Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangements (ICHRAs) are fast becoming the popular benefits solutions for countless businesses. With benefits like expense control and employee flexibility, companies are adopting ICHRAs more and more. But where does this leave health insurance brokers? As a broker yourself, you might feel on the outside looking in these days. But there are benefits you could be leveraging, too. Here are three ways brokers can also take advantage of increased savings with an ICHRA.
1. Group Plans Are Losing Ground
The pandemic has changed nearly every corner of society, and health insurance is no exception. Companies rebounding from shutdowns are looking for more affordable ways to offer insurance benefits to employees. And the ICHRA model is proving to be the ideal platform for many company budgets. The traditional group plans of pre-pandemic times are often too costly for today’s businesses. Brokers are recognizing these trends and wondering how to compete as group plans continue to lose ground.
Group Plans Tend to Be More Expensive
Some sources suggest the costs of group health insurance plans have already been rising in recent years. With steady price hikes of three to five percent, many businesses struggle to negotiate feasible insurance plans to offer employees. Add to the equation the devastating effects of the pandemic, and business budgets are even tighter today than before. Traditional group plans, with high premiums and undetermined cost-sharing throughout the year, are even more out of financial reach for companies desperate to rebound and stay afloat.
The Changes Brought by the American Rescue Plan Act
While there is buzz about the recent rounds of stimulus checks going out to Americans, it’s also important to recognize the health insurance changes that came with the American Rescue Plan Act. The Federal Poverty Level (FPL) calculations are significant as it applies to affordability thresholds for health insurance. Prior to COVID-19, a family earning 229% of the FPL could expect to pay 7.6% toward a silver-tiered plan. However, a provision of the American Rescue Plan Act changes the calculation for consumers to pay only 3.2% of the household incomes. Averaging all the expenses between 100% and 400% of the FPL, that drops the household contributions from 6.78% down to 3.41%.
The Affordability of the Individual Plan Is Far More Attractive
The Paycheck Protection Program may have helped some American businesses keep employees on the payroll. But it wasn’t going to prepare the company bottom lines for the health insurance nightmare to come. Some of the latest data suggests group health plans would soar in price, from ten to 18 percent this year. The affordability of the individual plans became the only way to offer health insurance benefits for many companies. Brokers can take notice of this new affordability reality and look forward to new individual opportunities.
2. The ICHRA Movement
ICHRAs aren’t new. And some industry experts say these individual plans were already taking hold in the market long before the pandemic. With the renewed interest in employer affordability and an even greater need for employee-level health insurance options, brokers today can be leaning into the ICHRA movement.
ICHRA Benefits Brokers Can’t Ignore
Individual plan expenses have been slashed nearly in half. As an example, a family of four with an annual household income of $60,000 used to pay roughly $375 for a silver plan on the marketplace. For the same plan, that cost is now $158, translating to a 58% decrease. While ICHRAs were already predicted to take up 25% of the group market before, these cost savings are speeding up the market share takeover.
ICHRA Flexibility and Control
Instead of providing health insurance coverage and paying hefty, unpredictable group plan costs, companies are diving in head-first to embrace the flexibility and control of the ICHRA. Under an ICHRA, companies design the reimbursement platform based on fixed budgets. They’re turning the health insurance enrollment decisions over to the employees and maintaining a manageable hold on annual costs. And adding to the flexibility, the ICHRA can be applicable to various types of employees, including full-time, part-time, seasonal, and temporary.
Even Larger Companies Are Taking Advantage of ICHRA Benefits
Larger employers who might be perceived to have the extensive budgets to handle sizable group plans are also taking advantage of the ICHRA benefits. ICHRAs can be offered in conjunction with traditional group plans, as long as the same employees are only offered one or the other. This allows big businesses to develop customized plans, catering to the various types of employees on staff and leveraging the cost-benefits of the reimbursement model.
3. Reach a New Niche of Business Clients
Brokers don’t want to be left behind in this ICHRA movement. And trying to convince companies to enroll in large group plans isn’t going to be lucrative. Instead, brokers can look to identify the new niche and target clients that might be ready for an ICHRA solution. The individual model can prove to have just as many benefits to brokers as it does to companies and employees.
Higher Risk Pools
Brokers can look for employers who might need to address potential risk pools. If employees experience major health events, including surgeries or cancer, the rates go up with traditional group plans. Offering businesses an ICHRA solution can translate to huge company savings and a better way to manage those high-risk scenarios.
Different Employee Types
Brokers can also recognize a massive shift in employee type across various industries. To better manage payroll and productivity, many companies are shifting teams from full-time to part-time. Others are making changes to seasonal and temp employees. The ICHRA is an ideal solution for these types of company dynamics. Brokers offering the ICHRA in a way that allows businesses to offer benefits they wouldn’t be able to with traditional group plans can be a game-changer.
Small and Medium-Sized Business Targets
While some of the larger companies within prominent industries had the financial reserves to sustain the shuttering of 2020, small and medium-sized businesses struggled. These SMBs won’t have the budgets to contribute to the employee premiums of a group plan but will still be required to meet regulation offerings. The ICHRA may be the perfect solution for these businesses, allowing them to offer comparable benefits in the form of controlled reimbursements. It also helps these companies remain competitive in providing attractive incentives for employees. As a broker, you might be able to examine your existing portfolio of clients and identify which fall into this category. You can then connect with a cost-saving ICHRA option that makes sense for everyone.
If you still need help adjusting to embrace the ICHRA movement, let the professionals at W3ll help! We can guide your efforts so you can pivot in this new environment and leverage the countless benefits ICHRAs have to offer.