BenefitsPro: Brokers’ Roles Evolving, Expanding
Employers are looking to their health insurance brokers to keep health care costs under control as the health care landscape is beset by turmoil.
That’s according to a report from DirectPath, in which 83 percent of brokers report that employers are expecting them to assist in keeping down what they spend on health care. Brokers, for their part, are responding with a range of new products and services. In fact, 78 percent of brokers have introduced something new in the past year to help their employer customers control health care costs.
But that’s not all; brokers also say employers are looking to them for help in other areas. And these new expectations are driving change in the role of the broker.
Changes in government policies on health care insurance, in the way employees want to get benefits information, and in the health insurance market as it shifts in response to pressures are transforming the landscape. Eighty-three percent of broker respondents say they find their jobs more challenging now than just three years ago. But they also view those changes as presenting a massive opportunity to to take on the role of strategic consultants to employers.
The vast majority of brokers surveyed consider the opportunity to be positioned as strategic consultants as a prime motivator to add new and innovative services. And it’s not just spending that employers need help with: 73 percent say employers want assistance with compliance and reporting, while 63 percent say employers rely on them for help with communications materials and 53 percent say employers look for their help in managing open enrollment.
About three quarters of brokers surveyed say they now offer employee engagement, transparency and advocacy services. Brokers see both the highest levels of demand for, and highest business value from, employee engagement. The numbers lay it out, with 83 percent of respondents reporting demand for employee engagement, compared with 69 percent for advocacy and 56 percent of transparency services.
In addition, 88 percent of respondents are deriving value from employee engagement, compared with 81 percent for advocacy and 77 percent for transparency. And 94 percent of brokers also say they’re getting business value from ERISA and ACA compliance services, while 79 percent said they see business value from their voluntary benefits services.
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(Marlene Y. Satter has covered the financial industry since 1997, first for Investment Advisor magazine, then ThinkAdvisor.com and BenefitsPro.com.)