This week we interviewed William Tell, President of NTI Group, about using Defined Contribution to generate business outside of open enrollment.
William Tell is President of NTI Group, a firm based in Lancaster, PA specializing in employee benefits, ACA Consulting, and payroll services. NTI Group was established to serve primarily small and mid sized employers. In addition, their ability to offer a package of integrated products and services that are communicated collectively enhance employee and employer satisfaction.
Q: What products does your company specialize in?
A: Since we were founded, NTI Group has specialized in helping our small and medium-sized clients obtain maximum value. As the market has evolved over the past 12 years, our product offering has evolved with it. When brokers were slow to adopt MERP and HSA plans, we helped clients take advantage of them. When we saw an increase in DOL audits several years ago, we built an IRS compliant plan document package. Now the ACA comes along and we had to answer the question, “Do we get behind group or individual health insurance plans for our small group clients?”
Q: How has your business evolved due to health care reform?
A: We jumped on board the ACA train very early, embracing the opinion that repeal was not going to happen. Preparing early has paid off. We are building a revenue stream outside of carrier commissions. That was a goal of ours, to no longer be reliant on carrier commissions. With the help from the ACA and Zane Benefits we are on a path to accomplish that.
Q: Are businesses actively searching for insurance solutions outside of open enrollment?
A: Most emphatically, Yes! Health insurance renewals drive businesses to look for options. As each month passes, more businesses experience their first ACA renewal and this is causing a lot of pain. Small groups have very few options and need our help.
Q: What types of businesses are transitioning to Defined Contribution outside of open enrollment?
A: We are working with restaurants, manufacturing, medical practices, construction, etc. But I do not feel that “the type of company” is important. First, we understand company culture, ownership expectations and goals, and then design a Defined Contribution solution that will be a good fit.
Q: What is the best selling point for Defined Contribution outside of open enrollment?
A: Controlling employer cost.
I know this is not just a cost problem but it sure is a good start. Employers are really connecting with the idea that employees may choose their own plan and usually crack a smile when they figure out they do not have to deal with group health insurance renewals any more.
Q: How do you explain Defined Contribution to your prospects?
A: A reimbursement to employees tax-free for their personal insurance policies.
Q: What is the number one reason businesses are searching for insurance solutions outside of open enrollment?
A: Renewal sticker shock and I have to throw in that we find many employers that are fed up and just do not want to deal with their group health insurance plan any more. Employers are happy to find a solution that controls their cost, takes care of their employees and gets them out of the insurance business.
Q: What challenges have you faced when discussing Defined Contribution to a prospect or client?
A: Education. This is selling the MERP in 2003 all over again. Defined Contribution is new. Employers feel that their employees will either reject the plan or that employees are not responsible enough to pay their own invoice. Employers used this argument for years to reject the MERP and now look, MERP’s and HRA’s are saving employers money and widely accepted by employers and employees. We use this comparison to help employers see the lost opportunity by not adopting Defined Contribution early.
Q: Does offering Defined Contribution help get a foot in the door to offer other products?
A: I want to just say yes, but I think the question deserves more discussion. More frequently, we are running into incumbent brokers saying that they can also do “that” or that “Defined Contribution was our plan B”. I do not feel that loosely mentioning Defined Contribution as a solution is enough. We get a foot in the door because we are experts in Defined Contribution design and implementation. For this, employers are rewarding us with their trust and health insurance business that does allow us to comfortably discuss other products.
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