Brand Story – Insurance burden eased with an engaged broker on your side
Despite the name, Oregon’s nonprofit sector has actually buffed itself into a sizable economic force statewide, with more than 23,502 organizations providing an estimated 225,284 jobs. With an emphasis on lean, efficient business models, every nickel is necessary if nonprofits are to make their financial goals and continue their altruistic operations.
“Every single year we see an increase in nonprofit jobs, as it has a direct impacts on our communities and economy. ,” says Jacob Colmenero, a sales executive with Marsh McLennan Agency, a nationwide insurer and Fortune 500 company.
Colmenero served for more than 10 years in the nonprofit sector, principally as a fundraiser for children’s health care groups raising over $10 million. He’s familiar with all the usual challenges, including nonprofits facing an uphill battle when it comes to finding quality candidates.
“I understand the difficulty in competing for skilled labor. And retaining it,” he says. “If we can help a nonprofit to attract skilled labor, to fundraise more efficiently, we can make a bigger impact on our community.”
Community impact turns out to be a major part of MMA’s corporate culture. Whether the client is a local, community-based nonprofit, or a multi-state agency supporting communities nationwide, Marsh McLennan Agency (MMA) can bring significant industry expertise to insure employers against inevitable risks.
“At MMA, our passion is to serve others,” Colmenero says. “Together we have a shared purpose; to improve our communities and the lives of our colleagues and clients.“We seek to safeguard your organization and provide counsel so you can concentrate on furthering your mission.”
Unfortunately, when it comes to salaries and benefits designed to attract the best job applicants,it’s well-documented that even established nonprofits cannot compete with private companies. After salaries, the largest expense for any employer is health insurance, an area where some sound strategic planning with an experienced insurance broker can result in lower rates for both the suits and the boots.
“The important thing is being strategic in your health-benefit planning before your next renewal,” advises Colmenero.
“Instead of seeing it as an annual event, or having your broker bring the renewal to you and be blindsided, have a discussion upfront about how to have tactical conversations. Not just with your broker, but your HR team, CFOs, and one of the most important pieces that gets overlooked, your employees.
“They are the utilizers of the benefits, so what is impacting your employees now?” Colmenero asks. “How do you address their day-to-day concerns so that your benefits truly make an impact?”
That’s where a broker comes into play, he says. Partnering with an insurance broker that is actively engaged on your behalf can save time, money, and help workers access the benefits they pay for.
A broker that can help drive relevant health conversations within the employment organization,through surveys, educational opportunities, and by establishing committees, effectively demonstrates to workers that the employer is actively concerned about the ongoing quality of the health benefits. That’s another compelling reason it’s best for employers to stay in touch with their insurance broker.
An ideal conversation takes place about six months before renewal, Colmenero says.
“Have tactical conversations about setting about DEIJ committees, employee surveys, looking at health claim data if that’s provided, and being upfront so that you have a roadmap when renewal hits,” he says. “Ask your broker what’s new? Ask about alternative methods of funding your insurance plan and what kind of free resources are available to my employees.”
Access is crucial
Of course, benefits are only beneficial when workers understand how to use them. It doesn’t help anyone if employees aren’t using their healthcare benefits because they don’t know how to access them, or opting out on picking up health insurance because they don’t understand it.
Again, a committed insurance broker can lessen the education burden placed on the employer, as HR staff are typically overworked and not benefit experts, that’s why you have a broker to help. “The biggest piece about this, health insurance is the second-highest expense employers pay, after employee salaries,” Colmenero says. “So this is a significant budget line item that often blindsides employers. You don’t do that for anything else within your business.”
Colmenero reports that during COVID, workers were not utilizing their health benefits in person due to fear of spreading the virus, which gave rise to telehealth, technology giving potential patients an actual face to converse with, and it continues to show positive adoption rates. This is the kind of innovative thinking that a broker can bring to the table.
“Telehealth is fantastic for everyday cuts and scrapes,” Colmenero agrees. “And it’s low-cost for the employer.”
It’s also an effective way to identify next steps in health care that can help the employee mitigate pricey trips to the emergency room due to a lack of diagnostic foresight.
Colmenero says that 2020 was their lowest claim year, and that 2022 and 2023 haven’t equaled pre-pandemic numbers.
“What’s happening now is that carriers are pushing it all to next year. We’re seeing increases in carriers expecting a bounce-back in 2024.
Brand stories are paid content articles that allow Oregon Business advertisers to share news about their organizations and engage with readers on business and public policy issues. The stories are produced in house by the Oregon Business marketing department. For more information, contact associate publisher Courtney Kutzman.