Quick look: The rapidly shifting pace of the benefits industry is enough to make heads spin. Between the constantly changing regulations and battling an up-and-down economy, forecasting the future seems all but impossible. However, as the 2023 BenefitsPRO Health Care Survey points out, there are a few recurring themes brokers can build upon and show their clients how change can be a good thing.
Brokers are no strangers to chaos and always manage to find calm within it, which is important now more than ever as the healthcare industry undergoes a time of transition. Already in 2023, the COVID-19 public health emergency officially came to an end, and SECURE 2.0 legislation took full effect and will continue trickling out requirements over the next few years.
Not only do brokers have to keep current on these changing regulations, they must also be able to communicate what it means for clients with regards to maintaining compliance and competitiveness. The 2023 BenefitsPRO Health Care Survey reveals the impact of these regulations, the state of benefits and where the trends are heading, and what brokers can do to not only stay afloat but ahead.
Here is an overview of what this year’s results show, and how professional employer organization (PEO) brokers continue to maintain a leg up on the competition when it comes to change.
The truth about transparency and trends
Personalization in healthcare has become a dominant part of the healthcare conversation. From price transparency for medical costs to customized health plan benefits for employees, brokers cannot rely on a one-size-fits-all solution to fit their clients’ needs.
Federal regulations have focused on consumer transparency, though survey results show rulings have been “somewhat effective” to having “no impact.” 47% of respondents said the hospital price transparency rule has had no impact on them or their clients. And the broker compensation disclosure rule had 70% say the same.
The results don’t necessarily affirm transparency isn’t desired. Instead, the lack of disruption among businesses may mean the majority of brokers have established positive, ongoing communication with their clients. In fact, the survey also points out 8 in 10 brokers say clients have become more reliant on them for compliance information in recent years. This provides an opportunity for brokers to strengthen their advisory position and tailor benefits to keep company leaders on the right path.
Tracking benefit trends is necessary to maintain compliance but also to help businesses stay competitive. Broker respondents say 47% of clients are scrutinizing benefits to focus on the ones most impactful, while 33% are interested in expanding/offering new benefits.
Only 13% of brokers reveal no change at all for their clients, which likely will not serve them in the long run. For small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), in particular, customization is crucial. Leaders are taking a closer look at what their current plans include and are starting to jump ship when offerings become stale.
In 2022, it was reported accounts with less than 100 individuals were more likely to drop coverage than larger groups. Therefore, relevant benefit offerings are necessary to demonstrate client value for employees and future job candidates. Fortunately, one of the advantages of a PEO broker is being able to bridge the connection between SMB clients and an expanded network of HR resources.
A PEO is dedicated to creating a cost-effective health plan designed to meet SMBs changing needs. There is flexibility to accommodate growth and switch direction when called for. Rather than requiring SMB clients to adapt to a set health plan, a PEO offers options adaptable to each company’s unique stipulations.
Traditional vs. non-traditional benefits: which is best?
Variety is the key to benefits in 2023 and beyond. With multiple generations making up the workplace, relying only on tried-and-true benefits without any internal input will become less and less effective. Though each company has its own special requirements and requests when deciding on a health benefit plan, survey results show a few top contenders as the most popular products. These include:
- Life insurance – 78%
- Disability insurance (short- and long-term) – 73%
- Critical illness/gap medical – 72%
However, more SMB employers are seeking voluntary benefits as well. For instance, 41% of brokers expect to sell moderate to high volumes of pet insurance; 34% each expect ID theft protection and legal products to be in high demand; and 33% see fertility and family planning as a rising request as well.
This balance between traditional and non-traditional benefits is only expected to expand in the coming years. For instance, mental health care has already become a nicety-turned-necessity and will see the most growth over the next five years, according to 68% of respondents. Other key areas of focus include digital health (53%), chronic condition management (48%), caregiver benefits (34%), gig economy (19%), and FMLA revisions (15%). Each of these areas should be on a broker’s radar as individuals have begun valuing the variety of benefits as highly as compensation when seeking employment.
Expanding capabilities with a PEO partner
PEO brokers have more to offer clients during these uncertain times, which helps to keep their portfolios strong. Working with ExtensisHR gives SMB clients access to premium benefits, personalized HR solutions, and access to proprietary technology. All work together to alleviate HR responsibilities and promote business growth. Additionally, ExtensisHR embodies the top factors brokers look for when making recommendations to their clients.
Better servicing and process – 30%
Not every PEO is the same, as big-box companies often don’t have the bandwidth to accommodate personalized or immediate requests. Whereas, ExtensisHR provides each client a dedicated HR team who is well-versed in their distinctive needs, demands, and challenges. There is no ticket system or automated responses, but rather a people-first approach making SMBs feel prioritized.
Superior, flexible benefits – 21%
ExtensisHR collaborates with SMBs and provides access to premium benefits at competitive prices. Brokers can feel confident connecting clients with a PEO who delivers personalized attention and real-time interaction. This is a key part in creating comprehensive and impactful HR solutions which are flexible enough to accommodate inevitable changes. As businesses switch directions, their health plans can be tailored and evolve, too.
Consumer-friendly and technologically advanced enrollment tools – 19%
53% of brokers say at least half of their clients use online enrollment tools. What started as a necessity during the pandemic has turned into a matter of convenience for brokers and their clients to implement employer benefits.
ExtensisHR maintains a proprietary, remote-friendly technology, which allows SMB leaders access to their HR functions from anywhere, any time. It streamlines enrollment, saves time, and also, supports growth by consolidating workflows and unifying reporting. Capabilities further focus on improving cost management, reducing compliance risk, and improving retention, among many other critical HR tasks.
The industry is moving at a fast and furious pace with no signs of letting up. In the midst of it all, PEO brokers can rely on expert HR support, resources, and technology to power through the chaos.
ExtensisHR is here to help strengthen broker-client relationships and drive everyone toward success. Contact us today to learn how a partnership can benefit you.