Remember the days when your health insurance broker would show up a few weeks prior to renewal to share the inevitable news that your group health rates were again going up? Options may have been presented, dental and vision coverage may have been offered, and then decisions were made for the upcoming year. Afterward, you were left to manage open enrollment, shuffle through applications and take on the next plan year. This model seemed prevalent across the country, and frankly, was a decent one given the demands of the time. This wasn’t very long ago.
Then, things began to change in 2010. The changes brought about by the ACA in 2010 didn’t initially do much to make the lives of HR professionals and business owners easier. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Reporting requirements, coverage mandates, new terminology, and general uncertainty were the order of the day. As the ACA unfolded, it took employers and the benefits professionals way out of their comfort zone. As employers looked to their brokers for advice on how to control costs and stay compliant, brokers were forced to evolve and adapt, or become obsolete. That’s when things began to look up for HR professionals.
Brokers and advisors who chose to adapt began to develop new expertise. Many firms looked to the HR and compliance community to find subject matter experts on the ACA that would enable them to more effectively guide their clients. Naturally, these experts brought along more than just ACA knowledge. As resourceful brokers recognized this new skill set available to them, they expanded their service offering to include some HR related consulting services. Employee Handbook review, guidance on employer/employee relations, and guidance on compensation strategy are just a few examples of how benefits brokers covered new ground to enhance the value delivered to their clients.
Fast forward to today.
The employee benefits community is going through major changes. Many brokers are consolidating with larger national firms through acquisition. Others are embracing the emerging opportunity by constantly seeking new tools and expertise to enhance the client experience. Innovative brokers of the past are morphing into HR consulting partners with tools like applicant tracking systems, new hire onboarding tools, and payroll and benefits administration platforms to deliver more comprehensive administrative services. While benefits will always be critically important to both employees and the bottom line, they now only represent part of the total value proposition that brokers of tomorrow will bring to HR. Next time an agent or broker approaches you to try and save a few percentage points on your health renewal, ask how else they can help contribute to your overall HR.