Voluntary Benefit Vendors Selling Directly To Employers

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Voluntary Benefits, Consultants vs Brokers vs Vendors

After an extensive search through credible sources, details about the percent of the time employers use consultants vs brokers vs going directly to voluntary and other benefits vendors, as well as the key characteristics that differentiate the type of employers who choose each route do not appear to be available in the public domain. In the absence of this specific information, the research team was able to gather general helpful insights and presented them below, together with the details of the team's research strategies to find the information.

Useful Findings on Voluntary Benefits, Consultants vs Brokers vs Vendors

  • According to MetLife’s 15th Annual U.S. Employee Benefits Trend report, 81% of employers say Brokers impact their Employee Benefits.
  • About 75% of employers had the opinion that an employee benefits consultant or consulting firm played a role in employee benefits.
  • According to Kaiser Family Foundation 2018 Employer Health Benefits Survey report, about 82% of large firms and 53% of smaller firms offer programs to help identify health risks and unhealthy behaviors along with solutions to improve on those risks and behaviors.
  • According to Fidelity Investments, about 87% of companies use an advisor or plan consultant.
  • About 5% of employers offer fertility or maternity program through vendors.
  • According to DirectPath, about 83% of insurance brokers reported that employers preferred them to manage health care spending.
  • According to the employee benefits law, employers are not required to provide retirement plans, dental or vision plans, health plans, and life insurance plans to employees.
  • Due to the continuous rise of health care costs and legislative and economic changes, employers are looking for innovative and cost-efficient employee benefits solutions.
  • For consulting firms, the estimated number of billable hours per month is 168 hours.
  • According to KFF and the Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) report, the average annual premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance in 2017 are $6,690 for single coverage and $18,764 for family coverage.

Research Strategy:

We were not able to find information on the percent of the time employers use consultants vs brokers vs going directly to voluntary and other benefits vendors, as well as the key characteristics that differentiate the type of employers who choose each route.

To search for the percent of the time, our first strategy was to look for survey reports on the Employee Health Benefits industry through sites like Metlife, Kaiser Family Foundation and other related sources. This strategy did not work as there was no information on the time employers use consultants, brokers, or vendors. Instead, we found information about how the workforce is transforming and how employers are handling health and wellness. We thought of this strategy since sites like KFF and Metlife publish reports on Employer Health Benefits industry every year and would have published this information in their latest or previous reports.

Our second strategy was to look for information on sites that provide health and benefits consulting. We looked for the information on sites like Aon Hewitt and Gallagher among others. This strategy did not work as we could only find information about the health and benefits consulting services solutions of these companies, their pricing, and technology trends. Our goal behind this strategy was to see if there are any reports or articles published by these companies on how employers use their consulting services and the period of time used by employers on various resources as these companies provide health and benefits consulting as well as collaboration with employers to provide customized benefits plans.

Our third strategy was to search for the average number of billable hours per consultant/broker/vendor per week/month and calculate the time by dividing the same with the average number of clients per consultant/broker/vendor per week/month. We tried to look for figures on financial education sites like Investopedia and other business-related sites like Entrepreneur and Small Business Chron among others. We thought that this strategy may work as these sites publish information about entrepreneurship, small business management, and finance education, and would have published this information in their articles. We could find information related to the basics of employee benefits and how to choose employee benefits but there was no information on billable hours and the average number of clients per consultant/broker/vendor per week/month.
We tried to look separately for characteristics that differentiate the type of employers who choose each route. First, we tried to look for the information on companies providing employee benefits services and consulting firms like Mercer, Willis Towers Watson. We also checked employee benefits brokers firms like Benefit Brokerage Services & Britton Gallagher Brokerage Services and vendors like Benefit & Risk Management Services and BenefitElect. This strategy did not work as we could only find general information about plans and services but not the characteristics of the employers who are using their services.

Finally, we searched for sample clients of various consulting, brokerage, and vendor companies on sites like BenefitsPRO and Access Perks. We thought of this strategy since sites like BenefitsPRO which is the leading source of employee benefits news, trends, opinions, and sales tips for benefits brokers, managers, and retirement advisors would have published such information. We were able to find information about employee benefits that do not work and statistics related to employee benefits but there was no information about the traits and characteristics of the employers using consultants, brokers, or vendors. Due to the unavailability of these details, we gathered all the information that could give relevant insights and presented them above.
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