By guest blogger Joe Bucci.
There has been a lot of discussion and media coverage over the last couple of years on private exchanges and their relevance in this ACA-era of employee benefits. I have spoken a great deal on the topic, written publications and educated many clients (and brokers) on the value of private exchanges for employer groups of all sizes.
I support arguments from all sides of the benefit world (brokers, agents, employers and payroll vendors) that private exchanges are nothing more than glorified or “sexy” benefit administration systems. To some extent, they are correct, but the value in benefit administration cannot be any more relevant to employers than in the present day. Why? Because the need to streamline the collaboration of payroll, benefits and human resources (i.e. workforce management) is essential to managing the cost of offering benefits and creating value.
So, let’s discuss creating value.....and what it really means for you – the broker. If you are not creating value for employers and enhancing your presence amongst the employees of your clients, then you are missing out on an enormous opportunity. Opportunities stemming from voluntary benefits (and their continued emergence) to employee surveys to workplace wellness. All of these are initiatives that I have been successfully implementing with employers ranging from 5 employees to 180 employees. And there is no reason you cannot do the same.
First, employers want to be steered into a value proposition, and justifiably so – now more than ever – as the true costs of the ACA are impacting every employer across this country. A private exchange delivers efficient enrollment and workforce management. Private exchange implementation will break down the barrier for brokers to connect with employees through the use of technology while not consuming numerous “on-the-job” hours which always raises a concern for employers.
And for employees, they want more choice, to learn about products that can enhance their benefit selections and have more flexibility during the enrollment process. Medical plan offerings have changed significantly since the inception of the ACA and the education gap is still challenging. Private exchanges can deliver informative decision-making education to employees during the enrollment process through recommendation technology. Cost estimators, credits tied to wellness participation and the ability to enroll into a “more balanced” benefit package are valuable.
So, private exchanges are here, will continue to evolve and should be embraced by brokers. Employers of all sizes are burdened by the cost of employee benefits. An investment in changing the approach to offering benefits will deliver returns in the years that follow.
Joe Bucci is a principal of gbac, Inc. and gbac Association Practice Group LLC where he leads the direction of their strategic benefits consulting practice. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203.985.1703