When health insurance companies merge, or an acquisition takes place, the immediate effects to your company aren’t always evident. But slowly over time, you may notice your benefits plan begin to erode and your policy might look radically different and be far less optimal from when you started.
For some health insurance companies growth is largely due to buying other businesses and absorbing their clientele, namely — you and your employees. When this occurs, the new insurer may have a wider variety of options to offer and although you may choose to keep the plan options the same at first, year after year, the new carrier can shift the policy.
We have a client who experienced the effects of an acquisition first hand. Several years ago they decided to purchase insurance from a small nimble agency, a perfect fit for the company. They were happy with the policy they received because it was cost effective and provided everything their employees needed.
Unfortunately, after a few years, the owner of the agency retired and sold his business to a larger insurance company.
When large companies settle in
Overtime, the client’s insurance policy was absorbed into big box solutions and driven toward specific carriers. The clients and their employees were no longer happy with the policy and because the changes were gradual and plenty of time had transpired since the large company took root, the clients were left wondering just how the policy became so unfit for their company.
These situations are unfortunately more common than you might think.
We often see large agencies making choices that are about what’s good for the agency and not for the client. Sometimes this is simply because a broker is comfortable doing things a certain way, even if that way doesn’t suit all clients. And other times, brokers working for larger companies receive incentives to sell you a higher-priced plan or a plan that is structured to produce more profit for the provider rather than savings for you.
When we come across circumstances such as these, we can help by using basic low level strategies that can return the policy to its original quality and unlock those hidden savings.
Know what to ask
There are several key points to consider when discussing your health insurance policy with your broker or agent, such as:
- Request your policies data and be sure you receive it in a timely manner.
- If your policy has changed over time and no longer fits your company culture, discuss your options with your provider to make necessary adjustments.
- If a broker is suggesting a specific plan or carrier, ask if there is a different commission or monthly fee for that particular plan compared to others that are not being recommended. It is your right to know if incentives are being offered.
- Maintain communication with your employees during renewal time as well as periodically throughout the year, to be sure your benefits align with their needs. If there are employee complaints or desires, be sure to bring them up with your provider.
- Customer service can suffer after a merger or acquisition. If you find you are not getting the help you need, you may need to consider another carrier.
- Stay on top of your health insurance policies, or bring in the help of an advisor who can help. Remember that maintaining a good health insurance policy needs attention throughout the year, not just at renewal time.
Employee benefits are often an overlooked aspect of business, which is why small changes in a policy may go unnoticed over time. We also tend to put a lot of trust in the people we hire to manage our health insurance policies. Asking the right questions and obtaining the data is a way to protect your business from the bureaucracy of large insurance companies.
If you are unsure about your current health insurance policy, talk to an insurance professional (like us). Sometimes, with even a small adjustment you can see significant results within your plan. Transparency in the health insurance industry is important for all involved, especially the business owner and employees.
When large insurance companies manage your health insurance they can slowly manipulate and change the policy to increase their own revenue, even if those changes aren’t what’s best for your company. We wouldn’t let this happen internally in our own businesses, and we shouldn’t work with people who would.
If you have questions about your health insurance policy, don’t hesitate to reach out.