December 17, 2020

Meet the Nava Team: Marc Herold

The Nava Team

Each week, Nava will introduce you to a different member of our team who'll share their thoughts on Nava, the industry, and the mission ahead. Read on to learn more about what brought Marc to Nava:

Tell us a bit about yourself:

I'm a Connecticut native and father of three teenage boys. I've been working in the benefits space for the last 26 years, half of that time on the carrier side, and the other half as a benefits partner at a brokerage in New York.

My journey started at Oxford Health Plans, which was one of the only major employers hiring in Connecticut during the 90s. My career kicked off with an eight-week training program on benefits that opened my eyes to the challenge of helping someone navigate the complexity of healthcare. My first role there was in Customer Service, where I acted as an advocate for members and helped them through the claims process. I then moved to the Provider Relations side where I worked with physicians to make sure they were satisfied with the plan and had the claims support they needed to run their practices. I then moved to a company called Physician Health Services as an Account Manager, my first foray into sales. Within two years, I became one of their top-performing small-group reps, which attracted the attention of some former colleagues who brought me back to Oxford. I spent the next 11 years there, where I was the #1 large-group sales rep for six of those years. I stayed on following the acquisition by UnitedHealthcare, and was a top-3 producer nationwide during my time there. After a few years, I was ready for a new challenge and decided to move to a benefits brokerage called Meridien that was doing things differently at the time (think: consolidated billing and in-house FSA administration). I helped grow that business and became deeply entrenched in the benefits space. After a great run there, I joined Nava and well, here we are.

In my spare time, you'll find me in the kitchen acting as the family's short-order cook, on the golf course, and either playing sports or sitting on the fields with my kids.

Why healthcare? And why Nava?

I've stayed in this space for the last 26 years because it provides me with a unique opportunity to help people. I'm someone who enjoys meeting people and building a relationship with them. Healthcare is a dense, ever-expanding industry where you're constantly challenged to find the best solution for your clients. While many run away from it, I actually enjoy diving head-first into the complexity of healthcare and figuring out different ways to offer competitively-priced plans across all different types of funding arrangements. It's like a puzzle to me; some might think it's strange that I find these healthcare riddles so fun, but I enjoy figuring out how the cost pieces can fit together the way my clients need them to.

While the ACA has benefitted its members, it has also made the lives of fellow brokers and my clients difficult, especially when coupled with the year-over-year rate increases that many employers have to deal with. As I watched this unfold, I kept thinking that there had to be a better way to navigate the system. When I saw that Nava is tackling the industry from a different angle and that they ultimately want to serve all Americans — it resonated with me. Nava is figuring out a better way to offer the right mix of tools and services that deliver higher-quality benefit plans, without the additional costs. This is in stark contrast with the boutique and smaller brokerages, which are financially unable (or unwilling) to offer that to their clients.

What do you find so interesting about the benefits brokerage space specifically?

As a benefits partner, my phone doesn't ring because my clients want to share great news or sing my praises (although I welcome those calls anytime). They're usually calling because they're exasperated by ever-increasing costs and declining outcomes for their people and organization, and are relying on me to find creative ways to deliver competitive benefits that can be used to retain current employees and attract future ones.

I value the trust clients put in me to help them solve their problems quicker (and likely more thoroughly) than if they were on their own. Few things are as professionally fulfilling as knowing I am partnering with my clients to tackle one of the biggest HR challenges out there, and that we're helping them (and their employees) figure out a way to do that without unnecessary financial strain.

What's one aspect of employer benefits that you are most excited to reinvent?

In today's healthcare landscape, most of the country's plans are built on the same large, monolith insurers. While those plans are robust, not all employers actually need expansive network groups, long provider lists, and the added bells and whistles that their employees will likely gloss over during open enrollment.

I'm excited for Nava to play a role in reinventing how healthcare programs are created in the first place, designing plans based on affordability, care outcomes, and that reflect the needs of a company's population. At Nava, we push ourselves to deliver flexibility and affordability for the employer in what plans look like and the coverage they can provide.

Before working at Nava, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?

During college, I delivered pizzas for a local Italian restaurant. Those deliveries afforded me the ability to pay for school, a car, an apartment, and living expenses without having to take out loans.

What do you hope to accomplish with Nava over the next year? The next five years?

Over the next year, I see Nava attracting creative, compassionate benefits partners who share the same vision for affordable healthcare for all Americans. I want us to connect with employers who are looking to do more by their people, and I see us being a bigger part of the industry conversation.

In the next five years, I envision Nava bringing together the talent, modern toolset, and the nation's most innovative employers to become of the larger brokerage firms in the country.

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