How to Select Your Employee Benefits Broker or Consultant

The process of selecting an effective business partner for your employee benefits program is a very important step in improving the performance of your plans.  Although different schools of thought prevail, here are some areas of discussion you may want to consider as you move through the process.

For Small Employer Groups (Under 100 Employees)

What is the quality of the discovery questions being posed by the firm you have under consideration?   Do these questions seek to understand our company culture, unique challenges and opportunities for improvement?

What added value resources and tools will you have available to assist us in the operation of your plans?  HR Support?  Medical advocacy assistance?  Employee communications?

What is the quality of the skill sets of the team members that will be assigned to your account?  What types of clients do they work with currently and how much tenure do they have in the industry?

What types of challenges have they provided solutions for with companies of your size, scope and industry?

Try to obtain at least 3 current client references who have worked with the broker in the last 12 months.

Ask, “What was the last really creative solution you offered to a client and what were the results?”

For Larger Employer Groups (Over 100 Employees)

In addition to the areas above, larger groups should consider;

Does this firm offer advanced cost containment strategies that will help you control costs more effectively?  If so, what types of strategies do they advocate?

Which resource partners do they work with and what services will they provide to you?

What levels of support will be provided for improving your employee communication effort?

Will the broker be using advanced data analysis tools to help you understand your cost drivers or just the standard carrier reporting package? (Groups over 500 employees)

Ask the broker about their work in helping other organizations with group medical plan cost containment.  What specific ideas and strategies do you advocate?  What about our pharmacy spend?  What ideas do you have to help us control this area of our plan?

Regarding employee engagement and education, find out what specific methods they advocate to improve your performance in this important area.

What about regulatory compliance?  What type of support can you expect?

What about employer administration support?  What specific services will be provided?

Find out about the strategic planning process and how that will be handled.  Is there a formal process in place?  Will you receive a  formal annual plan to keep you on track?  How will results be measured?

What is the proposed compensation arrangement?  Is the brokers’ firm willing to place at least part of its compensation “at risk” if certain requirements aren’t met?

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