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What’s the Difference Between an Employee Benefits Broker, Consultant and Advisor?

Jeff Griffin

Crafting an employee benefits program for your workforce can be a daunting task, not to mention a great deal of work that often falls outside an employer’s area of expertise. After all, we don’t meet many small to midsize business owners who cherish having to become experts in human resources and employee benefits.

This is precisely why most companies (even and especially large ones), lean on outside resources and subject matter experts for assistance with their employee benefits program.  

While some very small businesses bundle the procurement of benefits with their payroll provider or property/casualty broker (a practice we’d strongly recommend against - and a topic for a future blog post) most businesses elicit the assistance of a professionally licensed and trained employee benefits expert. 

There’s only one problem: most HR professionals are confused as to whether they need an employee benefits broker, an employee benefits consultant, or an employee benefits advisor. Many are also unclear of the difference between these professionals - and many wrongly assume it’s just merely semantics.

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Topics: Administration, Strategy, Corporate Communication, Account Management, Human Resources

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What Is Self-Funded Insurance And Is It Right For My Small Business?

Jeff Griffin

Everyone is looking for ways to save money on their healthcare costs — especially employers, who are shouldering a large portion of the burden when it comes to insurance premiums. If you’re looking into self-funded insurance options, you’re certainly not alone. Self-funding is surging in popularity among companies of all sizes, including those with as few as 50 employees.

Employers are drawn to self-funding because of the promise it holds to curtail costs, the freedom it provides to customize plans, and the desire to be unburdened by strict regulation. Regardless of whether or not you choose to move to a self-funded insurance option, it’s worth exploring this funding alternative so you can make the right decision for your business.

What is Self-Funded Insurance?

Self-funded health insurance is a form of employer-sponsored healthcare that doesn’t use traditional insurance carriers as a conduit for medical care. Instead, premiums are paid to the employer, which the company uses to pay for medical claims. Self-funding has traditionally been found in larger businessestypically 1,000 employees or more, because they’re more likely to have larger reserves and cash flow to absorb a bad claim year than a small business.

The financial upside of self-funding is that employers get to keep any premiums which aren’t spent on claims. In a fully-funded environment, those savings are retained by the insurance company as profit.

The downside is that you’re opening yourself up to greater degrees of expense variability. In a low claims year, you’ll save money — but in a high claims year, you'll have to be prepared to absorb any overruns in healthcare expenses. Regardless, in our opinion, employee benefit expenditures should always be looked at over a multi-year time horizon. 

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Cost Containment, Administration, self-funding, CFO, Funding

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This Past Open Enrollment Season’s Most Frequently Asked Questions

David Rook

If you’re like most HR departments around the country, you’re on the tail end of taking a bit of a breather in Q1, seemingly having just completed yet another fall open enrollment.

Our benefit hotline specialists fielded thousands of calls in Q4 of last year. We thought it might be helpful if we recapped some of the more popular questions and answers, some of which change from year-to-year while others are perennial favorites.

As you might expect, this year we fielded a considerable number of questions about High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). We also took a considerable number of calls on Medicare, Limited Purpose FSAs and other hot topics.

Distributing these FAQs to your workforce or repurposing them in next year’s open enrollment communications and employee benefits guides should go a long way to helping reduce call volume into your HR department.

FREE GUIDE: The Top 55 Open Enrollment FAQs

Listed below are the first 15 on our list. You can access 55 more by clicking here to receive our downloadable guide.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Communications, Employee Communications, Administration, Account Management

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Helpful HR Administration Hints to Thrive as an HR Department of One

David Rook

Are you the only person in the role of human resources at your company? Don't worry, you’re not alone. According to research from the Small Business Association's SCORE Association, human resource work takes up 25 to 35 percent of a small business owner’s schedule and almost a quarter of that time is spent handling paperwork for their employees.

Many businesses are choosing to forego a large human resources department in favor of hiring just one person who can perform HR duties as well as other responsibilities. For example, it's not uncommon for sole HR representatives to train new employees, recruit prospective new hires, manage conflict, handle payroll and administer health benefits.

We know that juggling all of these roles can be exhausting, regardless of whether you are new to the company or a seasoned professional. So are you an HR department of one? If so, below are some checklists and hints that will help you thrive in your current role.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Administration, Automation

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