We can talk about coverage, reform preparedness and innovation — and the companies who provide it — all we want, but there's nothing like hearing from those deep in the trenches about which carriers are getting it right.
Our annual Readers’ Choice Awards — now in its 11th year — features companies brokers may want to get friendly with (if they aren't already). On this year's list you’ll see some familiar names, along with a few surprises — just more proof that the industry is always changing. Better keep up.
1. Which carrier is best prepared for PPACA?
As we dive deeper into PPACA waters, Colonial Life is still on top — at least according to readers. For the fourth consecutive year, the carrier snagged the top honor in this all-important category. And Aflac is the runner-up yet again, proving that these two continue to pack a punch in a post-PPACA world.
Giants including Blues, UnitedHealthCare, Aetna, Anthem, Humana and Cigna all earned votes as well, which makes sense — how can any carrier at this point not be well-prepared for the biggest event to ever hit health insurance?
2. The carrier best prepared for a defined contribution future?
The Colonial Life-Aflac combo takes this category, too, proving to readers they are committed not just to a post-PPACA landscape, but a landscape with a new (or at least re-imagined) way of funding health care.
But still, this category had the most answers involving uncertainty — including “I don’t know,” “no one” or “N/A” — meaning there might be future opportunities here.
3. Which carrier offers the best vision coverage?
VSP claimed nearly half the votes in the vision category, demonstrating, once again, that they are the ones to beat in the vision space. Aflac came back to reclaim the No. 2 slot here after Ameritas won runner up last year, proving the carrier is continuing to make moves in this area.
4. Which carrier is the easiest to work with?
As other categories attest, brokers love working with Colonial Life and Aflac. Colonial Life beat out last year’s champ, Aflac, to be crowned this year’s winner, but Aflac still managed to snag the No. 2 spot.
Though it’s no surprise to see these carriers on top, this category, in particular, featured the biggest variety of answers, perhaps signaling that carriers are making more of an effort with brokers than ever.
5. Which enrollment company could you not live without?
Though 2014’s winner Brian Patten and Associates still landed in the top 4, Colonial Life and Ameriflex came out swinging, earning the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, respectively (despite, of course, not being enrollment companies). Colonial Life soared to the top after earning the runner-up title last year. Aflac and BenefitsConnect also earned a number of votes.
6. Which carrier offers the best dental coverage?
No surprise here: Delta Dental yet again takes the (sugar-free) cake when it comes to best dental coverage. Brokers love the company’s value, customer service and simple administration.
And, by a small number of votes, Colonial Life reclaimed the runner-up position this year from Guardian, which received the honor last year.
7. Which TPA offers the most comprehensive service?
Ameriflex is synonymous with gold-standard TPA service — and Readers’ Choice Awards — so it’s no surprise they win this category handily yet again, securing nearly half the votes. Readers love the company’s innovative products and solutions. What is a little more surprising is that Colonial Life kicked Total Administrative Services Corp (TASC) out of the runner-up spot they have become so comfortable in.
8. Which technology vendor makes your life the easiest?
Colonial Life also nabs the top spot in the technology category, with Ameriflex snagging the runner-up spot. Of course, answers run the gamut from (actual tech vendors) BenefitsConnect and Zywave, to consumer-friendly giants Apple and Google, which are starting to make a big splash in the health care space.
And Zenefits even made its first appearance, with a handful of votes (it was bound to happen eventually. Anyone worried about that one?).