What’s the difference between a health insurance broker, agent and consultant?
Business owners may not have time to research group health insurance. Fortunately, there are insurance professionals who can do some of the legwork for you. Using a broker, agent or consultant to find the right plans for your company can save time, and may even save you money. Learn more about each of these professionals to find the best fit.
A broker who specializes in business health care often works with several insurers. He or she can make recommendations about which plan might be right for your business. Health insurance brokers are licensed and regulated by individual states. They are paid — often by commission — directly by the health insurer after you enroll in a plan.
Agents or producers
A health insurance agent or producer usually works with a single insurer. They may offer traditional health coverage or Medicare to individuals. They may also offer traditional health insurance with specialty insurance, like vision and dental, to both individuals and groups. When working with an agent or producer, there should be no additional charges or cost to you, other than your coverage itself. They are most often compensated directly by the insurer they represent, but always ask to be sure.
A health insurance consultant may advise on employee benefits, offer plan administration and provide compliance documentation. Like brokers, consultants may represent several insurers. The consultant will be involved in your plan throughout the year – not just during the run up to open enrollment. Be sure to ask how the consultant is paid and what is included in your policy before signing a long-term contract.
What to know about principals and aggregators
Another term that you may hear while looking for help in identifying coverage is a “principal.” A principal is a person, partnership or corporation with the legal authority to make certain decisions. The principal has the ability to empower someone else to make those decisions. That person is known as the principal’s agent.
Insurance companies can pay a fee to be listed on websites like eHealthInsurance and GroupHealthQuotes. It’s just one more way companies can make sure their products can be found on the Internet by individuals and companies looking for information about coverage. It’s estimated that only about 3% of searchers actually purchase coverage using an aggregator. Most people do their research online, then buy directly from the insurance company, or get help from one of the professionals listed above.
Learn more about brokers
Before choosing to work with a health insurance broker, read about the process and the broker’s role.
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For companies with 2 to 50 employees
For companies with 51 or more employees
Want help finding a plan?
If you want help choosing a health plan for your company, you can work with an insurance professional who may represent a single company, or a broker who may be able to offer more options. Not sure what’s right for you? Call UnitedHealthcare or use the link below to learn more about United Advantage brokers.