Employee Benefits: How Cancer Plans Really Help Cover the Costs of Treatment

Having a positive cancer diagnosis leaves everyone with a devastating feeling and impacts the lives of family and friends too. Cancer treatment is extremely expensive and not getting treatment isn’t a viable option. 

Providing your employees the opportunity to purchase a supplemental cancer policy helps them cover the costs of treatment that the medical policy may not cover. 

Cancer policies can cover expenses not covered by medical plans:

  • Deductibles

  • Household costs like childcare and housekeeping

  • Experimental treatment & reconstruction

  • Travel Expenses associated with treatment

  • Offset lost income during illness

What types of Cancer policies are there?

  1. Lump Sum Benefit- these policies are often known as a Critical Illness polices. The benefit is paid in a single payment to the employee and is usually either a $10,000 or $20,000 payment.

  2. Indemnity Policy- these policies will pay based on cost associated with treatment.  Each step of treatment has a benefit attached and the carrier pays based on the policy selected.


One important benefit that I personally like about cancer policies is that most offer a wellness benefit. The wellness benefit pays the employee for getting their check ups and is usually $100 annually for screenings.  Examples of what the wellness benefits pays for are pap smears, mammograms, chest x-rays, colonoscopies, PSA tests and more. This will help keep your mind at ease and save you money on your wellness checkups.

  natasha@wbsinsurance.com    325.692.6600

natasha@wbsinsurance.com

325.692.6600

Being a Better You: It's OKAY to Change Your Mind

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It is better to be only sometimes right, than at all times wrong, so soon as I discover my opinions to be erroneous, I shall be ready to renounce them.” 
― Abraham Lincoln

I have been guilty of digging in my heels… so says my wife and kids.  But I have really made a conscious effort to look at situations from all angles to make sure that I have all the information needed to make a good decision.

When you are in a position of authority or influence, what you say and recommend matter.  Your reputation is on the line and you have to be right.  Sometimes it’s hard to change our minds… but, over time, things change and we have to be willing to consider a changing viewpoint as well.  The change could be because of technology, a new product to your market, or a government regulation.  We have to remind ourselves that the status quo in a changing market gets you beat.

I feel I change my mind all the time. And I sort of feel that's your responsibility as a person, as a human being – to constantly be updating your positions on as many things as possible. And if you don't contradict yourself on a regular basis, then you're not thinking.” 
― Malcolm Gladwell

 

When you should consider a mind change:

  • The information changes.

  • A life experience that changes your perspective.

  • There’s a change in your business space.

  • You were just plain wrong.

We spend time defending and implementing our decisions and now we own them.  To admit that another course is better takes guts and leadership. Why do we not make ourselves change? We make employees change all of the time.  So, change your mind… this way you can be relieved of having to make every decision “right”, rather than having to go down with the ship.

 jdavis@wbsinsurance.com  254.826.7700

jdavis@wbsinsurance.com

254.826.7700

Employee Benefits: Make Sure Your Medical Offerings are Compliant

After the ACA law was passed in 2010, benefits compliance become a serious consideration for employers and an important service provided by Brokers.  Open enrollment is just around the corner.  Here is a skeleton look at several things that you need to know to remain compliant.

Grandfathered plans:

            A grandfathered plan is one that was in existence when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was enacted.  If you make changes, be certain that the changes to your plan do not go beyond permitted guidelines.  If these changes do go beyond allowances, then your plan is no longer grandfathered. 

If your plan will lose its grandfathered status for 2019, confirm that the plan has all of the additional patient rights and benefits required by the ACA. This includes, for example, coverage of preventive care without cost-sharing requirements.

ACA Affordability Standard:

Under the ACA’s employer shared responsibility rules, employers are required to offer affordable, minimum value health coverage to their full-time employees or risk paying a penalty.  If your renewal is prior to January 1st, the affordability percentage is set at 9.5%. January 1, 2019 and beyond is 9.56%. 

A safe rule of thumb is for a $10 an hour employee working 40 hours a week, their contribution to the base plan can not be more that $165 a month.

Out-of-pocket Maximum

The annual limit on total enrollee cost sharing for fully insured and self insured plans beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2019, is $7,900 for self-only coverage and $15,800 for family coverage.

A high deductible health plan (HDHP) that is compatible with a health savings account (HSA), for 2019 plan years is $6,750 for self-only coverage and $13,500 for family coverage.

Preventive Care Benefits

The ACA requires non-grandfathered health plans to cover certain preventive health services without imposing cost-sharing requirements (that is, deductibles, copayments or coinsurance) for the services. 

HDHP and HSA Limits for 2018/ 2019

HDHP deductible minimum:                     HSA contribution limits:               

Self: $1350/ $1350                                     Self: $3450/ $3500

Family: $2700/ $2700                              Family: $6900/ $7000      

 

if you have any questions or need additional information feel free to contact me.

jdavis@wbsinsurance.com

 jdavis@wbsisnurance.com  254.826.7700

jdavis@wbsisnurance.com

254.826.7700

                  

Being a Better You: Setting Your Schedule For Your Success.

Entering the 4th quarter, the insurance world is in high gear.  About 70 percent of the employer insurance business is done in this time period.  So, as you can imagine, time management and getting things done is something on my mind a lot.  Here are few of the things I do to better manage my time.

 

Time is limited, use all of it!

Start early. I try to be at the office early. I shoot for having at least an hour and half before I get a call.  There is a lot of work you can get done.  FYI… its 6:20 as I type this.

Put your phone away. I read Peak Performance earlier this year, by Steve Magness & Brad Stulberg. So much about being better these days is about less time with your smartphones.  Now, I often place my phone on the other side of the room while at work.  I feel I get more done.

Email is a killer. Schedule a time to answer emails. They can take your whole day because they dribble in constantly.  Pick 2-4x a day that you answer them and use the rest of the day to complete tasks that make you money.

Say NO.  People are always going to ask you to help in many areas of your life.  Think about and prioritize what matters and limit yourself to those tasks.  

Prioritize tasks. I keep a post it note on my desk that I scratch out the few tasks that are important as they are completed that day. On a white board next to my desk is a longer “to do” list too, but the post it note has the priorities for the day and they are always on my desk in front of me.

Delegate to others what they can do well.  I can do every task in my office, but I have help, too.  So, when I have requests to do certain things I have Vanessa do them. She is great and does things in many cases better than I do.  So, I let her do them.

Don’t procrastinateWe all have the part of our job we hate, do them first and get them done.  Make that call to a client you really don’t want to deal with, solve a problem with an employee or deal with a vendor.  Mine? I take the trash out every morning while my first cup of coffee is brewing.

Prioritize the time away from work.  Get away and stay away from work.  It allows you to be refreshed while you’re there.  Make having a life a priority, too.

 

Well, its 6:40 and I’m done.  Off to the next task.

 jdavis@wbsinsurance.com  254.826.7700

jdavis@wbsinsurance.com

254.826.7700

Employee Benefits: Employees NEED Benefits! Here's Why.

Insurance brokers are like every other person in the market place with a good.  We try to create relationships, provide good products and then service those products just like everybody else.  We know how to talk the talk like everyone else and can spit out all the reasons to offer benefits and they are valid.  

 

These are common valid reason given to offer benefits:

  • Recruit & retain employees

  • Reduce turnover and create loyalty

  • Premiums can be written off as a tax deduction

  • Increases employee wellness and productivity

 

But I think that the point of benefits is much more simple then these common reasons.  I think what we forget in the fancy talk that there is a real NEED.  So these are the real reasons I think that employees NEED benefits to be offered.

 

Why employees NEED benefits:

Employees are living paycheck to paycheck.  How many of our employees could go more than a week without a paycheck.  This is why you should offer disability.

Who can write a $10,000 check?  This is the cost of a basic funeral.  Provide for your employees a life insurance policy and allow them to buy some more on themselves and family.

Being sick is miserable.  Employees also want to be at work, they do it for the money too.  But when they can’t afford the cost of a doctor visit, OTC drugs become their best bet. This makes for a long road back to feeling better. Offer a medical plan that has an office visit & Rx copay.

Surgery, accidents and major illnesses happen.  Your medical plan offerings should have options that allow the employees to feel comfortable about the risk they will be taking.

Medical insurance doesn’t cover everything.  Allow your employees to choose other coverages that will make life easier for them… dental, vision, accident, cancer or critical illness.  They will be paying for them, just offer the choice.

 

At my home we talk a lot to our kids about NEEDs and wants.  Offering benefits to your employees is not a want to them but a NEED. Because, on the job benefits are better than anything that they can get or afford on their own in the individual market.

 254.826.7700  jdavis@wbsinsurance.com

254.826.7700

jdavis@wbsinsurance.com

HR Admin: How a Full HR Admin System Can Help You

My father-in-law calls computer the “confuser” and for a lot of people that is a true statement. But we all know that computers can make tasks much more efficient and we can get so much more done.  If there is one job that needs more help it is always the HR Director or the Payroll person who also is in charge of the HR functions at their business.  Computers can make many HR responsibilities easier by streamlining processes and duties.

 

Where can an HR Admin System be helpful?:

  • Streamline onboarding & termination process

  • Capture benefit deductions

  • Creating reports

  • Applicant tracking

  • Time, attendance & PTO tracking

  • 1094/1095s

 

Why should your HR Admin system be able to do everything?

  1. Improves the employee experience at the start.  From the time the employee is a new hire an impression will be made about your business.  Making their onboarding process easy is a great place to start.

  2. Benefits make a big impression about your business.  Having the same HR Admin system allows the employees to enroll in a system they are already familiar with.  This makes for an easier process.

  3. Pulling reports from a HR Admin System is very helpful. Having a system that can make it easier & in real time is important.  

  4. Compliance is still really important.  One thing that HR Admin systems force employers to have all their ducks in a row when they are fully utilized.

As you would expect WBS does have an HR Admin System that we provide to our clients because we know how important it is and how it helps you.  We would like to tell you about ours and how it helps our clients.  

 254.826.7700  jdavis@wbsinsurance.com

254.826.7700

jdavis@wbsinsurance.com

HR: Guidelines to Create Your Bereavement Policy

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When a close family member dies, it is a terrible time for an employee because of the pain, heartache and anguish.  To make it worse employees worry about being able to take the time to grieve for their loved one.  One way to support your employee is to have a Bereavement Leave Policy to help during this time.  The biggest issue for employers is wanting to be compassionate, but there needs to be a guidepost to help make sure that the employer is not taken advantage of this situation.   

What family members do most Bereavement Policies cover?

  • Spouse

  • Children

  • Parents

  • Siblings

  • Grandparents

What are the typical parameters?

  1. Most policies allow 2 weeks.

  2. Time away due to bereavement does not count against PTO.

  3. Most often this time away is unpaid.

  4. Offered to both full time and part time employees.

  5. Eligible when employee is entitled to other benefits or a set time period, like 6 months.


Which questions have to be answered for a Bereavement Policy?

  • How many days an employee can take off?

  • Which employees qualify for the leave?

  • What relatives the policy covers?

  • Who do employees need to notify prior to taking leave?

  • Whether bereavement leave can be taken simultaneously with other paid leave plans?

  • Whether the leave is paid or unpaid?

 

Taking the time now to make these decisions before the situation arises is the best time to consider these questions.  Having a Bereavement Policy to govern the situation allows you to inform the employee of the policy rather than trying to figure it out what to do when they are standing there.  Wouldn’t this be so much easier?

 jdavis@wbsinsurance.com  254.826.7700

jdavis@wbsinsurance.com

254.826.7700

 

 

 

 

Employee Benefits: Filing Claims Made Easy

Filing insurance claims can be frustrating.  When claims need to be filed there is typically a hardship facing the client and a slow claim process only adds to the frustration.  In my experience, these are the most common mistakes made that stop a claim from being processed smoothly.

 

Make sure you have these things in order before claim form is sent in:

  • Make sure to have all information and blanks on the claim form completely filled out.  Missing information slows the process down A LOT.

  • Makes sure that you have additional information that is requested.  These types of reports can be items like a police report.

  • Make sure all everyone has completed their portion of the claim form.  Employer and physician statements are usually needed.  For disability their statements are always needed

  • Make sure to have the treatment codes from providers when necessary.  These codes allow carriers to know the specific treatment received and how to process the claim.

  • Make sure documentation shows provider information.  Do not turn in hand written documentation for services.

Life Insurance claims are a bit different… here’s how:

  • Life policies claims are always slower.  Know this going into the process.

  • Absolutely no claims will be paid before there is a death certificate provided to the carrier.

  • If the death was caused due to an accident, police and toxicology reports are almost always be required.

  • If the policy is less than 2 years old it will be very heavily researched by the carriers.

I understand clients get frustrated when claims take longer than they think the process should.  Making sure that all the claim information is provided in a single event allows the process to go smoother.  Carriers know they need to pay the claims,they just want to make sure that they have all the information needed to process the claim correctly.

At our office I handle all the claims.  I work hard to make sure that the claims are processed smoothly and quickly.  

 service@wbsinsurance.com  254.826.7700

service@wbsinsurance.com

254.826.7700



Medical Renewals: YOU Need a New Way to Think About Them.

Many of the business owners I meet are frustrated because they feel that they have to just take whatever renewal the medical carriers forces down their throats and really can’t fight back.  Why each year is there a 15%, 20% or 35% rate increases? You shouldn’t expect it…you should have a plan to fight against the status quo.

What does the “Renewal Status Quo” look like?

  • Employers evaluating options and that really don’t feel like there are any good options.

  • Offer employees one, maybe two plans, paying a percentage of the premium.

  • Employee perceive the options as a “take it or leave it” proposition.

  • Employees feel “the benefit got worse” when deductible, copays and costs all go up.

  • The reality is that time & money are spent evaluating alternatives that just more more each year.

Get away from the Status Quo???? Convert to Defined Contribution model.

 Here is the thinking of WBS concerning Defined Contribution.

  • The benefits our clients offer is no longer the only access to coverage.

  • Employees can’t be denied an individual policy, so they can get coverage on their own.

  • Therefore, the employer’s contribution offsets the cost of the employee’s premium.

  • This mind shift is why so many of our clients are moving to a Defined Contribution model.

What does the Defined Cointribution model look like?

  • Our clients designate the amount they can afford toward the plans offered.

  • Instead of telling your employees a percentage of premium covered, a dollar amount is expressed that is paid toward all plans they can select. Now they understand the cost.

  • Offer as many plans that you as you want or can, then allow the employees to select the plan that fits their needs. You’d be surprised at how much more engagement you’ll get.

Why is a defined contribution better for business?

  • Now YOU have control over the year-to-year contribution costs.

  • You can offer many more plans because WBS will provide the technology you need to make it easy and paperless of all your benefit options.

  • Clients have told us employees stop blaming them for higher insurance costs because they now recognize their employer is also paying more every year too.

We know that moving away from the status quo can be tough. WBS can introduce you to a more sustainable benefits plan strategy of Defined Contribution but we also help our clients streamline HR processes and improve compliance.  We are able to do all this because we have paired our local healthcare expertise with our all-in-one HR platform.

 joet@wbsinsurance.com  325.692.6600

joet@wbsinsurance.com

325.692.6600

HR Admin: A Few Tips When Evaluating Your Evaluations.

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One of the tasks that has to be done by an employer is employee performance reviews.  They aren’t fun but are still important. Employee reviews can provide feedback to employees allowing an avenue for improvements or as a pat on the back.

When I taught school many of my coworkers seemed to always be nervous about their evaluation and would fret the process.  The annual evaluation was never a big deal to me because I figured that if I followed the guidelines, knew what the principals believed was important and did these things that my evaluations would be more positive than negative.

 

Make evaluations a tool for your company:

  1. Make sure the employees know which tasks are important and the standards for their evaluation.  If your employees don’t know what is important… how are you helping them be successful?

  2. Have evaluations on a regular basis and stick to the schedule. Knowing the timeline and expectations helps keep people on task.  

  3. Consider several smaller evaluations cycles rather than only one annually.  I recently read a book that stated that humans can only realistically work in about 90-day cycles.  Makes sense, isn’t almost everything else in business measured in quarters?

 

Evaluation mistakes to watch out for:

  • Rating inflation by supervisors that works closely with the employee.  It’s hard to tell another person they have to improve.  Coach supervisors to be friendly, but not friends with their subordinates.

  • The failure to use a full rating system all the time.  There has to be a measuring stick, when supervisors use feeling and their “gut” the accuracy of the evaluation system is broken.

  • Lack of consistent scoring and observation.  We know employees watch each other and they know who works hard.  So, when a supervisor scores are way off the mark it hurts the process.  Make sure that the supervisors are around the employees enough to really know their workers.

  • Unrealistic goals or objectives. Not all of our kids will make straight A’s and to think so is foolish.  Make sure that the evaluated objectives are obtainable.  By no means do I mean to set low standard, but be realistic and incremental in growing your employee’s abilities.

People need to know that they are expected to perform and that they are being evaluated all the time. Take these suggestions and implement what will work for your business to improve employee performance.

      jdavis@wbsinsurance.com                254.826.7700

jdavis@wbsinsurance.com

254.826.7700