As this post is being written, we are on the eve of 2023 open enrollment. The next 8 to 10 weeks will be the busiest time of the year for benefits brokers and their clients. In the aftermath, many brokers will turn to evaluating what went right and what went wrong. But for now, the focus is on being prepared.
If you are a benefits broker, this is the time of year when you earn your keep. Open enrollment represents the opportunity for you to be either a hero or a goat. You get to make the choice. To that end, here are five things to consider as open enrollment 2023 looms:
1. Your Use of Technology
The modern broker expecting to meet employers and their employees wherever they are, has no other choice but to embrace technology. Everything from cloud-based open enrollment to online employee accounts is on the table. There simply is no room for continuing to do things the old way.
It is too late to do anything about a lack of technology for 2023. But do not make the same mistake in 2024. As soon as this year’s open enrollment is over, start to work on implementing new technology for next year.
2. How You Communicate
Communication is key to keeping both employers and employees in the loop. Equally important is utilizing secure communications. This goes back to technology. In a cloud-based platform, communications are secure and isolated. Outside of such a platform, you are left with less secure email and less efficient phone calls.
3. Options for Voluntary Benefits
Traditional benefits like health insurance and a 401(k) plan are pretty much standard. In the fight to retain top talent, they are no longer an issue. Employers need to go beyond the standards. Doing so rests in embracing voluntary benefits.
Voluntary benefits will run the gamut from disability insurance to life insurance to student debt repayment assistance. Employees should also consider offering more paid time off, flexible scheduling, and other enhancements that improve the quality of the employment experience.
4. Affiliating with a General Agency
Brokers not yet affiliated with a insurance brokerage general agency should consider doing so. One such agency, Dallas-based BenefitMall, explains that their services gives brokers access to hundreds of carriers offering a full range of products. It makes sense to hook up with the general agency if you are hoping to make voluntary benefits a high priority for 2024.
As a side note, general agencies can help with technology and training as well. The right agency could provide everything a broker needs to substantially increase his book of business in 2024.
5. Alternatives to Health Insurance
Finally, it’s no secret that traditional group health insurance is gradually getting expensive enough to price employers out. Brokers do not have to sit by and let that happen. There are alternatives to traditional group policies. They include things like high deductible health plans (HDHPs), health savings accounts (HSAs), and self-funded health plans.
Just as with voluntary benefits, giving employers multiple choices for their health plans also gives them greater opportunity to find something that fits into their budgets. Offering just one or two traditional group plans may not be enough to keep employers on board next year.
No doubt the benefits landscape is continuing to evolve. Open enrollment 2023 will be clear evidence of that once it starts. For brokers, plans for this year’s open enrollment are pretty much set in stone. But they can start thinking about making changes for next year. That’s what it’s going to take moving forward.