Engagement 2Amid ongoing changes to the health care landscape, one group that is continuing to face uncertainty about what Affordable Care Act (ACA) changes mean for their business and client relationship is the broker community. In this time of change, however, brokers remain a critical asset to HR leaders even if the traditional broker role may be changing.   

 

5 Important Questions to Ask When Evaluating Your Broker Relationship

Amid ongoing changes to the health care landscape, one group that is continuing to face uncertainty about what Affordable Care Act (ACA) changes mean for their business and client relationship is the broker community. In this time of change, however, brokers remain a critical asset to HR leaders even if the traditional broker role may be changing.

Matt Starrett, vice president, Ceridian LifeWorks Sales & Account Management, says, “A strong broker relationship is still as important as ever in the new era of health care reform. Given brokers’ expertise, they will continue to be called upon as trusted advisers even if their roles may become more consultative in nature.”

94 percent.jpgA renewed focus on voluntary benefits and wellness program expertise will be on the radar for HR leaders and brokers in the upcoming years. Findings from Towers Watson suggest that 94 percent of organizations plan to develop a health and wellness strategy within the next three years, and results from a Ceridian survey of nearly 500 brokers found that more than six out of 10 brokers said they play a strategic or highly strategic role in advising clients about wellness programs.

Whether you’re a broker or an HR leader, developing and strengthening your relationship is an important part of continuing to build and enhance trust. When evaluating your broker relationship or considering changing brokers, ask yourself the following questions, which have been adapted from HRBenefitsAlert.com, to ensure that you will get the most out of your partnership:

  1. Does the broker come highly recommended?  If you are considering changing brokers or picking a new one, you certainly want to choose one with industry experience. Ask your peers for their recommendations, and don’t be afraid to ask brokers to provide their own customer references so you can gain referrals from similar businesses in your industry and local area. Be sure to follow up with these references to hear their candid evaluations of the broker. 
  1. Does the broker have a solid and comprehensive understanding of all plan designs? In today’s health care market, there are numerous options for employers to choose. Partnering with a skilled broker who has expert knowledge of all plans is critical for selecting the best option for your company. The broker can be a helpful resource in understanding differences between the costs and plan designs among the major carriers in your area.

Moreover, in addition to standard health care coverage, be sure your broker has a solid understanding of additional benefits options like wellness programs, employee assistance program (EAP) offerings, life insurance, dental and vision, etc. Results from a Harvard University survey suggest that on average, companies offering a wellness program experience a 327 percent ROI for every dollar they spend on the program.

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  1. How knowledgeable is the broker about federal and state regulations? Top-notch brokers should be able to offer guidance and expertise on various compliance issues related to federal and state regulations. For example, your broker should be able to explain how the major provisions in the Affordable Care Act may impact your company. It is even more helpful when they can provide specific, real-life examples so you can better understand the impact. 
  1. How dedicated will the broker be to your company’s specific needs? To develop a trusting partnership, brokers need to demonstrate a high level of commitment and dedication to understanding the needs of your company. Be sure to ask what strategies the broker implements to evaluate your company’s top health risks, as well as tactics to limit your exposure to those risks. Reliable brokers should also be willing to help share in some of the cost of educating employees and helping in claim administration efforts.
  1. How responsive is the broker, and what are his or her preferred communication methods? When turning to a partner, a top concern should always be how responsive they are.

How often does the broker generally check in with clients? Weekly, monthly, quarterly? Understand the broker’s preferred communication methods and determine if those methods fit your needs and preferences. Being able to openly communicate and know you’ll get a timely response is a top priority in a broker relationship regardless of the broker’s qualifications.

For more information:

  • View our infographic on helping clients choose the right wellness program
  • Learn about Ceridian Benefits Broker Partnerships
  • Discover the Ceridian LifeWorks suite of EAP, work-life and wellness offerings