Are you one of those people who LOVE mid-year reviews with your clients? You like getting to consult without it being a negotiation over every nuance of the medical plan renewal price.
Or do you HATE mid-year reviews? You think you’re supposed to bring new ideas and you don’t know what to say this year. So, you stress about it. Or worse, you just don’t do them.
Whichever scenario fits you, I'm sharing 5.5 ideas I've heard over my time in the employee benefits industry. Perhaps there's something here you can use to focus and prepare for solid mid-year conversations....
1. Start with your Stewardship Report
If you’re one who stresses at this idea - or you’re part of the 2/3 of brokers that don’t do mid-year reviews - let’s start with the basics. You need client meetings that aren’t dominated by selling and negotiating a medical plan. Rather, you’re selling YOU. Simply have a conversation that highlights the significant ways you’ve brought value to your client in the past year.
For a great article on this, click here to check out what Kevin Trokey of Q4intelligence advises, including: “…your clients also need your advice and results in so many other areas: compliance, technology, communication, attraction/retention, employee engagement, the list goes on.”
freshbenies TIP #1! Inside your freshbenies Broker Portal, pull a Utilization Dashboard Report for the most recent 12 months (for newer groups - pull all months available). This becomes one portion of your Stewardship Report and shows you did your homework. Be sure to frame your report with a high-level summary that provides a quick takeaway, such as “Your 308 employees used freshbenies 304 times. So, it cost $35,000 and it saved $150,000.” Then, use the report for more detail. Click here for a case study example of how you can tell the story.
2. Rethink consumerism
One of the questions you should expect in a mid-year review is, “What’s coming down the pike that we should consider?” Most employers want to hear innovative ideas, and they want to know you’re prepared to discuss them.
Leverage the calmer environment of this meeting to help clients consider things they wouldn’t address 3 months prior to their anniversary. Sometimes quoting benchmark data or recent articles helps lay out the needs for innovative ideas in a non-emotional way. Plus, doing so makes you a credible resource.
A recent study of large employers by the National Business Group on Health (NBGH) uncovered key things employers want to give their employees this year. The study noted:
“Employers are rethinking consumerism. Today’s consumer places a premium on simplicity, convenience, and personalization. Navigators, concierge services and virtual resources are expanding to help consumers take some of the complexity out of accessing care and to better anticipate and address their unique needs.”
freshbenies TIP #2! Navigators and concierge services are quickly becoming a requirement among employers. Customer service from the medical plan is no longer good enough. People want and need independent, expert advocates to help them navigate all aspects of their benefits plan and the health care system. Click the image below for a webinar we recently produced that outlines a detailed summary of services employers want to provide employees. This service really rounds out a premium benefit plan - AND it’s included in a freshbenies Power Package.
freshbenies TIP #3! From the study, virtual resources refers to healthcare tools like telehealth primary care and specialist visits by email, phone or video. But it also means they must be delivered in a way that maximizes employee engagement. Versions of telehealth embedded in a medical plan don’t get used, so they don’t really count as a resource. You can leverage that known failure and the NBGH survey to explain the need for a complete program. freshbenies’ turnkey member engagement system gets results: an average 71% utilization rather than just 1 to 7% usage elsewhere. A suite of services that gets used saves far more than it costs.
3. Offer more help with Rx costs
The NBGH study also states that 7 of every 10 employees “struggle with prescription drug costs.” High Rx inflation plays out in many ways...
- longer non-formulary lists
- increasing deductibles on prescriptions
- more top-tier drugs
Most employers are looking for every insurance and non-insurance solution you can bring to help with this.
Share your applicable insurance-based options during the mid-year review. There is a range of other non-insurance consumerism savings options outside of the plan can be helpful, but some are extremely cumbersome to roll out. Still, these other options are especially valuable when an employee’s out-of-pocket costs incentivize them to be better consumers.
freshbenies TIP #4! Below are a few ideas to bring, but first: we recently expanded our Rx Savings program to include some of these other programs...
- We’ve always had a savings program (with an independent PBM) and price transparency tool for “Local Pharmacy Search” of most brand and generic drugs. Two-thirds of medication prices fluctuate between locations, so this brings an average 46% savings.
- The Rx Savings icon inside the member App and Portal now also includes a Mail Order Pharmacy option that brings 10-85% savings and free standard shipping. When your employer says the medical plan already has a similar program, remind them this is for the prescriptions that fall through the cracks of the medical plan (and includes all the employee's dependents).
- The Mail Order Pharmacy option also includes three other advanced savings options:
- a Prescription Assistance Program
- pill split options
- therapeutic equivalent guide
This brings us to the most concierge-style option: personal advice. Members can ask an Advocate to review their prescription to see if there are lower-priced medications or options for purchasing. This is a great service to highlight to the employer.
4. Improve access to behavioral health
This week, a consultant at one of the largest brokerages in the country told me virtually every employer is asking her for alternative ways to address the behavioral health needs of their people.
This access-to-care challenge is mirrored in the NBGH survey and by the stat that 96.5 million Americans live in areas with a shortage of behavioral health providers.
Beyond just in-person access, cost and stigma are also huge barriers to behavioral health care.
- 1 month is the national average wait-time for an in-person behavioral health visit
- $201 billion is spent on behavioral health annually
- 53% of mental illnesses are misdiagnosed
- 50+% of behavioral health patients have a medical co-morbidity
All of the major telehealth vendors are expanding their list of providers to support phone or video behavioral health visits. Our experience has shown that by starting this conversation, employers with this concern identify their interest quickly. Click here for an in-depth white paper on this topic.
freshbenies TIP #5! This need drove us to include an option for Premium Telehealth. For just $1 more PEPM, an employer can elect to provide access to...
- Virtual visits with psychologists, counselors, or therapists at a fraction of the cost of typical in-person visits
- Convenient and discreet sessions by phone or video
- Available nationwide, with a first visit available in just a week
Additionally, the freshbenies Doctors Online service provides access by email to advice from all 24 medical specialties, including Psychiatrists. This service sees a tremendous amount of Behavioral Health questions driven by the simplicity and discretion available to the member (which sure beats Googling symptoms).
5. Introduce support for caregivers
Many employers today get uneasy when the value statement on their boardroom wall says “people are our greatest asset,” but they don’t offer support for employees during long periods of struggles with caring for loved ones. This topic was independently raised three times at a recent employer conference. I believe it’s gaining awareness from recent publicity by Facebook’s Director of HR, and celebrities like Rob Lowe.
Ask your employer about their employees who are caring for loved ones - adult family members (or friends), as well as children. This is an issue in ALL companies with 1 in 5 employees serving as a caregiver for someone in their world - spend 15 to 20 hours per week.
Probe for this and you’ll discover some unmet needs. Add to it the 3.8% unemployment rate, and employers have even more reason to support their caregiving employees. The right level of help can tremendously increase retention, loyalty and engagement. Click here to read and see videos from employers and members who got support.
freshbenies TIP #6! Promote the freshbenies Caregiver Support program, which is highlighted in the above testimonials. It includes support through personal licensed counselors and a technology communications platform that brings together all caregiving players (other family members, doctors, lawyers, etc.). Although this is an Add-On service, you can encourage an employer to provide this for everyone who has the need.
My bonus recommendation for your Mid-Year Client Reviews is get curious and take time to listen to what’s going on in their organization. In this meeting you have the time to make a friend, have a laugh, discover nuances about their home family and their work family. Along the way you’ll learn things that’ll lead you to offer more solutions and provide more help - and that gives you stickiness.
Now it’s your turn! What’s your best tip for mid-year reviews? What challenges do you have with these meetings? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.