How to Choose the Right Benefits Plan

May 10, 2018
min read

Choosing a benefits plan for your organization can be a daunting task. The insurance industry is a notoriously tricky landscape to navigate, but just like a rugged landscape, there are experts to guide the way. Experienced benefits consultants understand what a successful benefits plan looks like, and help their clients in designing the best plan based on their unique needs.

Benefit plans may not be one-size fits all solution, but the definition of success remains the same across the board. A successful benefits plan is designed to satisfy three main components; it will provide an appropriate level of protection and coverage to your employees, it will fit within your organization’s budget, and it will be financially sustainable for the long term. Building a benefits plan based on these three pillars will ensure you are set up for success.

The Right Employee Coverage

The first step in setting up your plan is to get yourself oriented in the right direction, and this means understanding what your employees want from a benefits plan. You probably won’t be able to include everything they ask for, but this will save you from potentially spending your budget on extra paramedical coverage when your employees are looking for comprehensive dental. There are a few different ways of getting this type of information, and it all depends on what works best for your organization. The options range from holding a company-wide town-hall style meeting to sending an email or anonymous survey asking for input.

Once you’ve gotten a handle on what your employees find valuable in a benefits plan, you should take a look at what your competitors are offering. By understanding your industry benchmarks for benefits plans, you can ensure your success in retaining and attracting top talent as benefit plans are perceived as a portion of an employee’s overall compensation.  Benefits consultants are a valuable resource for this, as they have more than likely designed benefit plans for other companies in your industry, or groups with similar demographics.

Group benefits plans are put in place to protect your greatest asset, your employees. By engaging your employees and working with an experienced benefits consultant, you can ensure you’re getting the right coverage.

Fitting the Budget

The second component in building a successful employee benefits plan is having it fit your budget. We recommend identifying what your budget for a benefits plan is first and then developing your plan from there.

The monthly cost (aka “premium”) for a single employee can range anywhere from $50/month to over $500/month, with those costs roughly doubling for employees requiring family coverage. That being said, the full premium cost does not have to fall solely on the employer. Premiums can be split between the employer and employee, with the employee portion of the premium set up as a payroll deduction.

Once you’ve identified your budget and advised your benefits consultant, you can expect them to obtain quotes from multiple carriers that match your budget. While cost should be a factor when choosing a plan, the price tag should not be the only thing you consider. As you’ll see in the next section, selecting a plan solely based on price could end up costing more in the long run.

Setting up for Sustainability

Designing and implementing a benefits plan takes time and consideration. It’s not a short-term solution, but a long-term investment in your organization and it’s employees. As such, it’s essential to set up a plan that will be able to adequately cover your employees not only for the current year but for years to come. It is much easier to make adjustments to your plan as your organization evolves when your benefits plan has a solid foundation at the start.

Fifteen months after your plan first goes into effect, and every twelve months after that, your insurance carrier will renew your plan. In the renewal process, they reassess the premium cost based on how your plan has been used. If your organization submits more in claims than the insurance company has collected in premiums, you can expect an increase in cost at renewal.

When first-year renewal increases occur, potential reactions include the notion to cancel the current plan and get a better quote for a similar plan from a different provider. However, to obtain a quote from a new carrier, you would be required to provide the new carrier with reports on your past group benefits experience. Organizations switching insurance providers after one year is considered a risky activity to carriers, and as such the new carrier will review the reports and either price the same as (or higher than) the current carrier, or more than likely, refuse to quote the business altogether. This is why choosing a benefits plan, simply because it is the least expensive, can lead to very high costs in the long run.

The ideal path for a group benefits plan is to go to the market and get new quotes after 3-5 years of a good track record at your current carrier. This experience will give your benefits consultant the leverage they need to secure you the best rates and guarantees.

Need expert help in navigating the group benefits landscape? We’ve got them. Send us an email at email to get in touch with our benefits team. See Humi Benefits

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About the Author
Hilary LambHilary Lamb

Hilary is a Client Experience Manager at Humi and has a penchant for salty snacks.

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