- The Washington Times - Monday, March 28, 2005

Allen Wishner, a newly elected member of the Employers Council on Flexible Compensation’s board of directors, hopes to raise public awareness and acceptance of health savings accounts and other health reimbursement options.

“There’s a learning curve that has to occur,” said Mr. Wishner, who was appointed to the board last month and attended his first meeting last week during the group’s annual conference.

The Employers Council on Flexible Compensation is a nonprofit trade organization based in the District that deals with insurance contributions, 401(k), cafeteria and other elective compensation plans.

Mr. Wishner, 58, the co-founder and chief executive officer of Flexible Benefit Service Corp. in Rosemont, Ill., has been assigned to the board’s education and membership committees.

He said his goals as a board member are to “educate both the American worker and American employer about what tax-advantaged accounts can bring to the health care delivery system” and serve as an “instrument to expand the overall membership.”

“When I’m out on the street and talking to workers and employers, I’m not shy in telling them that this is the best financial instrument that is available to the American worker.”

The council is a resource for learning more about the benefits of health savings accounts, Mr. Wishner said. He said he wants to demonstrate to people the practicality of tax-advantaged accounts.

“The whole health care financing structure has changed,” he said. “There’s more available. It’s not just a matter that we have to rely on this third-party payer.”

Such plans first must come under scrutiny by the new media and academia for the general public to realize they are beneficial, he said.

Mr. Wishner’s ability to communicate effectively makes him an asset to the board of directors, said Bonnie Whyte, president of the Employers Council on Flexible Compensation.

“He is just such a positive person who is interested in not only the business, but in the politics of what goes into flexible benefits and employee benefits,” she said. “He has made a terrific business in the mid- to small markets in the Midwest and nationally.”

Mr. Wishner and his business partner founded Flexible Benefit Service Corp. as a retail employee benefits firm in 1988. Prior to starting the company, Mr. Wishner worked as a health insurance agent. When he started in the business in 1974, insurance premiums cost $16 for individuals and $24 for families, he said.

“I’ve seen it all,” he said. “We have a health care system now where employees don’t know how much things cost and they don’t care how much things cost. There are no financial incentives for them to know.”

Mr. Wishner and his wife, Renee, live in Riverwoods, Ill., and have one adult son, Jordan.

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