By Maureen Werther
Access to affordable healthcare continues to be a critically important and frequently polarizing topic, particularly in an election year. But politics aside, the simple truth is that many consumers find healthcare insurance confusing and complicated, and the average American often just wants to know if he or she is getting the most for their money.
The recent changes in healthcare have created an environment of greater transparency and accountability in the insurance industry. For individuals or small group plans, at least 80% of premium dollars must be spent on direct medical care and efforts to improve quality of care. The percentage is higher (at least 85%) for larger groups, including companies with 50 or more employees. In the past, insurance companies spent from 25% to as much as 50% of premium dollars on marketing, advertising, and administrative costs.
But, most consumers do not have the time or resources to become proficient in the myriad requirements, reforms, and mandates in healthcare. That is where the advice of an independent professional is invaluable. Craig Fawcett, principal at Benefits Consultants Group at 326 Broadway in Fort Edward, has been in business for 28 years and is an expert in his field. “We spend a great deal of our time keeping apprised of the changes to healthcare delivery, carriers’ new products, underwriting requirements, and matching the benefits to the group or individual’s needs based on access to care and affordability. ”
Professionals like Fawcett also devote a significant portion of their time to educating the consumer. “Education is extremely important while matching benefits to needs. As agents, we spend a lot of time familiarizing the prospective client in benefits terminology and placement of appropriate products.” And of course, all of this education and consulting is part of the package you receive by working with a professional. “There is no additional cost to the prospective client outside of the premium. Insurance professionals are either paid on a commission basis by the carrier, or they receive a consultant fee from the employer when working with larger groups – never both.”
Fawcett notes that some of the criteria to look for in a health plan are features like Flexible Spending Accounts, Health Savings, Accounts, and Healthcare Reimbursement Arrangements, all geared toward keeping premiums down while offering the most benefits possible.
For more information about how you can maximize your healthcare dollars, you can contact Craig Fawcett at 338-3500.