consult with clients in the decision making process. In fact, Brad was among the first brokers in Utah to write business on a high deductible health plan with a health savings account.  Additionally, with his former firm, Brad was instrumental in developing a health care captive to assist employers in mitigating the large increases in stop-loss costs.
At GBS Benefits, Brad will provide clients with relevant insight as they select and implement benefit offerings for their organizations. Joining the firm in early 2015, clients appreciate Christian’s analytical nature and his ability to quickly assess their needs and explain their benefit options. Prior to GBS Benefits, Dennis was employed by Regence Life and Health where he was a manager of life and disability. Prior to joining GBS Benefits in 2007, Don worked for a variety of medical carriers that rendered services to both Fortune 500 and smaller companies.
For more than 15 years Gordon worked for SelectHealth, acting as department director of Large Employer Group Sales and handling all of their self-funded accounts.
Kim joined the GBS Benefits team in 2015 as a Client Manager and has since shifted into the role of Employee Benefits Broker. Formerly with Wise Provider Networks (WPN) as a Principal Consultant, she handled the negotiation, contracting, and management of custom healthcare networks.
Mark has 18 years of prior experience with EMI Health, where he worked in various aspects of employee benefits, and held many leadership positions, including Vice President of Sales and Marketing.
Prior to joining GBS Benefits in 2000, he spent 6 years with Health Benefits America (HBA), a national benefits consulting firm, providing strategies for health plan offerings and benefit design for several Fortune 100 companies.
Just prior to GBS Benefits, Riley was an Account Executive with CVE Technologies, a channel reseller for major IT companies.
He spent 10 years working for several insurance carriers including SelectHealth, FHP and Pacificare. He joined GBS Benefits in 1994, and served as a partner prior to the merger with the Leavitt Group in 2006. She specifically worked with employer groups and brokerage firms of all sizes and locations regarding product design, underwriting guidelines and rate negotiation. She first worked as a Sales Director outside the insurance industry managing high profile clients, executing and negotiating contracts, securing long-term relations while serving their specific needs.
Prior to GBS Benefits, Taun was a Benefits Assistant with The Hawaii Group where he helped manage benefits for over 200 clients. He is licensed in Health, Life, and Disability Insurance, and has experience assisting both small and large employers with their employee benefit needs.
Prior to GBS Benefits, Todd was an Estimator and Project Manager with a large commercial and custom residential construction company.  He is skilled in contract review and negotiation, data analysis, value engineering and consulting.
She joined the GBS Benefits team in 2008; first as a Renewal Coordinator and was then promoted to her current position of Account Manager.


Under his leadership, the company grew to a $150 million organization in just 3 years.  During this time he also consulted for local and national insurance brokerages and carriers on best sales practices, using technology, and call center design. Chris’ varied background equips him with superior communication skills and the ability to perform accurate analysis on detailed contracts and plan information. Joe received his Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Nebraska and MBA for them University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
She joined GBS Benefits in 2005 in the COBRA Department, where she served as Director for 10 years. Ken has over 7 years of Human Resource Information System (HRIS) experience and has worked with nearly 20 different benefits technology vendors and over 198 companies—from large corporations to mid-size organizations across diverse industries. She began her career on the carrier side at Select Health, where she was an Enrollment Specialist for 7 years. She started her career on the carrier side of the industry and was employed with Aetna for 2 years, followed by 5 years at United Healthcare before coming to GBS Benefits in 2005. With over 25 years of experience, she has managed large client wellness programs and designed and implemented corporate wellness incentives tied to health benefits. Most recently, Susan worked for the local law firm of Howard, Phillips and Andersen which focuses, in part, on health benefit laws and issues. This year, SelectHealth and its team raised $113,226.34 to benefit diabetes research and prevention.
The Tour is a ride, not a race, with routes designed for everyone from the occasional rider to the experienced cyclist. How has your State Exchange used technology and web-based mechanisms to optimize the consumer experience?
The largest exchange vendor is Bswift, our technology partner, and they had to build the Exchange IT from the ground up. How will some of the changes coming down the pipeline improve the overall experience of the Exchange for individuals and consumers?
While at BlueCross his responsibilities included negotiating and renewing large group accounts as well as servicing the employee benefits needs of the client. As a licensed consultant, he will focus on designing plans and strategies, educating clients on industry trends, and negotiating rates, benefits, and contracts. Prior to GBS Benefits, Christian was a Commercial Real Estate Agent with Marcus & Millichap where he was awarded the prestigious Pacesetter Award for averaging high activity levels in calls, meetings, proposals and new listings. Prior to joining GBS Benefits in 2009, Dan was employed with Humana as a Small Group Sales Executive. Dennis attended Arizona State University where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business.
His responsibilities included direct sales, account management, financial analysis, consultation, service delivery and staffing. He is trained in underwriting and medical plan development and was responsible for sales training at SelectHealth.
Just prior to GBS Benefits, she was an Individual Sales Representative with SelectHealth, managing the largest Idaho book of business in the Individual Department. He has worked in various areas of the insurance industry, including underwriting and sales.
Laura’s clients appreciate her strategic approach which is centered on developing cost-saving strategies.
Laura earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Utah and is licensed in Health, Life, and Disability Insurance.
Following HBA, he spent over 5 years with CNN Managed Care, the largest national PPO network, as a Regional Vice President for the Utah, Idaho, and Colorado markets, delivering provider network solutions to large accounts. Rick earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Brigham Young University with an emphasis in Insurance, Risk Management, and Financial Services. While working for these carriers Rob held positions in large group sales, management and upper management positions.
Stephanie developed an expertise in fully insured & self-funded arrangements for medical, dental and ancillary product offerings. In 2004 Shauna returned to GBS as a Group Benefits Specialist, utilizing the skill-set she has built over the last 20+ years. As a student at UVU, he founded a website and local store-front retailing sport supplements and co-founded J3LL Watches. After years of building relationships and servicing clients of all sizes, Sue decided to join the sales team at GBS.
Taun graduated from Utah Valley University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and is licensed in Accident, Health and Life insurance.
Tim previously served on the Broker Advisory Board with Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah and was recognized as a top producer while doing so. Todd holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Weber State University in Technical Sales and Construction Management. As an experienced broker in the local healthcare market, Trent is familiar with the challenges of employee benefits and the options that are available for large and small businesses. From 1991-2000, Tyler worked at Dale Barton Agency as an employee benefits specialist on insurance specific to construction companies. Prior to GBS Benefits, Andrea was with Altius Health Plans where she held several positions: Customer Service Team Lead, New Business Coordinator, and finally Large Group Account Manager. In her current role, Colette supports clients by assisting with benefit education, renewals, and day-to-day questions.
Formerly with Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah, as an Account Executive, she worked with employer groups to assist with product design and renewal negotiations.
Prior to GBS Benefits, Lacey was employed with a non-profit health center where she managed the Insurance Billing Department.
Aaron also has a strong background in Medicare sales having worked with industry leaders like Extend health and eHealth Insurance.
Leading a team of service experts, she has been instrumental in helping GBS and our small employer clients understand and prepare for the changes under the Affordable Care Act.
In early 2015, Judy transitioned from the COBRA Department to her current role as a Worksite Voluntary Benefits Specialist. Prior to his employment with GBS Benefits, Ken was with Moreton & Company as the Technology Services Manager. Monica provides dedicated service to plan administrators and support staff helping them understand their benefits, including any policy limitations, claims resolution, billing issues, and COBRA, HIPAA, FMLA, and ERISA questions. Penny is a 200 RYT Yoga Instructor with Yoga Alliance and is also a Certified Fitness Instructor.
Vinik is currently the Chief Medical Utilization Officer for the University of Utah Hospitals in clinics.  He has multiple administrative roles serving as liaison between the medical staff and hospital operations.
Since summer of 2011, she has been working with GBS Benefits, Inc., helping a variety of employers understand and comply with the many (and often complicated) provisions of Health Care Reform.
Katie has a strong background in FSA, HRA, COBRA and 401K administration, as well as vision and dental sales. Other winners include Fountain Green Elementary and Spring City Elementary, both located in Sanpete County.
Since Tour de Cure's beginning in 1991, thousands of individual riders and teams have participated to support the American Diabetes Association's mission to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. Also, does your Exchange currently moderate and assure quality in its health insurance products, as will be required in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act (ACA)?
While analysts will tell you the Utah Exchange is cost neutral, the reality is that the IT side of it is expensive and our vendor has been largely subsidizing the process with long-term sights set on being contracted in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act. In July, 2012, however, the board dissolved and was replaced with three, much smaller and industry-focused roundtables: an Insurance Broker Roundtable (closed to the public), an Insurer’s Roundtable (closed to the public), and an Executive Steering Committee Roundtable made up of CEO’s and CFO’s of health care systems. Because of his strong personal commitment to give back to the community in which he works, Brad serves as a board member for two non-profit organizations. While with the real estate firm, Christian had transactions totaling nearly $15 million in his first 18 months.
Before Kaiser Permanente, Clint was employed with Unum as a Group Sales Consultant for 2 years and then as a Benefits Consultant at GBS Benefits for 5 years.


His strong carrier background is advantageous as he helps clients understand what is available in the marketplace and negotiates with carriers on their behalf.
Don has significant self-funding experience working with large, multi-site employers that required the administration of complex benefit programs. Gordon has been with GBS Benefits for nine years, adding extensive knowledge and experience to our sales team with his self-funded background. Prior to SelectHealth, Kim spent 8 years as the Accounting and HR Specialist with a local small business. Through his industry experience, he has come to enjoy the complexity and strategy associated with self-funded cases, and how risk and technology partner together to redefine the employer experience.
She has partnered with the Associated Builders & Contractors of Utah to create an exclusive pool for small businesses looking to avoid community rating. Richard received his Bachelor’s degree in English and German from the University of Utah and Master’s of Business Administration from Brigham Young University.
He later went on to receive a Master’s of Business Administration and Health Services Administration from the University of Utah.
Riley played football as a Division I quarterback at Brigham Young University and graduated in August 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. He also served on the underwriting committee and appeals committee for 3 years with these carriers. He specializes in creative employee benefit plan design, HRAs, HSAs and self-funded plan designs, TPA & PBM negotiations, association plan creation, negotiation and plan management. Her extensive knowledge and proficiency as a Sales Executive & Account Manager have made her an asset to her clients.
She received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah in Finance and Marketing and is licensed in Health, Life and Disability insurance. Prior to entering the benefit industry, Tim owned his own business, giving him unique insight to help assess the needs of employers. Before completing his degree at Weber State, Todd attended Salt Lake Community College where he played for the Bruins Baseball team. He can assist with insurance plans of all sizes and has had particular success developing employee benefit plans for large associations in Utah. Andrea is known for her dedication to her clients and her competence in helping her clients understand their benefits, resolving claims and billing issues, and answering enrollment questions. Prior to her role as an Account Executive, she worked in several departments at Regence, including: Claim Entry, Adjudicating and Customer Service. Her responsibilities included policy writing, ensuring benefits compliance and claims tracking and resolution. Marcie is known for her dedication to her clients and her competence in helping her clients understand their benefits, resolving claims and billing issues, and answering enrollment questions. Her current role is focused on client benefit education, issue resolution and retention with large employer groups with over 100 employees. Previous to Arches Health Plan, Aaron was the founder of his own company specializing in non-traditional financial planning. Ashley has a Bachelor of Science in Business from the University of Utah and is licensed in Health, Accident & Life Insurance. Her approachable nature and her ability to assess situations and clearly explain options have contributed to her success in this position. Early in his career, Ken worked in the Large Loans Department at Wells Fargo managing several offices throughout the state of Utah. With her years of account management expertise, Monica leads our Account Manager team, as the Director of Account Management at GBS Benefits. Katie’s expertise in all facets of the industry led to her current role as a Small Business Specialist at GBS Benefits. A consumer roundtable was supposed to be created, but is only just getting off the ground now. Clint has a BA from Southern Utah University and an MBA from Chaminade University of Honolulu. Dan attended San Diego State University where he studied Business Administration and Management.
Don received a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Social Work, both from the University of Utah.
Her carrier experience and years in HR on the client side of the industry blend together to give Kim a unique perspective as she helps her clients make informed benefit decisions. As technology continues to reshape the insurance landscape, he has the understanding and background to provide the right solutions tailored to fit your specific business needs.
He is fluent in written and conversational Spanish with an IRL Level 4 Full Professional Proficiency. Rob has worked for the past 12 years with GBS as a producer and specializes in large group, fully insured and self-funded companies with 100+ employees. Sue works with clients of all sizes, in and out of Cache Valley and stays actively involved in Cache Valley organizations. As a native speaker, she is fluent in Spanish and uses her skills to translate written benefit materials for GBS Benefits clients and support enrolled employees who speak Spanish.
Florence also spent 5 years selling Individual Products, Medicare Supplements, Conversion, and HIP.
Lacey’s experience on the employer side of benefits gives her the unique ability to understand the challenges our clients face.
Marcie received her Associates degree from Weber State University and is licensed in Health, Life and Disability Insurance.
Department of Homeland Security and with The White House in the Office of the Vice President as an Advance Representative. Ken holds double Bachelor’s Degrees in Business Administration and Computer Science from the University of Utah and the University of North Las Vegas, as well as a Master’s of Business Administration from the University of Utah. Lorie’s department is currently providing COBRA administration for nearly 700 clients located in Utah, California, Idaho, Colorado, Nevada and Arizona. Penny is committed to educating GBS Benefits clients on the potential they have to direct sustainable behavior change resulting in less health care spending. Vinik began a new role as Medical Director for GBS Benefits.  He is working with the Population Health Management Team at GBS Benefits to identify and intervene upon gaps in care that can improve the health of populations. A graduate of Weber State University, Katie has BS in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. The Governor’s Office of Health Reform and the Utah Health Exchange administration claim that the Executive Steering Committee addresses consumer concerns, but I doubt consumers feel that health care executives adequately represent their issues.
Jason graduated from Brigham Young University with a Broadcast Communications degree with an emphasis in Media Sales and Management. Rob specializes in the benefit areas of medical, dental, life, disability and vision products. Scott is a professional with the ability to quickly understand the key issues and develop solid business processes and solutions. Andrea received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Utah and is licensed in Health, Life and Disability Insurance. Florence’s varied experience at Regence and her work with both small and large employer groups with fully-insured and self-funded arrangements of medical, dental, and ancillary products, allows her to give significant insight to her clients.  Florence is licensed in Health, Life, and Disability Insurance. With his fine attention to detail, Chris has been an asset to employer groups in helping them ensure that the income of their employees is protected. Just prior to GBS Benefits, Joe was responsible for Walgreen’s PBM National Account Sales, working closely with PBM vendors including Caremark, Medco, Express Scripts, and Optum Rx. Ken’s business technology expertise provides the necessary skills to lead his team in providing clients with consulting services for benefits technology solutions; ensuring that the solution not only meets budget needs, but also provides the right tools for the company’s culture and design. Rob holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from the University of Phoenix and is licensed in Health, Life and Disability insurance.



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