• 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.

  • The Big-Picture View of Risk | Petaluma Benefits Group

    February 1, 2019

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    Many human resources and business leaders think about compliance in black-and-white terms. We simply check the boxes and evaluate compliance efforts using one measure: “Are we doing it right or not?”

    It’s easy to fall into the trap of failing to see the broader implications of our compliance efforts. We need to go beyond, “What’s the law and what should I do about it?” We need to ask questions like, “How does this law intersect with our culture?” or “What best practices will support this requirement?”  We need to understand that risk crosses our desks every day.

    That’s where people risk management comes in. People risk management is simply the strategic and wholistic view of compliance. It’s really all about the end-to-end story; it’s how we deal with all the things that happen in the employee lifecycle in a way that minimizes risk while maximizing employee engagement.

    It’s all about how we anticipate risk, reduce the likelihood of risk events, and deal with them when they do happen. The best companies proactively respond to risk in an ethical way that not just protects us from liability, but also builds trust and respect among the workforce.

    People Risk Management: An Example

    Let’s say a new sexual harassment law goes into effect in your state. This triggering event (the new law) is just part of the issue. You need to take a big-picture view of the entire situation. You’ll need to know what you should anticipate, what you need to do, and how to evaluate your efforts to make sure you’ve addressed every risk.

    Because this law is related to how people behave, in addition to administrative requirements, it can be difficult to understand how to simultaneously address both the risk of harassment and the risk of failing to comply with each aspect of the law. You also need to incorporate your response to this issue into your company culture to demonstrate that you care about protecting not just the company, but also your employees.

    When engagement and compliance issues intersect, and you do both well, you create a culture that says you deal with stuff in a clear way, but also you protect yourself from legal risks. It’s a double benefit.


    by Larry Dunavin
    Originally posted on

  • 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


  • 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


  • Findings of PwC Health Research Institute – the future of health care in the United States | Arrow Benefits Group

    January 10, 2019

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    The industry is, finally, being disrupted, with what PwC calls the New Health Economy kicking into gear.  The majority of the country’s largest companies are now involved with healthcare, venture capital and private equity funding is up considerably and a number of new arrangements were announced this year.  Moreover, American consumers have told PwC since 2013 that they are eager to embrace more convenient, digitally enabled and affordable care

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

    January 9, 2019


    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.


    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.


    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!


    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!


    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!


    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!




  • Is the ACA dead yet? The current administration would like to think so, and the courts help | Arrow Benefits Group

    January 8, 2019

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    In response to a joint lawsuit filed by several attorneys general, the Texas District Federal Court (NFIB vs. Sebelius) has now ruled that the individual mandate as required under the Affordable Care Act may no longer be upheld under the Tax Power (following passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017).  The US Supreme Court had already ruled that the individual mandate could not be severed from the Affordable Care Act, but “under the law as it now stands, the Individual Mandate no longer ‘triggers a tax’ beginning in 2019.  So long as the shared responsibility payment is zero…the Individual Mandate cannot be upheld under Congress’ Tax Power”  This means that the mandate is now unconstitutional.

  • Treasury, DOL, and HHS Release Two Final Rules on Contraceptive Coverage Exemptions | CA Employee Benefits

    January 4, 2019

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    The Department of the Treasury (Treasury), Department of Labor (DOL), and Department  of Health and Human Services (HHS) (collectively, Departments) released two final rules on contraceptive coverage exemptions. These rules finalize the Departments’ interim final rules that were published on October 13, 2017. HHS also issued a press release and fact sheet on these final rules.

    The first final rule provides an exemption from the contraceptive coverage mandate to entities (including certain employers) and individuals that object to services covered by the mandate on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs.

    The second final rule provides an exemption from the contraceptive coverage mandate to nonprofit organizations, small businesses, and individuals that object to services covered by the mandate on the basis of sincerely held moral convictions.

    The final rules will be effective on January 14, 2019.

    Read more about the final rules.


    by Karen Hsu
    Originally posted on

  • 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.

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