Confused man surrounded by question marks Employees need comprehensive education about their plan tounderstand how they can get the most out of their benefits–andemployers should have a pretty good understanding of how it works,too. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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Traditional benefits plans have changed so little over the yearsthat many business owners don't even realize that changing theirplan is possible. Stagnant, overpriced benefits plans can causeemployers to develop misconceptions about how to make their planmore efficient, resulting in uneducated or even unhappy employees and benefits plans withwasted potential.

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Here are five of the most common misconceptions business ownershave about their health care plans:

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1. “The insurer has my best interests in mind.”

Just because an insurer is working with you doesn't mean they'reworking for you. Misaligned incentives are a common factordriving up health insurance costs for employers. Insurers make moremoney as your premiums go up, so there's no real incentive for themto work to bring your costs down instead.

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Rather than trusting an insurer at their word, business ownersshould look for advsiors who offer a performance guarantee. Thisensures that your advsior only gets paid if they save you money, soyou can trust that their promises to help you are backed by theirown desire to get paid.

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2. “If I provide a benefit, my employees perceive it as abenefit.”

A “great” benefits package is only going to offer great thingsfor your business if it makes your employees happy, and youremployees will only be happy with their benefits if they can affordto use them. In 2017, a survey from GoBankingRates found that58 percent of Americans have less than $1,000in savings. Even if they're the only person relying on theirinsurance, they may still have a $3,000 deductible, putting them atrisk for going into debt even if they have insurance. This benefitssystem creates a population of “functionally uninsured” people whohave insurance, but can't afford to use it.

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Your advsior should work to go beyond simply making sure thatyour employees have health insurance–they should create a plan thatenables your workers to actually be able to use the benefitsthey're paying for without going bankrupt.

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3. “I can't improve the performance of a plan I alreadyhave.”

If your plan needs work, but you don't want to fire your broker,you don't have to stay stuck paying ever-increasing costs for thesame benefits plan. Your advsior can work with your broker to findsolutions that can help you save money while keeping your existingplan. By having your broker team up with your advsior, you get tokeep your relationship with your broker while increasing thepositive impact your plan can have on your company.

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4. “Employee education isn't necessary for a successfulbenefits plan.”

Just because you're making a change that will benefit youremployees doesn't mean that your employees will understand how touse it. Many employers believe that if they explain a benefit justonce, their employees will understand it and begin to correctlyutilize it. The truth, though, is that employees need acomprehensive education about their plan to understand how they canget the most out of their benefits. Your advsior can work with youto develop a plan for proper and continuous employee education sothat your workers never have to wonder if they're using their planthe right way.

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5. “I should only make changes to my plan when it's time torenew.”

You don't have to wait until your renewal to make changes, andin many cases, you and your employees may be better off if youdon't wait until the end of the year. When you discuss changes toyour plan with your employees, a lot of information can get lost inall the noise of an annual renewal. This can result in youremployees looking over the positive changes and focusing only onnegative updates, such as end-of-the-year cost increases. When youmake changes that aren't associated with your renewal, though, youremployees can develop a more positive view of the changes in theirplan. By implementing new strategies and tools into your planbefore your renewal, you facilitate your workers' understanding ofthese changes while allowing them to see how these differences canpositively affect them.

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Many standards that are commonly accepted in traditionalbenefits plans are simply unnecessary (and often detrimental) forbusiness owners. By rejecting these commonly held beliefs, you canopen up your mind and business to a benefits plan that serves bothyour company and your employees better, improving the health careexperience for everyone involved.

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Jim Blachek is co-founderof The Benefits Group.

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