BenefitsPro: Brokers See Growing Demand for Transparency and Advocacy Services
It pays to shop around. Price transparency services have played an important role in helping employers contain benefit costs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey of more than 100 health insurance brokers by DirectPath.
Eighty-three percent of brokers currently provide some sort of health-care transparency and clinical advocacy services to help employers contain costs. Twenty-three percent of respondents report they will be adding new advocacy and transparency-focused product and service offerings to meet this growing demand.
As the COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of daily life across the globe, more than four in 10 Americans reported delaying or avoiding medical care because of concerns related to the coronavirus. Now, as the world begins to reopen, it is more important than ever that employees are shopping for care to ensure they are receiving the best possible price for the necessary services, especially because the savings can be in the thousands.
In 2020, DirectPath found that the average savings for an arthroplasty was $19,498, while employees who compared costs saved an average of $2,447 for an MRI and $2,732 for a colonoscopy. By delivering access to knowledgeable and experienced advocates, brokers provide employees with a single source to help them make informed decisions about their health care, get answers to COVID-19-related questions, compare costs, locate in-network providers and resolve claims issues.
However, with 67% of respondents to a recent survey on health-care literacy reporting that they did not realize they could compare treatment or service costs before receiving care, it is critical that brokers are bolstering these advocacy and transparency services by providing holistic benefits communications services. According to the survey:
- 95%of brokers are experiencing demand for benefits communications services.
- 70% of brokers report that their clients are relying on them more than usual for benefits communications materials.
The key to this trend has been increased demand in communications that get employees to take action, whether that means actively enrolling in their benefits or reading about a new regulation that will affect their coverage, instead of simply providing educational content.
In addition to containing health-care costs, brokers also are focused on:
- Providing superior customer service and relationships (79%).
- Recruiting and retaining the best employees (55%).
- Adding new, innovative services to help meet market demand (44%).
“With 71% of brokers reporting that they have clients struggling with employee satisfaction and their benefits plans’ perceived value,” the survey report concluded, “these services are critical to ensuring brokers are continually providing employers with services and products that adequately meet their employees’ shifting needs and expectations. Brokers should focus on delivering strategies that help employers enhance the year-round employee benefits.”
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(Alan Goforth is a reporter for BenefitsPro)