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As employee benefit advisors, it is our responsibility to remain vigilant and well-informed on behalf of our clients and their employees.  We should be aware of all regulatory, financial and product-centered changes in our industry, and communicate them in a timely manner.  But it’s even more important that we actively listen to our clients if we want to maintain a truly consultative relationship within their organizations.  These five sentiments have already been expressed by decision-makers in 2019 regarding employee benefits:

1. “It’s still too expensive, but we can’t just keep passing the increases on to our employees.”

For some time now, the increasing costs of health care and medical insurance have necessitated a passing of the buck from employers to their employees.  Employers are aware that providing a competitive medical plan is vital to attracting top talent to their organization.  However, they also know that doing so becomes a thorn in the side of their profitability.  The consensus among decision-makers is that they cannot continue to pass the almost inevitable annual increase in benefit costs to their employees.  The buck must stop here, they believe.

Some employers have committed to bearing the financial burden of future increases, so that their employees’ per-paycheck costs remain flat.  It will negatively affect their bottom-line, but they won’t risk losing a valuable member of the team.  Other employers, unwilling to accept the status-quo, have employed technical resources from their brokers or consultants to push back against the transactional renewal process.  They’ve implemented a fully or partially self-funded medical plan to rid themselves of state and ACA taxes.  Or they have contracted with a hospital system to initiate a reference-based pricing program.  Bottom line: Employers are no longer willing to jeopardize employee relations by increasing costs and/or decreasing their plan benefits.

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