Viewpoints from Adam Okun

As we begin renewal season discussions with clients and prospects, it’s an interesting time to stop and listen to what is on our clients’ minds. Of course we always think we have the answers, but in this climate of uncertainty I wanted to share some of the thoughts and suggestions that have been raised by our clients as they orient themselves towards the 2021 planning season:

Should we conduct dependent eligibility audits?

These fairly low-cost initiatives typically come with return on investment (ROI) for those clients who don’t otherwise aggressively manage dependent eligibility and documentation. And they always come back into focus during recessions when employers are looking to tighten the belts of their plans.

What, if any, rate and contribution increases should we pass along to our employees, knowing plan costs in 2020 typically ran way under budget?

This is a challenging question that largely hinges upon how far under budget costs ran, the economic condition of the client, and the risk tolerance given uncertain 2021 plan costs.

Are there non-intrusive coverages or benefits we can introduce to employees at little to no cost that are simple to implement remotely?

Things like voluntary benefits, technology-based medical services and previously overlooked state mandates/plan enhancements are front-of-mind.

Where can we extract savings with little pain to participants?

Pharmacy and dental are the gifts that appear to be giving in 2021. Both markets are red hot, with vendors lining up to tighten pricing in order to gain market share.

How early can we finalize rates?

Our strong recommendation is to wait as long as possible – ideally to mid-October or even November. We want as much claims experience as possible and more visibility into emerging trends. We know you like finalizing strategy and moving on to open enrollment early but please, not this year.

I’m curious to hear what other questions and thoughts you are fielding in the market. We are all learning this new world together.


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Adam Okun

Northeast Region Employee Benefits Practice Leader – New York, NY