News 7/27/2017

HR Dive: Healthcare is Hard, and HR is Relying on Brokers to Help Out, Study Shows

Dive Brief:

  • The vast majority (83%) of health insurance brokers in a DirectPath survey say that employers look to them to help manage their healthcare spend. The survey included more than 120 brokers.
  • Respondents also largely believe that this “opportunity in assuming the role of strategic consultants” provides them incentive to add new products and services; 78% of brokers surveyed say they’ve added new products and services in the past year to help employers control costs.
  • The survey indicated varying degrees of employer dependence on brokers for other benefits functions: 73% of brokers said employees asked for assistance with compliance and reporting, 63% said the same with respect to communications materials and 53% said the same of open enrollment.

Dive Insight:

Healthcare is complicated and seemingly endless partisan battles over its future in the U.S. have left employers in a bit of a compliance holding pattern. That may be part of the reason why employers are leaning on brokers and other services — especially benefits tech tools — to turn their focus to what matters most in benefits: workers.

But is this reliance on brokers healthy? The answer comes down to quality and trust. Earlier this week, one study reported a knowledge gap among health benefits brokers, especially with respect to managing high-deductible health plans. Although 68% of brokers in the survey gave themselves a high self-assessment for understanding consumer-oriented healthcare plans, researchers found that only 39% received advanced training in being consumer consultants.

Of course, one study alone can’t form a consensus on an entire industry. But if HR departments really are depending on brokers with the same frequency as measured by DirectPath, quality assurance is a must. The employee benefits industry is one of high growth, with several big players and young upstarts, and HR leaders can’t afford to make costly mistakes in outsourcing to the wrong third-parties.

Read the article here.

(Ryan Golden is the Associate Editor at HR Dive)

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