In a dual blog series this month we are exploring two perspectives of the important issue: ‘managing your benefits’. We talk again with Stephen C. Foy who shares the experience of small business owners as they manage their health benefit plans, securing the best deal for their long serving employees while also managing the cost to their organizations.
Long term relationships
One longstanding customer of Stephen’s was a small organization specializing in the treatment of addiction. They were a client of 20+ years who had come to rely on Stephen’s expertise to navigate the ever-changing health benefits landscape. As he says: “years ago we were running a dual option plan, one straight co-pay plan and one co-pay deductible. However, we had been talking for some time about the concept of account based health plans. Over the course of a number of meetings we explained the role of HSAs and how this approach enabled employees to better manage their benefits, while controlling long term costs to the organization.”
There are many upsides to account based health plans but it is also important to be open and honest about the drawbacks too. As all good brokers know, once the agreement is signed you’re only beginning your service to the customer, the job isn’t done. As Stephen explains, small business owners often place great value in customer support as they are often doing the work of an entire management team while trying to make the best decisions to manage their benefits program: “there are always providers out there who promise the world and then fail to deliver, in one example a long term client returned to us after only 11 months with another group because the poor service and restrictions to their benefits that weren’t explained at the time of signing had so upset their employees.”
Service vs. price
Price is always important, but being the cheapest solution isn’t necessarily a long term strategy for success, especially when customers also value service. Stephen concludes: “When our former customer called to explain their dissatisfaction with the low cost provider, I spent a lot of time with the employer to find the appropriate HRA solution that has enabled them to manage costs over the four years since they returned to us, while ensuring employees had the flexibility to access a new wellness program that reduced their premium rates.”
Managing your benefits
As a small business owner or group employer, when it comes to health benefits you are always managing a competing mix of requirements. You want the best coverage and choice for your employees but you want to manage your costs as effectively as possible. Account based health plans such as HSA and HRA can provide a good balance, and the choice of plan is made easier when you have trusted brokers and agents who can guide you through the decision making process.