The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act regulations are changing every day as the legislation continues to roll out. Each of these new provisions has an impact on many aspects of a company — from employee retention to the bottom line. In this constantly changing environment, business owners need health insurance brokers who are health care reform experts to guide them through each new complex step. However, this means brokers need to prepare themselves for a new role.
“Change is hard for many brokers to implement,” says Sherrie Zenter, senior vice president at Momentous Insurance Brokerage, Inc. “Brokers need to get past this fear of change to avoid failing in the current marketplace. Revenue will continue to diminish with health care reform changes, but those who distinguish themselves as experts will rise to the top and succeed.”
Zenter says business owners are concerned with how new regulations will affect them, their employees, what the costs could be and their responsibilities as employers. By choosing a health insurance broker who is knowledgeable, available and a good communicator, business owners can stay well informed.
“Brokers exist to help their clients. Therefore, the ones that help their clients understand the bigger picture and adapt to the reform changes quickly will help everyone succeed,” she says.
Smart Business spoke with Zenter about what to look for in a health insurance broker.
How should business owners gauge the effectiveness of their health insurance broker?
Business owners must work with health insurance brokers who are well informed to give them the most up-to-date information on health care reform. There are several indicators that your broker can be an asset to your company:
• He or she tells a good story by using education tools, such as webinars and/or seminars, that help you understand the issues well enough to make intelligent decisions for your business.
• He or she is available to react quickly when you ask for information. Your broker should have current literature at hand and deliver it to you in a timely manner.
• He or she maintains a viable network of experts in the health care community to stay current with new regulations and how each could impact your business.
• He or she serves as your go-to leader on health care reform.
It can also be beneficial if your broker’s associates in his or her firm are educated as well. That means there is a greater pool of knowledge that you and your broker can tap into.
What else do brokers need to demonstrate in this area?
Brokers need to demonstrate that they are well versed on this topic, and it should be clear that they take the time daily to learn about changes put in place as this legislation unravels in the marketplace.
Your broker’s skills should position him or her as a trusted adviser and expert on health care reform — someone you’re willing to rely on when making decisions that will impact many levels of your business.
What’s the current health insurance marketplace like?
There is a lot of competition among brokers. As they adapt to this new landscape, they are developing new servicing models. This can be a benefit to business owners who can leverage the competition and take advantage of the new skills brokers are developing. Some brokers are leaning toward ancillary sales, while others are focusing on large group sales versus small group. Bottom line, brokers have taken a cut in commissions but are still striving to maintain the quality of service promised to all clients. Business owners can benefit from brokers who are eager to stand out among the competition and prove they are an asset to their clients and their businesses.
Sherrie Zenter is senior vice president at Momentous Insurance Brokerage, Inc. Reach her at (818) 933-2739 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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