When your vehicle’s engine is no longer giving you the kind of gas mileage it once did, the first remedy you probably think of is a tune-up. After all, a well-tuned engine will not only give you better mileage, but will also help other parts of the vehicle work more efficiently, saving you money.

But when it comes to renewing group employee benefits plans, many employers are still settling for a process that doesn’t run smoothly, chugs along with inefficiencies, and costs more than necessary.

Granted, renewal time has always been stressful for employers, and the Affordable Care Act has made things even more complicated. There are seemingly a thousand details to consider. And when plan employee benefits renewal time comes around and employers are considering their options, carriers and brokers generally focus on the standard considerations:

  • Rate review (price is always a priority)
  • Plan/benefit review to determine what plan will best meet employees’ needs
  • Cost sharing (employer and employee contributions)
  • Communicating enrollment to employees
  • Handing out SBCs to comply with the Affordable Care Act
  • Employee education throughout the year

Those are all key parts of the equation. But if you really want to fine-tune your employee benefits renewal process, make sure you consider other details such as:

  • Provider network. Employees want to be able to see their own doctors.
  • Formulary review. When an employee needs a specific drug, you want it covered under your plan.
  • Carrier quality. It’s no secret that some carriers have better service than others, and this should play into your decision making.

Consider all of your employee benefits options
Just because your benefits plan was a good fit last year doesn’t mean it’s still a good fit this year, or will be next year. Things can change. And according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), 65% of small businesses are experiencing increases in their health plan premiums.

So your best option might be to find another plan or change strategies altogether to get the most mileage out of your healthcare benefit dollars. Here are some alternatives you might consider:

  • Defined contribution. This involves giving employees a set dollar amount to spend toward benefits, with the employees paying any costs above that amount.
  • Voluntary benefits. Combined with a defined contribution strategy, voluntary benefits offer flexibility and allow your employees to choose coverage that’s right for them.
  • High deductible plans. These can reduce your premiums, giving you the flexibility to either invest the savings in reducing your employees’ contributions, or helping them fund the additional deductible.
  • Exchanges. One plan will never be ideal for all of your employees. Single and multi-carrier private exchanges offer you and your employees many insurance and non-insurance options.
  • Wellness / health maintenance. Health insurance really should focus on health care, because rates will never decrease until our health increases.
  • Self-funding. It’s not a new concept and it’s not right for everyone, but there are many options available to small employers with fewer than 100 employees.
  • Individual policies. With healthcare reform and no medical underwriting, the individual market is a viable option, even for employees with preexisting conditions.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for every employer. The key to making your renewal process run more smoothly is having the resources and support to know your options and make smart decisions. To learn more about getting the most performance from your employee benefits renewal process, contact the experts at BeaconPath.

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