Health Agents Must Be Nimble To Maintain Traditional Position
Once upon a time, health insurance agents connected employers to their health insurers.
Today, agents and employers do business with cafeteria plan administrators, federal benefits law compliance specialists, payroll services, training firms, human resources information system vendors, software automation companies and Web companies.
Agencies should do their best to manage all those many outside services and advisors, to defend their traditional position as the advisors who speak directly to the employers, according to Fred Robertson, executive vice president of BenefitMall.com, Dallas, a Web-based brokerage.
“Access to data is king,” Robertson told agents here at the annual convention of the National Association of Health Underwriters.
Robertson described a world where agents manage employers’ benefits programs by managing access to employee data, and “the key piece is the HRIS system.”
An HRIS system is a database that contains many different types of payroll, benefits and human resources information.
Some employers still handle payroll with a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, but others are adopting HRIS systems that incorporate tools for handling taxes, payroll deduction payment options, compliance with federal health insurance regulations, and other tasks.
Half a dozen Web companies had booths in the NAHU exhibit hall. Many of the Web companies and traditional vendors are offering to help employers combine human resources and benefits functions that used to be separate, Robertson said.