When you are shopping for health insurance for your employees, using a health insurance or employee benefits agent can help you save time and money. Best of all, working with an agent is free.
An agent can provide you with valuable assistance, including:
- Answering your health insurance and related questions
- Finding a plan that fits your budget and your employees needs
- Providing you with a personalized quote for coverage
- Enrolling your employees (and dependents, if you choose)
- Serving your needs throughout the year when you have changes (like terminating coverage for an employee, adding a new employee or dependent, address updates, billing resolution, etc.)
- Returning at renewal to help you re-enroll or shop for new coverage
Things to Consider
When you are talking with potential agents, you should consider:
- Experience: While you may already know your property and casualty agent (because he or she handles your auto insurance or liability coverage for your business), employee benefits is a specialty. When it comes to health and other insurance for your employees, your best bet is to choose an agent with experience in this field. Your agent’s expertise could save you money when you’re shopping for coverage.
- Niche: If yours is specialty business, like an accounting or architecture firm, you may want to look for an agent with similar clients, because he or she may have expertise that could benefit you and your employees in finding the right plan for your specific needs.
- Location: Finding a “local” agent who knows your area, the carriers serving the market, and the plans offering access to the health care providers you and your employees want can save you time as well as money.
- Carrier Roster: One size does not fit all. Your employees have differing needs. An employee benefits agent who represents multiple carrier options is like a shopping mall, because he or she can offer you and your staff a broader array of choices to address your diverse needs.
- Customer Focus: Another consideration – some would say the most important of all – is that your future agent be committed to customer service. Pay attention to your interactions – and ask yourself whether your potential agent seems to care about you, your business, and your employees. Don’t be afraid to walk away if you think there’s not a match in your expectations and his or her attention to detail and follow-through. Other agents may be a better fit for your needs.
The Right Choice Is Crucial
Your agent is your primary liaison to the health insurance company you and your employees choose for your coverage. He or she is there to help you – from start to finish – throughout the plan year. Selecting a good agent is crucial, and it could mean the difference between a positive and negative experience for you and your employees.
It could also mean the difference between paying an affordable premium and overpaying. An agent will work with you to find a balance between what your budget allows for employee benefits and a plan that addresses your employees’ health care needs. He or she will also help you stay in compliance, as your advisor on employee benefits and insurance matters. That means you can stay focused on what is really important: running your business.
We Make It Easy to Find an Agent
If you don’t already have an employee benefits agent, we can help you find one who will meet with you and discuss your employee benefits budget – and how you can find a plan that works for your business as well as your employees. If you have an agent, be sure to ask whether a multi-carrier exchange might be a good choice for your business. You may also want to read our post, What Defines an Employee Benefits Package?, to learn more about how you can tailor your employee benefits using an exchange.
One of the many valuable resources CaliforniaChoice offers small business owners is our suite of Smart Decision Technology tools.
Each of the four tools is designed to simplify the process of selecting a health plan for you and your employees.
1. Online Enrollment
Go paperless with online enrollment. It eliminates incomplete applications, reduces the number of pending items, and decreases your overall processing time. You can even track enrollments to see who still needs to complete an application.
A traditional paper-based enrollment is still available. If your group has employees in multiple locations, you can choose a combination of online and paper enrollment.
2. Automated Choice Profiler
This online assistant give your employees the ability to review premiums, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket costs (like copays and co-insurance) to get a total estimated cost of annual health insurance coverage. Employees can look at plans side-by-side based on costs, risk, and quality. The Automated Choice Profiler helps your employees find the right coverage to meet their ongoing, potential, or planned health care needs.
3. Online Provider Search
Take the guesswork out of finding the right doctor by offering employees an online search tool. It’s the easiest way to know whether a preferred doctor is part of any of the eight health plans offered through CaliforniaChoice.
Here’s how it works:
- Enter a city or ZIP Code
- Specify the doctor’s gender
- Select a health plan
- Review the results
You can narrow or widen a search by adding:
- Hospital affiliation
- Language(s) spoken
- Preferred doctor’s last name
- Distance from your targeted ZIP Code or city
4. Online Rx Search
Help your employees find the right health plan to match their prescription drug needs. Our online search tools allows you to look up medications based on these criteria:
- Alphabetical search
- Brand or generic drug name
- Therapeutic class: prescriptions for pain, infection, or treatment of the heart
- Various health conditions, such as acid reflux, cancer, or diabetes
Talk With Your Agent
If you’re interested in learning more about CaliforniaChoice and the valuable tools that help you and your employees find the right coverage, contact your employee benefits agent. If you do not already have an agent, we can help you find one.