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Expect More Than Simple Cost Shifting Strategies From Your Broker

The simple phrase “you don’t know what you don’t know” truly speaks to the world of Human Resources and Finance today. Juggling various business functions, service providers and responsibilities, employers aren’t always aware of what they should be anticipating from their brokers. Here at OneDigital, our benefit consultants approach employer benefit strategies holistically—it’s one of the core differences between our approach and others in the industry.

For most companies in the US, we are now a few months removed from the open enrollment season and renewals with insurance carriers have been completed. As it relates to health insurance and employee benefits, what should your expectations be for your broker in 2016? With the rise of the Affordable Care Act, as well as the release of various innovative software and creative cost reduction strategies, the expectation for greater involvement and better service from health insurance brokers has increased. Because employers aren’t always aware of what these new innovations or creative strategies might look like, below is a quick list highlighting our approach to a holistic benefits strategy:

  1. Employer Communications
    1. A recap meeting to discuss 2015 open enrollment and renewal – How did it go, what could have been improved, etc.
    2. A Dashboard/timeline highlighting important dates throughout the year regarding ACA/IRS compliance, special project rollouts, and ongoing strategy meetings to evaluate and adjust goals and expectations.
    3. Monthly underwriting reports illustrating employee utilization of healthcare and experience.
    4. Monthly webinars and email updates regarding Affordable Care Act, Department of Labor, IRS and other compliance-related issues.
    5. Benchmarking data to compare and contrast where/how you rank with competitors in your industry, state or nationwide.
      1. Are you paying/offering too little or too much? How does this fit into your overall business plan presently and in the future?
  2. Employee Communications
    1. Online benefit administration platform options for employees’ to access in a convenient way. Do you have technological constraints, or is English as a second language something to consider? There are creative ideas for both.
    2. Employee Benefit statements showing the monetary value they are receiving and highlighting the generous contributions you as an employer are providing.
    3. Monthly employee communication materials raising awareness of various benefits you provide highlighting their value and encouraging further utilization and appreciation. Studies have shown that even when employers offer less than rich benefits, increased and effective communications actually result in a greater perception of benefit offerings and employee appreciation.
    4. Monthly employee communications on wellness, nutrition or other holistic health topics to educate your employees.
    5. If a wellness plan is in place, weekly or monthly communication pieces highlighting the wellness plan, incentives or education materials to increase excitement and utilization.
  3. Cost Reduction Strategies
    1. Exposure to the best insurance carriers and vendors? OneDigital’s size enables us to bring the most innovative and capable partners to our clients.
    2. Are company contribution amounts in line with your business plan, culture and competition (benchmarking data is needed)?
    3. Are your health plans in need of tweaking? Are you offering high deductible plans alongside an HSA/FSA/HRA to reward employees for maintaining good health?
    4. Have you done a spousal surcharge audit (generally at least 10-20% of employee’s have spouses on their company plan who also have their own employer plans that they declined)?
    5. Tobacco Surcharge (conservatively, at least 10% of employee’s in CA are smokers)?
    6. Have you considered an analysis for you to see what it would cost/save to offer employee’s an incentive to go onto their spouse’s employer plan rather than yours?
    7. Have you considered alternate funding options such self-funding, level-funding or graded-funding options as part of a long-term strategy to reduce costs and offer greater employer control over their benefit offerings?
  4. Additional services
    1. Is COBRA administration a pain point for you? OneDigital offers solutions that you may want to investigate.
    2. Does your broker provide additional software platforms that help HR functions like time and attendance, onboarding, or FMLA administration?
    3. Does your broker provide 24/7 support for employees having claims issues or needing assistance with their health insurance?
    4. Does your broker provide additional HR support by providing services like ThinkHR designed to answer any and all HR-related questions, as well as provide services like sexual harassment training videos for managers required in some states?

We approach the services above with a particular focus on lowering costs, simplifying benefits administration, and increasing employee awareness and engagement. We strive to continually provide a holistic approach designed to transform the benefits experience for your organization and your employees.

Learn from our experts how we can help by connecting with a OneDigital team near you.