Broker Tech Check Part II: Four Technology Recommendations

If the 2020 benefit year taught us anything, it’s that we can’t have too many virtual tools in our benefit toolbelts. For benefits brokers, it’s no surprise that clients are continuing to look for technology recommendations that will help them meet their benefit and organizational goals. This allows brokers to play valued roles as technology consultants—recommending tech solutions to clients that are easy to implement, cost-effective, and user-friendly.

You may already have strong tech recommendations,  and that’s great! But it also never hurts to evaluate, or reevaluate, your current go-to tech offerings. After all, it seems like every day there’s a new platform, a new app, or a new solution that can help make life easier.

Maybe you had a chance to check out our previous Broker Tech Check blog, where we covered compliance technology, virtual enrollment, and online management solutions. In this article, we’ll dive a little deeper to help you continue to refine your technology recommendations in this year and beyond.

1. Benefits Fair Technology

The virtual world presents an entirely new set of challenges to brokers. Of course brokers can still work with their clients, but how can brokers and employers best work together to educate employees on what benefits will work best for them?

Benefits fair technology is the answer. A virtual benefits fair platform is designed to help the broker and employer reach employees in a meaningful way as they are choosing benefits for the new plan year…even at a distance.

This past year, many benefits providers offered one-off virtual online enrollment events to help fill the gaps in the absence of in-person fairs. While this was valuable for clients, many of these one-off virtual events featured only the benefits that each specific provider offered. For the upcoming year, employers can work with their benefits providers to consolidate these one-off events into one cohesive virtual benefits fair with the help of benefits fair technology.

Employers are going to look to brokers to help guide them toward the correct benefits fair technology, so they can be certain they’re giving the best options to their employees that meet all their needs – not just a narrow range.

In a 2020 survey of benefits brokers, 52 percent considered recommendations for controlling the cost of benefits to be the biggest value proposition, and 22 percent said customer service. By working with employers to choose the right benefits fair technology and implementing it in a sensible way, this covers both of these areas.

In considering the technology aspect of a virtual fair, interactivity is going to be a key factor. Does the platform need to offer one-on-one chat, on-demand content, webinars, live content, or gamification? Which of these are must-haves for your clients?

In addition to interactive options, take the time to look at:

  • Customization and integration with other platforms

  • Number of attendees who can join at one time

  • Length of events

  • Number of concurrent events that can occur on the platform

  • Capability to host multiple vendors

As always, there is cost involved, so make sure you keep your clients’ budget in mind when you make your selection.

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Want more details about going digital? Tune into our discussion with Brian Haney, Vice President of The Haney Company, which specializes in insurance and retirement programs about upcoming trends in digitization.

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2. Decision Support Tools

When a broker isn’t personally in front of people, talking them through their options, how can they guide them to make the most effective benefits decisions? This is a problem many have had to face since the beginning of the pandemic. The sudden change to online meetings, wearing masks during in-person meetings, and having to always maintain physical distance has made forming and maintaining personal relationships more of a challenge, and this is also true for brokers trying to support clients and their employees in benefits decisions.

How can brokers address this challenge? With technology, of course! There are interactive decision-support tools that can offer people the personal touch of expert advice without the actual physical presence. Simply put, a decision-making support tool is software that combines analysis with prediction capabilities to help improve the comprehension of information.

For the interactive aspect, this is how it works—decision support simulates a conversation with a benefits expert. It has the questions and answers programmed into the tool, so users can immediately get the answers and information they want. One major benefit is that it’s available 24/7 to meet everyone’s timing needs. (No sleep required. You can’t get more accessible.)

In addition, some of the decision support choices use behavioral science to assist employees in choosing their benefits options. As a result, this can help them see value in benefits they didn’t consider before, and possibly guide them toward different and better selections. These tools are available not only for health benefits, but other benefits options, too.

By providing your clients with this benefits communication technology upgrade, you’re increasing everyone’s options, saving everyone time, all while making the entire process seem more personalized than is currently possible.

In the 2020 Broker Survey, 41 percent of brokers responded that employers are delaying account-based strategies until mid-year 2021 or when the pandemic ends. As a result, brokers can use this time to research and help implement a workable solution.

3. COBRA Administration Technology

As of January 2021, the unemployment rate in the U.S. was 6.7 percent, which is 10.7 million Americans. Though this is expected to improve after the pandemic, currently millions of people are depending on COBRA (aka the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) to meet their health care needs. COBRA allows employees to temporarily continue their employer-sponsored health insurance coverage after they lose insurance due to job loss or other qualifying events.

COBRA isn’t known for being easy to administer, so the more technology brokers can use to help clients stay compliant, the better.

Enter COBRA administration technology. COBRA requires meticulous tracking, notification deadlines, and communication, and the fines for falling out of compliance are steep. (You can see the fines associated with COBRA noncompliance in this blog. They are not fooling around on the whole compliance issue.) With COBRA portal technology, brokers can help eliminate this burden for their clients by offering COBRA administration solutions that help them stay compliant. The value of this technological investment will be long-lasting, as it makes brokers an even more valuable asset in this COBRA-heavy period of time. For larger employers, brokers can also help research and evaluate the best administration software for those clients who want to administer COBRA themselves.

Read all about it in our COBRA Administration for Dummies® eBook.

4. Specialized Software for Brokers – BROKERcommand®

There’s software for everything now. We can listen to the perfect music, watch the show that’s exactly for us, and purchase items through ads specially tailored to what they think we want (and they’re usually right!) Thankfully, this level of specialization is already well-established in the benefits field.

Some clients are still caught up in the antiquated paper processes of enrollments and transfers, which creates time delays and unnecessary clutter. Thankfully, there’s once again technology that can help. Specialized broker software, like BROKERcommand®, can help brokers manage their book of business on their time. There’s no submitting a paper and waiting for weeks to see what’s missing, not worrying about waiting on someone else’s work hours to take the next step in the process, or being in the dark about the status of a case.

BROKERcommand®, and specialized broker platforms like it, allow brokers 24/7 access to their clients. Brokers are in control of the entire process, and everything is online and transparent. In addition, it’s digital—get client signatures through the portal, see renewals coming up, manage future cases—without the hassle of paper mailings or manual tracking.

The technology helps in other small ways, too. The step-by-step proposal builder allows brokers to quickly generate proposals that are perfectly tailored to the client. Onboarding takes only a few minutes, and the dashboard view lets brokers see where all clients are at that moment in the onboarding, proposal, and renewal process. Generating, submitting, tracking—it’s all available on the specialized tool.

Learn more about BROKERcommand® in this video overview.

About the Author:
Carla Wardin lives in St. Johns, Michigan, where she focuses her writing on the health and technology industries.

By |2021-03-05T09:50:43-05:00March 4th, 2021|Brokers, Technology|
Disclaimer: ConnectYourCare does not provide tax or legal advice. This information is not intended and should not be taken as tax or legal advice. Any tax or legal information in this notice is merely a summary of ConnectYourCare’s understanding and interpretation of some of the current tax regulations and is not exhaustive. You should consult your tax advisor or legal counsel for advice and information concerning your particular situation before making any decisions.
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