There is a lot to digest from the March issue of EBA. In particular the articles reinforced the need to be well-rounded as a benefit adviser.

 

By the Numbers

I always study the By the Numbers survey results. This month's results ("The future of health care coverage," p. 14) really hit home. Frankly, I am not surprised that it is predicted that 10% of employers will drop health care coverage.

But here is my glass-half-full thought: 90% will still offer it. And the survey just mentions health care. Employers will still need other programs, and will need guidance on the impact of not offering health care coverage. Opportunity exists for the well-rounded adviser who works on everything, not just health insurance.

There is a nugget of gold at the end of the sidebar, in the last sentence. Look for opportunities in helping employers with creative workforce strategies to address their issues.

 

PPACA and critical illness

The article "Critical illness gets a boost from PPACA" (p. 28) brings up some new thoughts on an old concept. I like the idea of adding enhancement plans to the medical, such as CI, but you must be careful in choosing and communicating the plan. You've got to read the CI contract to make sure it will actually fit with the medical plan.

Does it pay only one time lump sum? Or will it have follow up payments for recurring illness? Is it guarantee-issue? Or will some employees be declined? The CI must be clearly communicated to the employees so they understand exactly when and how it will pay. Plans like CI can get a bad rap quickly among employees in the rumor mill. That said, features such as the health screening benefit in a CI policy are attractive - just be sure to remind employees to file for the benefit.

 

Don't get left behind

Thank you to Randy Flem for his hard work on our behalf. My fellow advisers, times are a-changing. In "Looking for a change" (p. 33) we learn that we must get involved to help chart our future. Having benefit advisers who already know the right people is a blessing. We all need to get involved to some extent. Part of being well-rounded is working on the legislative issues that affect us - whether it is leveraging contacts, attending senate hearings, making phone calls, etc. Have you found the equivalent of Randy Flem in your state or market? If so, get in touch and find out what you can do to help them.

 

Planning for reform

As we dig into the legislative changes of health reform there are a lot of compliance issues that I can't wait to see how they will be handled. The article "In the eye of the storm" (p. 45) mentions most of the ones I thought of. One that jumps out is the 60-day notice for changes to benefit plans. Employers cannot wait until the last minute anymore to decide on their renewal actions.

Here in Texas, fully insured carriers must give clients the renewal at least 60 days before the renewal date. With the notice requirement, 60 days is not enough time. So how are those deadlines going to change? The well-rounded adviser will need to be on the ball and watch timelines like a hawk, get renewals super early, and make sure clients make timely decisions. Opportunity? Now, more than ever, employers need our guidance.

Reach Bryant, founder of SB&K Benefits, at toddb@sbkbenefits.com.

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