When we start working with a new client, one of the first things we hear about are the challenges they experienced in managing their previous benefits program. From coordinating open enrollment for their staff to explaining plans to onboarding new employees, there’s a lot of paperwork and timelines to manage – which oftentimes goes far beyond their main job duties.
After the same client spends a season with us, we start hearing about how much easier their job has become. That’s because our job is to do more than just sell you the right benefits package for your company and your employees. We strive to deliver amazing tools and customer service that simplifies the administrative side of your employee benefits plan. Wondering what that could look like for your company? Below, we outline a few of the tools and services that make work easier for each of our clients.
Our online enrollment tool, Ease Central, is the first step in our approach to uncomplicating benefits for your team. This is the portal that houses all of your documents, and helps your staff enroll in the right programs. You send us a list of employee names and contact information, we get each one set up in the system with an individual login, and they review their options to elect all of their benefits in one simple platform.
Questions from your team are directed to our experienced staff, so we act as an expert resource to help walk your employees through their plans. This takes the headaches out of open enrollment, and simplifies your onboarding system for new employees.
Downright Thorough Information
Within Ease Central, we add a customized employee packet that outlines everything available to them in a snapshot. We also create a customized video for your staff that outlines all the documents they’ll find in the portal, what each plan includes, and some FAQ’s about the options they have. This is a critical piece of our process, as it helps your employees feel empowered to make the right choices for themselves and their families as they’re reviewing their options.
Painless Deductions and Reporting
Once your company wraps up the open enrollment period, or your new employee finishes their paperwork, we get everything set up with the insurance companies and pull a summary that’s shared with you. This helps you understand which benefits your staff opts into most – and finds the most useful. It also makes setting up payroll deductions effortless.
A Managed Timeline
When we set your company up in our system for open enrollment, we set up a clear timeline with e-reminders so that your employees have ample time to elect their benefits, without you constantly needing to remind them to do so. It’s virtually a hands-off process for your HR folks – we manage the paperwork, we manage the timeline, and we even get in touch with staffers who haven’t filled out their details.
A Scalable, Scrupulous Approach to Employee Benefits
If our approach to helping you find and manage your employee benefits sounds different from what you’ve experienced in the past, that’s because it probably is. Our vision is to help you find what fits your company and takes care of your employees, while providing you with an elite level of customer service, with no additional fees or charges for leveraging our expertise. Basically, we treat you how we like to be treated – and once you experience the difference of having a real benefits partner by your side, you won’t want to work with anyone else.
The labor market is big news right now. Unemployment is under 4%, and local companies are on the lookout for new, innovative ways to not just attract the best talent to their team – but retain the people they’ve already invested in.
One way to make your company stand out is to strengthen the connection between your corporate culture and the entirety of your employee benefits package. The emotional connection – and therefore, loyalty – employees feel towards your company starts and ends with whether they enjoy their job and the people they work with, along with how your company promotes a strong work-life balance. And by nature, you can deepen what your company has to offer in these channels through a more well-rounded benefits package.
Grow your wellness program
Today’s best employees want jobs that work for their lives – not the other way around. One way you can build this mentality into the way your company operates is through an innovative wellness program. Not only will this help reduce stress, build stronger relationships among your staff and promote a healthy lifestyle for the people who work for you, it will help drive stronger productivity and employee engagement. There are many ways to do this – but here are a few ideas to get you started:
Offer more expansive food and beverage options
Today’s modern employee naturally expects more from their employer, down to the snacks they offer in the breakroom. Gone are the days of a pot of coffee and a water cooler – your coffee bar and vending machines speak to the type of experience potential employees anticipate at your business across the board.
To start, offer a variety of coffee, tea and water options in your break room and at interviews. Stock your kitchen with simple, healthy snacks like fruit and nut bars. And if you offer vending, consider adding a healthy vending machine that stocks fruits and vegetables.
You could also consider a partnership with a local healthy restaurant, like Panera, to offer convenient group delivery options for lunch meetings. By making healthier options more accessible within your office, you’ll show both existing and potential employees that you value them, and that you’re adapting to their generational culture, not just expecting them to adapt to your company culture.
Make sure your parental leave policies are up-to-date
There’s a huge focus on family leave as a whole, and it can be a deal breaker for your staff. From traditional maternity leave to caring for sick family to taking care of family when a spouse or parent is called to active duty in the military, companies that offer broad, inclusive leave options are thriving.
To make sure your employee leave policies match your staff expectations, consider hosting a small employee group review of existing policies and ask for feedback on what they’d like to see added in the future. Then work with your HR team and your employment attorney to choose what will be included in your new leave standards, and craft an updated policy for your handbook.
Offer workplace flexibility – but be clear on what that means
Today’s employee is looking for a more flexible workplace. That said, you need to be up front about what that means and includes at your business, as “flexibility” often means different things for different people.
For example, you could offer a 4 day in-office work week, with the option of working from home on Fridays. You could create extreme flexibility with a completely virtual work environment. You could look at adding additional PTO or flex-time as a retention or hiring incentive. You may even offer different versions of flexibility for different staff levels.
No matter the format, you need be clear about your expectations for when and how employees work, along with what you expect them to accomplish if you want your flexible workplace to truly benefit your company.
A changing employee means a changing workplace
Just as digital media has changed how our business operates, it’s changed the expectations of today’s best workers. As the way we work continues to evolve, our health and benefits offerings will change as well. If you’re looking build a more comprehensive offering that attracts the right talent, builds employee loyalty and sparks employee engagement for your business, we’d love to chat. Reach out and let’s get some time on the calendar.
Did you know that cost is the number one reason why Americans don’t take their medications as prescribed? That doesn’t just impact their health and wellbeing – it impacts their ability to do good work for your company.
Here’s part of the problem: prices for prescription drugs can vary widely between pharmacies. The main pharmacy you – or your employees – visit may charge $150 for your prescription, while the exact same prescription carries no cost at another pharmacy down the road. But without the right tools and knowledge, you’d never know.
For many of our clients, finding the right tools to help their employees control and manage the rising cost of healthcare is now an essential component of their benefits packages. One of the tools we are recommending our clients share with their employees is GoodRx, which helps your staff choose a pharmacy based on prescription price, and offers prescription coupons to further discount the cost.
The truth about prescription prices
Whether your employees opt-in to your health plan or not, they could be spending less on their prescriptions. Even a $10 co-pay could be more than the true cost of a generic prescription, and over time, all those additional costs can add up. With GoodRx, your employees can find many of those generic prescriptions for just $4, if they’re choosing the right pharmacy.
Brand-name medications can cost significantly more. Having access to the coupons provided through a powerful app like GoodRx could save them upwards of $500 a year, depending on the medications they need and the frequency of their refills.
How can an app like GoodRx save my employees so much money?
The GoodRx app is linked to a huge database that tracks prescription prices across pharmacies around the nation, and is a coupon conglomerate for nearly every prescription drug on the market. By simply checking the app for the prescription they need, your employees are shown the best ways to save money before their doctor even sends the prescription to their pharmacy of choice.
All that said, it’s important to note that GoodRx is something used in place of insurance. Purchases made via GoodRx cannot be submitted to insurance or Medicare, nor will purchases apply towards a deductible, although the use of HSA dollars to pay for the prescriptions is allowed if the medication qualifies.
What that means is that GoodRx is an excellent app to have on hand for most of your employees, but it’s not for everyone. In some situations – such as when there are a lot of anticipated medical expenses and/or expensive prescriptions that an employee or their family will need throughout the year – it may make more sense to satisfy a deductible and skip the GoodRx coupons.
How will GoodRx impact my bottom line?
The best part of an app like GoodRx? There’s no cost to you to share it with your employees, or for your employees to use the app and coupons. Sharing education about the platform, and encouraging your staff to take charge of their out-of-pocket healthcare costs is one way that you can empower your employees to create significant healthcare savings in their budget, and is a great way to show your staff that you care.
It doesn’t make you any money – why are you sharing this with me?
At Sailer Benefit, we believe in helping our clients get more out of their employee benefits packages. That means more than just understanding all the ways your staff can better use their benefits. It means helping you identify what will supplement the tools and programs you already have in place to build more ROI and savings for both the company and the employees. GoodRx is just one tool that we recommend to our clients as a way that they can help their employees maximize their healthcare spend.
Have questions? We’re happy to help! Reach out to schedule a quick consultation with us today.
As the costs of healthcare have risen over the past few years, so has availability of innovative healthcare technology that helps both you and your employees control their healthcare spending. Telehealth isn’t a new concept, but the options available to you and your company are expanding.
Many of our clients initially question these new add-on telehealth packages, simply because their main healthcare plan comes with an embedded telehealth option. But what they don’t realize is that these low-cost add-ons improve access to healthcare, decrease overall spending, and bridge gaps for employees that you might not realize are there.
Telehealth: While many modern plans offer telehealth, there’s still typically a copay (or even the full cost of the visit) for the employee to cover, depending on your provider. With add-on packages like FreshBenies, there’s no cost – not even a copay – when your employees access their virtual doctors on demand.
Vision savings: With fewer employers offering vision plans, add-on telehealth plans can help with vision savings that a traditional embedded plan just doesn’t offer. Employees have the ability to reap hundreds of dollars in savings when they access this benefit.
Billing advocacy: Where an embedded plan only offers virtual health visits, an add-on plan can help your employees negotiate down the cost of their medical bills.
Pet care: With add-on packages like veterinary discounts, your employees can even save on the cost of pet health care as part of the add-on plan.
Prescription savings: If there’s a drug that’s not covered by insurance, your employee’s add-on plan can help them with prescription discounts, and by finding a local pharmacy with the best price for the medication they need.
Dental savings: For employers that don’t offer dental insurance, or employees who opt out of dental, they can leverage the dental savings their add-on plan provides to save money on dentist appointments.
With such a deep list of services, the first question we’re often asked by our clients relates to the cost of an add-on telehealth program. Believe it or not, the partners we work with charge our clients less than $15 per employee per month for these extensive plans.
Between the cost savings to your employee, and the impact this type of add-on could have on your overall healthcare costs, along with the increase in employee satisfaction for such an extensive value-add to their compensation plan, incorporating an add-on plan to your employee benefits package is almost a no-brainer.
If you want to learn more, let’s chat. Email us for all the details on how you can add a deeper telehealth option to your 2019 plan.
“Allina Health | Aetna - reinventing the health care system”
Newly announced, Allina Health and Aetna have developed a unique partnership, creating an innovative and exciting approach to healthcare and benefits in Minnesota.
The partnership combines the resources of the Allina facilities and their affiliated network of health care professionals, with Aetna’s leading health care benefits and innovative products. The collaboration coordinates care, streamlines patient experiences, and reduces administrative costs, creating a partnership that provides more affordable, high-quality care for its insured.
Simply put, that potentially saves you, as well as your employees, money.
As one of the first appointed agencies in the state, Sailer Benefit Services is able to add the self-funded Allina Health | Aetna plans to the array of benefit options we offer our clients.
We’d love the opportunity to sit down and compare benefits, networks, and costs and see if the plans offered by this new partnership are something you should consider for your small group.
Call our office today for more information 651-702-5626
Self-funded plans are offered to groups 5 - 50 employees, with up to 4 plan options
Is there a retirement plan in place? What about vision and dental?
During your company’s renewal time, it’s likely all the specifics were presented to your employees by your benefits advisor or their enrollment team. Your employee’s questions were answered, benefit changes clarified and everyone was given an opportunity to have a full understanding of all their benefits. For the employees that attended the meeting, that’s great!
But, what happens when someone misses the meeting or there’s a new hire? Depending on the size of the company, explaining the benefit package probably falls on the business owner, an office manager or the human resource department.
At Sailer Benefit, we see ourselves as an extension of your business. As an included service, we offer client specific videos that explain your detailed benefit packages to your employees via shared video links.
So, any time you have a new hire, or a similar need, you pass along a link that takes them directly to a video with a detailed, walk through of your company’s specific benefits. Not only do they learn about their benefits directly from your company’s benefits expert, but they can share their link with their spouse, adding a layer of education and explanation not normally possible. The video link doesn’t answer every question, but it does a great job of explaining each benefit in a step by step presentation, with consistency and detail.
Next time an employee misses an enrollment meeting or you’ve got a new hire, think about the ease and advantage that a link would provide. At your fingertips you could have access to a step by step presentation that’s consistent, convenient, and detailed. Think of it as your company’s “Benefits at a Glance”…literally. And it’s just a click away.
Sailer Benefit Services offers the video links upon request. So, please reach out to our advisors and representatives for more information!
President & Managing Consultant, Sailer Benefit Services, Inc.
As a business owner or HR professional, do you ever wonder what others in your industry are offering for benefits and engagement programs? If you do, you are not alone.
Most employers, when given the opportunity, would prefer to be able to compare their offerings with that of other employers, especially when competing for the same top talent. The idea of having a competitive knowledge of others in the industry assures sound decision-making on benefit and engagement programs, as well as provides a stronghold in attracting and retaining quality employees.
At Sailer Benefit, we put together an annual benchmarking report that provides employers insightful information regarding employee engagement and benefit programs.
The report is put together using information collected from employers just like you, as well as current industry data collected from reputable sources. We set your benefit profile side by side with the industry norm and identify the similarities and differences. The report identifies trends in the marketplace, as well as outlines what we're seeing for comparison benefits and programs.
To obtain the report, just enter your comparative benefit and program via the attached survey. Once completed, we share the results with you within a comprehensive report.
The survey only takes a few minutes to complete (we swear -- we’ve managed to limit the questionnaire to just 14 questions!) All the information you provide is completely confidential and we do not sell or share your specifics to anyone.
If you are the business owner or HR professional, with knowledge of the details of your company’s benefits & programs, click on the link below to complete the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SBS2017BenchMark
Thank you for considering taking part in our benchmarking survey 2017. We sincerely hope the information we provide helps you make more sound decisions around your benefit programs!
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out.
651.702.5626 | www.sailerbenefit.com
President & Managing Consultant, Sailer Benefit Services, Inc
All information listed below was obtained from the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) email update, October 12, 2017.
What is in the Executive Order?
The Executive Order directs the Secretary of Labor to consider proposing regulations or revising guidance to expand Association Health Plans. The intent of this directive is to allow employers in the same line of business anywhere in the country to join together to offer healthcare coverage to their employees. It could potentially allow employers to form AHPs through existing organizations, or create new ones for the express purpose of offering group insurance. This could lead to the sale of insurance across state lines through AHPs; however, more action will need to be taken by the Department of Labor before this option can be available.
The EO directs the secretaries of HHS, Treasury, and Labor to consider proposing regulations or revising guidance to expand short-term limited duration insurance (STLDI). This directive would allow the agencies to revisit the rule enacted by the Obama Administration that limited the length of STLDI plans to three months.
The EO directs the secretaries of HHS, Treasury, and Labor to consider proposing regulations or revising guidance to expand Health Reimbursement Arrangements. The intent of this directive is to allow employers to contribute more to their employees' HRAs. HRAs are employer-funded accounts that reimburse employees for healthcare expenses, including deductibles and copayments. The IRS does not count funds contributed to an HRA as taxable income. The intent of this directive is to expand HRAs, which could provide employees with more flexibility in how their healthcare is financed.
What Happens Next?
The EO directs the Secretary of Labor to act within 60 days to consider proposing regulations or revising guidance on AHPs. It also directs the secretaries of Treasury, Labor and HHS to act within 60 days to consider proposing regulations or revising guidance on STLDIs, and for the agencies to act within 120 days to consider changes to HRAs.
Within 180 days, the secretary of HHS, in consultation with the secretaries of Treasury, Labor and the Federal Trade Commission, must report to the President on state and federal laws, regulations and policies that limit healthcare competition and choice, as well as on actions that federal and state governments could take to increase competition and choice and reduce consolidation in healthcare markets.
The EO does not direct the agencies to adopt specific regulations; therefore, in order for any policies to change, the agencies will have to go through the traditional rulemaking procedures of providing a proposed rule for public comment before being able to enact any final rules.
What about Open Enrollment for 2018?
At this time, nothing in the EO will affect open enrollment for 2018 unless regulatory action is taken by the agencies. Until any such regulations are enacted, the ACA and all of its regulations, penalties, and enforcement remain the law of the land.
National Association of Health Underwriters | https://nahu.org/
Gregory S. Sailer
According to the National Association of Health Underwriters, a market stability bill was released last week by Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA). It was formally introduced with 22 bipartisan co-sponsors—11 Republicans and 11 Democrats—and would temporarily fund the ACA’s cost-sharing reduction (CSR) program, provide for greater flexibility for Section 1332 waivers, as well as establish a new “copper-level” plan and provide for additional federal funding for enrollment outreach.
After looking over the draft document, the Alexander-Murray bill does not seem to affect any of the Affordable Care Act’s core elements – like patient protections, tax credits, or essential health benefits.
In summary format, here are the major provisions of the proposed market stability bill:
Restoring of CSR Payments – Intended to restore market stability and affordability
Maintaining the Core Protections of 1332 Waiver Provision – expands “pass-through” payments to states, allows states to propose value-based insurance designs, and adds language to protect vulnerable populations, those with serious health conditions, and low-income people.
Streamlining the 1332 State Waiver Process – Expedites states’ waiver applications, grants Governors the ability to approve state waiver applications, and changes budget assessment
Reinvesting in outreach and enrollment – includes increased funding for outreach, as well as reporting requirements
Expanding eligibility for catastrophic plans – maintains risk pools so those with serious medical needs are not priced out.
Information for this article was obtained from multiple sources, including the National Association of Health Underwriters, Wikipedia's one page summary of the Murray-Alexander Market Stability Bill and the Washington Post's draft copy of the Bill.
Greg Sailer is the President and Managing Consultant for Sailer Benefit Services, an Employee and Executive Benefit Firm in the Twin Cities.
Sailer Benefit Services, Inc. | 651-702-5626 | email@example.com