How Brokers Can Revolutionize Healthcare Cost Management for Clients in 2023
The insurance industry has always been a complex and ever-evolving landscape, with each passing year bringing new challenges and opportunities. As we head into open enrollment season for 2023, it is crucial to take a closer look at the concerns that currently define the state of insurance.
To combat the challenges of affordability and accessibility, employee benefits brokers will need to position themselves as trusted advisors and introduce innovative solutions. By staying informed, tailoring solutions, and providing ongoing support, brokers can help their clients effectively manage healthcare costs, improve employee satisfaction, and achieve long-term success.
Identify innovative cost-containment solutions to combat affordability challenges
Medical plan costs saw a big jump in 2022, rising 4.4% per employee. However, HR consultancy Mercer reports that per-employee medical plan costs will jump another 5.6% in 2023. While that’s an even bigger increase, it’s at least lower than the cost of inflation (about 8.5% year over year).
The affordability challenge persists partly due to a lack of product innovation from carriers, amplified by the effects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In the past, carriers provided information and insights to brokers, but that dynamic has shifted.
As a result, it falls upon brokers to seek out alternative options and drive innovation, as traditional carriers may not be the source of groundbreaking solutions. Being forward-thinking requires a relentless pursuit of new ideas and approaches. By constantly exploring and researching, brokers can uncover unique products and strategies that offer affordability and meet the evolving needs of their clients.
To navigate this landscape successfully, brokers must actively source new plan options—and resist the status quo of accepting renewals without question.
Brokers need to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and innovations in healthcare cost management. This involves researching and understanding emerging solutions such as value-based care, telemedicine, wellness programs, and data analytics. It is essential to dedicate regular time, at least twice a month, to explore new ideas, engage with vendors, and conduct research on intriguing products.
By continuously educating themselves, brokers can enhance their own competency and deliver more than just status quo renewals. Brokers can proactively bring solutions to the table that actually fit their clients’ needs. Employers don’t know what they don’t know, so it’s the broker’s job to tell them.
Failure to stay educated on innovative new products puts your business in jeopardy. If another broker comes to your client and asks, “Hasn’t your broker shown you this option that would be great for you?” it could be the end of your relationship.
Become a consumer advocate broker and increase accessibility
In addition to affordability concerns, another critical issue in the insurance landscape of 2023 is the accessibility of care. While having insurance coverage is important, it is equally vital that policyholders can readily access quality healthcare services when they need them.
Unfortunately, limited provider networks and gaps in coverage often hinder individuals from receiving timely and appropriate care. Even if a member can find in-network coverage, it could take several months to get an appointment, potentially exacerbating health issues. Lack of accessibility to prompt and efficient care hurts affordability as well.
To solve this problem for clients and their employees, brokers can position themselves as a consumer advocate broker. Agencies will set themselves apart by not only providing the plans their clients need, but also offering services to help eliminate barriers to care where possible (e.g. securing telehealth or specialty services).
Two creative solutions that help with accessibility and affordability challenges:
- Managed care organizations (MCOs): Integrated entities in the healthcare system which endeavor to reduce healthcare expenditures cost.
- Reference-based pricing: As an alternative to traditional plans, the employer (supported by a third party administrator or another vendor) pays a set price for each healthcare service instead of negotiating prices with providers.
The truth is: we are in a situation where we aren’t going to be getting innovative products from carriers (at least any time soon). Healthcare costs are going through the roof, and care is less accessible.
Who is in the best position within this ecosystem to provide a different experience than what the system provides? Brokers.
While brokers may not provide healthcare services, they can put all the pieces of care together to best address employee’s needs. However, brokers must let clients know they can perform this role so that they actually use it.
Use technology to provide a superior benefits experience
If employers don’t have a plan that fits their needs, they’ll end up paying for something they don’t use. The “status quo” broker offers them an off-the-shelf plan from a carrier and advises them to simply renew each year. Sounds like a sweet setup, but with all the increasing hurdles of affordability and accessibility, employers are more interested in finding a broker who will help them secure better benefits.
To offer more innovative cost-containment solutions, brokers will need to spend more time working on strategy with their clients. With more time to look at budgets, current needs, employee health trends, future risks, and other factors, brokers can provide a more personalized service.
How can brokers create more time to better serve their clients? Embrace technology.
The right technology can make all the difference in creating a superior experience. A customer relationship management (CRM) platform designed for insurance agencies syncs all company and employee data organized in one place.
- Easily generate compliance documents
- Update POP documents
- Generate benefit books
- Provide instant temporary ID cards
- Respond to customer requests quickly through an organized help desk
Make time for better client services in 2023
We all only have 24 hours but some are more efficient. Those people have a process/plan and review it can get a lot more done.
But if brokers are spending much of their time on manual data entry, they won’t be able to get the information they need. Learn how you can manage all of your agency’s needs in one place with Agency Engine by Signal Sync. Schedule your free demo today.