If you’re a new health insurance and benefits broker, there’s a lot to learn! The health insurance landscape is heavily regulated and constantly changing and your clients all have different needs. And since the success of your open enrollment process can largely determine your success as a broker, this season can feel overwhelming.
But fear not. As long as you pay attention to these five things, you can thrive during your busiest time of the year and prove to be a valuable partner to your clients as well.
1. Know important deadlines
Health insurance policies are issued every 12 months and as such, employers only have one small window during which they can make changes to their benefits offerings and employees to their chosen plans. This is called “open enrollment”.
Though there are exceptions for qualified life events, health insurance companies require people to sign up for their health plan during this small window once a year to prevent what’s called adverse selection. Adverse selection is when people wait to buy health insurance until they’re sick or have an emergency and need it. But health insurance companies need the premiums of healthy people to help cover the claims of the sick. That’s why they require all new plan sign-ups to flow through open enrollment.
Since it is the only time during the year that employers and employees can make changes, the open and close dates for open enrollment are perhaps the most important deadlines you need to be aware of.
The open enrollment dates won’t be the same for every insurance carrier or employer, but health insurance companies typically give employers between two and four weeks in which to set their plans for the following year. Help your clients set the open enrollment period for their company to align with their carriers’ open enrollment (often between November 15th and December 15th). Then plan accordingly.
Another important deadline to be aware of is the date that the plan starts. This is the date by which all employees should have their new ID cards in-hand. Working backwards, determine your next deadline: the date by which all employee information must be submitted to the carriers in order to meet the ID card deadline.
2. Check for any new compliance laws or healthcare changes
Your clients are looking to you as their expert in the health insurance industry. They likely don’t have time to keep up on all the changes to compliance laws and health insurance regulations that may affect the benefits plans they choose and how those plans are administered.
So before you generate quotes to new and existing clients, make sure you know whether or not the rules have changed. And if they have changed, how those changes affect what your clients currently offer or want to offer. Then set a time to meet with your clients so you can review these changes with them and create a strategy for their benefits plans.
3. Review and offer any new technology available to your clients
Human Management Technology platforms can be a great gift to clients. The right platform can reduce redundant work, cut down on human error and automate processes that are currently manually completed. Consulting with your clients on the technology they currently use or are considering is another area where you, as their broker, can shine.
Set a meeting to discuss their budget, goals, business objectives, growth plans, what they currently use, what their reporting and data requirements are, and any pain points. Analyze their pressing business challenges and make suggestions that help leverage and optimize existing resources, or suggest new systems you think would work better.
If your clients are still conducting a manual open enrollment, it might be time to take them online. Work with your stakeholders to understand the hurdles they face with offering a digital open enrollment and offer whatever support you can to help them to overcome these challenges.
4. Be prepared to explain how you can streamline the process for your clients
As a broker, you are your clients’ partner in their benefits offerings and open enrollment. There are many services you can provide to make the process easier and more streamline for employers, and adding value is a great way to keep your clients happy. The first step to providing said value, is to communicate exactly what you can do.
Common services that brokers provide outside of simply quoting plans are:
- Technology review
- Production of new employee education collateral
- Leveraging of existing education collateral
- Open enrollment schedule setting
- Employee support
- Help in the planning and execution of employee education events like town halls and smaller group events (digital and in-person)
- Quarterback the entire open enrollment season from initial employee education campaigns to the processing of ID cards.
5. Check to see if there are ways you can minimize costs
Keeping costs down is on every employer’s mind. Much has been written of the sharp rise in the consumer price index (CPI) this year, and inflation in health plans has lagged this number 8.5% (CPI) to 3.7% (health plans). Until now. The cost of health plans to employers is expected to increase 6.5% in 2023 and your clients are likely looking to you to help them contain this increase.
Use their responses to your questions about their business objectives, growth plans, etc. to design a benefits plan and contribution strategy that maximizes the value of the benefits plan for the company and employees.
Get started with Lively
Lively is your partner in offering your clients a well-rounded benefits plan. Our HSA is has no hidden fees, easy to use, and popular amongst employees. It can help reduce employers’ FICA taxes and health plan costs because it’s paired with High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP). HDHPs typically have the most affordable premiums in the private insurance market, thus lowering employers’ per employee cost of offering a health plan. We also offer live customer support for employers and plan participants alike. If you’re ready to get started with Lively, reach out today!
Disclaimer: the content presented in this article are for informational purposes only, and is not, and must not be considered tax, investment, legal, accounting or financial planning advice, nor a recommendation as to a specific course of action. Investors should consult all available information, including fund prospectuses, and consult with appropriate tax, investment, accounting, legal, and accounting professionals, as appropriate, before making any investment or utilizing any financial planning strategy.