Nationwide, an estimated 45.3 percent of private firms offer health insurance to their employees through brokers.
Although many brokers promote lower premiums and price, employers are often looking for more than just price. A 2017 Broker Services Survey, conducted by Zywave, showed that "More than 80% of employers look for a trusted advisor, regular communication, timely service and prompt answers to their questions."
According to the survey, other broker criteria highly valued by employers include:
- Ability to compare plans to benchmark data (77%)
- Ability to negotiate renewal for groups over 100 (74%)
- Ability to offer compliance resources (74%)
Right now, you may be thinking that you are happy with your broker. If that is the case, you may be one of the companies that has a great broker. And, there are great brokers out there.
But, as many as 43 % of businesses report that they do not feel satisfied with their current broker, and 21% have changed brokers in the last three years.
So let's look at the top 3 reasons businesses make the change and why you may need to consider making a change in your small business health insurance broker.
Poor Customer Service
According to the Zywave survey, customer service issues were some of the top complaints businesses had about their brokers. Those issues included:
- Does not provide prompt and effective service or answer your questions in a timely fashion (69%)
- Only sells you insurance instead of providing trusted advice (42%)
- Lack of consistent communication (38%)
- Lacks understanding of your company or expertise in your industry (29%)
- Does not provide a strategic plan that is consistent with your business needs (22%)
Small business health insurance is an important asset in retaining employees, but it can also be a financial burden for organizations. When managing such a large responsibility, your relationship with your broker is key.
When you have questions or concerns, you want to know that they will be there to provide you with answers. If a claims issue should arise, you want to feel confident in their ability to manage the issue and won't disappear when you need their help.
This trust erodes when people do not answer their phones or emails. If your broker only seems to have any interest in you and your organization when it comes time for the yearly renewal, it becomes difficult to trust that they will be reachable during an emergency.
If you are experiencing these types of serious service problems, you should consider changing your health insurance broker. Finding a broker that is on top of things, answers your calls or emails promptly and gets you the answers you need quickly is invaluable.
Compliance is the second top priority for all small businesses and their health insurance brokers. Any business that offers healthcare coverage is subject to both federal and state laws. The passing of the Affordable Care Act resulted in numerous changes to healthcare in America. Since its passing, several additional changes have also been made. Brokers and businesses must continually monitor these new developments to ensure that your company and policies remain compliant.
Employers report that they want to know about these issues. According to Employee Benefit Adviser, 97% of surveyed employers report valuing updates on health care reform and related legislation. But 33% say their broker does not offer resources to keep them in compliance with laws and regulations.
As an employer, you are required to provide a Notice to Employees, a Summary of Benefit Coverage, and COBRA notice. Failure to do so could result in employees themselves reporting your company to the labor board. Obviously, you don't want that headache.
A good health insurance broker will be able to help you navigate these compliance issues, so your company doesn't end up on the receiving end of a notice of non-compliance and/or a fine.
Lack Of Options
The third reason small businesses make a change in their broker is they get frustrated that they aren't being offered enough plans to choose from.
According to the Zywave survey, 29% of businesses felt their broker lacked an understanding of their company or didn't have expertise in their industry.
Often brokers don't check in with changes that have taken place in their customer's business, and they assume that the insurance plan they had last year will still work this year. A broker may not notice these developments if they have larger accounts that require more attention, or if they just view your account as a simple renewal...in other words, easy money.
But changes in your company, such as growth or an acquisition, could mean changes in your legal requirements or the cost structure of your insurance policies.
This is why it is important that your personal relationship with your broker should never overcompensate for your broker's lack of motivation to compare plans and coverages, lack of ability to challenge and negotiate your renewal or willingness to offer enough options to your satisfaction.
Health insurance remains a pressing concern for many small businesses. By and large, businesses want to attract quality employees, provide healthcare options for them and their families and encourage them to stay with their organization.
Your small business health insurance broker should be a trusted partner in providing healthcare for you and your employees in a cost-effective way that makes sense for your business.
If you are not happy with your broker or you just aren't sure that they are doing their best for you and your business, getting a second opinion is always a good business practice.
Do not settle for anything less than a trusted guide and advocate when it comes to your company's health insurance.
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