As an individual or as a business owner, you don´t pay any more for employee benefits purchased through a broker than you would if you purchased the coverage directly from an insurance company. Insurance carriers set aside a small portion (about 3%) of the premium to pay brokers a commission, which covers not only the selling of the plan but much of the servicing required. An agent continues to receive commissions as a plan is renewed, so it is in his or her best interest to keep the client happy. Here is a sampling of what agents do for their clients every day:
- Negotiate renewal rates and identify items that should be considered by carriers when determining renewal premiums, i.e. turnover of personnel, addition of new hires, etc.
- Recommend healthcare financing options best suited for the client, i.e. fully-insured, self-funded, health reimbursement arrangements, flexible spending accounts, health savings accounts
- Provide online and written materials for plan administration, advise about new and pending legislation, provide information about new plan designs and premium changes
- Assist clients with claim issues and compile supporting documentation
- Analyze the performance of the medical plan and identify areas of high utilization
- Assist clients with requests to doctors and hospitals for information needed to resolve claim issues
- Assist COBRA-eligible ex-employees with selection of coverage
- Assist employee family members with the selection of coverage when employer-based plans are too expensive
- Meet with employers/employees to explain benefits, plan designs, and optional coverage
- Assist the employer in selecting the appropriate plan(s) that best meets the employer and employee objectives and goals
- Assist employers with billing issues
- Assist in planning wellness programs, i.e. health fares, health risk assessments, biometric screenings, rewards programs
- Inform insurance companies of employee adds, changes and terminations and request employee ID cards
- Meet with insurance companies and provide feedback on employer issues which assist carriers in making changes to plan designs, underwriting procedures, etc.
- Assist employers by providing a one-stop shop to access information on multiple insurance companies and multiple products, i.e. health, life, dental, vision, retiree benefits, long-term care, disability insurance. The access to multiple carriers allows the employer to select the specific insurance company and plan that meets their needs
- Provide or assist with employee websites to facilitate access to plan information
- Research and advise on financial viability, credibility, and value of various insurance companies and plan offerings
- Assist individuals with the completion of forms requested by government and other entities.
Employers of every size rely heavily on agents and brokers for advice and assistance. The health insurance marketplace has become so complicated with changes in legislation, plan design and benefit offerings that it has become a full-time job to be well-versed in all aspects of our complex industry. A small “Mom and Pop” shop simply doesn’t have the resources or ability to take this task on by themselves.