Every year, the C-Suite meets with their health broker to assess the company’s medical insurance options. They develop a strategy based on a simple math problem: What will be the company’s bottom line cost?

You — the benefits department of typically one — are then tasked with the distribution of information, implementation of open enrollment and execution of employee elections. How do you distribute, implement and execute effectively?

Perhaps your distribution channel consists of voluntary all-staff meetings; or worse, emails or memos that go unread. Possibly, your implementation is conducted through an employee management platform, or perhaps, you’re a bit more archaic and still use paper. Maybe the execution falls solely on the employees’ shoulders, but likely, it’s on yours in HR.

There’s another option for optimizing a successful enrollment experience — and one that will help ease the workload of HR. Make licensed insurance professionals available to employees through benefit counselor-guided enrollments.

Negotiating the complexities of medical insurance options can be overwhelming for most people. For the employee, the simple math problem is compounded with real life variables such as chronic health challenges, planned and unplanned medical procedures or alternate insurance solutions. Do you honestly think your voluntary meeting or self-service enrollment is adequately preparing your employees to make these difficult decisions?

Most Americans wouldn’t file their 2017 taxes without reviewing first with a certified tax preparer. Even self-filing programs, such as TurboTax, make a CPA available to review your forms before submission. Why are Americans asked to make important healthcare choices without individually consulting a licensed insurance professional?

During a benefit counselor guided enrollment, employees can meet one-on-one with a licensed insurance professional of their designated state. The conversation is private and confidential. Employees are free to disclose personal or family health concerns they may not feel comfortable revealing to their employer. This open dialogue allows the employee to make educated decisions regarding their insurance options based on their individual/family healthcare needs and financial limitations.

Additionally, benefit counselors will act as an extension of HR by updating employee contact information, confirming beneficiary designations (where applicable), reviewing company policies and so on.

One of my broker partners, Bob Gearhart of DCW Group, decided to implement benefit counselor guided enrollments for all of their fourth-quarter group medical renewals. The broker recommended every client take advantage of no-fee benefit counselors. The licensed insurance professionals would meet with employees one-on-one for 20 minutes to assist them with making their insurance elections. There was no cost to the company, employee or broker to provide this service.

The results of these renewal meetings were overwhelmingly positive.

Case No. 1: Non-profit school system for autistic children: Benefit counselors conducted on-site meetings at a multi-location school, which was brought about by a dental and vision carrier change. The benefit counselors also assisted the broker and HR with the medical renewal by initiating carrier application completion via FormFire.

Feedback: The employees requested to do it this way every year.

Case No. 2: Bilingual wood-pallet refurbishing company: Although the workforce has no access to computers, the bilingual benefit counselors were able to conduct the entire enrollment through a benefits administration platform, effectively moving everything online for the employer moving forward.

Feedback: The HR manager found it very helpful and the owner was quoted saying, “Employees loved it.”

Case No. 3: Medical software development company: Benefit counselors guided employees, both on-site and remote, through three different medical plan design options, dental, vision and enhanced elections.

Feedback: The general manager felt the broker “really stepped up their game” by bringing in the benefit counselor team.

Not only does a partnership between benefits managers and brokers help out HR departments; they also help out employees.

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Rachel Pennington

Rachel Pennington

Rachel Pennington, is partner and VP of Enhanced Benefits, Silverman Benefits Group.