Despite powerful trends that are driving the popularity of voluntary benefits with employers and employees, some brokers are hesitant to sell them. The primary stumbling block is the effort it takes to achieve participation levels that make it profitable for the broker.

Until recently, online enrollment systems have not been as effective for voluntary benefits as they have been for core benefits. 

But, new technology-enabled services provide seamless education and decision support during the enrollment process. These services make selecting voluntary benefits an engaging process for the employee, ensuring success for employers and brokers alike.

With new education and decision support technology, it’s easier for employees to make well-informed decisions about purchasing voluntary benefits. Interactive tools present information that’s personalized and relevant to them. These tools have been created to replicate the experience of human enrollers without the time, expense and other restrictions of face-to-face meetings.

Since there are many decision support tools in the marketplace, brokers should perform due diligence to select products that will best serve their clients. Brokers should consider the following features:

  • The tool presents all the information needed for the employee to make a well-informed decision.
  • The information is easy to understand, compelling, easily accessible, available around the clock and easy to navigate.
  • The employee’s experience is self-paced. It is driven by the employee’s previous experience or desire to learn more about specific products. The employee can choose what they want to learn and the order in which they want to learn it.
  • The experience is engaging. It inspires the employee to learn more.
  • The experience is personalized and relevant because it is driven by the profile of the employee and their family.
  • The experience is driven by unbiased, impartial information, which drives the best decision for the employee. The employee can model scenarios that are relevant to them and their family.
  • It integrates with an employer’s online enrollment system to create a seamless user experience.
  • It integrates with the enrollment system, requiring little or no IT support.  
  • It requires no support from the broker to integrate with the enrollment system.
  • It can be configured easily for any carrier product in a short time.
  • It is easy to customize the user experience for a specific employer.
  • It is available to support employees during open enrollment and afterwards.
  • It is easy to maintain and modify with changing benefit programs and plans.
  • It will scale to support employer groups of all sizes.
  • It supports cloud-based computing.
  • It is priced commensurate with its value to a successful enrollment process.

Other than death and taxes, the only certainty is change. The changes precipitated by health care reform are game changers for employers and the brokers who serve them. With this magnitude of change roiling through their organizations, employers will need all the help brokers can provide. And being squarely in change mode, employers will likely be more receptive to new benefit offerings. As a recent study by MetLife attests, employers think voluntary benefits are important; no doubt this is due to their perceived value by employees. Clearly, voluntary benefits are an idea whose time has come, especially as decision-support tools that solve for the hurdles to meaningful enrollment are now available. Carpe diem. Brokers can now embrace this just-in-time revenue source!

Steve Adams is CEO of Navera, a leading provider of cloud-based education and decision support (EDS) products that help employees and their families make well-informed choices about their health care benefits and insurance options.

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