Every year, you, the trusted adviser and broker, meet with the C-suite to assess the company’s medical insurance options. You develop a strategy based on a simple math problem: How to improve the company’s EBITDA by reducing healthcare spend.

You then rely on the HR department-of-one for the distribution of information, implementation of open enrollment and execution of employee elections. How do they distribute, implement and execute this strategy effectively?

Perhaps the distribution channel consists of voluntary all-staff meetings. Or worse, emails or memos that go unread. Possibly, the implementation is conducted through a cutting-edge benefits administration platform; or maybe it’s still on paper. The execution might fall solely on HR’s shoulders; but likely, it’s on each employee.

There is another option for optimizing a successful enrollment experience: Make licensed insurance professionals available to employees through benefit counselor-guided enrollments.

ONegotiating the complexities of medical insurance options can be overwhelming for most people. For the employee, the simple math problem is compounded with real life variables such as chronic health challenges, planned and unplanned medical procedures or alternate insurance solutions. Do you honestly think a voluntary meeting or self-service enrollment is adequately preparing employees to make these difficult decisions?

Most Americans would not file their 2017 taxes without reviewing first with a certified tax preparer. Even self-filing programs, such as TurboTax, make a CPA available to review your forms before submission. Why are Americans asked to make important healthcare choices without individually consulting a licensed insurance professional?

Private and confidential
During a benefit counselor guided enrollment, employees have the ability to meet one-on-one with a licensed insurance professional of their designated state. The conversation is private and confidential. Employees are free to disclose personal or family health concerns they may not feel comfortable revealing to their employer. This open dialogue allows the employee to make educated decisions regarding their insurance options based on their individual/family healthcare needs and financial limitations.

Additionally, benefit counselors will act as an extension of your office to help execute necessary administration during the education process. Further, your mission critical cost-containment strategy can now reach each employee on an individualized engagement level.

One of my broker partners, Bob Gearhart of DCW Group, decided to implement benefit counselor guided enrollments for all of their fourth quarter group medical renewals. The broker recommended every client take advantage of no-fee benefit counselors. The licensed insurance professionals would meet with employees one-on-one for 20 minutes to assist them with making their insurance elections. There was no cost to the company, employee or broker to provide this service.

The results of these renewal meetings proved to accomplish two goals:
1) Optimized enrollment and improved employee engagement;
2) Solved pain-points the broker faced with each respective client.

Also see:The 50 best places to work in 2018.”

Case No. 1. Non-profit school system for autistic children: Benefit counselors conducted onsite meetings at a multi-location school, which was brought about by a dental and vision carrier change. The benefit counselors also assisted the broker and HR with the medical renewal by initiating carrier application completion via FormFire.

Result: Better employee participation and more timely execution of FormFire applications.

Case No. 2. Bilingual wood pallet refurbishing company: Although the workforce has no access to computers, the bilingual benefit counselors were able to conduct the entire enrollment through a benefits administration platform, effectively moving everything online for the employer moving forward.

Result: Complete and current employee records now available on the ben admin system.

Case No. 3. Medical software development company: Benefit counselors guided employees, both onsite and remote, through three different medical plan design options, dental, vision, and enhanced elections.

Result: More employee-focused attention improved overall perception of broker relationship with client.

It was an obvious decision, moving forward, to recommend all of their clients adopt benefit counselor guided enrollments in 2018 and beyond.

Pennington will speak more on this topic in a panel discussion Feb. 28 at EBA’s Workplace Benefits Renaissance.

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