3 Things HR Benefit Pros Can Learn From Health Insurance Brokers
Choosing a health plan is a difficult task for anyone, even employers. Their understanding of health insurance including how to choose the best plans at the best price is not as good as one might think. And like employees they find the process unpleasant and spend just hours each year discussing their options. However, employers are in the fortunate position of having one-on-one assistance from insurance company representatives. These reps help explain the latest trends in plan design and costs to employers. And if employers want even more help understanding or choosing health insurance coverage, they can get it from an independent health insurance broker.
Health insurance brokers serve as the middleman between insurance companies and purchasers of group or individual health insurance. Often called Producers, brokers enter into agreements with health insurance companies to sell the insurer's products to employers and individuals. And although they have agreements with the insurer, their client is the employer or individual.
The personalized attention brokers provide an employer is just the type of help employees want from their employers. Employee benefit pros can learn a few things from brokers to help make the health plan selection process easier for their employee clients.
1.) Improve Their Level of Knowledge
Brokers are licensed by the state in which they do business. They must meet minimum education requirements to obtain and maintain their license. Consequently, most brokers are knowledgeable about current employee benefit regulations and laws. They are also aware of health insurance trends.
There are many benefits to using a broker, but the number one benefit is to take advantage of their knowledge and expertise. Some brokers specialize in certain areas of employee benefit administration, such as healthcare reform and self-funded groups. Or they specialize in working with certain industries like nonprofits. And they make sure their skills are up-to-date through continuing education coursework and professional certifications.
Employee benefit pros need to be life-long learners. And although it is important that they have a broad understanding of employee benefit plans and regulations, gaining additional knowledge in a specific area is a way to stand out from the crowd.
2.) Treat Employees Like Clients
Brokers go beyond providing the basic information provided by insurance representatives. They take the time to thoroughly analyze insurance agreements, including annual plan renewals. They will thoroughly explain underwriting assumptions employed in these agreements and may question them to ensure fair and accurate price quotes. But most of all they work to ensure that the plans their clients purchase meet their clients’ needs and objectives. They are not there to perpetuate the status quo or discourage clients from making necessary changes.
Employee benefit pros should have a good understanding of the health insurance needs of their employee clients and provide plans that meet most of these needs. They can use surveys and anecdotal information to build this knowledge database.
3.) Help Employees Make Election Decisions
Many small employers use brokers to guide them through the process of purchasing health insurance. Larger organizations may also use a broker to help in choosing ancillary health benefits such as dental, vision and life insurance.
Employee benefit pros should educate employees about their health plan options. They should provide tools and one-on-one time to help employees choose the best plan based on their medical status and budget.