Mid-Year Plan and Broker Changes

Calendar with date marked for health insurance renewal.
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If you’re a Business Owner, CFO, or HR Professional that views your employees as assets and investments… 

Think your company is locked into its current health insurance plan or broker and won’t be able to make any changes for months to come?

When we reach out to companies to start a dialogue about enhancing their coverage and potentially lower costs, this is a common misconception we hear from employers all the time.

They say: “That sounds great and we’re interested, but give us a call back in a couple months, next year, etc.”

The reason they’re asking to revisit the matter down the road is because they’ve just renewed their health insurance plan, or they’re in the middle of a contract, and are under the impression that they can only renew once a year. So, even though they’re open to taking a look, or maybe even unhappy with their current plan and just waiting it out, they think they’re stuck with what they currently have.

If you’re under the same impression, this next part may come as a surprise…

We tend to specialize in small and mid-sized companies and for many of these companies that fall into what is known as the small group marketplace, they’re unaware that insurance providers cannot lock them into a contract. The Affordable Care Act regulates these small group employers, so by law you have the option of shopping for a more competitive health insurance option at any time of year.

Keep In Mind: If your company has more than 50 employees, this option isn’t necessarily impossible for you. Factors like how many full-time employees you have and how your state defines small market could influence your options. However, it tends to be simpler for businesses that fall in this typical small market group classification of up to 50 employees.

So, if you’re looking to make a change in your company’s health insurance prior to its renewal period, or if feel like you’d be better served by a different health insurance broker, you can and should make those changes. These decisions can result in lower costs and better service. Here, we’ll go through what you need to know about making a switch.

Health insurance advisor explaining plan details to client.

Switching Your Small Business Health Insurance Early

When choosing health insurance for your company, typically employers will commit to a plan for the duration of one year. Then, nearing the end of this term, your health insurance broker will reach out to see if the coverage is still suitable for your company.

There are a few different reasons why you might consider switching plans, such as rate changes, more affordable options becoming available, or wanting to switch to a different metal level (bronze, silver, or gold). Finding the best plan option for your company will depend on what type of care your employees currently require and foresee needing.

But as we mentioned above, companies that are in the small group market don’t have to wait until the end of their plan’s year to make a change. If your broker is sending you a renewal a mere 30 days out and not bringing new options to the table, seek out a second opinion. You shouldn’t have to be the one conducting your own research on health insurance plans.

A good advisor can present you with a host of different plan options tailored to your company’s needs: carrier, plan metal level, HMO, PPO, local or national coverage, and more. Also, make sure you have an advisor that can walk you through these options and how they will impact your specific company.

Why Switching Health Insurance Plans Early Is Worth It

Companies in the small group market usually don’t like making benefit changes more than once a year. And the main reason for this is a simple one: it’s an absolute pain. The typical experience for these companies consists of rates going up and coverage going down.

Not to mention the fact that if you have less than 50 employees, your company probably doesn’t have a dedicated human resources manager handling the paperwork, tracking employees down, and putting in all the extra time and effort. This can be a strain on resources for small companies.

So, why then put yourself through this process early?

The number one reason is that it’s all about cost. In certain cases you could save between 15% and 30% immediately.

Now you’re paying attention.

Most of the time, we’ve found that we can enhance our client’s coverage, meaning better benefits for lower cost. That’s not something you want to sit and wait around for. If you can make that change right away and see savings for your company while also improving the coverage your employees receive, why wait months or a year?

How to Change Your Health Insurance Broker Mid-Year

Another scenario that your company might come across is poor service from a health insurance broker. Any number of factors could lead to you being unhappy with your broker: not getting timely responses, needs aren’t being met, and so on.

But even if you’ve just recently renewed your health insurance plan, this doesn’t mean that you need to stick with your broker until it’s time for renewal again. You have the option of switching to a new broker or advisor without making any changes in cost or coverage to your current plan. And you have the option of making this change at any point in time.

Switch brokers with no change to your insurance carrier or benefits.

The process basically involves a piece of paper, what is known as a Broker of Record form. By submitting this form to your carrier, the new broker can take ownership of your plan with nothing changing on your end. All you need to do is sign the form.

Once complete, your new broker will be able to negotiate with the insurance carrier on your behalf and advise you on optimizing your benefits package. There won’t be any change in cost to you and all aspects of your plan transfer over and continue as normal.

Even though you’re keeping the same plan, the benefits of making a broker switch can extend beyond just the short-term. Not only are you increasing the value of the service you’re receiving without increasing costs, but you’re also investing in someone who will work on your behalf to improve your company’s current plan and help your company transition to a new plan if there is a better option available.

Clients considering health insurance broker changes.

Closing Thoughts: Prioritize First-Class Service

If you’re one of these employers or companies that puts off making changes either to avoid the hassle or because you’re lacking the proper assistance, consider reaching out to an advisor for a second opinion. Often times, doing so can lead to better coverage at lower costs.

When you’re looking for a health insurance advisor, we recommend prioritizing quality service and assistance. Not only will communication improve, but you’ll also have someone committed to finding the best plan for your company, which can result in significant savings.

Consider what a difference it would make for your company if you had someone take over the entire administrative aspect of your health insurance plan: enrollment terms, new hires and additions, all of it done electronically and at no additional cost. That’s part of the service package we offer our clients and why we’re committed to first-class service at the MillenGroup. Reach out to us anytime. Our caring and dedicated team is always available to assist you.

If you’re a Business Owner, CFO, or HR Professional that views your employees as assets and investments… 


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