Posted in Offering health benefits

How Do I Pick a Health Insurance Broker?

Updated as of June 2018.

A good broker can make or break your health care experience. You’ll be counting on your broker to find the best plan for your team so it’s crucial to find someone who knows the whole nine yards — and beyond. But the relationship doesn’t end there. Your broker will continue to work with you to manage the plan throughout the year. Sounds great, but how do you find your new teammate? In this article, we’ll give you a checklist to help you find someone who is both highly qualified and that you highly enjoy working with.

What to look for in a great health insurance broker

Licensing and professional qualifications

Find out what coursework your broker has done — many have taken a series of college-level courses — and what professional certifications they’ve added to their arsenal (some brokers have as many as five!). Next, confirm that your broker is licensed. Search through your state’s department of insurance to find out the status of their license and to see if they’ve ever had any disciplinary action taken against them. You might want to consider someone who’s a member of the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU).

Personality fit

You’ll spend a lot of time working with your broker, so make sure you get along well with them.  Find someone that’s easy to talk to, and make sure your team is comfortable with them too. Similar to a real estate agent or attorney, you get to choose your broker — so choose wisely.

Focused on finding the right plan for your company

Your broker should be your personal plan shopper. They shouldn’t harp on specific carriers, and they should only look for plans that work for the budget you have in mind. Top insurance brokers will work with you to evaluate the type of insurance coverage that’s best for your company and then will patiently explain the details of all the different plans. They will also offer plan recommendations and find plans that meet your company’s needs and budget.

Experience setting up insurance plans

Different-sized companies are a whole different ballgame. Make sure your broker has worked with many companies similar in size and ideally, with a budget similar to yours.

Keeps you compliant

From tax credits to classifications, your broker should be obsessed with keeping you compliant. This is where licensing and professional development come in: Brokers who maintain their licenses, participating professional associations, and continuing training will really know their stuff. In fact, some may be able to handle compliancy in their sleep.

Does the daily work

There’s a lot that comes up with health insurance: address changes, new hire enrollments, and other small (but crucial!) details. That’s why it’s important to have a broker that knows how to handle all of the routine to-dos.

You also want to be able to review your plan with your broker on a regular basis, so you can update coverage as needed and keep costs down. You should also be on the lookout for a broker willing to advocate for you when you’re dealing with insurance companies, health providers, and government agencies.

Helps your team feel comfortable

Your broker should be willing to help you explain health benefits to your employees like it’s no big deal. During open enrollment, your team will likely fire off tons of personal questions about their particular health situations. If they feel comfortable with your broker, they’ll feel empowered to make more informed decisions about their care.

Once you’ve found a broker that checks off all of the above characteristics, you’ll probably experience a wave of relief. It means that you’ve found a broker who has your best interests at heart, knows the health care space to a T, and can help you make a complicated process — dare we say — somewhat enjoyable.