It’s no secret that benefits plan rates have increased at an alarming rate over the past several years, far surpassing inflation and both employer and employee budget increases. Between the Affordable Care Act and other changes in the market, rates have continued to be unpredictable—and many of your clients will face unpleasant increases once again this renewal season. What can you do as a broker to save your clients money at renewal?
While many brokers will simply explain to clients that all businesses are facing similar increases, brokers who want to differentiate and truly support clients are doing more to help clients manage rising costs. This blog examines three potential strategies to help you save clients money at renewal this year.
Self-funding isn’t just for large groups any more. In fact, it can greatly benefit smaller groups in some cases. Self-funding provides many potential benefits to groups of all sizes:
- Fewer regulations to contend with, including many ACA guidelines
- More plan flexibility to fit employee needs and budget
- Potentially lower costs, through fewer compliance obligations, additional flexibility and lower administrative costs
Of course, self-funding isn’t the right fit for every employer group, but you may want to consider suggesting it to groups facing a large increase to save your clients money at renewal this year. Present a self-funded plan side-by-side with a fully insured plan to help your client make the best decision.
Try a new approach to benefits planning
Too often, benefits renewals starts with the plan details, and the cost stuff (and how the employer will pay for it) is figured out at the end. But there is another approach to benefits planning that your clients may prefer.
Start with a budget in mind. Keep it a realistic budget—perhaps the client is hoping to keep costs flat, or sustain only a 3% increase. Once you have the budget established, you can find creative solutions to help clients meet that budget. This resource discusses the budget-first approach in more detail.
Focus on wellness
Workplace wellness programs aren’t anything new; they’ve been popular for many years. However, many employers still don’t have one, or are not taking full advantage of opportunities to help their employees increase their overall health and wellness—to ultimately lower group health care costs.
Examine your client’s existing wellness initiatives, and open a conversation about what more could be done in this area. Ideas may include:
- Allowing and encouraging walking meetings (this works particularly well for 1-on-1 meetings)
- Sponsoring a 5k walk/run for a local charity, and encouraging employees to participate
- Organizing group fitness activities during lunch, or before or after work, such as group walks, yoga classes, etc.
- Replacing unhealthy vending machine snacks with healthier alternatives
- Sponsoring a “biggest loser” competition among employees
Keep in mind that there is a provision in ACA regarding wellness, regarding premium incentives for employees, as well as discrimination. Read more about those guidelines here.