Upcoming Group Benefits Renewals: Forecast & Savings Strategies
By Jerry Zaccardelli, Vice President of Employee Group Benefits
As the fall season approaches, the benefits team at Brown & Brown of Detroit is beginning to gear up for their busy, pre-renewal season. A majority of employers’ group benefit programs renew on January 1, so we’ve been busy preparing to help our clients through the process.
Expect an Increase
With our insight into the insurance marketplace, you might be wondering what trends we expect to see with the many upcoming renewals. Annual increases are typical in the benefits world, but what about this year? For small groups of less than 50 employees, we expect to see single digit increases of 4-7%. Larger employers will see more pricing variability based on their loss ratios, but 10-19% increases are common.
Companies may not be able to insulate themselves from market fluctuations, but what can they do to slow policy increases? I like to joke that “there are only two ways to beat the rising cost of healthcare: be healthy or dead.” Going with option #1, if you want your team to remain healthy:
- Encourage team members to get an annual physical and know their key health numbers!
- Communication and education of employees and their families is critical to helping them get and stay healthy. Consider brief one-on-one sessions and explore other methods. What method are you using to reach your team members?
- Encourage team members to quit using tobacco products! Most carriers offer programs that support quitting the habit.
- Educate your team about the benefits of consumerism, especially when a high deductible health plan (HDHP) is in place. Teach employees to use tools to shop for services. The same or better quality services can often be found for a lower price, which will save both the employee and the employer money. Use of telemedicine is also a good option which saves time and money for conditions that can be easily treated like the flu, ear infection, etc.
- Wellness needs to be a long-term program, supported by the C-suite from both a strategic and financial perspective. Once instituted, it often takes three to five years of focus on managing costs and educating the community on being healthy to see a return. However, a wellness program can improve profits, some of which can be passed on to employees in the form of raises, profit sharing, or lower health insurance costs for teammates. Is wellness your culture? Do you practice what you preach?
Contact a benefits advisor at 586.977.6300 for more information and visit us online at bbdetroit.com.