As laws and attitudes surrounding health care continue to evolve, brokers should continue offering their clients diverse health plan options. Doing so can help them empower their clients, control costs and even minimize unforeseen expenses, writes Ron Goldstein for “One way to increase your clients’ flexibility is to help them keep employees’ health care options open,” he writes. Such diverse options include helping your clients navigate an exchange, as well as various voluntary benefits.


Other innovative offerings include narrow network products, the creation of the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan program (also known as co-ops) and provider-owned health plans, writes Sally Poblete writes for Employee Benefit Adviser. Many provider-owned plans are relative newcomers, she writes, and give employees access to the provider’s hospitals and doctors.


“They promise closer coordination, shared patient records and a trusted brand the consumers know within the community,” Poblete writes. “On the other hand, because they are new insurance companies, employers and employees need to be aware that they may be starting or scaling up their insurance and administrative infrastructure. Enrollment, billing and claims systems and customer service systems may take some time to work out the kinks.”


“Co-ops are member-governed and have a non-profit mission, so they must use profits to either lower premiums or improve benefits,” Poblete writes. “ (They offer) innovative approaches to care coordination, wellness and customer service. Many employers and their employers may find them to be an attractive coverage option.” In addition, proposed multi-year health-insurance exchange options can promote efficiency and more emphasis on wellness, writes Bruce Shutan for Employee Benefit Adviser.


While options are plentiful, they’ll make employer choices more difficult, Poblete writes, so your expertise as a broker must help them navigate these decisions. “An employer should not just look at the cost of premiums and choose the cheapest plan,” she writes. “Employers need to take the time to … enlist the help of a licensed insurance broker who works with a wide range of insurers.”


As you expand your offerings, keep in mind what they’ll mean for your clients, Goldstein advises. “With so many options to choose from, making the right choice can seem overwhelming,” Goldstein writes. “Make sure you employer clients know what a broker can do to ensure that they make the best possible decisions both for their businesses and for their employees. A broker has the professional expertise to help employers understand the ins and outs of the available coverage choices, and how these decisions can affect a business.”