Whether you’re an office manager, business owner, or a human resource or benefits professional, renewing your company’s health insurance plan may become automatic. Considering alternatives is a daunting task that many feel they lack the bandwidth to handle. However, at a time when healthcare costs are rising, the market is in flux, and employees are expecting more and unique benefits, choosing the most convenient option is probably not your best bet.
It’s imperative to routinely review your package, your results and rethink your strategies to make sure you’re minimizing your costs while giving employees the best coverage at a reasonable rate. You may think you’ve considered everything, but you probably haven’t. Before your renewal date, make sure to address the following questions.
Does your medical trend align with market standards?
Before you renew, take a hard look at the medical trend being used this year for next year’s renewal. The market has been seeing downward trends, so you’ll want to make sure you’re seeing that in your rates. For 2019, renewals are in the low single digits.
If you’re self-insured, have you considered medical stop-loss?
While advantages of self-insurance include flexibility and savings opportunities, self-insured companies are also exposed to an extra level of risk – unexpected, catastrophic loss that they’re expected to cover themselves. Stop-loss insurance, sometimes called catastrophic insurance, can help mitigate this risk. Medical stop-loss is coverage specific to healthcare spend, and involves the establishment of a threshold by the employer over which they have external coverage for.
With an uncertain future for US healthcare, medical stop-loss is something all self-insured organizations should include in their program. Employers will need to consider where the stop-loss program attaches to make sure you don’t over or under purchase coverage. Also, captive stop-loss solutions should be considered to maximize your savings, providing a savings of 10% or more on your stop loss spend.
Do you have the right tools in place to support and communicate benefits with your employees?
You may have an impressive health plan and competitive benefits offerings, but if your employees aren’t aware of them, don’t know how to utilize them, or find them irrelevant, you’re not going to see the results you’re hoping for.
It might be time to give these questions some thought:
- How and when are you telling employees about what’s available to them?
- Do they truly understand their options?
- Do you know what benefits your workforce finds most valuable? Are you giving them what they want, or what you think they want? Think about your demographics here.
- Do you have streamlined processes for benefits administration, claims filing, etc.?
Consider a formal or informal survey of employees to find out what is working and not working. Further, there are a number of administrative tools, such as Bswift, that you may want to evaluate. For compliance and HR initiatives, ThinkHR and like platforms may be appropriate.
Is it time to consider an actuary?
An actuary is a certified professional that measures and predicts insurance risks and premium rates. They are math-based risk experts and can help organizations with insurance policy development, forecasting, valuations, audits, and more.
Most small businesses believe they have no need for actuarial services. However as organizations grow and consider more advanced and varying insurance options, the greater the need for an actuary becomes. While the work of an underwriter is crucial, actuaries take a deeper look at the numbers. They are a neutral third party, and can offer crucial information such as how much volatility you can expect over a one and five-year period. These insights allow you to make smarter insurance decisions.
Could your organization benefit from alternative funding strategies?
If you’re fully-insured, have you thought about aiming for a self-funded structure? If you’re self-insured, have you thought about a captive insurance company? If you’re a small businesses, have you thought about an Association Health Plan (AHP)?
We recommend thinking about these alternatives every couple of years. As businesses change and grow, along with market regulations and options, what once made sense for an organization may no longer be the best fit.
Captives provide unparalleled transparency of and control over an insurance program, which helps with cost savings and customization. Once only an option for jumbo-sized employers, more and more smaller organizations are utilizing a captive structure, either as a standalone captive or part of a cell or group captive.
Further, the AHP market is expanding quickly, due in part to new regulations passed earlier this year. This is a great avenue for a small business to benefit from economies of scale and get the same rates as a large employer. For more information about how to set up or join an AHP, please get in touch.
Healthcare is complicated, but with that complexity comes new and exciting opportunities. Before you decide to maintain the status quo and renew your plan, take some time to think about what’s truly best for your organization and its workforce.
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