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Thayer Partners Blog

The Do's and Don'ts of Shopping for a New Health Plan Broker

[fa icon="calendar"] Dec 12, 2016 9:00:00 AM / by Chris Wilmerding

Chris Wilmerding

The-Dos-and-Donts-of-Shopping-for-a-New-Health-Plan-Broker.jpgWorking with a health plan broker is a wise decision for most business owners. A licensed broker will be able to expertly navigate through the complex and daunting world of health insurance to find the best plan for your company and your employees. A broker can make it easier for you to understand your options, highlight important details, and explain the pros and cons of each type of plan. A broker can also ensure that the plan you choose to implement fits within your budget and meets the needs of your employee population.

However, not all brokers are alike. When shopping for a new health plan broker, here’s a list of do’s and don’ts to follow to ensure you choose to work with the right broker.

DO Check the Broker’s Reputation

Before deciding on a health plan broker to work with, make sure to check out their reputation in the industry first. Ask for referrals, check references, and make sure their registrations and licenses are in order. You can even verify a broker’s disciplinary record through the insurance commissioner’s consumer hotline.

DO Work with an Independent Health Plan Broker

You should stay clear of company-specific brokers. These types of brokers are employed by a specific provider, and will steer you towards that provider’s plans, even if they aren’t in your best interests.

An independent broker, on the other hand, will be able to present you with a wide variety of choices from many different insurance companies to ensure that you get the most competitive rates and purchase the best plan for your company’s needs.

DO Work with an Agent Who Will Provide Ongoing Help and Support

Your health insurance broker should be there to help you long after you buy your new insurance plan. They should offer guidance for implementation, help you communicate the new plan to your employees, help with enrolment, answer your questions and concerns, and help you to renew or update your coverage when required.

Buying health insurance isn’t a one-time transaction, so you don’t want to work with a broker who acts like it is.

DON’T Work with a Broker Who Wants to Reduce Benefits

Many people falsely believe that the only way to reduce health premium costs is to cut benefits. But there are actually many ways to reduce healthcare costs without reducing the value that your employees receive from your insurance plan. A broker who is focused on reducing your benefits, instead of looking at other options, isn’t the broker you want to work with.

DON’T Work with a Broker Who Is Focused on Anything Other Than Reducing Costs

Your health insurance plan is likely your second biggest expense after payroll. As a result, you should be looking at all avenues available to you to reduce premium costs. It could make a huge difference in your bottom line.

If the broker you’re considering working with isn’t listening to your concerns over price and is instead trying to focus on reducing your costs by cutting the benefits you offer employees, look elsewhere for a new health plan broker.

DO Work with a Health Plan Broker Who Recommends a High-Deductible Plan and Other Alternatives

As we mentioned above, there are ways to significantly reduce your costs when it comes to health insurance—but this is something that many brokers don’t want you to know. A broker who only recommends cookie cutter plans isn’t looking out for your best interests. The best health insurance brokers will offer you several alternative ways to provide health benefits, including health spending accounts (HSAs), self-funding, and a high-deductible plan paired with an HSA.A broker that is an expert in these alternative plan designs will help your company save money.

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Topics: Health Insurance

Chris Wilmerding

Written by Chris Wilmerding

Chris Wilmerding is Principal of Thayer Partners, an independent investment management firm located in Westwood, MA providing financial planning and wealth management counsel to individuals and their families.

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