As many business owners are discovering, it's important that their health insurance agent have knowledge on Healthcare Reform that extends far beyond the morning news.  The new regulations regarding issues such as documentation, healthcare tax, compliance mandates, and others are constantly changing.  Under the tenets of any functional agent/client relationship, it seems only fitting that it be the agent's job to keep their clients in-the-know on any issues directly affecting them.  

One of the best ways to ensure that your company is in full compliance with the Affordable Care Act, while simultaneously keeping your premiums down and staff educated, is to work with an agency who also offers human resource-related health insurance services for groups.

Here are just a few of the things to consider when looking for an HR-savvy health insurance agent:

Access to Current, Legally-Verified HR Documentation

Scouring the internet for the most recent version of a specific ACA-friendly copy of some random form, not to mention hundreds of others documents, takes time, wastes resources and there's never a guarantee that they're going to be accurate.  Health insurance agencies offering Human Resource services will have access to every HR document you could ever want, and likely a few you didn't realize you needed.  

At Premier, for example, our clients have access to a complete and guaranteed current library of free HR documents, including SPD Wraps, customized employee handbooks, wellness campaign planning guides, new hire forms, and too many others too list in one article.  

Ongoing Updates of Pressing Healthcare Reform Issues

As an office of agents who spend at least 90% of our days dealing with healthcare reform updates, we'll be the first to admit that there's a lot of ground to cover here.  Agencies with integrated HR support, generally have staffs dedicated to doing nothing but informing and interacting and with clients, regarding their industry or company-specific regulation updates.  

A simpler way of looking at it is like this: If you can't recall the last healthcare-related discussion you've had with your agent, there's a problem.  Working with an HR employee benefits-focused agency is a sound way to confirm that you're being informed on issues that affect you as they happen; not two months later, not weeks after the news breaks... but as legislation is being passed.  

Annual, Biannual or Quarterly Benchmark Assessments

If the term Benchmark Survey is a new one to you, it's okay.  Many agents are unfamiliar with these, too, and moreover why they're so vital under the new healthcare laws.  Everyone's pretty much come to terms with the notion that group premiums are going up.  But that makes it all the more important to make sure that you're not overpaying in areas where you offer coverage, such as Dental, Vision, Disability, and more.  

A Benchmark Assessment compares your existing plan against thousands of other companies in your area and industry.  This allows you to identify where you may be offering exceedingly high coverage, or not offering enough in comparison to other companies in your region.  It's something you should absolutely have done prior to the November open enrollment, and at the very least annually going forward.

Integrated HR Q&A Support

Many companies, including those without dedicated HR staffs, often find themselves thrown into the metaphoric fire of having to take on roles that are completely new to them.  The advent of health care reform, alone, guarantees this.  And as anyone who's assumed said role knows, HR people have HR questions, too.  

Then what?  Call a friend, look up the answer online and pray that it wasn't penned by a bored fourteen year-old after lunch?  A much more reliable solution is to work with health agents who offer this service complementary to their clients.  If the agency does not have an on-staff legal counsel, they should have access to an HR legal contact on-call for this very common need.  This is one of many perks Premier's clients have access to.

If you're interested in learning more about any of the points made throughout this article, I invite you to call me directly.  We're an independent agency located in the Lisle/Naperville business district, and can be reached toll-free at 800-369-0287.