The Health Insurance Buying Process, Part 5: Validating Your Choice

Making any sort of business investment means entering into what can be an intimidatingly complex process — and buying health insurance is no exception. Taking on a new health plan, or even just making changes to an existing one, involves reflection and research, trade-offs and backtracking and negotiating input from stakeholders with competing priorities, among other complications that can keep you and your team busy for months.

This series breaks the health insurance buying process down into six manageable steps. While you may have to revisit each step multiple times before making a final decision, understanding the formula for successful buying can help your organization move more efficiently toward your ultimate goals — keeping employees healthy and happy while maximizing your budget.

By now, you’re nearing the end of the buying process for your company’s new health insurance plan. Through your hard work in the previous steps, you should have identified the importance of health insurance for your organization, explored the market to see what plans are available, built up the requirements for your ideal plan and narrowed down your list to the insurance companies that will best fit your needs.

All of your research should have brought you close to finding a top candidate for your health insurance plan. Now it’s time to ensure that the decision you make will be the right one.

The Importance of Validating Your Decision

Once you enroll your business in a health insurance plan, you and your employees are committed for the year. That’s why it’s worth putting in a late-stage effort to validate your decision before you actually enter into an agreement.

For your top potential choice, make sure you’ve answered all the key questions about what the plan delivers, including the type of provider network, the benefits included in the plan and the expected cost for your employees, with premiums and additional out-of-pocket expenses considered.

Go back over the employee surveys that you collected to identify your employees’ health care coverage priorities. Compare the results to what your potential plan offers. While you may not be able to find a plan that delivers everything your employees want, the right plan should connect on as many points as possible.

To further validate that you’re making the right choice, take the following three steps.

  1. Confirm your independent learning and supplier claims. Take time to prove that what you believe about your top plan is actually true. For example, if you think it will lead to the lowest costs for your employees, try running a few example scenarios for a year of medical bills to see just how much someone would pay when you factor in deductibles and copays. At the same time, ask the insurance company to back up their claims about the plan. If they say they have an extensive provider network in your state, don’t take that claim at face value. Instead, request a list of approved providers and hospitals so you can make sure your employees will have plenty of options.
  1. Solicit end-user feedback. One of the simplest but most effective ways to see whether a health insurance plan works well is to speak with an existing customer. Ask the insurance company if they can provide you any references, especially those from companies in your industry or with a similar number of employees.
  1. Get expert analysis from a third party. For an unbiased view of your decision from a health insurance expert, consider meeting with an insurance broker. They sell plans from multiple companies, so they won’t be motivated to see you pick one over the other. An experienced broker will be able to tell you whether you’ve asked all the right questions and put in the appropriate research. They can also highlight areas you haven’t considered yet.

Moving Forward From Validation

By the time you reach this step, you might feel like you’re going over old ground and that this extra work may be unnecessary. After all, you’ve already narrowed the search down to your top choice.

But working through the validation process helps you achieve two important outcomes. The first is exactly what validation is meant to do — ensure that the plan you pick is the right one. Employees say that health insurance is the most valuable workplace benefit a company can offer, so that extra research is time well spent.

Finishing out this step will also allow you to build the case for why you recommend your top choice. You may have made up your mind, but you’ll likely still need to get buy-in from other stakeholders. Because stakeholders who are less involved with the entire process might not have seen all of the research that supports your choice, they may need extra convincing on anything from the benefits of having health insurance to how your chosen plan meets a specific need. By collecting the answers to potential questions now, you can avoid coming across as uncertain during the last stage, which could derail the decision and force you to start over again from scratch.

By properly covering all the steps within the validation stage, you’ll not only confirm that your top plan is the right choice but you’ll also be well-prepared for the final phase of the health insurance buying process.

Are you ready to finish choosing a health insurance plan? Get ready to wrap things up this Wednesday with step six: creating consensus. If you want to revisit the previous step before moving on, head to step four: selecting a supplier.

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