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What Is the Broker’s Role in Obtaining Health Insurance?

The average American is familiar with the insurance broker who helps obtain auto, home, and life insurance. What many people do not realize is that brokers are involved in health insurance as well. It is just that their involvement tends to be indirect rather than direct. So what is the insurance broker’s role here?

Insurance brokers specializing in health insurance and other employee benefits rarely work directly with consumers. The one exception are those brokers who enroll individuals in government-backed health insurance through federal exchanges. But any consumer who obtains health insurance through an employer will probably never deal with the broker directly. That is because brokers work with employers rather than employees.

Helping Employers Find Plans

The health insurance broker’s primary responsibility is to help employers find the right plans for their workers. Brokers can work independently, as dedicated brokers for a single carrier, but with a general agency like BenefitMall. Each option has its pros and cons. In terms of having access to the largest possible volume of products, working under a general agency is the best option.

A general agency is almost like an insurance brokerage for brokers. Its role is to be the intermediary between insurance carriers and brokers. As a general agency, BenefitMall represents more than a hundred carriers and thousands of brokers. Their brokers have access to all 100+ carriers and the full menu of products they offer.

In addition to health insurance, carriers can also offer:

  • dental plans
  • vision plans
  • life insurance
  • retirement plans
  • workers’ compensation insurance.

The broker’s main goal is to look at all the products available carriers are offering and find the best ones for each client. They are also there to assist with open enrollment, setting up online accounts, managing benefits packages, and so forth.

Insurance Brokers and Technology

Because health insurance brokers deal directly with employers, they may potentially deal indirectly with thousands of employees. That is far different from a car insurance broker who might have a few hundred clients. Thousands of potential users all needing access to carrier products and services represents quite an enterprise. For that, brokers turn to technology.

The modern insurance paradigm lives in the cloud. Technology platforms make the cloud accessible to brokers, employers, and employees. All of them working in the same space streamlines nearly everything having to do with health insurance. Technology is so integral that brokers who have never known a world without it may wonder how their predecessors got along before insurance was administered in the cloud.

At any rate, the most visible part of insurance technology to individual consumers is the online account portal. This is where employees sign up during open enrollment. It is where they check their benefits and review claims. The portal can even be used to modify their plans in response to life changes.

Direct and Indirect Relationships

For the insurance broker, it is all about managing both direct and indirect relationships. Brokers have direct relationships with the employers who are their clients. They manage indirect relationships with the employees who work for those clients. And on the other end, they interact with the carriers who actually provide health insurance and other benefits.

Now you know that brokers are involved in the health insurance equation. You may never deal with one directly yourself, but if you have health insurance through your employer, there is a broker working for you somewhere along the line. What that broker does for a living gives you access to health insurance and perhaps some of the other benefits you have through your employer.

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