January is fast approaching, and for many small businesses that means employee benefits renewal time is also nearing. Sometimes, talk of renewal elicits feelings of stress and anxiety because many business owners have been conditioned to expect large rate increases at renewal. Turns out, if the plan has been designed the right way, and you’re working with the right employee benefits provider, renewal time doesn’t have to be stressful.
Take the time to ask
As renewal time approaches, plan to check in with your employees about their health benefits. You want to maximize the value you’re getting out of the plan, so it really does matter what employees think of the plan and how (or if) they use it.
Asking your employees about the plan can be informal or formal. Likely, you’ll get more honest responses using a confidential survey. There are numerous online survey options that are quick and easy to use; take the time to put together a simple set of questions so that you can find out what employees really think.
There are usually three parts to an employee benefits plan renewal.
Review past performance – Your provider should start by going over claims experience since the last renewal. This means looking at the type and frequency of claims made and identifying any patterns or trends in those claims. (If you’re in a “pool”, this may be done by your benefits provider in the aggregate, for all businesses in the pool, rather than for your business specifically.) Examining claims may help identify which benefits are most utilized (valued) and which aren’t being used. This review can also help identify any pain areas in the plan which deserve some attention.
Take a look at your company – Many things can change over the course of a year, and changes in your company may warrant changes to your plan. Has the number of employees in your company increased or decreased significantly? Has your organizational strategy changed? Are you on a hiring blitz and need your benefits to help recruit new employees? Take some time to look at your company so that you can ensure your plan is supporting your company where it’s at right now.
Consider changes and options – After examining your claims experience and your company, it’s time for your provider to recommend improvements or changes. This is the time to focus on plan upgrades, not to simply maintain status quo. There’s always room for improvement, so make sure you’re working with a provider that is prepared to suggest improvements.
Enhancements and Cost Control
There are many different ways to enhance an employee benefits plan – the right provider will hone in on the ones that are a good fit for you. At GroupHEALTH, we’re constantly developing new products to improve the benefits experience and control costs. Some examples include:
Smart Rx Solutions – This suite of products helps contain the cost of prescription drugs. Utilizing a tiered formulary and/or a central dispensing pharmacy, Smart Rx products help keep the plan sustainable while ensuring employees get the prescription drugs they need.
Virtual healthcare – Physical distancing and the COVID-19 pandemic have really illustrated how valuable virtual healthcare can be to plan members. Using technology to connect with healthcare professionals has proven to be a safe, convenient way for plan members to get the healthcare they need. It’s a perfect example of how benefits can adapt to address changes in the organization and the world. If you didn’t add virtual healthcare during your last renewal, it is definitely something to consider at your next renewal.
Disability Management – Supporting ill or injured employees and working with you throughout an employee’s absence is a win/win for both you and your employee. It’s also an effective tool to help contain disability benefit costs. This kind of enhancement and cost control tool is a must-have for organizations of all sizes.
Mental health support – Another great example of making sure your employee benefits plan meets the needs of your employees right now is support for mental health. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on mental health, and at renewal time you may choose to provide additional support. Hopefully you already have an employee and family assistance program available, if not, this is something to consider. Or perhaps you need to look at coverage and maximums for clinical counsellors, psychologist services or social workers. Make sure when you renew your plan that the coverage is relevant to the world around you.
Wellness – Enhancing your plan could mean introducing wellness benefits. One way to do this is to provide employees with a wellness spending account to promote better physical and mental health. Paired with other initiatives within the company, it can help improve the plan’s effectiveness.
As renewal time approaches, work with your provider to improve your employee benefits plan. Don’t stick with an outdated plan – make sure your benefits are sustainable, comprehensive and relevant to the world around you before you sign off on renewal.
Good Advice is Key
Are you looking for a better employee benefits renewal experience? Are you sick of a static plan that hasn’t kept up with your company’s needs? Review your options with one of our licensed advisors on the phone, or contact us for a comparison quote.