Most agents who sell group health coverage, and some that sell individual as well, create a spreadsheet in order to present the plans in an “apples to apples” format so their clients can quickly narrow down their options. While the spreadsheet can be a useful tool when comparing dissimilar plans by helping the client focus on the most important benefits, one big disadvantage of a quote spreadsheet is that it minimizes the characteristics of a health plan that differentiate it from the other options.
For instance, some plans include a wellness benefit. Or a discount on dental and vision care. Or complementary and alternative wellness discounts. Or a free pedometer. Or special deals on gym memberships. You get the idea. There are a lot of extra perks offered by health plans that are not part of the insurance contract. They are, nonetheless, important to our clients—or at least they should be.
Unfortunately, some clients never learn about these additional benefits because they usually don’t show up on the spreadsheet and we might not have enough time during an enrollment meeting to discuss them. What’s really disturbing is the fact that these extra benefits might actually be a deciding factor for some clients, if they only knew about them. Of course, they’re not more important than the monthly premium or the in-network out-of-pocket exposure. Those items are essential to the client’s decision and absolutely belong on the spreadsheet. But what happens in the event of a tie? What happens when two plans from different carriers offer similar benefits for similar prices? In those cases, the extra perks could actually be the tie-breaker. But how does a broker communicate those benefits? After all, there’s only so much room on the page.
Here’s an idea: make the spreadsheet part of a larger proposal. The real purpose of a quote spreadsheet is to give the client a high-level overview of the available options so he or she knows that you did your homework and can quickly eliminate plans that don’t meet his or her requirements. Once the client focuses on a handful of plans, though, you as the broker should provide more information on those plans so the client can make a final decision. That means that there should be some supplemental pages to the proposal that explain some of the lesser health benefits along with some of the extra perks.
Again, these extra perks usually aren’t the primary reason the client is buying the health coverage, and therefore they should not be presented as if they are the most important things to consider. Still, they are important and might help the client get more out of his or her plan; for that reason, you want to be sure to spend some time explaining how to access them. By giving these extra perks their own page in the proposal, you can bring them up when a client is having trouble deciding between two similar plans or explain them before you ask the client to complete the application.