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Consumer-driven Health Plans: Broker Partnership in an Evolving Environment

In today’s challenging health and benefits landscape, brokers are presented with an interesting opportunity to support their existing clients and embrace evolution. However, proactive monitoring and reporting of employer and employee health costs and insights into health plan trends and impacts must remain competitive.  

Part of this proactive strategy should include cost-sharing opportunities provided by HDHPs and HSAs. But, employers will be searching for new avenues of support.  

There are many aspects to the evolution of employer-based, consumer-driven benefits. The growth of HDHP and HSA offering and election rates in both large and small employers points to a changing strategic model. Cost-sharing as part of a larger cost savings plan offers opportunity. Other specific considerations include average income and economic recovery, benefits literacy and utilization habits, and employee expectations and flexibility. All influence the creation and successful integration of a new or adjusted health plan strategy.  

As employers evolve to more sophisticated consumer-driven health plans, the level and type of support they need may change.  Brokers can be challenged to provide functional and efficient administrative support with more complex health planning and initiatives.  

 The opportunity is here now!  

Implementing a robust support model for employer clients includes actionable insights  that gives brokers the tools to identify cost drivers, manage population health, and advise on strategic and effective plan models. Through claims data analysis and year-round health plan assessment, brokers are empowered to make proactive decisions based on the cost and strategy of customers and to help manage their health care costs.  

The Voluntary Question 

If we look at the trending numbers, voluntary benefits offerings followed the HDHP and HSA growth rate – up 54 percent from 2008 to 20201. This growth rate can be attributed to the importance of voluntary benefits. Part of the increased application of cost-sharing strategies is that they offset higher employee deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses, to cover expenses that may be left uncovered in traditional offerings (like transportation costs or childcare), and to adjust to a working population looking for more affordable and flexible total benefits packages. 

 Brokers are often tasked with supporting employer health plans with solutions that fit employee expectations. Employees are looking for plans that provide potential cost savings and offer more flexibility. By offering guidance and access to voluntary benefits like accident insurance, critical illness insurance and hospital indemnity insurance, brokers can establish and build trust with their clients. Both employers and employees will appreciate the broker’s ability to provide support and availability of cost-mitigating benefits to avoid any financial risks like the expense of an ambulance ride that would be covered by voluntary benefits offered as part of a well-planned benefits package.  

Communication is key! 

Brokers will support employers, inform and provide smart and successful engagement efforts.  This strength is important as new health plans and voluntary benefits are planned and rolled out. <Smart Moments link>. Brokers can work with their customers’ technology partner to implement proactive and educational communication strategies that include year-round email campaigns, pre-open enrollment educational campaigns, text or messaging-based reminders, interesting and informative webinars, health and wellness connection opportunities, etc.  This partnership ultimately can help clear confusion and reduce stress in the benefits selection and use process. 

Embracing opportunity is essential for brokers to evolve as employer partners and to position themselves as leaders in the market.  Check out how Benefitfocus works with brokers  to provide market-leading partnership in service to their customers. 

For more insight into the growth of consumer-driven health plans download our infographic now! 


1Benefitfocus platform utilization statistics

About the Author

Matt is a Content Marketing Manager at Benefitfocus. He came to Benefitfocus with 10 years of clinical experience, in both Primary and Specialty Care, and developed a unique specialty at the crossroads of data based health analytics and individual provider and member health and wellness initiatives as an Health Insights Customer Success Manager. Matt joined the Content Marketing team in 2020 where his focus is to use his experience to develop insightful and impactful resources for health benefits leaders to help them navigate an evolving and increasingly complex landscape. Matt holds a Bachelor's degree in English from The Ohio State University and a Master's degree in English from The Citadel Graduate College.

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