Top 8 Questions Employers Should Ask their Employee Benefits Advisor

by Bill Olson

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United Benefit Advisors recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary in supporting its Partners’ efforts to provide quality employee benefits advisory services to their clients. With a decade of experience responding to the ever-changing health care industry, UBA understands the biggest pain points facing employers offering health care coverage to their employees.

To commemorate this 10th anniversary, as well as continue its tradition of assisting the nation’s employers, UBA Partner Firms have compiled the top eight questions that every employer should ask their benefits advisor. These questions are based on many years of experience working with large and small businesses, across a range of industries:

1. What’s the best way to control health care costs?

Surprisingly, there are still ways to achieve cost-containment and even savings on health care expenditures. It takes careful plan design, carrier negotiations and employee education, but it can be done. In fact, UBA data shows its employer customers save on average 5.2 percent a year.

2. What are my top competitors offering in terms of health care benefits?

When you are looking to balance costs with attracting talent, it is critical to know what other employers in your region, size-range and industry are doing when it comes to offering health care coverage. This granular benchmarking is far more critical then comparing your plan with national or carrier data.

3. Should I move to a consumer-driven health plan?

While the media portrays these plans as the best opportunity to save, UBA advisors have a decade of data that shows this isn’t always the case. Often, adjusting the deductible on a PPO plan provides the same savings without all the disruption of switching to a CDHP plan.

4. With health care reform in full implementation, should I play or just pay?

While on the surface it may seem easy to just wash your hands of health benefits altogether, your benefits advisor should help you fully assess all the tax, reporting, recruitment, retention, financial and other ramifications of this choice.

5. Should I consider self–funding?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is prompting many advisors to talk even more seriously to small and midsize employers about taking the plunge into self-funded health care plans. While the trend has been building for about a decade due to the increased control employers have over plan dynamics, even employers with 100 employees should look at this option because it may offer some compliance and cost relief associated with reform.

6. What do I need to know about private and public exchanges?

With public exchanges largely undeveloped and private exchanges just emerging, not to mention complex rules around coverage through these vehicles, your advisor can help you best determine who in your organization can be best served through these very different types of exchanges.

7. With most of my benefits spend going to health care, which ancillary benefits will give me the biggest bang for my buck?

Whether you are considering wellness programs, dental, short-term disability, long term disability, auto, home, and/or life insurance options, you should base your decisions on solid data around factors such as return-on-investment, individual vs. group, and what other employers are offering in your region, size-range and industry.

8. How do I stay on top of all the changes and obligations under PPACA?

Your benefits advisor should provide a simple checklist of your obligations each year under the law. In addition, they should stay on top of the coverage requirements, grandfathering and supply the latest tools for educating employees about your plans. Your advisor should also keep you informed as new rules and clarifications are issued for review and implementation so you can prepare, lobby and act accordingly.



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