By Howard Danzig
I’ve always believed that as a small business operator, you can’t know it all. You inevitably need advice. And the advice you get is only as good as that adviser.
If you haven’t seen it yet, please take a look at the cover story of the current issue of Small Business Monthly. It’s an article on how Health Insurance is a Whole New Ball Game and the subhead is “The Next Line of Trusted Advisors.” There on the cover is ECCHIC’s own Heather Ambro, my vice president of administrative services, along with three other admired professionals in this business: Ted Ruzicka, Lexi Hall, and Kenneth Schmidt.
Heather is an amazing talent who creatively and effectively helps our clients control their health care costs. Her hard work and dedication contributes to small businesses saving tens of thousands of dollars while not compromising on the benefits they want. And I’m proud that other professionals recognize her talents, as she was recently brought onto the board as Secretary of the St. Louis Association of Health Underwriters. She is certainly in the next line of trusted advisors.
The article itself is worth a read. There’s so much misinformation about the Affordable Care Act going on it makes my head spin (including that it’s a good thing – it’s certainly not), but this article exposes the myth that Obamacare would make insurance brokers obsolete, that we’d be replaced by government bureaucrats. To quote the article:
… the Affordable Care Act has created more business for brokers today. “The reason that health insurance does not as readily lend itself to a similar transformation is that the purchasing process is much more than just the actual transaction,” says [David] Watson [of The Blue Chip Consortium]. “It involves understanding a rather complex contract; understanding the terminology; understanding how it all applies to you, your family, your employees, often without fully knowing future health needs.
The article goes on to point out that as the ACA has dramatically increased the burdens of being a small business owner, creative insurance brokers are needed more than ever, especially those committed to controlling healthcare costs.
Your advisor needs to be on top of the ever changing rules and regulations to maximize your health care needs while minimizing your costs.
The Small Business Monthly goes on to point out the many ways an employer and the employees can benefit from leadership in this area:
Guidance on choosing a plan
Understanding the needs of the client, knowing the budget, understanding the economics of the particular industry and examining the demographics of the group all lead to making a well-informed recommendation (broker) and decision (business owner).
The plan-shopping process
Because brokers are very familiar with the industry and the terminology, they can expedite the solicitation of bids and the plan evaluation for business owners.
There is less negotiation in smaller-group markets than there used to be, but renewals, and certainly large-group clients, require the skills and knowledge that can only come from someone familiar with the industry.
Group meetings and individual consultations are still the core of benefits communication. Brokers have always done these. However, more and more brokers are assisting with online communication tools as well.
This is becoming a central function in the broker-business owner relationship. Integrating all the pieces of the benefit package into an efficient, user-friendly tool is the goal. If brokers can leverage the available technology (employee benefit portals, electronic communication, web-based enrollment), then there is real synergy in the HR space.
Compliance is king. We live in a world where regulation is everywhere. Business owners have to be aware of the rules and how to navigate them to their optimum advantage if they are going to wring every efficiency out of their benefit investment.
Thanks for letting me brag about a truly amazing associate!