BY RYAN SPENCER
As advisors, we partner with our clients to deliver the best health plan possible. Establishing a meaningful relationship requires a deep understanding of the company’s structure, culture, leadership, and employees. To reach this point, we spend much of our time early in the partnership immersing ourselves in the business by interviewing the leadership team.
Although the questions we ask may seem invasive, clients quickly realize that our deep, insightful questioning reveals key truths about the company. The more data we collect, the better we can design a customized health plan that delivers high-quality care while reducing costs for the employer and its employees.
Questions To Guide Your Health Plan Decisions
Your advisor may have a variety of questions to cover, and they may want to review them with multiple department heads to gather all the information they need. Here are some of the most important questions we cover in these meetings:
1. How much do your employees earn? This question is critical for understanding what your average workers’ ability is to pay large claims and endure expensive medical treatment. If an employee has discretionary income, for example, they may be able to shoulder larger deductibles in exchange for lower premiums. This conversation can then lead to discussions that identify potential products to better serve your workforce. If deductibles are high and employees struggle to save money, an HSA may not be the right fit for them unless the employer places funds into the account. However the setup, we want to ensure the employees are set up to appropriately use the benefits offered.
2. What is your company culture? Do your employees embrace change? If so, they may be more receptive to adopting a radically different health care plan than your current plan. We recently spoke with an engineering firm where employees love solving new problems. When we proposed a new health care plan, they were fascinated by its nuances and were excited to explore its details. If your employees don’t share the same excitement for new endeavors, a major shift in plan details could be a bad choice for your company.
3. What are HR’s views of the bigger picture? Your HR department’s time and resources directly influence the success of your health care plan since they are your company’s first line of communication when it comes to plan details and questions. Because they are the internal advocates for the plan, they need to buy-in to any changes, or else they’ll become ineffective advocates, dismantling the trust necessary for a new plan to thrive. If HR will buy-in and engage, your employees are more likely to buy into the plan
4. How well can you communicate with your workforce? Communication is a challenge for some companies. For businesses with high turnover rates or where employees are constantly on the road, communication is challenging. In these instances, complex plan alterations may be a difficult endeavor because communicating the changes will be difficult—unless a new strategy is implemented. Depending on locations and availability, it is helpful to engage in multiple communication avenues to reach people with key changes and initiatives.
Building A Better Plan Through Data
Answering these and similar questions take time, but they’re vital for the plan’s success. Once your advisor understands multiple factors, including the company culture, leadership’s ability to communicate, HR’s bandwidth, and how much your employees earn, they’ll have a better idea of the plan details that can work best for your business.