Getting Ready For Employee Benefits Renewal – Is It Time To Switch Providers?

Employee health benefits renewal time is coming. If you’re with a “traditional” benefits provider, you’re probably already cringing about the rate increase you’ll be hit with and how you’re going to pay for it. You know your employees aren’t in love with your plan, and neither are you. But it seems like there’s so much involved in switching benefits providers and you’re already too busy as it is. It can wait until a later time, right?

Dangers to maintaining the status quo

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It can be hard to make the time to look at changing employee benefits providers. In some ways this is intentional: if your plan administration is a hassle already, you might imagine that switching providers just isn’t worth pain.

But if you’ve ever thought that you’ll just wait one more year, consider what you may actually be doing.

Paying more – most benefit plans have large annual increases baked in, and those annual increases can be especially bad if your benefits provider got your business in the first place by giving you a big “discount”. A good provider should be working to save you money by offering better products, services or solutions to give you financial relief or contain your costs right from the very beginning. Waiting for “just one more year” might mean you’re still paying for a decision you made years ago.

Lowering employee satisfaction – if your employees are not happy with your current employee benefits plan and you choose to do nothing about it, your employees will notice. They’ll wonder if their opinion matters and if you’re really committed to supporting them. A decrease in employee satisfaction can lead to lower productivity and more presenteeism. Plus, some of your employees may decide to go elsewhere.

Missing out on enhancements – Employee benefits and the products and coverages available are constantly evolving. If you choose to maintain the status quo, you may be missing out on important enhancements. Technology continues to transform benefits plans – and yet many Canadian businesses settle for “traditional” plans that were designed before computers were common. Plus enhancements may increase employee satisfaction, and they don’t always cost you more money!

Look what’s out there

There are many options available for where you purchase employee benefits. You may be purchasing benefits directly from an insurer, or you may already be with a third-party provider. And employee benefits options and plan designs are changing regularly – although not all providers are keeping up with expectations.

For example, there are innovative cost control methods available that can help ensure your plan is sustainable over the long term. At GroupHEALTH, we have prescription drug coverage that contains built-in cost containment features. We call this suite of products “Smart Rx.” There are many options, but some of our most effective solutions utilize a central dispensing pharmacy and encourage plan members to choose lower cost options (when available).

Another important cost containment strategy targets disability costs. At GroupHEALTH, we include disability management services with all long-term disability plans. This is not just a cost containment strategy, but an enhancement. Employees and employers receive support directly from the Disability Management Institute to help them navigate their disability claim, paperwork, appointments and return to work. It’s a cost containment strategy because it typically shortens the duration of a disability claim by helping the employee get back to work as soon as they’re safely able.

A more recent enhancement that has gained a lot of attention is access to virtual healthcare. At GroupHEALTH, we partner with Akira to offer virtual healthcare with our plans. Virtual healthcare means employees are able to connect with doctors or nurse practitioners using a phone or tablet, from any location, at any time. It’s the ultimate in convenience. It saves employees having to take time off work to visit the doctor, and it means employees are more likely to get medical assistance when they need it (because it’s super convenient!).

Ultimately, when you’re looking at providers, you must evaluate their ability to provide you with a cost-sustainable strategy that can support you and your employees over the long term. Don’t make the mistake of choosing a discount deal; if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is and you’ll find that out at your first renewal.

What’s involved in making the switch

While the prospect of switching to a new employee benefits provider may seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be. With the right provider, renewal time is an ideal time to switch benefits providers.

At GroupHEALTH, we focus on making the transition as easy as possible. This means close collaboration between our team and your plan administrator (or you, if you happen to wear many hats at your company!). Next, we’ll have employees enrol in the new plan online. Our software helps manage the process, so it is easy to capture the required information and remind employees that they are approaching enrollment deadlines. Online enrollment significantly reduces the workload of the plan administrator, and its at the employee’s convenience – they can enrol on their smart phone or their computer.

The goal is to NOT need to switch providers again for a very long time. The good news is, by using a third-party provider (like GroupHEALTH), we can actually configure your coverage when you need to, without forcing employees (and your organization) with re-enrolment and disruption.

Good Advice is Key

If renewal is approaching and you’re wondering if you’re getting full value from your benefits plan, do yourself a favour and look beyond a “traditional” benefits provider. Review your options with one of our licensed advisors on the phone, or contact us for a comparison quote.

Whether you’re looking for extended health and dental coverage, disability coverage, or life and critical illness coverage, GroupHEALTH has affordable benefits packages that work as hard as you do.

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