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To help advisers stay innovative, Debra Tucker, director of new business at Options Plus, and Frank Villares, managing partner at Premier Benefit Solutions, last week offered attendees at EBA’s Workplace Benefits Summit in Nashville, Tenn., insight on the latest discount benefit programs.

“I think more than anything [discount benefits] are definitely affordable, customizable, flexible, a solution-based product, and for brokers, it is residual income,” Tucker said. “The affordability factor is the biggest thing, especially when you are working with specific markets segments or market segments who just don’t have extra money and are cutting dental or cutting vision, this would be a really affordable way to bring in products that the employer can still offer to the employee without breaking the bank.”

Also see:The 5 top-grossing large-group brokerages in each state, part 1.”

These discount benefits span across many areas, such as health, workplace wellness, lifestyle and finance. They include but are not limited to:

  • Chiropractic
  • Alternative medicine
  • Telemedicine
  • Web-based programs for weight loss, smoking cessation, exercise and stress management
  • Medical professional access via email or smartphone 24/7
  • ID theft protection
  • Roadside assistance
  • Travel protection
  • Pet care
  • Travel and leisure
  • Financial guidance programs
  • Legal services
  • Tax assistance

Villares said discount benefits tend to take a backseat when brokers are selling to new clients, but depending on what market the client is in and what they need, DMPOs can offer some affordable networks for the employer on a budget.

Customization is key

“Some of these benefits will give you some good reputable networks to choose from, assuming the price point is good, but the customizable part is what is important,” Villares said. “Sometimes we run into [a client] who has a telemedicine benefit already built into their health plan. So they ask, ‘Why duplicate the effort?’ Then we can just take the telemedicine portion out of this discount plan and just concentrate on the dental or vision aspects.”

Also see:The 5 top-grossing large-group brokerages in each state, part 2.”

Tucker said almost every market can benefit from DMPOs like restaurants, hotels, associations, beauty, real estate, home healthcare, private corporations, senior medical care, trucking and retail.

“I actually was just brought into a big real estate brokerage that had 22 employees, that were full time, but they wanted to give them the dental, the vision, telemedicine and something else we built in, but they wanted to offer this as a voluntary benefit to their 565 agents in New Jersey,” Tucker said. “They had great participation at around 45%, so it was priced out at about $10 for dental and vision, another option with dental, vision and a hearing aid benefit for retirees, and a third option priced out at $20 that gave them all of those things, plus telemedicine and legal services.”

When it comes to the benefits for employers, they can expect to:

  • Affordably expand benefits and compensation package
  • Provide affordable options when considering eliminating ancillary benefits to reduce cost
  • Retain employees and attract top talent
  • Contain costs by lowering absenteeism and reducing claims
  • Improve workplace productivity
  • Boost employee morale and reduce turnover
  • Give guidance for employees to live a healthier lifestyle

“Most cases, these plans are not DOR, so you could have someone with your client and you might lose that medical, god forbid, but you might hang on to another product and you can get your foot back in the door,” Tucker said. “You can call them back and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to give you your utilization report for your teledoc and wanted to know how things are going with your new broker,’ and that will give you an opportunity to get back into the door.”

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