Patrick Casale has been in the insurance industry long enough to have seen a wide range of consumer and carrier scenarios.
Casale, managing partner of The MultiCare Group USA office in Las Vegas, specializes in health insurance and other key benefits for employers, individuals and families.
He offered advice for those evaluating health insurance options this fall.
His keys for business leaders:
● Find a broker who can write with every carrier in the market to provide you access to the best plans, rates and provider networks each year.
● Offering insurance to your employees is a win-win for the business and your team. The tax benefits typically outweigh the cost to provide the insurance, so while it may increase monthly expenses the benefits at tax time more than make up for it. Companies that offer health benefits also tend to hire and retain better employees; an employee will tend to remain with a company that provides benefits because they will have better access to coverage at a lower cost versus what is available on the individual market.
● A PPO group plan offers national access to care that individual/family plans no longer provide.
● Ask your broker about the availability of association health plans for your given industry, as this segment of the industry continues to evolve and change.
Individuals and families seeking health insurance should keep the following things in mind, according to Casale:
● Work with a local broker rather than a web broker who is likely outside of Nevada. Local brokers are far more likely to know the market, products and networks and will be far more accessible.
● Ask if a plan is a Qualified Health Plan. Non-qualified plans have their place in the market, but the differences between qualified and non-qualified plans are crucial to understand. If you are considering a non-qualified plan such as a ministry/sharing plan or short-term plan, work with a broker who can advise you on both types. Ask about the annual out-of-pocket maximum and get a Schedule of Benefits in writing.
● Plans that appear richer are not always better. Work with a broker who provides a complete breakdown of how the plan works and your total exposure.
● Pay attention to the type of plan offered (HMO, EPO, PPO or HSA) and check whether your doctors, clinics, pharmacies, etc., are contracted plan providers with each carrier and plan type you consider.
● Casale believes that Health Savings Account (HSA) plans are the “best option available today for many consumers, but they are often misunderstood and underutilized.” HSA plans offer lower premiums and out-of-pocket exposure. “Those savings can be better used to cover your out-of-pocket expenses and to save for your future,” Casale said. HSA plans work differently than the co-pay plans many are used to: The insured is provided with contracted discounts for plan services and prescriptions and contributions are set aside on a tax-advantaged basis to use on eligible health-related expenses. “If you know you will need extensive care for a surgery or pregnancy,” Casale said, “make sure you use a broker who will include an HSA plan in your evaluation.”
In the end, the best thing any business owner, HR manager or individual can do is to make sure he or she has a skilled, professional insurance broker by their side. Don’t hesitate to get a second opinion if you don’t understand what you are buying and how to use it wisely.
“Having the right insurance agent can make a critical difference when things go wrong or when a member needs extensive care,” Casale said. “It’s our job as brokers to educate and advocate for the consumer, especially in today’s health insurance market. If you’re not an experienced broker, if you don’t understand the changing landscape and the full range of policies available, your clients will lose.”
After many years in the business, Casale enjoys the strategic aspect of being a broker and finding the right fit for each company, individual and family.
“Over the years, I have found that being an insurance broker is about more than being a strategist, educator and advocate,” he said. “It is about helping people through the important seasons in life, like having a child or facing a difficult diagnosis. I take pride in being there, and that fuels me to continue to work hard and diligently for my clients.”
MORE ABOUT PATRICK CASALE
Patrick Casale has been an entrepreneur most of his adult life. He has been in the insurance industry since 1990. He owned Patrick Casale and Associates for several years until he founded The MultiCare Group USA in Las Vegas four years ago. His partner, Adam Lewis, is the founder of The MultiCare Group in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and the MultiCare Group USA office in Tampa Bay, Fla. The firm offers a complementary suite of products and services to meet the insurance and benefits needs of both large and small businesses and offers a variety of health and life insurance products for individuals and families.
For more information, visit themulticaregroup.com or call 855-396-9449.