Ask an expert: what to know about working with an agent, broker or consultant

When you’re ready to choose a health insurance plan for your business, you don’t have to do it alone. An agent, broker or consultant can act as your guide throughout the process.

 

Learn about three types of health insurance professionals and how they can help from Graber and Associates Agents Jose Addink and Ryan Graber and Sanford Health Plan Broker Account Manager Hollie Scott.

What’s the difference between an agent, broker and consultant?

An agent typically works with one health insurance carrier, while a broker often represents many insurance carriers. The role of an agent and broker are closely intertwined as they both work to provide you with recommendations about which plan may be best for your business. Agents are typically paid directly by their insurance carrier, and brokers are often paid by commission after you’re enrolled in a plan.

 

Consultants also represent multiple companies but may provide additional services for a fee, such as compliance reporting, assistance with ancillary benefits and plan administration. Additionally, consultants typically work with large group employers and are actively involved in your company’s plan year-round.

What are the benefits of working with an agent or a broker?

Agents and brokers are licensed in the states where they practice and are extensively trained and educated on plans and provider networks. Best of all, they’re available to you at no cost.

 

To recommend the best options for your business, your agent or broker will vet different plans, provide you with quotes to review and explain the ins and outs of each plan. One of their most important roles is to help eliminate confusion by helping you understand the finer details of each plan.

 

Remember that your agent or broker is your advocate and their goal is to recommend the best options for your business. To do this, they’ll consider the needs of your business and what additional services may be most beneficial to you, such as free COBRA administration. By doing some of the legwork for you, an agent or broker can save you time and even money.

 

Does it cost money to use an agent or broker’s services?

No, purchasing health insurance through an agent or broker does not cost you anything. An agent or broker’s pay or commission is already built into your rates or accounted for, so you’ll pay the same monthly premium whether you purchase your health insurance on your own or through a licensed insurance agent or broker.

 

How does a typical contract work?

Once you have signed on with an insurance carrier, your contract is typically in effect for one calendar year. Your contract includes an agreement to the rate and administration requirements. Before it becomes time for renewal, often in the fall, you can evaluate if your plan’s coverage and services are meeting your needs. Your agent or broker will also give you updated information for the coming year and can provide you with quotes if you’d like to consider switching plans or insurance carriers.

 

Where can I find a health insurance agent or broker?

Sanford Health Plan can connect you with a local insurance agent in your community. You can also find an agent or broker on the Marketplace at healthcare.gov or use Help On Demand, a tool that connects you to agents or brokers for immediate assistance.

 

Find your insurance professional to help you every step of the way. Call (888) 535-4831 to connect with an agent today.

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