Business Experts

Dee McFarland:
Every Business Wants to Reduce Benefit Costs

August 16, 2018

We have known your company as National Healthcare Access and it is now known as Assured Partners Consulting. What does this mean to your clients?

Dee McFarland, employee benefits consultant with Assured Partners Consulting in Boardman: NHA was founded in 1990 as a local family business. We joined Assured Partners in 2016 and rebranded to Assured Partners Consulting. The tagline for APC says it all: “Local expertise, global resources.”

There is great value in being part of the 15th largest employee benefits agency in the country. We now have access to resources that are only available to the largest consulting firms. While our national team offers expertise in specific industries, we offer partnerships and innovative solutions to all clients.

What is the most common misconception about what you do?

McFarland: When I meet people they think I sell an insurance product and only show up once a year to review that product and its pricing. I actually create benefit programs by listening, problem-solving and collaborating with our clients. Together we find the best new innovative solutions to fulfill each client’s specific needs. I am invested in the relationship and the success of the companies I work with and I promote their success.

Another common misconception is that reducing employee benefits is the only way to reduce costs. Health insurance is expensive because health care is expensive. We have to do a better job of working with the medical and pharmacy providers and educating our employees on the best way to utilize their benefits.

What is the biggest challenge employers face in their benefits program?

McFarland: The top three challenges are cost, compliance and ever-changing workforce.

Every business wants to control or reduce costs. The only way to do that is to educate and change the way that we consume health care. The most advanced tools combined with industry experience and partnerships with carriers and providers allow us to help contain costs.

Ensuring the benefits program is compliant with ever-changing federal and state laws can be a daunting task for employers and HR professionals. As members of Western Reserve Association of Health Underwriters, and the Ohio Chapter of the National Association of Health Underwriters, we monitor legislative activity and provide timely updates to our clients. Understanding what is required and having an action plan in place can save an employer thousands of dollars in fines.

Employers today are dealing with one of the most diverse workforces in history. The benefit needs of a seasoned or aging employee may differ greatly from the needs of an employee new to the workforce. Today’s job market is tight, so it is imperative for an employer to design a program that will attract, retain and protect employees.

What is the best part about what you do?

McFarland: Learning about business and families in the Mahoning Valley. I grew up in this industry and this Valley and I have a vested interest in seeing both succeed. Strong companies lead to strong communities.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.