Wendy Keneipp recently wrote a great blog on how our often “free” “value-added” services have actually done us a disservice in the current climate. Some of our UBA Partners have been operating in single-payer environments under fee-based structures for quite some time. As a result, they have a lot to teach us on how to break out of the “value-added services” mindset. Employers turn to expert advisers in key enterprise areas, such as commercial insurance, taxes and financial planning — why should health care be any different, particularly when it is one of the biggest expenditures they face? We need to change the conversation with employers to underscore the value we bring them outside of carrier negotiation. Consider educating prospective clients about your key advantages and packaging (and pricing) your services accordingly:
- Specialized benefits expertise. Remind clients that they can’t get the HR, health and wellness, and compliance information they need from a one-size-fits-all insurance broker. Highly specialized benefit advisers offer unique expertise related to benefit plan design and management — and can bring a full range of benefit programs (including voluntary and wellness) to the table for a holistic solution.
- Strategic planning. One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is to bounce from one renewal to the next, making decisions based on the lowest rates. Benefits, especially today, are much more complex with retention, tax, compensation, compliance and financial implications. Employers need your help to achieve cost containment goals more strategically than just reducing coverage and shifting costs to employees from year to year. This consultation comes with a price, but can save them hugely in the long term.
- Independent benchmarking data. As we know, choosing the right health care plan is highly localized. National or carrier data can be very misleading. Your ability to supply objective benchmarking data for clients’ region, industry and size should be of high value to employers.
- PPACA compliance support. Are your clients quick to assume they are exempt from the law because they have fewer than 50 employees? Counting employees under the law is extremely complex. Similarly, deciding whether to “pay” or “play” is a very complex, highly individualized continuum. Employers need you to supply the consulting, rule explanations, modeling and decision support tools that will help them make critically important decisions.
- Advocacy with carriers. Highlight that you work in a transparent fee-based environment and tout the advantages of this model, namely that incentives and commissions don’t stifle your innovation or hamper negotiation. Smart business owners should expect to pay for such objective claims analysis, predictive modeling and other consulting services.
- Benefits enrollment support. Make sure employers know that benefits enrollment is about to get even more complex. Programs that streamline enrollment should be priced accordingly.
- Employee communications. Reposition your employee communication services so that they are directly tied to health care cost management: The better educated the employee, the more the cost savings.
Mangan is an EBA Advisory Board member and CEO of United Benefit Advisors, an independent employee benefits advisory organization with more than 270 offices throughout the U.S., Canada and the U.K. This entry originally ran on EBA’s sister site, Voluntary.com.
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