Yearly Archives: 2019

  • Opioid Addiction in the Workplace | California Benefits Agency

    March 11, 2019

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    The opioid crisis has driven overdose deaths in America to all-time highs. By 2017, the opioid mortality rate was five times higher than the rate in 1999. This crisis is not limited to one socio-economic class or one geographic area. Opioid addiction affects those in suburban homes, high-rise office buildings, and schools in every state in America.  Employers must address this epidemic in their workplace through education and services for employees, so that the tide of this crisis can recede, and their workforce can march ahead undeterred by addiction.

    Opioid Addiction Explained

    Opioid addiction most often results from the misuse of and addiction to prescription pain medication. It has become an epidemic that affects not only the patient, with implications in the workplace, as well. Many patients who are prescribed opioids for chronic pain don’t believe they will become addicted to them. But, with prolonged use, their need for more medication to achieve the same level of pain-relief increases, as does their dependence on these drugs.

    Education Is Key

    Educating your employees on how opioid addiction happens and what can be done to overcome it is essential in the workplace. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have many resources to help you with education that you can post around your office and workplace. Their website is also a great resource on educating the employer on what opioid misuse looks like and how to address it with your employees.

    Resources for Employees

    With an estimated 1.7 million Americans addicted to opioids, you can be assured you will encounter someone in your workplace who has been affected by this crisis. How can you help your employees to overcome this addiction? Your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a wonderful resource to offer. Each EAP will be different based on the service to which your company has subscribed. According to a recent survey, 91% of work organizations offer some type of EAPs for their employees. Most EAPs offer assistance in matching employees to local treatment resources, as well as short-term counseling and support/recovery groups. Also, EAP professionals are knowledgeable on treatment options and suggested ways to intervene when abuse is suspected.

    The opioid crisis is real—now, more Americans are likely to die from an opioid overdose than an automobile accident. This epidemic has sieged neighbors, co-workers, and family. The workplace is feeling this crisis through lowered productivity of employees as well as increased healthcare costs. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement. As an employer, you have the ability to help turn the tide of this addiction crisis by offering education and employee assistance programs for your workforce. The right resources can help your workforce become educated on and overcome this addiction.

  • March Madness 2019: The Ball is in Your Court | California Benefits Agents

    March 6, 2019

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    March Madness is upon us, and there is no avoiding it. Selection Sunday, when the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Committee announces which 68 teams made the 2019 tournament, is March 17. Games begin with the First Four on March 19 and 20 and culminate with the Final Four April 6 and 8.

    While this annual event can impact productivity, employers may find that the positive effects it has on team engagement and camaraderie outweigh any negatives. Consider these facts from both sides of the coin:

    • An estimated $1.9 billion is lost in workplace productivity during a typical March Madness tournament. (Challenger, Gray & Christmas)
    • Employees will spend 25.5 minutes per workday on March Madness, for a total of 6 hours spread over the 15 workdays when games will be played. (OfficeTeam) This includes time spent by 76 percent of employees who admit to checking scores during work hours and 53 percent who watch or follow sporting events on their computers while at work. (Randstad)
    • As much as $3 billion will be bet on workplace bracket pools during March Madness this year. (FordHarrison) About 40 percent of workers say they have participated in college basketball brackets in their offices, with an average of $22.44 contributed to the pools. (Randstad)
    • Nearly 9 in 10 employees said participating in NCAA brackets at work helped build team camaraderie, and 73 percent said they look forward to going to work more when they are part of an office pool. (Randstad)

    So how can an employer embrace the fun of March Madness while enforcing the rules it may push the limits of? Whether you view the tournament as a minor distraction that creates an opportunity to boost morale, or as a potential pitfall of legal liability, missed deadlines, and dissatisfied customers, the ball is in your court. Here are five ways to maximize the positive aspects of March Madness while minimizing disruptions.

    1. Have fun: Make it clear to your employees that you want them to enjoy work and March Madness while not letting the tournament put a full court press on their work. Encourage employees to wear their favorite team’s clothing and/or decorate their workspace in their team’s colors.
    2. Watch together: Put televisions in break rooms so that employees have somewhere to watch the games other than the internet. That way, connectivity is not slowed and productivity lost even for those not participating in the Madness activities. Provide snacks for the viewers.
    3. Be careful with brackets: Organize a company-wide pool with no entry fee to avoid ethical or legal issues surrounding office gambling. Give away a company gift to the pool winner that is not cash. Keep the brackets posted and updated in the break room.
    4. Be flexible: Allow workers to arrive early so they can work a full shift and still leave in time to see big games that overlap the end of their shift. Conversely, allowing employees to delay their start time the morning after big games may help reduce absenteeism.
    5. Follow the rules: Review applicable company policies—such as gambling, use of personal electronics and company computers, and work and break hours—with your employees before engaging in any March Madness activities at work, so it will be clear to all what is considered acceptable.

    Determine how March Madness fits with your business culture and customer deliverables. If employees are getting their work done, customers are happy, and the biggest problems are reduced internet bandwidth or a little more noise in the cubicles or lunchroom for a couple of days, it’s nothing but net. (See what we did there?) Decide how you’ll be playing this before the opening tipoff and the Madness begins!

    by Rachel Sobel
    Originally posted on ThinkHR.com

  • Negotiations are now possible, if you can figure out the numbers

    February 28, 2019

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    A new rule went into effect January 1 requiring hospitals to publish their online price lists for all the medical services they provide.  This was required under the ACA, but now they must be published online in a format that can be downloaded.  The central website for California hospitals for the most common outpatient procedures is www.oshpd.ca.gov/data-and-reports/cost-transparency/hospital-chargemasters/2018-chargemasters

     

  • 3 Ways to Build a Thriving Company Culture

    February 27, 2019

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    When you are a business owner, you know how important it is to create a thriving culture at the workplace for your employees. But how do you define company culture? The concept means different things to different people. First off, it is about leadership, so the most important thing you, as the leader of your company, need to do is set an example to follow. Once you do this, you can begin the process to build an inspiring and thriving company culture. You can seek the help of the top benefit brokers in San Francisco County for expert advice and tailor-made HR solutions for your company’s employee benefits needs.

    3 Tips to Help You Build a Thriving Culture in Your Company

    Here is a look at 3 ways to build a company culture that is both inspiring and thriving.

    1. Hire Character Before Talent: Most companies look at talent before anything else when they hire employees. However, it is extremely important to engage and hire people with character over mere talent. Character creates culture, which in turn supports character – meaning that they are mutually supportive. With character, you can not only create a thriving company culture, but also a successful business.
    2. Provide Opportunity: If you want the culture in your company to thrive, you need to make room for an opportunity within the world you have created. You must make sure that your team feels like that they can grow and rise within the space they are in. If they feel like they cannot contribute or are limited, they will eventually stop feeling inspired, and get tired of being part of your organization.
    3. Build a Community: Your company is made up of different people from different backgrounds who have different skills. You need to call them to work in unity in spite of all these differences. It is important to make your employees feel like they are part of a community and play a key role within it. You should also make sure to reward individuals as well as groups for breakthroughs in your company.

    Manage the Complexities of Benefits with the Leading Benefit Brokers in San Francisco County

    When you need expert help in managing employee benefits, you should look no further than Arrow Benefits Group, the top benefit brokers in San Francisco County. The company provides expert advice, tailor-made programs and customized HR solutions for companies across the county and the U.S. Call us today at 707-992-3780 to get expert counsel about employee benefits and much more.

  • ACA won’t go away…and the courts are courting further argument

    February 27, 2019

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    California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra is leading the charge of other Attorneys General to appeal a ruling by a conservative Texas federal judge saying that the ACA is unconstitutional.  Even that judge has already said he would reconsider, but for now the rule stands.  The appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is joined by 16 states and the District of Columbia.  “In this particular case we believe the stakes are not only great, but compelling” Becerra, who voted for the ACA when he was a House representative, said.  Ellen Rosenblum from Oregon said “really, this is an absurd interpretation of the law and an overreach of the federal court that will hopefully be stopped at the appellate level”  Of course, others disagree “The court’s decision was about restoring the rule of law and federalism by eliminating an illegal, unconstitutional federal power grab” said a spokesman for the Texas Attorney General.

  • Heart Disease Risk and Prevention | Petaluma Employee Benefits

    February 27, 2019

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    Heartbreaks are painful, but did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 630,000 people dying from the condition each year. This equates to one in four deaths attributed to this awful disease. The most common form of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD), which is what can cause heart attacks.

    CAD is caused when a substance called plaque builds up in a person’s arteries. As the buildup grows, the opening of the arteries gradually closes until blood flow is blocked and the patient experiences a heart attack. While these statistics are sobering, there are several ways we can prevent heart disease. Knowing the “why” about this disease can aid in prevention. First, let’s learn about the big three risk factors of heart disease:

    High Blood Pressure

    High blood pressure (HBP) is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. This is what your nurse checks when she puts the blood pressure cuff on your arm and pumps air into it at your check-up. She is listening for the pressure when your heart beats and the pressure for when your heart is at rest between beats. High blood pressure usually has no signs or symptoms so it is very important to keep your annual physical appointments with your doctor and to follow her recommendations if she diagnoses you with HBP.

    High Cholesterol

    High cholesterol is when you develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels. These deposits can lead to narrow vessels and increase your chance of a heart attack. It is determined through blood tests. While high cholesterol can be inherited, it can also be prevented through medication, diet and exercise.

    Smoking

    Smokers are four times more likely to develop heart disease than non-smokers. The nicotine in smoke reduces your blood flow, raises your blood pressure, and speeds up your heart. Quitting smoking will not reverse the damage done to your heart, but it greatly reduces the damage going forward to your heart and arteries.

    In addition to the three key risk factors, it’s important to explore what we can do to prevent it. Prevention behaviors can take you from the danger zone of heart disease and put you on the path to a healthy heart.

    Heart Disease Prevention

    Healthy Diet

    According to the Mayo Clinic, simple tips to prevent heart disease by diet include tips like these:  controlling portion size, eating more vegetables and fruits, selecting whole grains, limiting unhealthy fats, choosing low-fat protein, reducing sodium intake, and limiting treats.

    Healthy Weight

    Being overweight increases your risk for heart disease. One measure used to determine if your weight is in a healthy range is body mass index (BMI). If you know your weight and height, you can calculate your BMI at CDC’s Assessing Your Weight website. When in doubt, consult a physician who can help in calculating whether your health is at risk due to weight.

    Physical Activity

    Among the many benefits to getting enough physical activity can, it can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar levels. From walking, to swimming, to cycling, adding even moderate activity to your routine can have a great impact on your heart health. Just remember, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen.

    Quit Smoking

    Smoking cigarettes greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Your doctor can suggest ways to help you quit, and you can find many other helpful resources, including creating a tailored plan to help you quit at SmokeFree.gov.

    Limit Alcohol

    There’s a good reason your doctor asks about routine alcohol consumption at each check-up. Drinking too much alcohol can drastically raise blood pressure and binge drinking can increase heart rate. For heart health, the medical guidelines state that men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women only one. Talk to your doctor if you aren’t sure whether or not you should drink alcohol or how much you should drink for optimal heart health.

    Check out these great resources to better educate yourself and others on heart health:

    American Heart Association—Healthy for Good

    American Heart Month Toolkit

    Heart Health Information

    Strategies to Prevent Heart Disease

  • Despite state support, Medicare for all isn’t playing nationally

    February 26, 2019

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    The seven California Democrats who flipped Republican seats in the midterms campaigned for more government funded health care, are facing roadblocks.  They were greeted by a statement from the senior California statesperson, “We need to do the things that are doable – that aren’t pie in the sky” said Senator Dianne Feinstein.  She got pushback from the junior Senator Kamala Harris, who supports Medicare for all, calling it “the moral and ethical thing to do.”

  • Further Mergers – lick your wounds and come back for more

    February 25, 2019

    Walgreens, fresh off a massive fine for general malfeasance, has decided to partner with Microsoft to take on Amazon in everyone’s new favorite sport – fixing health care.  Microsoft is ceding Cloud dominance to Amazon, and Walgreens to CVS (which just bought Aetna), so now they want to leapfrog them and own the market.  Walgreens will open up 12 digital health corners in stores that will sell health care related tools and instruments, while also gaining a lot more data about their customers.

  • How gruesome is the Newsom model going to be? Or will it be at all…in California

    February 23, 2019

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    On his first day in office, the new California governor unveiled a sweeping health plan that would prop up the ACA, expand health care for undocumented immigrants and give the state new powers to negotiation drug prices.  It would fall short of what was indicated in his campaign, however, where he hinted at a Single Payer Health Plan (adored by some, reviled by others).  His plan would reinstate the individual mandate by taxing those who do not have coverage.  While stopping short, Newsom did write to President Trump and congressional leaders asking for permission for California to pursue a government funded health care system.

  • ACA may be here to stay – the judge rules against it, but says it is in place for now

    February 21, 2019

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    There has been lots of excitement over the Texas decision ruling the ACA is unconstitutional. Judge Reed O’Connor has now issued a stay of his own opinion, which means the law remains in effect while the inevitable (and already filed) appeals go forward.  Now that the Democrats are in charge of the White House, there will be some other action on this as well, we’re sure.

  • Arrow Benefits Group, Leading Employee Benefits Firm in North Bay, Announces Major Expansion

    February 21, 2019

     

     

     

     

     

    New National Partnership Promises Continued Growth

    Petaluma, CA – Arrow Benefits Group, the third largest benefits firm in the North Bay, announces a series of expansions and status as a founding agency in a new national brokerage. Says Stephen McNeil, Managing Partner, “Arrow has tripled in size in just four years, and the creation of our new national partnership promises continued expansion of our size, strength and capabilities. It also allows us to deepen our already substantial commitment to our North Bay communities.” The expansion includes a merger with Scarborough Insurance of San Francisco and the addition of their principals Fred Naranjo, Kathleen Lemke and Barb Hendricks to the Arrow team. Arrow has also acquired four well-established independent agencies:

    • Advanced Benefits of Santa Rosa, Til West, Principal
    • Mission Benefits of Sunnyvale, Matthew Sohn, Principal
    • Copeland Insurance of San Rafael, Bob Copeland, Principal
    • Ahern Insurance of Novato, Michael Ahern, Principal

    Click here to read entire release:

    https://www.prweb.com/releases/arrow_benefits_group_leading_employee_benefits_firm_in_north_bay_announces_major_expansion/prweb16108671.htm

     

  • How Human Resource Professionals Can Enhance the Efficiency of Employee Benefits Communication

    February 20, 2019

    A lot of people have revealed that work-life benefits have a crucial impact on their performance at work. But how do you ensure performance and productivity when most employees do not know as much as they should about employee benefits? The key is efficient communication on employee benefits. The human resource professionals in your company need to know how they can better communicate with team members so that they learn about the benefits your company provides, and thereby boost efficiency and productivity among employees. You can get some of the best employee benefit services in Sonoma County from a leading company to provide expert advice and personalized HR solutions.

    How HR Professionals Can Improve Communication about Employee Benefits

    Here is a look at some of the best ways that help HR professionals to enhance the efficiency of employee benefits communication.

    • Reward Employees for Consuming Benefits Messages: The truth is that benefits messages are not exactly the most entertaining, which is why employees do not consume them. Building incentives into communications is a great way to get employees to learn about benefits. Rewarding staff members for doing something can go a long way in getting them to do it well.
    • Use Various Channels: Using a mix of channels to communicate messages about employee benefits is an effective way for HR professionals to improve the efficiency of communication. There are a number of innovative ways to communicate with employees about benefits, including emails that are combined with quizzes, interactive employee benefits software, and mobile HR apps. Although some companies have success using just one channel, using multiple channels increases the chances of your HR department succeeding with year-round communications.
    • Consult Professional Employee Benefit Services: Another great way to enhance communication on employee benefits is to seek the help of professional employee benefit services in Sonoma County. These firms can provide not just expert advice and customized HR solutions, but also tailor-made programs to meet the needs of your company. When your HR department is struggling to improve benefit communication with employees, a reputed company can help you find effective solutions by providing personalized service.

    Get the Best Employee Benefit Services in Sonoma County

    When you need to enhance benefits communication with employees or improve the efficiency of the human resources department in your company, there is one name you can trust for unmatched employee benefit services in Sonoma County – Arrow Benefits Group. You can gain superb services to help you in managing the complex area of employee benefits. To find out more, contact us today at 707-992-3780.

  • You Can Reduce the Risk of Workplace Violence | California Benefits Agency

    February 20, 2019

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    On Friday, February 15, 2019, five employees of a manufacturer in Aurora, Illinois, were killed by an employee they were about to terminate as they met in a conference room. Among the victims were the human resources director and a young HR intern at his first day on the job. This is just the latest incidence of gun violence at a workplace.

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that every year, nearly two million U.S. workers are victims of workplace violence. According to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics Census, homicide accounted for 10 percent of all fatal workplace injuries in 2016. And an FBI study found that businesses were the setting for nearly half of 160 active-shooter incidents over a 13-year-period the agency examined.

    Workplace violence takes many forms, including homicide, assault, stalking, threatening words, threatening conduct, and harassment. It results in a decline in employee morale, management inefficiencies, and decreased productivity. Employers also bear the burden of workplace violence because its consequences include significant costs in lost wages, employee absences, and increased benefit payments.

    Employers have a duty to provide a safe workplace and must prevent workplace violence to protect their employees and avoid liability.

    How a Policy Can Help

    A well-written and implemented workplace violence prevention policy — combined with engineering controls, administrative controls, and training — can reduce the incidence of workplace violence. This policy can stand on its own or be incorporated into an injury and illness prevention program, employee handbook, or operations manual.

    The goals of any workplace violence prevention policy are two-fold:

    • Reduce the probability of threats or acts of violence in the workplace.
    • Ensure that any incident, complaint, or report of violence is immediately addressed and properly managed.

    The primary components of a workplace violence prevention policy include clearly defined reporting and response procedures, a workplace security risk evaluation, prevention tools, mandatory training, and other necessary support services. Employers must inform employees of the requirements of applicable state and federal law, the risk factors in their workplace, and the location of the written workplace violence prevention program.

    It’s important that all workers are informed of the policy and understand that management strives to keep all employees safe in the workplace and will take all concerns seriously.

     

    by Rachel Sobel
    Originally posted on ThinkHR.com

  • New Year Resolutions by HR Professionals & Employers That Can Help to Enact Change in Company Culture

    February 13, 2019

    Every business, big and small, needs a solid company culture. It determines how engaged the members of staff are, and for how long the business can retain them. It is the responsibility of employers and human resources professionals to help employees shape the company culture to ensure long-term sustainability. Whether you are the employer or an HR professional, it is important to understand what your role is, and how you can improve company culture. This can help in creating an environment that your employees enjoy going to every day. You should consult a top brokerage firm for quality services in employee benefits health insurance in Sonoma County and more.

    New Year Resolutions to Help You Change Your Company Culture

    Here is a look at important New Year resolutions that employers and HR professionals can make to bring about change in company culture.

    • Foster an Inclusive Environment: It is important to foster an inclusive environment by putting more resources behind it. Experts say that it is easy to conduct diversity hiring, but it will always be challenging to maintain the inclusion part. Ultimately, an inclusive environment will act as a tool for diversity, and this will consequently help in enacting change in company culture.
    • Begin Retention Efforts: You need to recognize the importance of reaching out to more employees before they actually begin working so that you can make sure that you retain them. This will also make them feel like they are part of the team right from the very start. For this resolution, you can have them participate in trainings, and get to know other new staff members. You can also have a peer mentor to help them in getting ready for their first day at work, and also set up a meeting with all new employees about their salary, employee benefits, and employee benefits health insurance in Sonoma County, retirement plans, and more.
    • Have More Fun: No one likes to work in a dull, dreary environment. Experts say that a New Year resolution that employers and HR professionals can make to change company culture is to bring in more fun and joy into their place of work. Organizing team challenges that incorporate wellness, giving back to the community, and using more GIFs in messages are just some of the few ways that you can make employees look forward to coming to work every day.

    Get Excellent HR Solutions for Your Business

    When it comes to services for employee benefits health insurance and HR solutions in Sonoma County, there is one name you can always trust – Arrow Benefits Group. For more information, call us at 707-992-3780.

  • New Year’s Resolutions That Stick | California Employee Benefits

    February 13, 2019

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    Ever wonder why the resolutions you make in January don’t stick around after March? You aren’t alone! Studies show that only 8% of people keep their New Year’s resolutions. Only 8%! Why? And how do people achieve their goals set at New Year’s? We’ve broken it down for you so you can identify your goal-breaker as well as give you some tips on how to make those resolutions stick.

    There are three main reasons that New Year’s resolutions fail. The first goal-breaker is taking on too much (too big of a goal) and expecting it to happen too fast. Researchers have found that it takes 66 days to break a habit. That’s much higher than the previously published 21 days. It conversely means that it also takes 66 days to form a new habit. So, battle your goal-breaker by setting smaller goals and not expecting to master those resolutions by the end of the month.

    The second reason you fail to keep your resolution is you don’t have anyone supporting you. This could be because you simply didn’t tell anyone that you have new life goals. It could also be due to fear of accountability. You need some life-cheerleaders that root you on to victory. These cheerleaders also call you out when you are riding off the tracks. Their support isn’t tied to your achievement of your goals but instead their support is firmly tied to you and they want to see you succeed.

    The last goal-breaker is that you don’t believe in yourself! When you make New Year’s resolutions that are super unattainable, and then you fail, you doubt yourself. When this cycle persists, time and again, you fill your head up with negative thoughts and begin believing you aren’t capable of accomplishing anything. Self-doubt is powerful.

    Now, let’s steer this ship back on course with some tips on KEEPING your New Year’s resolutions.

    Remember that bigger isn’t always better.

    Set your resolutions as small, attainable, goals.  With those small goals, set realistic timelines to achieve them. Avoid “I want to run the Ironman by November” if you’ve never run more than 2 times a month. Set your goal as “I want to run a 5K by Christmas” and work towards increasing your endurance each week.

    Reward yourself along the way.

    If exercising is your goal, reward yourself with a trip to the movies if you go to the gym 3 times a week. When you look forward to rewards, and you feel like they are attainable, you are more likely to work hard to get them!

    Tell others about your resolutions.

    Finding an accountability partner helps keep your ship on course as they can encourage you for achievements as well as guide you back to the course when you start to stray.

    Write your goals down on paper.

    Mark Murphy says Writing things down doesn’t just help you remember, it makes your mind more efficient by helping you focus on the truly important stuff. And your goals absolutely should qualify as truly important stuff.”

    Identify your purpose.

    Knowing your “WHAT” (goal) is important, but knowing “WHY” can be just as important when it comes to following through on your intentions. Why do you want to lose weight in 2019? When you put the why to the what, you are truly focused on what matters. “I want to lose weight so that I can play with my children without getting tired and show them that hard work is worth it.”  Now, THAT’S a great goal.

    Identifying goal-breakers and goal-makers are equally important pieces to achieving what you set out to accomplish, especially with regards to New Year’s resolutions. Make this the year your goals become reality by focusing on these five simple tips.

  • The Evolving State of Employee Benefits Broker

    February 6, 2019

    More and more employers are turning to benefit brokers for help, and a change in the role of the employee benefits broker is occurring due to these new expectations. Leaders of companies are looking to brokers for communication materials pertaining to employee benefits as well as a wide range of new and innovative services that they can provide as consultants. When you need assistance with issues involving benefits, it is wise to hire the top employee benefits broker in San Francisco County. Your business is sure to see many of the benefits.

    How the Employee Benefits Broker has Evolved

    In the past, the resources needed for an employee benefits broker in San Francisco County to succeed were simple and scalable. The primary roles of brokers included:

    • Insurance Transactions: The foundation for most employee benefits brokers was insurance transactions. Many smaller brokerage firms could flourish because they had access to a lot of carriers on the market.
    • Answering Phones: It was extremely important for brokers to answer the phone, or read faxes, and handle service issues like incorrect bills or unpaid claims. These tasks are still important today. The difference is that they now include replying to emails and texts, checking apps, etc.
    • Being Complaint: Brokers had to make sure that they were in compliance with all of the rules of the industry. This included making sure that they understood COBRA, FSA and HIPAA rules.
    • Bringing a New Approach: In the mid-1990s, the “consultative” approach that some employee benefits brokers were using was starting to scratch the surface. However, it was not prevalent across the market as it is today.

    Fast forward to today, it is highly important for the employee benefits broker to be adept at consulting in different areas in order to remain competitive in the market. More specifically, a successful broker must be an expert in cost management, a maven in client retention, a pundit in public speaking, a specialist in networking, solutions, presentation, customer service, social media, and a genius in employee engagement, technology, compliance, and lots more. In short, they need to be a jack of all trades.

    Get Excellent Employee Benefits Services in San Francisco County and Beyond

    When you need help with employee benefits issues in your company, you should seek the help of an experienced and highly knowledgeable employee benefits broker in San Francisco County at Arrow Benefits Group. You can gain the benefits of excellent services of the top brokerage firm in the area and beyond. For more information, call us at 707-992-3780 for expert advice on HR solutions available to you.

  • Proposed 2020 Benefit Payment and Parameters Rule | California Benefits Group

    January 30, 2019

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    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a proposed rule for benefit payment and parameters for 2020. CMS also released its draft 2020 actuarial value calculator and draft 2020 actuarial value calculator methodology.

    According to CMS, the proposed rule is intended to reduce fiscal and regulatory burdens associated with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) across different program areas and to provide stakeholders with greater flexibility.

    Although the proposed rule would primarily affect the individual market and the Exchanges, the proposed rule addresses the following topics that may impact employer-sponsored group health plans:

    • Changes related to prescription drug policy
    • Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP)
    • Prohibition against discrimination
    • Maximum annual limitation on cost sharing for plan year 2020
    • Cost-sharing requirements for generic drugs
    • Cost-sharing requirements and drug manufacturers’ coupons

    CMS usually finalizes its benefit payment and parameters rule in the first quarter of the year following the proposed rule’s release. February 19, 2019 is the due date for public comments on the proposed rule.

    The 2020 open enrollment period will run from November 1, 2019, to December 15, 2019.

     

    by Karen Hsu
    Originally posted on UBABenefits.com

     

  • Attitude of Gratitude | CA Benefits Agency

    January 23, 2019

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    Having a grateful heart impacts more than just you! When you express your gratitude to others, it becomes a ripple effect and extends further than you can imagine. Watch this video to learn how to say “thank you” to others!

     

     

  • Gen Z is Coming. Is Your Workplace Ready? | Petaluma Employee Benefits

    January 17, 2019

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    While it may feel like businesses are still reeling from adapting to the working millennial, the next generation is already knocking on the HR door. The Society for Human Resource Management went straight to a 16-year old source to see what is on the workplace horizon.

    Here are a few trends and some potential takeaways for employers.

    Gen Z is competitive, raised on more pervasive youth sports and regularly reminded just how  hard it is to get into elite colleges. These go-getters are used to immediate feedback. HR departments will be wise to consider how to offer quality, actionable feedback to these employees. On the one hand, rigorous coaching and parent investment means Gen Z can take tips on how to improve and even handle tough criticism, something millennials are seen to struggle with. Even better, the competitive nature of Gen Z will make them want to work to succeed. To support these employees, meaningful, regular feedback will be necessary. Now is a good time to start creating the plans for the systems and processes that will offer performance reviews, project critiques, and more. Workers who appreciate structure and goals are great for business, but HR will also need to protect young workers from burnout as they attempt to succeed and even overachieve in their first years working.

    As children of Gen Xers, Gen Z reflects their parents’ skepticism and individualism. This is a marked shift from the idealism and collaborative approach of millennials. The tight labor markets of recent times have meant concerted efforts to court millennials. Current trends toward open office plans, casual environments, and cross-discipline teams may need to be refined as these two generations being to mix around the water cooler. The group project mentality of millennials is more the one-person show of Gen Z. Neither worldview is inherently better, but helping the youngest workers work well with others will be important to integrating them into successful teams and preventing conflict. Offering mentoring opportunities, which provide meaning for experienced millennials and feedback to improvement-hungry Gen Z may be one idea. At the same time, ensuring there are ample opportunities to shine as individuals will tap into Gen Z’s potential and enthusiasm.

    While they hope their jobs are engaging, this generation is seen as more pragmatic and fiscally conservative. They want to feel on solid financial footing even more than they want to feel good about their work. For the future of employee benefits and perks, it may be a dollars and cents approach which lures the most attractive young workers rather than bringing a dog to work or culture-building elements like foosball or ping pong.

    Whether we’re ready or not, Gen Z is coming. Paying attention to generation shifts may leave employers eager but feeling overwhelmed to keep up. Not everything needs to change, and you may just find some changes are good for everyone. Find ways to adapt what’s already working for your company, adjust what can be adjusted to appeal to new workers, and be ready to implement new ideas that just may help your entire workforce, too.

    by Bill Olson
    Originally posted on UBABenefits.com

     

  • 5 Ways to Say Thank You | CA Insurance Benefits Firm

    January 9, 2019

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    As we begin our new year of 2019, we have also closed 2018 with lots of celebrations, gift-giving, and family time. Showing appreciation for others during this generous season comes second nature for some but for others, it doesn’t.  You may be looking for ideas on how to express your gratitude effectively to those around you and so we’ve compiled a list of five unique ways to say “thank you” to someone.

    WRITE IT OUT

    Receiving a handwritten note is a rare occurrence in this day. Speaking or emailing a thank you is more common and does effectively communicate the gratitude of the sender. However, the spirit of gratefulness that is communicated by sitting down and taking pen to paper to express your thankfulness for the act or gift received, is a bonus to the note receiver. Take the extra time to write out that thank you.

    PHONE A FRIEND

    In a day and age of emails and texts and social media, we rarely get phone calls from people who aren’t asking for something—billing issues, appointment reminders, robo-calls.  Even if the person on the other end of the call doesn’t pick up, leave that voicemail telling them thank you for their thoughtfulness for the gift you received. Be specific and mention the gift by name and what it meant to receive it. That phone call may be the brightest part of their day!

    SAY IT ON SOCIAL MEDIA

    We spend more time scrolling through social media than we do having face-to-face contact with people. Instead of getting caught up in a heated debate on NextDoor, take a few minutes to write on a friend’s wall to tell them thank you. It’s refreshing to see gratitude on display instead of incivility. And it’s always nice to see your friends get noticed for kindness!

    FLASH A SMILE

    The look of surprise on someone’s face is sometimes the greatest thank you that you can receive! The age old saying of “your face says it all” is true. When you open that gift and you can tell that the giver spent time thinking of the perfect thing to give you, look up and give them the thank you of a smile!

    PAY IT FORWARD

    Were you bowled over by the thoughtfulness of a gift or act? A beautiful way to show your gratefulness is to pay it forward. Buy the coffee of the person behind you in line. Say three nice things to strangers on the way in to your office. Tell your child a character quality you see in them that is fabulous. While this act of gratitude may mean that the original giver never knows about the ripple effect of their gift, you will, and hopefully that ripple is carried on and on and on.

    These acts of gratitude are simple, effective, and most of all, meaningful. Take the time to say thank you!

     

     

     

  • 3 Tips to Consider When Choosing a Health Insurance Plan for Your Employees

    January 3, 2019

    The changing business landscape is redefining the role of employers every day. Gone are the days when it was a blasphemy for employees to expect anything more than getting paid for the job done. The modern employee expects their employer to play an active role in securing their future. One of the ways in which businesses all over the world are responding to this demand is by offering health insurance to their employees. When it comes to choosing a plan for your employees, you will be spoilt for choice. Over the years, many providers have come up with numerous health insurance plans to meet the various needs of their target audience. While a specific plan may work for another business, it may fall flat in your case. To help, we provide a few tips that you should consider when choosing an employee benefits health insurance plan in Sonoma County.

    1. Learn About your Options

    Employee health plans can be broadly categorized into three groups: defined benefit plans, defined contribution plans, and professional employer organizations. Defined benefit plans are an employer-provided healthcare, wherein the employees can only avail the services within their employer’s network. Defined contribution plans empower employees to choose their plan. If none of these plans work for you, consider getting into an agreement with a professional employer organization (PEO) that will provide benefits to your employees on your behalf.

    2. Learn About your Competitors’ Offerings

    Providing in-demand benefits can help you stand out from the crowd, which is one of the most important commandments to attract and retain the right talent. When selecting a health insurance plan, learn about what your competitors are offering. Based on your findings, try to match or surpass competition.

    3. Find Out the Premiums, Deductibles, and Out- of- Pocket Maximums

    Steer clear of insurance plans that you or your employees cannot afford. The premium cost will be shared by you and your employees, which is why it is important that you look for a plan that provides affordable coverage. Make sure the cost to your employees does not exceed 9.5 percent of their household income. Additionally, to ensure your employees’ total cost does not exceeds their budget, look for plans with lower deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums.

    Consider these tips when picking the right insurance plan for your employees. If you are experiencing problems navigating the benefits landscape, Arrow Benefits Group will be happy to help. As a reputable benefits consulting firm, we have taken upon us to help businesses streamline their benefits programs. To discuss your requirements, call 707-992-3780 or to schedule an appointment, fill out our contact form.

  • Opioid Addiction in the Workplace | California Benefits Agency

    March 11, 2019

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    The opioid crisis has driven overdose deaths in America to all-time highs. By 2017, the opioid mortality rate was five times higher than the rate in 1999. This crisis is not limited to one socio-economic class or one geographic area. Opioid addiction affects those in suburban homes, high-rise office buildings, and schools in every state in America.  Employers must address this epidemic in their workplace through education and services for employees, so that the tide of this crisis can recede, and their workforce can march ahead undeterred by addiction.

    Opioid Addiction Explained

    Opioid addiction most often results from the misuse of and addiction to prescription pain medication. It has become an epidemic that affects not only the patient, with implications in the workplace, as well. Many patients who are prescribed opioids for chronic pain don’t believe they will become addicted to them. But, with prolonged use, their need for more medication to achieve the same level of pain-relief increases, as does their dependence on these drugs.

    Education Is Key

    Educating your employees on how opioid addiction happens and what can be done to overcome it is essential in the workplace. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have many resources to help you with education that you can post around your office and workplace. Their website is also a great resource on educating the employer on what opioid misuse looks like and how to address it with your employees.

    Resources for Employees

    With an estimated 1.7 million Americans addicted to opioids, you can be assured you will encounter someone in your workplace who has been affected by this crisis. How can you help your employees to overcome this addiction? Your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a wonderful resource to offer. Each EAP will be different based on the service to which your company has subscribed. According to a recent survey, 91% of work organizations offer some type of EAPs for their employees. Most EAPs offer assistance in matching employees to local treatment resources, as well as short-term counseling and support/recovery groups. Also, EAP professionals are knowledgeable on treatment options and suggested ways to intervene when abuse is suspected.

    The opioid crisis is real—now, more Americans are likely to die from an opioid overdose than an automobile accident. This epidemic has sieged neighbors, co-workers, and family. The workplace is feeling this crisis through lowered productivity of employees as well as increased healthcare costs. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement. As an employer, you have the ability to help turn the tide of this addiction crisis by offering education and employee assistance programs for your workforce. The right resources can help your workforce become educated on and overcome this addiction.

  • March Madness 2019: The Ball is in Your Court | California Benefits Agents

    March 6, 2019

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    March Madness is upon us, and there is no avoiding it. Selection Sunday, when the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Committee announces which 68 teams made the 2019 tournament, is March 17. Games begin with the First Four on March 19 and 20 and culminate with the Final Four April 6 and 8.

    While this annual event can impact productivity, employers may find that the positive effects it has on team engagement and camaraderie outweigh any negatives. Consider these facts from both sides of the coin:

    • An estimated $1.9 billion is lost in workplace productivity during a typical March Madness tournament. (Challenger, Gray & Christmas)
    • Employees will spend 25.5 minutes per workday on March Madness, for a total of 6 hours spread over the 15 workdays when games will be played. (OfficeTeam) This includes time spent by 76 percent of employees who admit to checking scores during work hours and 53 percent who watch or follow sporting events on their computers while at work. (Randstad)
    • As much as $3 billion will be bet on workplace bracket pools during March Madness this year. (FordHarrison) About 40 percent of workers say they have participated in college basketball brackets in their offices, with an average of $22.44 contributed to the pools. (Randstad)
    • Nearly 9 in 10 employees said participating in NCAA brackets at work helped build team camaraderie, and 73 percent said they look forward to going to work more when they are part of an office pool. (Randstad)

    So how can an employer embrace the fun of March Madness while enforcing the rules it may push the limits of? Whether you view the tournament as a minor distraction that creates an opportunity to boost morale, or as a potential pitfall of legal liability, missed deadlines, and dissatisfied customers, the ball is in your court. Here are five ways to maximize the positive aspects of March Madness while minimizing disruptions.

    1. Have fun: Make it clear to your employees that you want them to enjoy work and March Madness while not letting the tournament put a full court press on their work. Encourage employees to wear their favorite team’s clothing and/or decorate their workspace in their team’s colors.
    2. Watch together: Put televisions in break rooms so that employees have somewhere to watch the games other than the internet. That way, connectivity is not slowed and productivity lost even for those not participating in the Madness activities. Provide snacks for the viewers.
    3. Be careful with brackets: Organize a company-wide pool with no entry fee to avoid ethical or legal issues surrounding office gambling. Give away a company gift to the pool winner that is not cash. Keep the brackets posted and updated in the break room.
    4. Be flexible: Allow workers to arrive early so they can work a full shift and still leave in time to see big games that overlap the end of their shift. Conversely, allowing employees to delay their start time the morning after big games may help reduce absenteeism.
    5. Follow the rules: Review applicable company policies—such as gambling, use of personal electronics and company computers, and work and break hours—with your employees before engaging in any March Madness activities at work, so it will be clear to all what is considered acceptable.

    Determine how March Madness fits with your business culture and customer deliverables. If employees are getting their work done, customers are happy, and the biggest problems are reduced internet bandwidth or a little more noise in the cubicles or lunchroom for a couple of days, it’s nothing but net. (See what we did there?) Decide how you’ll be playing this before the opening tipoff and the Madness begins!

    by Rachel Sobel
    Originally posted on ThinkHR.com

  • Negotiations are now possible, if you can figure out the numbers

    February 28, 2019

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    A new rule went into effect January 1 requiring hospitals to publish their online price lists for all the medical services they provide.  This was required under the ACA, but now they must be published online in a format that can be downloaded.  The central website for California hospitals for the most common outpatient procedures is www.oshpd.ca.gov/data-and-reports/cost-transparency/hospital-chargemasters/2018-chargemasters

     

  • 3 Ways to Build a Thriving Company Culture

    February 27, 2019

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    When you are a business owner, you know how important it is to create a thriving culture at the workplace for your employees. But how do you define company culture? The concept means different things to different people. First off, it is about leadership, so the most important thing you, as the leader of your company, need to do is set an example to follow. Once you do this, you can begin the process to build an inspiring and thriving company culture. You can seek the help of the top benefit brokers in San Francisco County for expert advice and tailor-made HR solutions for your company’s employee benefits needs.

    3 Tips to Help You Build a Thriving Culture in Your Company

    Here is a look at 3 ways to build a company culture that is both inspiring and thriving.

    1. Hire Character Before Talent: Most companies look at talent before anything else when they hire employees. However, it is extremely important to engage and hire people with character over mere talent. Character creates culture, which in turn supports character – meaning that they are mutually supportive. With character, you can not only create a thriving company culture, but also a successful business.
    2. Provide Opportunity: If you want the culture in your company to thrive, you need to make room for an opportunity within the world you have created. You must make sure that your team feels like that they can grow and rise within the space they are in. If they feel like they cannot contribute or are limited, they will eventually stop feeling inspired, and get tired of being part of your organization.
    3. Build a Community: Your company is made up of different people from different backgrounds who have different skills. You need to call them to work in unity in spite of all these differences. It is important to make your employees feel like they are part of a community and play a key role within it. You should also make sure to reward individuals as well as groups for breakthroughs in your company.

    Manage the Complexities of Benefits with the Leading Benefit Brokers in San Francisco County

    When you need expert help in managing employee benefits, you should look no further than Arrow Benefits Group, the top benefit brokers in San Francisco County. The company provides expert advice, tailor-made programs and customized HR solutions for companies across the county and the U.S. Call us today at 707-992-3780 to get expert counsel about employee benefits and much more.

  • ACA won’t go away…and the courts are courting further argument

    February 27, 2019

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    California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra is leading the charge of other Attorneys General to appeal a ruling by a conservative Texas federal judge saying that the ACA is unconstitutional.  Even that judge has already said he would reconsider, but for now the rule stands.  The appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is joined by 16 states and the District of Columbia.  “In this particular case we believe the stakes are not only great, but compelling” Becerra, who voted for the ACA when he was a House representative, said.  Ellen Rosenblum from Oregon said “really, this is an absurd interpretation of the law and an overreach of the federal court that will hopefully be stopped at the appellate level”  Of course, others disagree “The court’s decision was about restoring the rule of law and federalism by eliminating an illegal, unconstitutional federal power grab” said a spokesman for the Texas Attorney General.

  • Heart Disease Risk and Prevention | Petaluma Employee Benefits

    February 27, 2019

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    Heartbreaks are painful, but did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 630,000 people dying from the condition each year. This equates to one in four deaths attributed to this awful disease. The most common form of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD), which is what can cause heart attacks.

    CAD is caused when a substance called plaque builds up in a person’s arteries. As the buildup grows, the opening of the arteries gradually closes until blood flow is blocked and the patient experiences a heart attack. While these statistics are sobering, there are several ways we can prevent heart disease. Knowing the “why” about this disease can aid in prevention. First, let’s learn about the big three risk factors of heart disease:

    High Blood Pressure

    High blood pressure (HBP) is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. This is what your nurse checks when she puts the blood pressure cuff on your arm and pumps air into it at your check-up. She is listening for the pressure when your heart beats and the pressure for when your heart is at rest between beats. High blood pressure usually has no signs or symptoms so it is very important to keep your annual physical appointments with your doctor and to follow her recommendations if she diagnoses you with HBP.

    High Cholesterol

    High cholesterol is when you develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels. These deposits can lead to narrow vessels and increase your chance of a heart attack. It is determined through blood tests. While high cholesterol can be inherited, it can also be prevented through medication, diet and exercise.

    Smoking

    Smokers are four times more likely to develop heart disease than non-smokers. The nicotine in smoke reduces your blood flow, raises your blood pressure, and speeds up your heart. Quitting smoking will not reverse the damage done to your heart, but it greatly reduces the damage going forward to your heart and arteries.

    In addition to the three key risk factors, it’s important to explore what we can do to prevent it. Prevention behaviors can take you from the danger zone of heart disease and put you on the path to a healthy heart.

    Heart Disease Prevention

    Healthy Diet

    According to the Mayo Clinic, simple tips to prevent heart disease by diet include tips like these:  controlling portion size, eating more vegetables and fruits, selecting whole grains, limiting unhealthy fats, choosing low-fat protein, reducing sodium intake, and limiting treats.

    Healthy Weight

    Being overweight increases your risk for heart disease. One measure used to determine if your weight is in a healthy range is body mass index (BMI). If you know your weight and height, you can calculate your BMI at CDC’s Assessing Your Weight website. When in doubt, consult a physician who can help in calculating whether your health is at risk due to weight.

    Physical Activity

    Among the many benefits to getting enough physical activity can, it can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar levels. From walking, to swimming, to cycling, adding even moderate activity to your routine can have a great impact on your heart health. Just remember, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen.

    Quit Smoking

    Smoking cigarettes greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Your doctor can suggest ways to help you quit, and you can find many other helpful resources, including creating a tailored plan to help you quit at SmokeFree.gov.

    Limit Alcohol

    There’s a good reason your doctor asks about routine alcohol consumption at each check-up. Drinking too much alcohol can drastically raise blood pressure and binge drinking can increase heart rate. For heart health, the medical guidelines state that men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women only one. Talk to your doctor if you aren’t sure whether or not you should drink alcohol or how much you should drink for optimal heart health.

    Check out these great resources to better educate yourself and others on heart health:

    American Heart Association—Healthy for Good

    American Heart Month Toolkit

    Heart Health Information

    Strategies to Prevent Heart Disease

  • Despite state support, Medicare for all isn’t playing nationally

    February 26, 2019

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    The seven California Democrats who flipped Republican seats in the midterms campaigned for more government funded health care, are facing roadblocks.  They were greeted by a statement from the senior California statesperson, “We need to do the things that are doable – that aren’t pie in the sky” said Senator Dianne Feinstein.  She got pushback from the junior Senator Kamala Harris, who supports Medicare for all, calling it “the moral and ethical thing to do.”

  • Further Mergers – lick your wounds and come back for more

    February 25, 2019

    Walgreens, fresh off a massive fine for general malfeasance, has decided to partner with Microsoft to take on Amazon in everyone’s new favorite sport – fixing health care.  Microsoft is ceding Cloud dominance to Amazon, and Walgreens to CVS (which just bought Aetna), so now they want to leapfrog them and own the market.  Walgreens will open up 12 digital health corners in stores that will sell health care related tools and instruments, while also gaining a lot more data about their customers.

  • How gruesome is the Newsom model going to be? Or will it be at all…in California

    February 23, 2019

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    On his first day in office, the new California governor unveiled a sweeping health plan that would prop up the ACA, expand health care for undocumented immigrants and give the state new powers to negotiation drug prices.  It would fall short of what was indicated in his campaign, however, where he hinted at a Single Payer Health Plan (adored by some, reviled by others).  His plan would reinstate the individual mandate by taxing those who do not have coverage.  While stopping short, Newsom did write to President Trump and congressional leaders asking for permission for California to pursue a government funded health care system.

  • ACA may be here to stay – the judge rules against it, but says it is in place for now

    February 21, 2019

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    There has been lots of excitement over the Texas decision ruling the ACA is unconstitutional. Judge Reed O’Connor has now issued a stay of his own opinion, which means the law remains in effect while the inevitable (and already filed) appeals go forward.  Now that the Democrats are in charge of the White House, there will be some other action on this as well, we’re sure.

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