For many businesses, the process of choosing and administering an employee benefits program is a daunting one. They often turn to a benefits broker to help them select and implement plans.
Taking advantage of a broker’s expertise in plan options, procedures, and rules is a smart choice for business owners. Traditional benefits brokers offer assistance in choosing and implementing insurance health plans, helping human resources (HR), keeping your business compliant, and much more. If a broker is not achieving this goal, it may be time to investigate options for a new broker.
Your Benefits Broker isn’t Looking for Better Options for You
An employee benefits broker’s main job is to make sure you’re getting the most value for your benefits investment while managing risk and maintaining your compliance. It’s not always easy, it’s not always quick, but it’s their job and you should expect them to do it. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to “go to market” for you every renewal season, but they should at least be testing the waters, along with procuring an attractive renewal rate from the incumbent carrier(s), which is ideally a peer-to-peer negotiated rate versus a top-down number handed to you by the carrier.
Even if your broker comes back to you recommending you stay with your current carriers, they’ve at least done their due diligence, and you can move forward knowing you made the best enrollment decision you could. Knowing this to be true can help you immensely when communicating with your employees, who may be upset if prices have increased or their medications are no longer listed as “preferred” drugs on the formulary.
Some employee benefits brokers like to play it safe and only present you with options, leaving it entirely up to you to formulate a decision. While a broker can’t make a decision for you, they should be able to offer up recommendations, along with a rationale for their recommendation and the pros and cons of other options.
Your Broker has Bad Communication Skills (during Renewals and Open-Enrollment Season too)
Annual renewals and open-enrollment are two of the most important items on your calendar. Therefore at the very least your benefits broker should be communicative and responsive during these busy times for you. Top-notch benefits consultants work tirelessly during this time and are super responsive year-round to make sure you’re taking every possible step to keep your benefits costs contained. Waiting until a quickly approaching open enrollment period, to address answer your questions and address your concerns is simply too late. Not much can be done to help you at that point.
A true cost containment strategy requires constant effort in the form of chronic condition identification and management, medication adherence, large-scale claim intervention, consistent execution of a sound wellness program, financial oversight, and diligent carrier reconciliations.
Your Broker isn’t Explaining and Supporting your Compliance Needs
Since the rules and regulations surrounding health insurance plans are complicated, a good benefits broker should protect their clients on all applicable compliance and regulatory issues. As you well know, there is a lot of paperwork involved in staying compliant. It’s time consuming, frustrating and quite frankly, nerve-wracking — but it’s necessary in order to avoid hefty legal fees.
This includes making sure that the plan complies with all federal and state laws and regulations, that it is offered to all eligible employees and filing the required paperwork with the IRS and other government agencies. If a broker is not assisting a business with compliance, the company may be penalized through fines and penalties for not filing the correct forms with state or federal government, or even through missed opportunities to lower their tax burden.
Your Broker is Not a Resource for HR Help
Your broker should also be a good resource for any HR questions or assistance. They should be able to provide advice on how to discuss benefits with your workforce, especially if you are trying to affect change, either in wellness participation, plan adoption or HSA, FSA and 401(k) contribution, just to name a few. Your benefits brokers should be attending your open enrollment meetings and fielding questions from employees throughout the entire enrollment process.
Many brokers now have access to human resources (HR) software that can help you manage your HR processes. You’ll want to know whether they can assist you in building and maintaining streamlined, efficient and high-quality HR processes.
Your Broker isn’t Trying to Understand Your Situation
If your employee benefits broker is simply throwing options your way without asking any questions about the specifics of your unique situation, they’re not doing you any favors. In fact, they’re doing you a grave disservice.
Benefit strategies are not cookie-cutter or one-size-fits-all.
To fully understand the importance behind this concept, let’s think of it on a smaller scale. If you, as an individual, go to purchase a health insurance policy, your broker should ask you questions about how you’re anticipating your need for health insurance in the upcoming year and your risk factors. Do you smoke? Are you a heavy drinker? Have you ever had a heart attack or stroke? What does your family’s health history look like? Are you physically active? Do you play high risk sports? How much do you typically have in your savings and checking accounts at any given time?
The answers you provide will help the two of you determine what type of plan will best serve your needs. A really great broker will even identify cohorts who are potential large claims down the road, and will work with you to put intervention plans in place. Your employee benefits broker should be talking to you about your claims history and then working with you to decrease your risk pool for the next year.
At Precision Benefits Group our comprehensive, multi-year programs encompass not only the physical, but also the emotional and even the financial. Learn more about our Wellness Approach.
Finding the Right Employee Benefits Broker
There are employee benefits consultants out there who are capable of delivering much more than you have come to expect. And once you do, you’ll never want to look back.
The right broker will:
- Have a significant financial impact on your business
- Make a measurable operational impact on your business
- Help you design a long-term, strategic plan for your HR/benefit program
- Build engagement through enhanced employer/employee relationships, improved processes, and meaningful organizational change
In today’s business environment, if your broker isn’t helping you, they’re hurting you, so if any of the examples in this article remind you of your employee benefits broker, it’s time to find a new one. Remember that a broker’s job is to make your job easier, at least when it comes to employee benefits, so you can focus on doing what you do best.
Is it time to fire your employee benefits broker? Get in touch for a complimentary benefits review and let us know what your needs are. We’re happy to help you find better solutions!