Posted by: Altura Benefits in Insurance
Employers are under growing pressure to offer quality health insurance benefits. A quality health insurance broker can help, but not all brokers are the same.
Health insurance is a major cost for employers. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 7.3% of private industry employee compensation goes toward health insurance. And costs keep rising. According SHRM, the 2021 Milliman Medical Index predicts that average PPO costs for a family of four will reach $28,256 by the end of 2021, up from $26,078 in 2020.
Not offering health insurance isn’t much of an option, however, and it’s not just because of the ACA requirements for large employers. Right now, amid what many people are calling the Great Resignation, employers are struggling to attract and retain talent.
Offering health insurance can help.
A poll from Gallup and West Health found that one in six employees with job-based health insurance are staying at a job that they might otherwise quit because they don’t want to lose benefits. Of course, you want your workers to be satisfied with their jobs, but the takeaway is still clear – health insurance is a major motivator when it comes to why workers decide to accept or leave a position.
As an employer, you can’t afford to lose employees due to a lack of good benefits. A health insurance broker can help you obtain the benefits you need.
But not all health insurance brokers are the same. You need one who gives you the right options, the right support, and the right price. With health insurance, the stakes are high for both you and your employees. Before you select a health insurance broker, you need to ask some important questions.
Does the Broker Have Access to the Options You Need?
When looking at insurance brokers, it’s helpful to understand the difference between captive and independent agents. This distinction can have a big impact on the health insurance options you’re shown.
Captive insurance agents work for one carrier, and they only sell policies offered by that one carrier. But what if a different carrier has options that better fit your needs? Well, if you work with a captive insurance agent, you probably won’t learn about those options, not unless you find them on your own.
Independent brokers are different. They work with multiple carriers. This is important because there’s no such thing as the “best” carrier. One carrier might have the best option for one client, while a different carrier might have the best option for another client.
If you want to compare options form multiple carriers – without having to do the legwork of going to each carrier on your own – you should work with an independent broker.
However, not all independent brokers will give you the same options, either. They have to contract with carriers in order to sell their products. If a broker has only contracted with a couple of carriers, they’ll only be able to show you that limited selection.
When selecting a broker, verify that they have appointments with multiple, top-quality carriers. That way, you’ll be able to select the right plan options for your needs.
Do They Have Benefits Expertise?
Another thing to consider if whether the insurance broker knows enough about benefits to give you the advice you need.
Insurance is a broad industry. There are many different types of products. Someone who has expertise in one line – for example, property insurance – might not have expertise in another line.
If you’ve ever shopped for coverage for yourself, you know that health insurance is especially complex. There are different types of plans, like HMOs and PPOs. You have to consider the provider networks and prescription drug formularies, as well as the premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Some employees may want an affordable plan, while others may need robust coverage. There are many issues to consider, and a jack-of-all-trades broker might not be able to give you the right level of support.
Do They Provide Tools to Help You Efficiently Deliver Benefits?
As you know, facilitating open enrollment and year-round benefit communication can take an extensive amount of time. It’s much easier if your health insurance broker provides online enrollment and HR support tools. Having digital tools available is even more important now that many of your team members may be working remotely.
Do They Know How to Navigate Various Regulations?
This is another reason you want a broker with benefits expertise. There are a lot of federal regulations that impact benefits. It’s not just the ACA. There are other laws, including COBRA and the Family and Medical Leave Act. You need a benefits broker who can help you stay compliant with these laws.
You also have state laws to consider. For example, many states – including Utah – have their own COBRA laws that can impact small employees normally excluded from the federal COBRA requirements. If you’re in Utah, you need a broker who has in-depth knowledge of Utah benefit requirements. You also want a broker who will be able to help you if you expand into other states.
Can They Help You with Other Benefits?
Health insurance is important for everyone, but what about other benefits? Many employees will want additional benefits, but which benefits they want most will depend on their specific situation.
Voluntary benefits are a great way to appeal to the diverse needs of your workers, and according to SHRM, the pandemic has driven this point home. A recent survey found that 94% of large employers believed that voluntary benefits would be an important part of their strategy going forward. In 2018, only 36% of employers believed this.
Before you settle on a benefits broker, consider the voluntary benefits that you’ll have access to. Important benefits include vision and dental, as well as life and accidental death and dismemberment coverage.
Will the Broker Give You the Attention You Deserve?
Every business is unique. You need a broker who will take time to listen to your needs and problem areas to provide personalized coverage help. And this level of support shouldn’t end when a plan is selected. You may need help with benefits enrollment. You may also need help with claims or other issues that arise. Your broker should be there to help you.
When selecting a broker, look for one you can trust to give you the time and attention you deserve.
Headquartered in Utah, Altura Benefits specializes in Group Employee Benefits, Insurance and Human Resource Support. Our client-focused team assists Companies and Individuals in finding the best business insurance and employee benefits solutions. Learn more>
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