Stephen Geri – Founder of Diversified Employee Benefit Services

Never stop your day until you know you’ve done all you good to improve your business sales, service and reputation. Say what you mean, do what you say. It’s a simple as that.

Stephen Geri is the founder and Managing General Agent at Diversified Employee Benefit Services. He and his team at DEBS are experts at not only creating custom health insurance packages, but at explaining what’s actually being provided by insurance carriers in a way his clients can easily understand. Starting his career in the life insurance arena, Stephen quickly realized that he could better pursue his passion of health and wellness education through life insurance and benefits packages.

Stephen and the Diversified team are experts at what they do – particularly when it comes to customer service. Stephen encourages all of his clients to call him personally before making any major decisions about the future of their health insurance or benefits packages.

Through DEBS, Stephen Geri also gets the opportunity to give back to his local San Antonio Community. He helps underpriveleged families apply for grants for life saving prescriptions that they would not otherwise be able to afford.

In addition to his work at DEBS, Stephen is also very active with his local church, St. Francis of Assisi in San Antonio. Through St. Francis and ACTS Missions, Stephen visits with the elderly, veterans, and others to help them find their way again through the path of Jesus Christ.
Stephen is involved with other charities such as the Girl Scouts of American, REAP, a local Christmas bike drive, and many others.
When he’s not working or helping out with one of his favorite causes, Stephen is usually golfing, playing tennis, or fishing with his three grandchildren.

Where did the idea for Diversified come from?

Interesting, I had decided to leave North Western Life 1/1/1970, on the way back from a hunting trip, I stopped at a grocery store (probably for a cup of coffee). Across the street there was a sign, “Diversified grains for your cattle/horses”, I chose Diversified because I intended to represent many multiple of Health insurance co.’s.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

44 years ago, I had a referral to do a small group from an established State Farm agent, he was surprised I returned his call quickly. When we met here is what he said, “….you have 0 service when you start a business because you are always marketing for new business; so, 95% of your time is soliciting new accounts. Then when your business has grown, the percentages change less time for marketing (today, 10%) & 90% service”.

That would be true with most business insurance agents, I am different. I decided to hire the service technicians (mostly single moms) & I continue to market.

My day begins around 530, you would be surprised how many business owners prefer early – thirty meetings. Then, review latest industry change from carrier’s product to premium to carrier. Most days, I am calling new account referred to Diversified by current clients, investment bankers, financial planners, CPA’s and Tax Attorney’s.

End my day by reviewing what is expected of me and my teams for the next day, if you love what you do, it’s not work!

How do you bring an idea to life?

Great question. In my field every program begins with cost, so we analyze premium to product to carrier hourly. Truly, Diversified understands the greed of the carrier, understanding that if a carriers mouth moves they are lying, what lie Can you live with! WE are readers of the carrier’s product, I mean to understand Medical you must be able to read the Benefit Summary provided by the carrier per product the client will review on a “state of the art spreadsheet”.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Since 1974 (when ERISA was implemented), I have used 125a (c, d) cafeteria plans In 1978, Diversified starting using 105 c, h Medical expense reimbursement plans (MERP). I love using MERP. MERP allows Diversified to design a medical product to audit the carriers paid claims by managing the deductible. If you can manage the deductible for the employer, when the carrier increases your renewal premium, Diversified knows if they are truthful of lying.

Example: Carrier tells employer at renewal your claims were 70% of your paid premium therefore we are raising your base premium by 30% expecting more claims. MERP says, all deductible for an employee or dependent is processed through Diversified Benefit Trust (DBT). The employee pays a small portion of the deductible, DBT pays the balance funded by employer.

This account had 103 employees of which only 6 used a portion of the deductible, we proved to the carrier, 1 employee maxed the deductible not all 103 or 70% of the group. Diversified negotiated the renewal to 4%. Yeah.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Always looking for opportunity.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Never stop your day until you know you’ve done all you could to improve your business sales, service and reputation. Say what you mean, do what you say. It’s a simple as that.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?

Most people in my field believe the carriers are truthful, I do not. Look at the stock market and the rise of Aetna, BCBS/Anthem, Cigna, Humana, and United Healthcare during the implementation of ACA. Carrier greed, all health insurance carriers are paying the medical providers less, charging more premium, paying the broker less, employing fewer employees themselves, purchasing medical entities, charging huge overrides on RX from every pharmaceutical. If ACA had any creditability it would limit the profit margin & pay all providers to carriers fairly.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Seize every opportunity to put your name in front of the public, Service the products your co. provides, never look at the clock.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Marketing every opportunity, State of the art IT, great employees and pay them fairly, Understand we are all in a changing field.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I did not hire more sales folks timely as I should have from the beginning. Over coming that problem has been one dogging me for 45 years, I guess I keep looking for someone wanting the best for the prospect then client, then recipient of our services. I cannot be cloned.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

All businesses should review the last quarter of production, up or down and why it happened for the good or the bad. Do not be afraid to be critical of yourself find your weakness before someone else does and correct it, today.

Best $100 spent?

Helped a mom with small child at the grocery store pay for her groceries when it was very obvious she did not have enough money.

Best software/Web we use?

Microsoft outlook, it is the most productive for managing our accounts and tracking each other’s email, phone calls, etc. so we are all on the same page.

One book to read?

Einstein by Walter Isaacson, why? How did his mind work and Why? What made him a genius? He didn’t take the easy solution. He unlocked the cosmos by questioning conventional wisdom and marveling at a new mystery not allowing fear into the equation. This led him to embrace a morality and politics based on respect for free minds, free spirits and free individual thinking.

ACA or Obamacare, if you review the news everyone has fear of not understanding what was to be accomplished. It was not to insure the everyday American working that did not have coverage. Think! It was to save 9 States on the verge of bankruptcy from Medicaid. What better solution than impose national health care to all American’s to save a few. Why not if you have the presidency, House and Senate anything is possible. ACA did give us some much needed solution to pre-existing conditions, community rating, level funding, etc. It just did not take into consideration “…the creed of each carrier” 0 restriction to carrier opportunity to make a trillion a year $ 1,000,000,000,000 is a lot of 0’s.

Favorite quote?

I’m so hungry my stomach thinks my throats been cut.


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