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What to Look for in a Benefits Broker Relationship

Ask yourself these 4 questions to make sure you're getting the valuable advice you need

by John Wayne, December 13, 2017

At small and growing businesses, it’s often “all hands on deck” to help your company succeed. If you’re reading this, you likely wear many hats – like accounting, finance, administration, HR, payroll, benefits, or project management. I know because I’ve been there. As a small business “finance guy” I was often asked to step in to support our benefits offering among many other areas – something that, at least initially, was very much out of my comfort zone.

In order to make what I hoped would be the best benefit decisions for my company, I relied heavily on outside support from my benefits broker. Unfortunately, we didn’t usually talk until it was almost time to renew, which meant I didn’t get the time to think proactively and strategically about our benefits. Instead, I was just tweaking our current benefits in an attempt to mitigate premium increases and keep our associates somewhat happy.

I’ve come to believe that it does not have to be this way, and if you can relate, you deserve better.  So, what’s a better solution? Come up with a thoughtful plan to drive your strategic objectives and needs, and work with someone who can present you with options for how to get there.

Here are 4 questions you should ask yourself to make sure you’re getting the best possible value from your broker relationship.

Is my broker invested in helping me achieve our business goals?

Ideally, your broker should be proactive, working with you to meet your business objectives. Are they meeting with you during the year to predict your renewal rates? Have they discussed alternate funding strategies with you? Different types of insurance products? A three year plan to achieve your enrollment goals? Don’t just settle for the standard conversation about plan design and rate increases 60 days before renewal. Make sure you have a broker who is on your side and helping you be strategic about your plan.

Am I offering an appropriate range of medical plan options?

You may have heard this before, but one size doesn’t fit all. As an employer, you don’t know all of your employees’ individual family and life situations, so why should you make the decision that only one health plan is appropriate for everyone? That’s a lot of pressure! Your broker should also be mindful of this and should be suggesting multiple options to suit employees’ diverse needs.

How will my broker help my employees make smart benefit choices?

Even if you offer the right range of choice, it won’t work if your employees lack the tools they need to make good benefit decisions. Employees do need to be proactive and invested in their own care – but don’t expect them to go it alone. After all, only one in 10 Americans knows basic health insurance terms like premium and deductible.  Your broker should provide, or point you to, resources that can help your employees make better health care decisions – from picking the right plan at enrollment to comparing costs & quality for services.

Ultimately, am I getting value out of my broker relationship?

Know going into the relationship each year what you’re expecting to get – including guidance on plan choice and funding strategy, employee education support, and cost control strategies. And, know what you’ll pay your broker. It’s important to know exactly what you’re paying so that, if you decide to shop around for another broker, you’ll be able to make an apples-to-apples comparison. You should be able to evaluate the value you get (cost vs. service) for this service just like you would any other professional service you engage. 

Your goal is to support your employees and your company’s business. A good broker relationship can accomplish both. Make sure yours is a true team player, helping you achieve excellence with your benefits program at the right price point.

Seem like a lot to manage? Fidelity Health Marketplace’s broker services can help you achieve your company’s business goals. Contact us today.

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About the Author

John Wayne

John Wayne is the Senior Vice President of Product Strategy and Marketing for Fidelity Health Marketplace.