Employee Benefits: Broker vs. Carrier Consolidation

As with every small employer group, credit unions are not exempt from the challenges of providing affordable health insurance options for their employees and families.  Additionally, the ongoing changes under the Affordable Care Act have made it vastly harder for HR managers to clearly state what their healthcare plans provide in a way that’s easy for employees to understand. These challenges, paired with the recent message from auditors and legal counsel suggesting credit unions consolidate third-party vendors for both member and employee programs have made it more important than ever for credit unions to understand the difference between employee benefits broker and carrier relationships. Our goal is to provide some clarity on the subject as well as highlight the resources that are presently available through Insurance Trust to help reduce the administrative burdens of third party carrier/broker relationships.

 

Broker Consolidation

Consolidation of benefits brokers means that you will simply have one point of contact who can handle all of your benefits needs.  This allows your credit union to be covered by multiple insurance carriers (or companies) with plans that best fit your insurance needs and budget.  Having a single broker also means that one call or email is all that you need to enroll new hires, change addresses or dependents, or terminate employees.  Your point of contact can also confirm which coverages an employee is enrolled in, answer questions regarding claims that sometimes cross between coverages, such as medical and disability insurance and can alert you of any gaps in coverage.

 

Carrier Consolidation

Consolidating your employee benefits plan with one carrier (or company) for your medical, dental, life, disability, EAP, and voluntary coverage doesn’t necessarily make financial sense.  The reason being that most carriers specialize in or have better networks or service in different types of insurance.  Another consideration is that consolidating your benefits with one carrier could leave your credit union in a tough position in the event that a carrier decides to exit the market on a particular plan or you become dissatisfied with their service or claims handling.  Although many coverages tend to pair together, for example dental and vision or life and disability insurance, that doesn’t mean that having one carrier is always what is best for your needs.  The distinct advantage to having an insurance broker as opposed to working directly with a single insurance company is that a broker can help you navigate the various carriers at any point of change.  Furthermore, a single broker can provide many options with simplified administration, so you don’t have to worry about the HR details; you can just pick up the phone.

 

Insurance Trust Employee Benefits Facts

Insurance Trust works with all major medical carriers in Maine: Aetna, Anthem, Community Health Options, and Harvard Pilgrim.  We currently assist 31 Maine credit unions with their health insurance plans as well as a handful of non-credit union small business groups. We also provide credit union Association Plans to enhance your current employee benefit programs and offer employees the choice and flexibility to enhance their benefits where they are most needed to fill in coverage gaps. Most of these programs are offered at no cost to the credit union. These benefits serve as a way to help offset the expenses that most medical plans don’t cover, as well as a top-notch tool to attract and retain valuable employees. Insurance Trust also offers solutions such as FSAs, customized HRAs, and Section 125 plans through both local and national partners.  Our agency is happy to work with individuals, small, mid, and large groups.

 

Administrative Support and Resources

Insurance Trust aims to not only make benefits administration simple, we also strive to keep our clients up-to-date on compliance and health care reform.  To that end, we provide topical monthly email updates on health care and compliance related topics on everything from wellness, to the Affordable Care Act, to DOL compliance.  We work with our partners to provide a variety of additional services including ERISA compliant summary plan descriptions, proactive identity theft help, and easy access for our clients to look into the benefits topics that most interest them.

The same reason why Insurance Trust was founded in 1963 is the very reason why we turn our lights on every single day: to provide competitive insurance coverage options for Maine credit unions and their members.  

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