Benefit Brokers Must Keep Up With Changing Expectations

Thousands of agents and brokers have helped consumers find quality, affordable coverage through the marketplace.

While the uninsured population has declined to a historic low of 8.6%, down from 20% in 2013, there are still many individuals lacking coverage. By getting more individuals enrolled, brokers and agents can help to reduce the overall costs to the healthcare system and thus reduce the health insurance premiums charged to consumers.

According to Secretary Sylvia Burwell (@SecBurwell), who shared the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) open enrollment projections, 13.8 Million people are expected to sign up for coverage by January 31, 2017. This includes 9.2 Million re-enrollees, 3.5 Million uninsured individuals, and 1.1 Million individuals with 2016 off-exchange coverage.

It’s important that brokers, health insurance carriers, employers, and consumers remain crystal clear about expectations. Therefore, we have outlined a few suggestions on how you can keep up with these changing expectations:

Tip #1 – Wow Your Clients – Agents and brokers have and continue to play a significant role by assisting consumers in determining the right coverage for their needs on the Marketplace. Because of this, brokers are constantly looking for new ways to wow their clients and streamline their enrollment activities. The answer involves streamlined enrollment platforms and mobile applications. Take a moment to think about how much the healthcare industry has changed over the last few years. Consumers now seek what they need in real-time, from the ability to make payments, update their account information, or even obtain an insurance quote in a matter of seconds. The potential impact is quite significant with this type of customer-centric self-service. Brokers can not only improve their customer satisfaction, but also spend more time selling and growing their business, while spending less time maintaining their existing client base.

Tip #2 – Think Outside of the Box – Companies have raised the bar, expecting much more from their benefit brokers than they have in the past. In turn, technology has become a large catalyst, not only to manage broker commissions, but also as a means of providing effective communication, support tools, account management, reporting,
and planning. These employer incentives have changed the game and pose some significant bearings for the employer and her employees. One example of this involves Big Data. Consumer trends and benefit utilization can be leveraged and translated to help companies design messages around coverage options and provide decision support tools that help align consumers with plans that meet their specific needs. The potential here is nearly endless.

Tip #3 – Don’t Stop Communicating – Don’t stop communicating after open enrollment. Communicating between enrollment periods can help to strengthen relationships among the broker and client, as well as boost customer retention. Consider scheduling quarterly or semi-annual check-ins with employers to work out and address any issues that may have arisen. Hosting lunch and learn sessions for employees and employers can also help to reinforce your commitment and expertise.

Tip #4 – Help to Attract and Retain Talent – Brokers can also create greater value for employers by attracting talent and contributing to employee retention. Benefit incentives are incredibly powerful when it comes to attracting talent, reducing turnover, and mitigating the costs associated with recruiting, hiring, and training employees. Take a moment to consider the transition of retiring employers to a new, younger workforce. Employers have a unique opportunity to attract smart, dependable, and self-motivated employment candidates. Through improving the employer’s benefit offerings to employees, brokers can play a critical role in ensuring that this is possible.

In the end, brokers and agents must deliver benefit expertise, tailored recommendations for client needs, and develop greater value for employers. For more information, visit welltheos.com

The views and opinions expressed by the authors on this blog website and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Softheon, Inc. (dba Welltheos).

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Yvonne Villante
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Yvonne Villante

Senior Research Manager, Healthcare Reform at Welltheos
As our Senior Research Manager, I work closely with our Solution Architect, Product Management, and Sales teams. My role centers around competitive and market analyses, constructing premium content (whitepapers, research briefs, infographics), curating stories for our newsletters, and blogging.

I earned my BAA from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and MBA in Healthcare Administration from the University of Ohio (Athens). I was born and raised on Long Island, NY and enjoy capturing what the island has to offer through photography.
Yvonne Villante
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