Release 2/2/2021

Eighty-three Percent of Health Insurance Brokers Report Employers Rely on Them to Contain Health Care Costs Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

DirectPath, the company that guides employees to make better health care decisions, today unveiled new research, The 2021 Benefits Broker: Year-round Strategies to Keep Employer Costs Down During a Pandemic. The report, which includes results from an annual survey of more than 100 health insurance brokers, highlights the important role price transparency services have played in helping employers contain benefit costs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. More specifically, the survey shows that 83 percent of brokers currently provide some sort of health care transparency and clinical advocacy services to help employers contain costs and 23percent of respondents report they will be adding new advocacy and transparency-focused product and service offerings to meet this growing demand.

How Brokers Are Helping Navigate COVID-19
As the COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of daily life across the globe, more than 4 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 given the savings can be in the thousands. In a review of 2020, DirectPath saw average savings of $19,498 for an arthroplasty, while employees that compared costs for an MRI saved an average of $2,447 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.

But with 67 percent 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 2021 DirectPath broker report, 95 percent of brokers are experiencing demand for benefits communications services, with 70 percent of brokers reporting that their clients are relying on them more than usual for benefits communications materials. 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 impact their coverage—versus simply providing educational content.

How Brokers Are Responding to Shifting Employer Needs
In addition to containing health care costs, brokers also reported that they are focused on providing superior customer service and relationships (79 percent), recruiting and retaining the best employees (55 percent) and adding new, innovative services to help meet market demand (44 percent). With 71 percent of brokers reporting that they have clients struggling with employee satisfaction and their benefits plans’ perceived value, 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 experience and help to create more informed health care consumers.

For more information on which broker services are most impactful to employees, download The 2021 Benefits Broker: Year-round Strategies to Keep Employer Costs Down During a Pandemic.

DirectPath surveyed more than 100 health insurance brokers on what services they are currently offering, which services deliver the most business value and how their models are likely to evolve to help them compete in the coming year. These brokers work for a mix of small and large clients—55 percent said they have around 25 clients with more than 500 employees, while 31 percent said they have one hundred or more clients with more than 500 employees.