Technological advances dominate today’s health insurance industry. The paper-controlled marketplace of yesterday now requires brokers to embrace technology to remain competitive in an increasingly complicated market.
The fact is that access to real-time information – via the swipe of a finger or the click of a mouse – has transformed the employee-benefits space. And this new reality gives consumers the power to go online and research, compare, select and manage their benefits choices from any WiFi enabled device.
With this kind of on-demand access to information, brokers should be asking themselves how to stay relevant and keep up with the kind of technology that can help them better serve their clients. While service is still the primary factor in a long-term client relationship, here are three top technology tools that can help benefits professionals remain relevant in today’s world:
- Online Provider & Rx Directories: Full and limited networks are now the norm in health insurance, which makes employer and employee choice more important than ever. Employees want the assurance that they can continue to visit their preferred doctors and hospitals. Online provider directories make it easy for brokers to determine the hospitals, doctors and specialists that are part of each health plan’s often-differing provider networks. In addition, employees benefit from a better understanding of who is inside and outside a specific provider network. Ensuring employees have access to their preferred doctors and hospitals means happier clients, which can lead to referrals and additional business development opportunities.
- Online Enrollment: For many, gone are the days when small group enrollment required brokers and their clients to fill out a pile of enrollment forms by hand. This process is now, increasingly, available online. While still in its early stages nationally for small employers, the online enrollment momentum is shifting. As online shopping continues to become the norm, the adoption of online benefits enrollment by smaller employers and individuals is also increasing. This creates a more positive enrollment experience for brokers, employers and employees alike. Brokers who have access to carriers and exchange platforms offering online enrollment allows for better client service.
- Decision Support Tools: Information about health plan options, physician networks, benefits administration and more can be overwhelming for even the most well informed business owner. When you add in multiple generations of employees with different needs, things can become even more confusing – for both the employer and enrolling employees. However, making decision-support tools available can make things substantially easier. One example of a useful support tool is a “choice profiler” that helps employees match their health care needs to the plans available. These tools empower employees to compare options not only based on their current health care needs, but on the potential costs for upcoming events – like a planned or unplanned surgery, pregnancy, etc. They also allow consumers to be more involved in their health care – and better informed about how a specific health plan may benefit them and better meet their individual or family health care needs.
It is increasingly easy to embrace these technology tools. Remember, small business owners benefit from increased accessibility to new options for coverage, including multi-carrier exchanges. They are able to provide multigenerational employees with personalized benefits to fit their unique lifestyles and needs. Adding access to more options through technology is an easy way for benefits professionals to grow existing revenue streams and their overall book of business.
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