An insurance broker’s job is to help your company find the right health insurance plan. They can be a valuable source of information, but only if you know what to ask. Here are five important questions to ask your broker as you compare plans:
1. How Has the Market Changed Compared to Last Year?
Every year, the insurance market changes. For example, a new insurance company could join your area offering a greater variety of plans. Your broker should be keeping track of major changes so your company can prepare.
2. Which Plan Is Best Based on My Employee Demographics?
When you compare health insurance plans, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for every company. Instead, you’re looking for the plan that best fits the demographics of your employees. A company with younger, healthier employees would be better off with a lower cost plan with high out-of-pocket expenses, while a company with older employees might want a more expensive, comprehensive plan.
By explaining your company demographics to your broker, they can give you their professional opinion on which plans make the most sense.
3. How Much Will Employees Pay Per Year?
When your employees enroll in a health insurance plan, the monthly premium is only part of what they pay. Employees could also face out-of-pocket expenses such as deductibles, copayment and coinsurance. These costs can be substantial. In 2016, the average deductible was $1,478, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Ask the broker for an estimate of how much your average employee would pay per year after factoring in the out-of-pocket expenses. See if they have any past figures from other companies that have used similar plans. This information will let employees know what their health insurance will actually cost per year, not just the premium.
4. What’s the Provider Network Like?
The provider network is a key part of any health insurance plan. This is the network of doctors and hospitals under contract with the plan.
Some plans, such as HMOs, don’t allow employees to see out-of-network providers, so picking one of these plans could block employees from seeing their current doctors. Even if a plan allows out-of-network providers, it costs more to see them.
You should ask the broker which plans have the best provider network in your area so your employees have plenty of options for care.
5. Are There Other Plans in My Area?
An insurance broker can represent multiple insurance companies but this doesn’t mean they represent every plan in your state. Ask the broker if there are any other plans in your area so you can check them out after your meeting.
These are the most important questions to ask your broker before signing up. With this information, you can make an educated decision for your company’s next plan.
David Rodeck is a professional freelance writer based out of Delaware. Before writing full-time, he worked as a health- and life-insurance agent. He specializes in making insurance, investing and financial planning understandable.