Category: Custom Content

  • Benefits Education 101 for Employees

    June 29, 2022

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    Com­pa­nies spend a large amount of time and mon­ey cre­at­ing valu­able ben­e­fits plans for employ­ees.  But after all that work, they often get low par­tic­i­pa­tion.  Good ben­e­fit choic­es require an effort from employ­ers to ensure that employ­ees have help in under­stand­ing their ben­e­fits options.  To make things even more com­plex, employ­ers are hav­ing to con­sid­er options for a span of 4 gen­er­a­tions in the work­place which can look very dif­fer­ent.  Pro­vid­ing ben­e­fits for a multi­gen­er­a­tional work­place can be chal­leng­ing but it is impor­tant for employ­ers to sim­pli­fy the process by deliv­er­ing edu­ca­tion through the right chan­nels while avoid­ing a one-size-fits-all approach.

    Under­stand­ing your audi­ence and how to effec­tive­ly com­mu­ni­cate with them is the first step in cre­at­ing your ben­e­fits mes­sag­ing. For exam­ple, what are the demo­graph­ics of your work­place? Do you need to pro­vide mul­ti­ple mes­sages across var­i­ous chan­nels? Does your work­place speak Eng­lish, or will you need bilin­gual messaging?

    A recent sur­vey indi­cates that 83% of employ­ers believe that com­mu­ni­ca­tion, employ­ee edu­ca­tion and engage­ment are key for employ­ee participation.

    Here are 5 tips on edu­cat­ing your employ­ees about their ben­e­fits to encour­age ben­e­fits participation:

    1. Break Down Health Insur­ance Options
    • Dis­trib­ute a sim­ple guide that explains the key things employ­ees should know about their health insur­ance and basic ter­mi­nol­o­gy
    • Explain in sim­ple terms about provider net­work, cov­ered pre­scrip­tions, month­ly pre­mi­ums, deductibles, and addi­tion­al plan ben­e­fits, if applicable
    • Have an effi­cient way for employ­ees to man­age ben­e­fits and ask questions
    1. Auto­mate the Process
    1. Make Plans Customizable
    • Pro­vide plen­ty of ben­e­fits options includ­ing med­ical, den­tal and vision from lead­ing carriers
    • Offer a lifestyle ben­e­fits pro­gram that allows employ­ees to per­son­al­ize their plan accord­ing to their needs
    • Con­sid­er offer­ing perks like com­muter ben­e­fits or health club mem­ber­ships to reduce finan­cial bur­dens and encour­age a healthy lifestyle
    1. Pro­vide Mul­ti­ple Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Strategies
    • Offer edu­ca­tion­al tools and chan­nels pre­ferred by employ­ees so they can stay informed year-round to make bet­ter pur­chas­ing decisions
    • Uti­lize effec­tive ben­e­fits edu­ca­tion tools that include in-per­son and vir­tu­al meet­ings, dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tion or print media
    • You can uti­lize a short video to explain key con­cepts; use graphs and images or cre­ate short quizzes for employ­ees to ensure they have read and under­stand the material
    1. Make it Easy to Sign-Up
    • Invest in updat­ed HR and Ben­e­fits tech­nol­o­gy that includes easy mes­sage capa­bil­i­ties such as email, text mes­sage alerts, video sup­port, and live chat integration
    • Pro­vide a Ben­e­fits mobile app
    • Offer a ben­e­fits web­site which hous­es ben­e­fit infor­ma­tion, HR infor­ma­tion, and enroll­ment mate­r­i­al such as “Ben­e­fit­sEasy

    Although you may use one or more of the tips above, it is vital to keep the infor­ma­tion flow­ing through­out the year. A fun way to do this is to pose a month­ly triv­ia ques­tion to your staff relat­ed to the ben­e­fits and well­ness pro­grams you offer and award a prize to the per­son who sub­mits the cor­rect answer. High­light­ing dif­fer­ent fea­tures of your ben­e­fits or well­ness pro­grams each month will keep your employ­ees engaged and informed!

     

  • 5 Tips to Save Money on Health Care: Part 2

    June 13, 2022

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    Smart spend­ing can keep your health care from cost­ing an arm and a leg.  With costs ris­ing on every­thing from gas to food, every pen­ny counts. It pays to shop smart – that is why it helps to learn how to take steps to lim­it your out-of-pock­et health care costs.

    1. Save Mon­ey on Prescriptions
    • Go gener­ic – Always ask your doc­tor or phar­ma­cist if you can switch to gener­ic med­i­cines. They have the same active ingre­di­ents but cost less than brand name drugs.
    • Split pills – ask your doc­tor or phar­ma­cist if your pre­scrip­tion comes in a high­er dose that is safe to split. You may be able to get a 2‑month sup­ply of med­i­cine in dou­ble the dose that you need for the price of a 1‑month sup­ply, cut­ting your pre­scrip­tion cost in half.
    • Use a pre­ferred phar­ma­cy – A pre­ferred phar­ma­cy has pre-nego­ti­at­ed low­er prices on pre­scrip­tions for a par­tic­u­lar insur­ance plan. You can also sign up for home deliv­ery on pre­scrip­tions that you take on a reg­u­lar basis.
    1. Tune in to Telehealth

    With telemed­i­cine, you don’t have to dri­ve to the doctor’s office or sit in a wait­ing room when you’re sick.  Vir­tu­al vis­its can be eas­i­er to fit into your busy sched­ule and you may not even have to arrange for child­care.  Doc­tors also can use tele­health appoint­ments to lessen expo­sure to oth­er people’s germs.

    1. Brush Up on HSA & FSA Eli­gi­ble Expenses

    You can with­draw HSA and FSA mon­ey tax-free to pay for deductibles and co-pay­ments or coin­sur­ance, as well as for a vari­ety of oth­er expens­es includ­ing vision expens­es and ortho­don­tia.  You can also use it for every­thing from sun­screen and con­tact solu­tion to baby mon­i­tors and over-the-counter med­i­cine like Ibupro­fen or cold medicine.

    1. Save for Retire­ment with Your HSA

    HSA funds don’t expire which makes an HSA a great way to put away mon­ey for med­ical expens­es in retire­ment.  An HSA offers a hat trick of tax advantages:

    • Con­tri­bu­tions to your account are made pre-tax, low­er­ing your tax­able income today
    • Invest­ments grow tax-free while they are kept in the account
    • With­drawals are free of income tax, as long as you use the mon­ey for qual­i­fied med­ical expenses.

    Age 65 is when you can use HSA mon­ey to pay for non-med­ical expens­es — includ­ing day-to-day costs or for home ren­o­va­tions.  Those pay­outs aren’t tax-free but are taxed at the same rate as dis­tri­b­u­tions from a tra­di­tion­al IRA.  You’ll sim­ply owe income tax­es on what­ev­er you withdraw.

    1. Review Bills and Insur­ance Expla­na­tions of Benefits

    Billing mis­takes can hap­pen.  In fact, did you know that up to 80% of med­ical bills con­tain at least one error?  Billing mis­takes hap­pen eas­i­ly when deal­ing with large num­bers of patients, ever-chang­ing med­ical codes, and pay­ments crossed in the mail and health insur­ance companies.

    The por­tion of your bud­get devot­ed to med­ical care is always on the rise so it’s nev­er a bad idea to find mon­e­tary short­cuts where you can.   Knowl­edge is POWER and when you spend time find­ing ways to save mon­ey on health care, you are empow­er­ing your­self!  Exer­cis­ing due dili­gence to plan for you and your family’s med­ical needs will save you mon­ey and give you con­fi­dence in your deci­sions for care.

  • Mental Health is Wealth, So Start Saving Up Now!

    May 17, 2022

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    “Suck it up,” “cheer up,” “snap out of it,” “but you don’t look sick”- these are just some of the phras­es that well-mean­ing friends and fam­i­ly tell loved ones strug­gling with men­tal health issues. Research shows that one in five adults strug­gle with men­tal health con­di­tions.  Men­tal health strug­gles include depres­sion, bipo­lar dis­or­der, anx­i­ety, schiz­o­phre­nia, and eat­ing disorders.

    Men­tal ill­ness is also becom­ing increas­ing­ly com­mon among teenagers; stud­ies indi­cate that approx­i­mate­ly one in five teens between ages twelve and eigh­teen are diag­nosed with a men­tal health dis­or­der.  These issues deeply impact day-to-day liv­ing and may also affect the abil­i­ty to relate to oth­ers.  When your men­tal health suf­fers, every­thing in your life will suf­fer as a result.

    What is Men­tal Health?

    Men­tal health includes our emo­tion­al, psy­cho­log­i­cal, and social well-being.  It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps deter­mine how we han­dle stress, relate to oth­ers, and make choices.

    The fact is, a men­tal ill­ness is a dis­or­der of the brain – your body’s most impor­tant organ.   Like most dis­eases of the body, men­tal ill­ness has many caus­es – from genet­ics to oth­er bio­log­i­cal, envi­ron­men­tal and social/cultural fac­tors.  And just as with most dis­eases, men­tal ill­ness­es are no one’s fault.  For many peo­ple, recov­ery – includ­ing hav­ing mean­ing­ful roles in social life, work and school – is pos­si­ble, espe­cial­ly when you start treat­ment ear­ly and play a strong role in your own recov­ery process.

    What Are the Warn­ing Signs?

    Each ill­ness has its own symp­toms, but com­mon signs of men­tal ill­ness can include the following:

    • Avoid­ing friends and social activities
    • Feel­ing exces­sive­ly sad or low
    • Feel­ing help­less or hopeless
    • Extreme mood changes
    • Think­ing of harm­ing your­self or others
    • Inabil­i­ty to per­form dai­ly tasks like tak­ing care of your kids or get­ting to work or school
    • Feel­ing numb or like noth­ing matters
    • Overuse of sub­stances like alco­hol or drugs
    • Hav­ing unex­plained aches and pains such as headaches or stom­ach aches
    • Changes in sleep­ing habits or feel­ing tired and low energy
    • Feel­ing unusu­al­ly con­fused, for­get­ful, on edge, angry, upset, wor­ried, or scared

    What Are Some Things You Can Do to Look After Your Men­tal Health?

    • Talk About Your Feel­ings – Just being lis­tened to can help you feel sup­port­ed and less alone. Talk­ing with a friend or loved one is help­ful but remem­ber, ther­a­pists are not only for those in the mid­dle of cri­sis — they’re incred­i­bly ben­e­fi­cial for peo­ple in all stages of life
    • Exer­cise reg­u­lar­ly – Exer­cise releas­es endor­phins, which have mood-boost­ing effects. Aim to exer­cise about 30+ min­utes at least five days per week
    • Eat Well – Your brain needs a mix of nutri­ents to stay healthy and func­tion well, just like the oth­er organs in your body
    • Stay Con­nect­ed with Fam­i­ly and Friends – Close, qual­i­ty rela­tion­ships are key for a hap­py, healthy life
    • Take a Break – a change of scenery or pace is good for your men­tal health
    • Get Out­side to Enjoy 15 Min­utes of Sun­shine – Sun­light syn­the­sizes Vit­a­min D which experts believe is a mood elevator
    • Send a Thank You Note – Let some­one know why you appre­ci­ate them. Writ­ten expres­sions of grat­i­tude are linked to increased happiness
    • Prac­tice For­give­ness – Peo­ple who for­give have bet­ter men­tal health and report being more sat­is­fied with their lives
    • Pur­sue Your Pas­sions – Enjoy­ing your­self can help beat stress and achiev­ing some­thing boosts your self-esteem
    • Sleep – Most adults need around 8 hours of sleep each night so try to make sure you’re get­ting enough shut-eye

    Men­tal health is undoubt­ed­ly just as inte­gral as phys­i­cal health but it’s some­thing that we often don’t pri­or­i­tize.  We all expe­ri­ence times when we feel stressed or over­whelmed but if these feel­ings per­sist, it’s time to slow down and re-eval­u­ate your men­tal wellbeing.

    Most peo­ple are afraid to ask for help, but seek­ing help is actu­al­ly a sign of strength, not weak­ness.  If you or some­one you know is strug­gling with their men­tal health, please reach out to a local men­tal health professional.

  • The 4 W’s of Lifestyle Benefits

    May 2, 2022

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    Com­pet­i­tive wages are no longer enough to sat­is­fy and sup­port val­ued employ­ees. Today, a vari­ety of ben­e­fits and perks play an essen­tial role in attract­ing and retain­ing tal­ent. Lifestyle ben­e­fits, some­times referred to as employ­ee perks, are non-salary ben­e­fits giv­en to employ­ees to improve their over­all lifestyle that go above and beyond stan­dard med­ical, den­tal and vision ben­e­fits. These lifestyle ben­e­fits are rapid­ly becom­ing the future of employ­ee benefits.

    Around 60% of employ­ees say ben­e­fit offer­ings are a sig­nif­i­cant fac­tor in their deci­sion on whether or not to take a new job. That’s why an increas­ing num­ber of employ­ers are uti­liz­ing lifestyle ben­e­fit plans to entice high-qual­i­­ty appli­cants.  In fact, stud­ies show that 80% of employ­ees would select more ben­e­fits above a pay increase. More­over, younger employ­ees, like Mil­len­ni­als, are more apt to change jobs than their old­er Baby Boomer coun­ter­parts if they are dis­sat­is­fied with the employ­ee ben­e­fits offer­ings avail­able to them.

    Lifestyle ben­e­fits are ben­e­fits to enjoy now.  These are mean­ing­ful ser­vices that meet the needs of employ­ees today.  Not tomor­row, next week or even ten years from now.  Employ­ees don’t have to be sick, deceased, dis­abled or over 65 to use them.

    In this arti­cle, we will explore the 4 “W’s”—Who, What, When, and Why—of lifestyle ben­e­fits to explain how you can use this tool to improve your ben­e­fits package!

    Who Are Lifestyle Ben­e­fits For?

    Even com­pa­nies with gen­er­ous over­all ben­e­fits pack­ages can suf­fer from low employ­ee engage­ment and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty which can be exac­er­bat­ed by the mas­sive shift to remote work. Offer­ing perks that are cus­tomized to your people’s unique needs is huge­ly ben­e­fi­cial for com­pa­nies want­i­ng to increase employ­ee engage­ment and reten­tion.  In the increas­ing­ly com­pet­i­tive job mar­ket, this real­ly sets employ­ers apart because it demon­strates a vest­ed inter­est on the part of the employ­er to pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties for per­son­al, as well as pro­fes­sion­al growth.   Lifestyle ben­e­fits, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the form of flex­i­ble perk stipends, are an ide­al way to offer per­son­al­iza­tion and also pro­mote an inclu­sive com­pa­ny culture.

    What Lifestyle Ben­e­fits Can Employ­ers Offer?

    Lifestyle ben­e­fits can be cus­tomized to meet many dif­fer­ent types of needs. For instance, an employ­ee might be send­ing their child to col­lege for the first time. If they want advi­sors or finan­cial plan­ners, a lifestyle ben­e­fits account can cov­er it. Or what if an employ­ee wants to take advan­tage of a gym mem­ber­ship or health app?  This could also be cov­ered through a lifestyle ben­e­fits pro­gram. Every­one ben­e­fits from a calm, hap­py, and val­ued employ­ee!  Oth­er exam­ples of offer­ings you can include in a lifestyle ben­e­fits pro­gram include:

    When Should You Offer Lifestyle Benefits?

    Real­ly the answer to the ques­tion of when you should offer lifestyle ben­e­fits is-now!  Now is the right time to make the most of lifestyle ben­e­fits by set­ting employ­ees up and edu­cat­ing them of their perks.When orga­ni­za­tions offer lifestyle ben­e­fits, it’s about build­ing pos­i­tive, long-term rela­tion­ships between exec­u­tives, super­vi­sors and employ­ees.  It’s about invest­ment and ded­i­ca­tion to employ­ee well-being.

    Why Pro­vide Lifestyle Ben­e­fits at Your Com­pa­ny 

    There are so many rea­sons to pro­vide lifestyle ben­e­fits but it pri­mar­i­ly boils down to one thing: employ­ee sat­is­fac­tion.  Employ­ees want to feel val­ued by their employ­ers and if this can be achieved by help­ing them afford the lifestyle they enjoy and envi­sion for them­selves, then do it!

    We are, after all, liv­ing in the age of per­son­al­iza­tion.  Every­thing in our lives, from our Net­flix sub­scrip­tions to Spo­ti­fy playlists is cus­tomized to us and our pref­er­ences.  Lifestyle ben­e­fits can be designed in a way that address­es the var­i­ous needs of your diverse work­force, whether that means sup­port­ing a 22-year-old recent grad­u­ate liv­ing in the city, or a 45-year-old exec­u­tive with three kids in a home in the sub­urbs, lifestyle ben­e­fits are ide­al for that type of per­son­al­iza­tion and inclu­siv­i­ty, espe­cial­ly in the form of flex­i­ble perk stipends.

    If com­pa­nies want the best poten­tial can­di­dates, they have to think out­side the box with per­son­al­ized ben­e­fit offer­ings.  Every­one wins with a flex­i­ble lifestyle ben­e­fits plat­form. After all, phys­i­cal­ly and men­tal­ly healthy employ­ees are more pro­duc­tive, which is bet­ter for the bot­tom line.

  • 5 Tips to Save Money on Health Care: Part 1

    April 25, 2022

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    Health insur­ance is essen­tial to pro­tect­ing your health but the high cost of cov­er­age may leave you feel­ing sick.  Even after employ­ers pick up a sub­stan­tial amount of the cost, every year Amer­i­cans spend thou­sands of dol­lars on health­care while costs are con­tin­u­ing to rise. By tak­ing cer­tain steps, you can stretch your health­care dol­lars and still receive the care you need to stay healthy.

    1. Under­stand How Your Health Plan Works

    Review your plan to learn how to max­i­mize your ben­e­fits.  You need to know what is cov­ered (and what is not!) and what pro­ce­dures you need to fol­low to ensure your claims will get paid.  Know what your copay­ment, coin­sur­ance and deductible costs are before your visit.

    Most health insur­ance plans cov­er more of your costs if you use their pre­ferred or in-net­work doc­tors.  If you vis­it an out-of-net­work doc­tor or med­ical facil­i­ty, you’ll pay more and may end up being respon­si­ble for 100% of the bill.  Use your insurer’s online tools to search for in-net­work providers.

    1. Choose the Right Places to Get Care

    Run­ning to the emer­gency room when you get sick after hours could drain your wal­let. All too often, those suf­fer­ing from minor ill­ness­es or injuries vis­it the ER when they don’t need to.  The ER should be your last resort — con­sid­er using more afford­able options like telemed­i­cine or an urgent care cen­ter instead.  You can still get the care you require in off-hours with­out hav­ing to sched­ule an appointment.

    If you need surgery, you may save mon­ey by hav­ing it done at an ambu­la­to­ry sur­gi­cal cen­ter (ASC) which is a mod­ern health­care facil­i­ty focused on same-day sur­gi­cal care, includ­ing diag­nos­tic and pre­ven­tive pro­ce­dures.  Typ­i­cal­ly, these cen­ters charge less than a hospital.

    1. Use a Health Sav­ings Account (HSA) or Flex­i­ble Spend­ing Account (FSA)

    Open­ing a HSA  or an FSA is a handy way to save for med­ical expens­es and reduce your tax­able income. They are like per­son­al sav­ings accounts but the mon­ey in them is used to pay for health care expens­es. HSAs are owned by you, earn inter­est, and can be trans­ferred to a new employ­er.  FSAs are owned by your employ­er, do not earn inter­est, and must be used with­in the cal­en­dar year.

    1. Ask Your Doc­tor About Remote Patient Mon­i­tor­ing (RPM)

    RPM is the use of dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies to mon­i­tor and ana­lyze med­ical and oth­er health data from patients and elec­tron­i­cal­ly trans­mit this infor­ma­tion to health­care providers for assess­ment and, when nec­es­sary, rec­om­men­da­tions and instruc­tions. This type of mon­i­tor­ing is often used to man­age high-risk patients, such as those with acute or chron­ic health con­di­tions such as those with dia­betes, hyper­ten­sion and heart conditions.

    1. Use Your Pre­ven­tive Care Benefits

    Many health plans pay the full cost for impor­tant pre­ven­tive care.  These reg­u­lar screen­ings, exams, and immu­niza­tions help detect or pre­vent dis­eases and med­ical prob­lems ear­ly when they are eas­i­er to treat.  Annu­al check-ups, mam­mo­grams (usu­al­ly after the age of 40), flu shots and colono­scopies (usu­al­ly 1 every 10 years after the age of 50) are exam­ples of pre­ven­tive care.  These checks can save you a lot of mon­ey because they catch prob­lems early.

    Health insur­ance isn’t manda­to­ry — there’s no law requir­ing you to buy it — but, health insur­ance is an impor­tant part of stay­ing healthy, finan­cial­ly and phys­i­cal­ly.  Since most peo­ple who don’t have insur­ance made that deci­sion based on mon­ey instead of what is best for their health, they usu­al­ly don’t have doc­tor appoint­ments for the same rea­son – it’s too expen­sive.  But skip­ping rou­tine care can end up being more expen­sive than your pre­mi­ums, espe­cial­ly if you have seri­ous health issues that aren’t caught ear­ly.  Think of it like care main­te­nance: reg­u­lar­ly chang­ing your oil might be a has­sle but it is essen­tial to pre­vent a major break­down down the road.

     

  • What Employees Want: Hybrid Work and Flexibility

    April 11, 2022

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    2021 was quit­tin’ time in Amer­i­ca.  Last year alone over 47.4 mil­lion Amer­i­cans quit their jobs. This year, employ­ees seem­ing­ly have the upper hand against employ­ers.  The Turnover Tsuna­mi, a.k.a. The Great Res­ig­na­tion, has forced a reck­on­ing with the work­place and few employ­ers have come away unscathed.  Orga­ni­za­tions are now shift­ing pri­or­i­ties to make employ­ee well-being and reten­tion the pri­or­i­ty.  The fact of the mat­ter is, after health insur­ance, the most desir­able perks and ben­e­fits are those that offer flex­i­bil­i­ty while improv­ing work/life bal­ance. So, what is it that employ­ees real­ly want to achieve a bet­ter work/life balance?

    • Hybrid Work – Work­ing remote­ly some days in the week and at a phys­i­cal office on others
    • Flex­i­bil­i­ty– Being able to occa­sion­al­ly shift hours that best fit an employee’s life

    Why Hybrid Work?

    In 2020, peo­ple had to change the way they worked overnight and turned their kitchen tables into a ful­ly func­tion­ing office.  Many employ­ees dis­cov­ered they were more pro­duc­tive at home.  On the oth­er hand, some miss the social nature of the office and work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly in per­son.  Because of these mixed perks of in office vs. work­ing at home, hybrid work can offer the best of both worlds.

    Accord­ing to a sur­vey by the Inter­na­tion­al Work­place Group, 72% of office work­ers would pre­fer a hybrid way of work­ing to a full-time return to the office – even if revert­ing to Mon­day – Fri­day rou­tine meant earn­ing more money.

    Why Flex­i­ble Work?

    When the work­force went home because of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, it caused a change in the expec­ta­tions of employ­ees and there­fore the way com­pa­nies approach their work envi­ron­ments.  The pan­dem­ic prompt­ed job seek­ers to seek flex­i­bil­i­ty that allows them some lev­el of con­trol of their time.  Gene Lan­zoni at Guardian said “Time is the most impor­tant ben­e­fit an employ­er can pro­vide.  For many of us the pan­dem­ic afford­ed us more time, and we’re real­ly not will­ing to give that back.  We had a taste of a more bal­anced life.”

    Bal­ance has nev­er been more impor­tant.  60% of fam­i­lies with chil­dren have both par­ents work­ing and for these fam­i­lies, being able to work from home with flex­i­bil­i­ty is non­nego­tiable. Flex­i­bil­i­ty can allow care­givers to log off from 3 p.m. – 8 p.m. and then come back and do some work after the kids are in bed.  When employ­ees have more con­trol of their work sched­ules, they can free up time to take care of things that pop up in their per­son­al lives – whether it’s run­ning an errand, tak­ing a child to the den­tist, or being home for a delivery.

    In the end, a flex­i­ble sched­ule con­tributes to a high­er qual­i­ty of life.  Employ­ees don’t have to put their careers on hold to focus on their fam­i­lies or edu­ca­tion.  This free­dom is more valu­able in the long run than a paycheck.

    Work­er reten­tion is more impor­tant than ever in 2022.  Build­ing a good work­place cul­ture based on the cur­rent inter­ests of employ­ees plays a sig­nif­i­cant role for the suc­cess of the com­pa­ny.  Busi­ness­es now live in an employ­ee-dri­ven job mar­ket.  It is essen­tial that as an employ­er you know what ben­e­fits your employ­ees val­ue to keep them hap­py, healthy and work­ing for you.

  • Understanding Your EOB

    March 30, 2022

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    Let’s say that you vis­it­ed the doc­tor and you are won­der­ing how much that vis­it is going to cost.  A short while lat­er, you receive some­thing in the mail that looks like a bill – and even says “amount you owe” at the bot­tom.  How­ev­er, it doesn’t have a return enve­lope or tear-off por­tion for the bill.  Con­fused?  You’re not the only one!

    Most like­ly, you’ve just received an Expla­na­tion of Ben­e­fits (EOB) from your insur­ance com­pa­ny.  The most impor­tant thing for you to remem­ber is that an EOB is NOT a bill.  It is essen­tial­ly “one big receipt” that explains your vis­it.  It shows what was billed, how much you can expect your health plan to pay, and what you — the patient — have to pay. It is always impor­tant to review your EOB to make sure it is correct.

    An EOB is a tool that shows you the val­ue of your health plan.  It will detail the cost of the ser­vices you received and how much your insur­ance will pay.

    How do EOB’s work?

    The health care provider will bill your insur­ance com­pa­ny after your doc­tor vis­it.  Then, your insur­ance com­pa­ny will send your EOB.  Lat­er, you will receive a bill for the amount you owe.  How­ev­er, if the bill does arrive before the EOB, don’t pay it yet.  Wait until you have the EOB in hand so you can com­pare it to your med­ical bill.

    While an EOB will dif­fer from one insur­ance com­pa­ny to anoth­er, they typ­i­cal­ly all include the fol­low­ing information:

    • The Account Sum­ma­ry – lists your account infor­ma­tion with details like the patient’s name, date(s), and claim number.
    • The Claim Details – lists the ser­vices pro­vid­ed and the dates of the services.
    • The Amounts Billed – details the cost of the ser­vices and what costs your health plan did not cov­er. It will also include any out­stand­ing amount you are respon­si­ble for pay­ing.  If there is a por­tion that is not cov­ered by insur­ance, the rea­son why will also be listed.

    Remem­ber, insur­ance com­pa­nies rarely pay 100% of the bill.  You will need to pay any applic­a­ble deductible, copay and coinsurance.

    Deductible: The amount you pay for health care ser­vices before your insur­ance begins to pay anything.

    Copay: A flat fee that you pay on the spot each time you go to your doc­tor or fill a prescription.

    Coin­sur­ance: The por­tion of the med­ical cost you pay after your deductible has been met.  Coin­sur­ance is a way of say­ing that you and your insur­ance car­ri­er each pay a share of eli­gi­ble costs that add up to 100%.

    Why is Your EOB important?

    Med­ical billing com­pa­nies some­times make billing errors.  Your EOB is a win­dow into your med­ical billing his­to­ry.  Review it care­ful­ly to make sure that you did receive the ser­vice being billed and that your pro­ce­dure and diag­no­sis are list­ed and cod­ed correctly.

    EOBs can help you under­stand how the health insur­ance sys­tem works and pro­vide trans­paren­cy in the com­pli­cat­ed finances of health care.  While the EOB may be com­pli­cat­ed, under­stand­ing it can help ensure that you and your fam­i­ly get the most out of your health insur­ance.  Know­ing what an EOB is and what is includ­ed on the state­ment ensures that you stay in con­trol of your health care finances.

  • Benefits for a Multigenerational Workforce

    March 10, 2022

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    If only every­one val­ued the same things, ben­e­fits plan­ning would be a lot eas­i­er.  If. Only.

    How­ev­er, most employ­ers have five gen­er­a­tions of employ­ees active in the work­place who want dif­fer­ent things.  With gen­er­a­tion gaps span­ning more than 75 years, find­ing a one-size-fits-all ben­e­fits pack­age can be chal­leng­ing.  How­ev­er, there are cer­tain things to con­sid­er to tai­lor employ­ee ben­e­fits for each generation.

    The Five Gen­er­a­tions in the Workforce:

    Gen­er­a­tion Z: 1997–2012, (5% of workforce)
    Mil­len­ni­als: 1981–1996, (35% of workforce)
    Gen­er­a­tion X: 1965–1980, (33% of workforce)
    Baby Boomers: 1946–1964, (25% of workforce)
    Tra­di­tion­al­ists or The Silent Gen­er­a­tion: 1928–1945, (2% of workforce)

    Regard­less of their gen­er­a­tion, every employ­ee wants tra­di­tion­al ben­e­fits like time off, health­care insur­ance, and retire­ment plan­ning. To cre­ate a ben­e­fits pro­gram with multi­gen­er­a­tional appeal, employ­ers should first think about their employ­ees’ shared con­cerns and vary­ing needs.

    One strat­e­gy for man­ag­ing mul­ti­ple gen­er­a­tion is cus­tomiz­ing ben­e­fits offer­ings to core demo­graph­ics.  For exam­ple, would your staff val­ue on-site child-care?  Would a retire­ment plan that high­lights the need for sav­ing ear­ly or tuition assis­tance be rel­e­vant for your employ­ees? Think about who your employ­ees are and which ben­e­fits are most like­ly going to sup­port their success.

    Many employ­ees are con­cerned about their finan­cial well­ness.  Sev­en out of 10 new col­lege grad­u­ates each owe $37,000 or more.  These unprece­dent­ed lev­els of stu­dent debt make finan­cial con­cerns a pri­ma­ry con­cern for Mil­len­ni­als and Gen Z.  Gen Xers share finan­cial con­cerns as they look to pay for their children’s edu­ca­tion. While fear of not sav­ing enough for retire­ment is a con­cern for all age groups, it is most con­cern­ing to Baby Boomers and Tra­di­tion­al­ists for whom retire­ment is around the corner.

    Gen X val­ues ben­e­fits that sup­port bet­ter work-life bal­ance, such as care­tak­er sup­port, flex time, well-being and sup­port and finan­cial pro­tec­tion.  Mean­while, Gen Zers favor ben­e­fits that sup­port career growth, men­tal health and diver­si­ty, equi­ty, and inclu­sion pro­grams and perks that relate to job secu­ri­ty, a key con­cern for this generation.

    While every gen­er­a­tion faces uncer­tain­ty at dif­fer­ent stages of life, Mil­len­ni­als are more like­ly to pur­chase legal insur­ance com­pared to oth­er gen­er­a­tions. Many Mil­len­ni­als start­ed work­ing dur­ing a reces­sion which has great­ly affect­ed how they view their long-term careers. Mil­len­ni­als have adopt­ed an “any­thing can hap­pen” men­tal­i­ty and are will­ing to pay for peace of mind to be finan­cial­ly stable.

    To han­dle the unex­pect­ed, health, den­tal, vision and life insur­ance are all val­ued tra­di­tion­al ben­e­fits and are espe­cial­ly impor­tant to Baby Boomers and Tra­di­tion­al­ists.   Some Tra­di­tion­al­ists and Boomers may not be full-time employ­ees.  Com­pa­nies employ­ing more of this gen­er­a­tion of work­ers should offer some sort of well­ness ben­e­fits like gym mem­ber­ships or health services.

    Beyond the core offer­ings like health care and retire­ment sav­ings plans, employ­ers can offer a menu of non-med­ical vol­un­tary ben­e­fits that employ­ees can select based on their indi­vid­ual needs.  Those might include legal insur­ance, care­giv­er leave, stu­dent debt assis­tance or tuition reim­burse­ment, on-site child-care, pet insur­ance, finan­cial coun­sel­ing, acci­dent insur­ance and more.

    Whether a Boomer or a Gen Xer, all employ­ees want to feel con­fi­dent and informed about their health­care deci­sions. Qual­i­ty health­care that is acces­si­ble and afford­able is a pri­or­i­ty for all gen­er­a­tions.  Cre­at­ing a cus­tomiz­able ben­e­fits expe­ri­ence that rec­og­nizes the diver­si­ty across the multi­gen­er­a­tional work­force will like­ly result in employ­ee reten­tion and increased job sat­is­fac­tion as well as mak­ing recruit­ing top tal­ent eas­i­er.  By focus­ing on com­mu­ni­ca­tion, the ben­e­fits mix, and under­stand­ing what is impor­tant to each gen­er­a­tion, your com­pa­ny may well be on its way to a suc­cess­ful ben­e­fits strategy.

  • Show Your Heart Some Love

    February 28, 2022

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    Feb­ru­ary is Amer­i­can Heart Month, a time when all peo­ple can focus on their car­dio­vas­cu­lar health. Do you know how to keep your heart healthy? You can take an active role in reduc­ing your risk for heart dis­ease by eat­ing a healthy diet, engag­ing in phys­i­cal activ­i­ty, and man­ag­ing your cho­les­terol and blood pressure.

    Heart dis­ease accounts for near­ly one-third of all deaths world­wide. Stud­ies and experts rec­om­mend exer­cise as an impor­tant way to main­tain­ing a healthy heart, but your diet plays a major role in heart health and can impact your risk of heart dis­ease. The most impor­tant fac­tor in healthy eat­ing is hav­ing a bal­anced diet, watch­ing por­tions, and eat­ing foods you actu­al­ly enjoy. This will allow you to stick with it for the long term.

    Let’s take a clos­er look at the 4 key fac­tors for a heart healthy diet and exam­ples of how you can incor­po­rate them into your dai­ly life:

    1. Fruits and Vegetables:
    Leafy green veg­eta­bles are well known for their wealth of vit­a­mins, min­er­als, and antiox­i­dants. An analy­sis of eight stud­ies found that increas­ing leafy green veg­etable intake was asso­ci­at­ed with up to a 16% low­er inci­dence of heart disease.

    2. Healthy Proteins:
    Lean meat, poul­try and fish, low-fat dairy prod­ucts and eggs are some of your best sources of pro­tein. Legumes – beans, peas and lentils – are good, low-fat sources of pro­tein and are a good sub­sti­tute for meat. Also, sub­sti­tut­ing plant pro­tein for ani­mal pro­tein – ie. a black bean burg­er for a ham­burg­er – will reduce your fat & cho­les­terol intake and increase your fiber intake.

    3. Healthy Fats:
    Not all fats are bad. Foods with monoun­sat­u­rat­ed and polyun­sat­u­rat­ed fats are impor­tant for your brain and heart. Lim­it foods with trans-fats, which increase the risk for heart disease.

    4. Whole Grains:
    Whole grains are good sources of fiber and oth­er nutri­ents that play a role in reg­u­lat­ing blood pres­sure and heart health.

    Eat­ing heart healthy is a lifestyle, it’s about nutri­tion, bal­ance and retrain­ing our mind to make bet­ter food choic­es. What you eat can influ­ence almost every aspect of heart health, from blood pres­sure and inflam­ma­tion to cho­les­terol lev­els and triglyc­erides. A well-bal­anced diet can help keep your heart in good shape and min­i­mize your risk of heart dis­ease. With plan­ning and a few sim­ple sub­sti­tu­tions, you can eat with your heart in mind!

  • What Employees Want: Well-Being Programs

    February 16, 2022

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    Work­place well­ness pro­grams have increased in the past sev­er­al years to pro­mote healthy diets and lifestyle, exer­cise and oth­er behav­iors such as quit­ting smok­ing.  As of 2020, most employ­ers had well­ness pro­grams of some kind, includ­ing 53% of small firms (those with 3–200 employ­ees) and 81% of large com­pa­nies.  Since employ­ees spend most of their wak­ing hours on the job, well­ness pro­grams seem to be a nat­ur­al fit to try to pro­mote healthy changes in behav­ior.  But, in 2022, employ­ees want more; many work­ers are look­ing for employ­ers who show authen­tic con­cern for their well-being.

    Well-being is about how our lives are going.  It’s not only about health and hap­pi­ness but also about liv­ing life to its fullest poten­tial.  In fact, data shows that employ­ees of all gen­er­a­tions rank “the orga­ni­za­tion cares about the employ­ees’ well-being” in their top three criteria.

    Finan­cial stress soared dur­ing the pan­dem­ic but so did reg­u­lar stress, too.  Men­tal health strug­gles such as anx­i­ety, depres­sion, and sub­stance abuse are also climb­ing.  These are expen­sive issues to ignore both in terms of the human suf­fer­ing but also the company’s bot­tom line: Depres­sion alone costs an esti­mat­ed $210.5 bil­lion per year.  These costs are due to absen­teeism (missed work days) and pre­sen­teeism (reduced pro­duc­tiv­i­ty at work) as well as direct med­ical costs (out­pa­tient and inpa­tient med­ical ser­vices and phar­ma­cy costs).

    Employ­ers must rec­og­nize the inter­re­la­tion­ship between the phys­i­cal, finan­cial, work and well-being com­po­nents of employ­ees’ lives.  For exam­ple, employ­ees who need help with their finan­cial well-being are sig­nif­i­cant­ly less like­ly to be phys­i­cal­ly healthy and more like­ly to report feel­ing stressed or anx­ious which can impact pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and job per­for­mance.  Vice Pres­i­dent for Com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Fideli­ty Invest­ments in Boston, Mike Sham­rell,  rec­og­nizes the need for all dimen­sions of well­ness.  “It’s tough to be well in one area when you’re unwell in anoth­er,” he said.

    Well-being is often asso­ci­at­ed with gym mem­ber­ships and green smooth­ies but it is much more than that; it is a result of many dif­fer­ent aspects of one’s life.  Here are 5 com­mon dimen­sions of well-being that can be addressed through a work­place well­ness program:

    • Emotional/Mental Health – Under­stand­ing your feel­ings and cop­ing with stress.
    • Phys­i­cal Health – Dis­cov­er­ing how self-care can improve your life and productivity.
    • Finan­cial Health – Suc­cess­ful­ly man­ag­ing your money.
    • Social Con­nect­ed­ness – Cre­at­ing and being a part of a sup­port network.
    • Occu­pa­tion­al Well-Being– Feel­ing appre­ci­at­ed at work and sat­is­fied in your contributions.

    Great employ­ees want great employ­ers.  Com­pa­nies that want cre­ative, high-per­form­ing teams must be will­ing to sup­port work­ers both in and out of the office.  Well-being has a major influ­ence on an employee’s per­for­mance and sat­is­fac­tion; employ­ees who feel val­ued and appre­ci­at­ed are more invest­ed in their com­pa­ny in return.

  • Healthy Teeth, Healthy Mouth, Healthy You!

    January 18, 2022

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    Did you know that prob­lems in your mouth can affect the rest of your body? Or that your den­tal health offers clues about your over­all health?  Poor den­tal health con­tributes to major sys­temic health prob­lems. Con­verse­ly, good den­tal hygiene can help improve your over­all health.  As a bonus, main­tain­ing good oral health can even REDUCE your health­care costs!

    Researchers have shown us that there is a close-knit rela­tion­ship between oral health and over­all well­ness. With over 700 types of bac­te­ria in your mouth, it’s no sur­prise that when even one of those types of bac­te­ria enter your blood­stream that a prob­lem can arise in your body. Oral bac­te­ria can con­tribute to:

    1. Endo­cardi­tis—The infec­tion of the inner lin­ing of the heart can be caused by bac­te­ria that start­ed in your mouth.
    2. Car­dio­vas­cu­lar Dis­ease—Heart dis­ease, as well as clogged arter­ies and even stroke, can be traced back to oral bacteria.
    3. Low birth weight—Poor oral health has been linked to pre­ma­ture birth and low birth weight of newborns.

    Over $45 bil­lion is lost in pro­duc­tiv­i­ty in the Unit­ed States each year because of untreat­ed oral health prob­lems.  These oral dis­eases can result in the need for cost­ly emer­gency room vis­its, hos­pi­tal stays, and med­ica­tions, not to men­tion loss of work time. The pain and dis­com­fort from infect­ed teeth and gums can lead to poor pro­duc­tiv­i­ty in the work­place, and even loss of income. Chil­dren with poor oral health are more prone to ill­ness and may require a par­ent to stay home from work to care for them and take them to cost­ly den­tal appoint­ments.  In fact, over 34 mil­lion school hours are lost each year because of emer­gency den­tal care.

    So, how do you pre­vent this night­mare of pain, dis­ease, and increased health­care costs? It’s sim­ple! By fol­low­ing through with your rou­tine year­ly den­tal check-ups and dai­ly pre­ven­ta­tive care, you will give your body a big boost in its gen­er­al health. Check out these tips for a healthy mouth:

    • Main­tain a reg­u­lar brushing/flossing routine—Brush and floss teeth twice dai­ly to remove food and plaque from your teeth, and in between your teeth where bac­te­ria thrive.
    • Use the right toothbrush—When your bris­tles are mashed and bent, you aren’t using the best instru­ment for clean­ing your teeth. Make sure to buy a new tooth­brush every three months. If you have braces, get a tooth­brush that can eas­i­ly clean around the brack­ets on your teeth.
    • Vis­it your dentist—Visit your den­tist for a check-up every 6 months. He/she will be able to look into that win­dow to your body and keep your mouth clear of bac­te­ria. Your den­tist will also be able to alert you to prob­lems they see as a pos­si­ble warn­ing sign to oth­er health issues, like dia­betes, that have a major impact on your over­all health and health­care costs.
    • Eat a healthy diet—Staying away from sug­ary foods and drinks will pre­vent cav­i­ties and tooth decay from the acids pro­duced when bac­te­ria in your mouth comes in con­tact with sug­ar. Starch­es have a sim­i­lar effect. Eat­ing healthy will reduce your out of pock­et costs of fill­ings, hav­ing decayed teeth pulled, and will keep you from the increased health costs of dia­betes, obe­si­ty-relat­ed dis­eases, and oth­er chron­ic conditions.
    • Drink more water—Water is the best bev­er­age for your over­all health—including oral health. Drink­ing water after every meal can help wash out some of the neg­a­tive effects of sticky and acidic foods and bev­er­ages in between brushes.

    A healthy oral hygiene rou­tine will do won­ders for your teeth, mouth, and smile from a den­tal per­spec­tive.  Oral health is also a key indi­ca­tor of over­all health and well-being.  That should keep the rest of your body smil­ing as well!

  • How to Make (and Keep!) a New Year’s Resolution

    January 10, 2022

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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. 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, achiev­able goals to focus your ener­gies on rather than spread­ing your­self too thin on lofty goals.

    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 set­ting a goal that is too vague.  You can’t get to your des­ti­na­tion if you don’t know where you are going.   A goal like “I want to try hard­er at work” or “I want to save more mon­ey this year” is too gen­er­al a notion that does not give you some­thing spe­cif­ic to work towards or a well-defined path to fol­low.  And if you can’t pro­vide spe­cif­ic bench­marks, you can’t mea­sure your progress.

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

    Plan Ahead

    To ensure suc­cess, plan ahead so you can have the resources avail­able when you need them.  Then, you won’t have excus­es for why you can’t fol­low through.  Here are a few things you can do to prepare:

    • Read up on it – Get books on the sub­ject. Whether it’s tak­ing up run­ning or becom­ing a veg­e­tar­i­an, there are books to help you pre­pare for it.
    • Plan for suc­cess – Get every­thing you need so things will go smooth­ly. If you are tak­ing up run­ning, make sure you have the clothes, shoes, and playlists so that you are ready to get started.
    Reward Yourself Along the Way

    Small rewards are great encour­age­ment to keep you going dur­ing the hard­est first days.  After that, you can try to reward your­self once a week with a lunch with a friend, a nap, or what­ev­er makes you tick.  Lat­er, you can change the rewards to month­ly and even pick an anniver­sary reward!

    Write Your Goals Down on Paper

    Writ­ing estab­lish­es inten­tion but action needs to be tak­en to achieve your res­o­lu­tion.  Have a writ­ten account of your goals is a con­stant reminder to take action.  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.” 

    Start When You’re Ready

    When you launch your res­o­lu­tion on Jan­u­ary 1st, you are mak­ing a change based on a cal­en­dar date.  What are the chances that you’re going to be ready for a life change at exact­ly the same time the cal­en­dar rolls over to a new year?  There’s no need to launch your res­o­lu­tion on Jan­u­ary 1st or even in Jan­u­ary.  Start work­ing on your goal when you’re ready.  That’s not to say that you need to wait until you feel ful­ly con­fi­dent before start­ing (that may nev­er hap­pen).  Delay­ing your goal a few weeks or a few months is bet­ter than aban­don­ing it altogether.

    Identify Your Purpose

    Know­ing your “WHAT” (goal) is impor­tant but know­ing your “WHY” can be just as impor­tant when it comes to fol­low­ing through on your inten­tions. Why do you want to lose weight in 2022? 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. Com­mit to mak­ing this year the year that your res­o­lu­tion is going to stick!

  • Benefits Education 101 for Employees

    June 29, 2022

    Tags: ,

    Com­pa­nies spend a large amount of time and mon­ey cre­at­ing valu­able ben­e­fits plans for employ­ees.  But after all that work, they often get low par­tic­i­pa­tion.  Good ben­e­fit choic­es require an effort from employ­ers to ensure that employ­ees have help in under­stand­ing their ben­e­fits options.  To make things even more com­plex, employ­ers are hav­ing to con­sid­er options for a span of 4 gen­er­a­tions in the work­place which can look very dif­fer­ent.  Pro­vid­ing ben­e­fits for a multi­gen­er­a­tional work­place can be chal­leng­ing but it is impor­tant for employ­ers to sim­pli­fy the process by deliv­er­ing edu­ca­tion through the right chan­nels while avoid­ing a one-size-fits-all approach.

    Under­stand­ing your audi­ence and how to effec­tive­ly com­mu­ni­cate with them is the first step in cre­at­ing your ben­e­fits mes­sag­ing. For exam­ple, what are the demo­graph­ics of your work­place? Do you need to pro­vide mul­ti­ple mes­sages across var­i­ous chan­nels? Does your work­place speak Eng­lish, or will you need bilin­gual messaging?

    A recent sur­vey indi­cates that 83% of employ­ers believe that com­mu­ni­ca­tion, employ­ee edu­ca­tion and engage­ment are key for employ­ee participation.

    Here are 5 tips on edu­cat­ing your employ­ees about their ben­e­fits to encour­age ben­e­fits participation:

    1. Break Down Health Insur­ance Options
    • Dis­trib­ute a sim­ple guide that explains the key things employ­ees should know about their health insur­ance and basic ter­mi­nol­o­gy
    • Explain in sim­ple terms about provider net­work, cov­ered pre­scrip­tions, month­ly pre­mi­ums, deductibles, and addi­tion­al plan ben­e­fits, if applicable
    • Have an effi­cient way for employ­ees to man­age ben­e­fits and ask questions
    1. Auto­mate the Process
    1. Make Plans Customizable
    • Pro­vide plen­ty of ben­e­fits options includ­ing med­ical, den­tal and vision from lead­ing carriers
    • Offer a lifestyle ben­e­fits pro­gram that allows employ­ees to per­son­al­ize their plan accord­ing to their needs
    • Con­sid­er offer­ing perks like com­muter ben­e­fits or health club mem­ber­ships to reduce finan­cial bur­dens and encour­age a healthy lifestyle
    1. Pro­vide Mul­ti­ple Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Strategies
    • Offer edu­ca­tion­al tools and chan­nels pre­ferred by employ­ees so they can stay informed year-round to make bet­ter pur­chas­ing decisions
    • Uti­lize effec­tive ben­e­fits edu­ca­tion tools that include in-per­son and vir­tu­al meet­ings, dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tion or print media
    • You can uti­lize a short video to explain key con­cepts; use graphs and images or cre­ate short quizzes for employ­ees to ensure they have read and under­stand the material
    1. Make it Easy to Sign-Up
    • Invest in updat­ed HR and Ben­e­fits tech­nol­o­gy that includes easy mes­sage capa­bil­i­ties such as email, text mes­sage alerts, video sup­port, and live chat integration
    • Pro­vide a Ben­e­fits mobile app
    • Offer a ben­e­fits web­site which hous­es ben­e­fit infor­ma­tion, HR infor­ma­tion, and enroll­ment mate­r­i­al such as “Ben­e­fit­sEasy

    Although you may use one or more of the tips above, it is vital to keep the infor­ma­tion flow­ing through­out the year. A fun way to do this is to pose a month­ly triv­ia ques­tion to your staff relat­ed to the ben­e­fits and well­ness pro­grams you offer and award a prize to the per­son who sub­mits the cor­rect answer. High­light­ing dif­fer­ent fea­tures of your ben­e­fits or well­ness pro­grams each month will keep your employ­ees engaged and informed!

     

  • 5 Tips to Save Money on Health Care: Part 2

    June 13, 2022

    Tags: ,

    Smart spend­ing can keep your health care from cost­ing an arm and a leg.  With costs ris­ing on every­thing from gas to food, every pen­ny counts. It pays to shop smart – that is why it helps to learn how to take steps to lim­it your out-of-pock­et health care costs.

    1. Save Mon­ey on Prescriptions
    • Go gener­ic – Always ask your doc­tor or phar­ma­cist if you can switch to gener­ic med­i­cines. They have the same active ingre­di­ents but cost less than brand name drugs.
    • Split pills – ask your doc­tor or phar­ma­cist if your pre­scrip­tion comes in a high­er dose that is safe to split. You may be able to get a 2‑month sup­ply of med­i­cine in dou­ble the dose that you need for the price of a 1‑month sup­ply, cut­ting your pre­scrip­tion cost in half.
    • Use a pre­ferred phar­ma­cy – A pre­ferred phar­ma­cy has pre-nego­ti­at­ed low­er prices on pre­scrip­tions for a par­tic­u­lar insur­ance plan. You can also sign up for home deliv­ery on pre­scrip­tions that you take on a reg­u­lar basis.
    1. Tune in to Telehealth

    With telemed­i­cine, you don’t have to dri­ve to the doctor’s office or sit in a wait­ing room when you’re sick.  Vir­tu­al vis­its can be eas­i­er to fit into your busy sched­ule and you may not even have to arrange for child­care.  Doc­tors also can use tele­health appoint­ments to lessen expo­sure to oth­er people’s germs.

    1. Brush Up on HSA & FSA Eli­gi­ble Expenses

    You can with­draw HSA and FSA mon­ey tax-free to pay for deductibles and co-pay­ments or coin­sur­ance, as well as for a vari­ety of oth­er expens­es includ­ing vision expens­es and ortho­don­tia.  You can also use it for every­thing from sun­screen and con­tact solu­tion to baby mon­i­tors and over-the-counter med­i­cine like Ibupro­fen or cold medicine.

    1. Save for Retire­ment with Your HSA

    HSA funds don’t expire which makes an HSA a great way to put away mon­ey for med­ical expens­es in retire­ment.  An HSA offers a hat trick of tax advantages:

    • Con­tri­bu­tions to your account are made pre-tax, low­er­ing your tax­able income today
    • Invest­ments grow tax-free while they are kept in the account
    • With­drawals are free of income tax, as long as you use the mon­ey for qual­i­fied med­ical expenses.

    Age 65 is when you can use HSA mon­ey to pay for non-med­ical expens­es — includ­ing day-to-day costs or for home ren­o­va­tions.  Those pay­outs aren’t tax-free but are taxed at the same rate as dis­tri­b­u­tions from a tra­di­tion­al IRA.  You’ll sim­ply owe income tax­es on what­ev­er you withdraw.

    1. Review Bills and Insur­ance Expla­na­tions of Benefits

    Billing mis­takes can hap­pen.  In fact, did you know that up to 80% of med­ical bills con­tain at least one error?  Billing mis­takes hap­pen eas­i­ly when deal­ing with large num­bers of patients, ever-chang­ing med­ical codes, and pay­ments crossed in the mail and health insur­ance companies.

    The por­tion of your bud­get devot­ed to med­ical care is always on the rise so it’s nev­er a bad idea to find mon­e­tary short­cuts where you can.   Knowl­edge is POWER and when you spend time find­ing ways to save mon­ey on health care, you are empow­er­ing your­self!  Exer­cis­ing due dili­gence to plan for you and your family’s med­ical needs will save you mon­ey and give you con­fi­dence in your deci­sions for care.

  • Mental Health is Wealth, So Start Saving Up Now!

    May 17, 2022

    Tags: ,

    “Suck it up,” “cheer up,” “snap out of it,” “but you don’t look sick”- these are just some of the phras­es that well-mean­ing friends and fam­i­ly tell loved ones strug­gling with men­tal health issues. Research shows that one in five adults strug­gle with men­tal health con­di­tions.  Men­tal health strug­gles include depres­sion, bipo­lar dis­or­der, anx­i­ety, schiz­o­phre­nia, and eat­ing disorders.

    Men­tal ill­ness is also becom­ing increas­ing­ly com­mon among teenagers; stud­ies indi­cate that approx­i­mate­ly one in five teens between ages twelve and eigh­teen are diag­nosed with a men­tal health dis­or­der.  These issues deeply impact day-to-day liv­ing and may also affect the abil­i­ty to relate to oth­ers.  When your men­tal health suf­fers, every­thing in your life will suf­fer as a result.

    What is Men­tal Health?

    Men­tal health includes our emo­tion­al, psy­cho­log­i­cal, and social well-being.  It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps deter­mine how we han­dle stress, relate to oth­ers, and make choices.

    The fact is, a men­tal ill­ness is a dis­or­der of the brain – your body’s most impor­tant organ.   Like most dis­eases of the body, men­tal ill­ness has many caus­es – from genet­ics to oth­er bio­log­i­cal, envi­ron­men­tal and social/cultural fac­tors.  And just as with most dis­eases, men­tal ill­ness­es are no one’s fault.  For many peo­ple, recov­ery – includ­ing hav­ing mean­ing­ful roles in social life, work and school – is pos­si­ble, espe­cial­ly when you start treat­ment ear­ly and play a strong role in your own recov­ery process.

    What Are the Warn­ing Signs?

    Each ill­ness has its own symp­toms, but com­mon signs of men­tal ill­ness can include the following:

    • Avoid­ing friends and social activities
    • Feel­ing exces­sive­ly sad or low
    • Feel­ing help­less or hopeless
    • Extreme mood changes
    • Think­ing of harm­ing your­self or others
    • Inabil­i­ty to per­form dai­ly tasks like tak­ing care of your kids or get­ting to work or school
    • Feel­ing numb or like noth­ing matters
    • Overuse of sub­stances like alco­hol or drugs
    • Hav­ing unex­plained aches and pains such as headaches or stom­ach aches
    • Changes in sleep­ing habits or feel­ing tired and low energy
    • Feel­ing unusu­al­ly con­fused, for­get­ful, on edge, angry, upset, wor­ried, or scared

    What Are Some Things You Can Do to Look After Your Men­tal Health?

    • Talk About Your Feel­ings – Just being lis­tened to can help you feel sup­port­ed and less alone. Talk­ing with a friend or loved one is help­ful but remem­ber, ther­a­pists are not only for those in the mid­dle of cri­sis — they’re incred­i­bly ben­e­fi­cial for peo­ple in all stages of life
    • Exer­cise reg­u­lar­ly – Exer­cise releas­es endor­phins, which have mood-boost­ing effects. Aim to exer­cise about 30+ min­utes at least five days per week
    • Eat Well – Your brain needs a mix of nutri­ents to stay healthy and func­tion well, just like the oth­er organs in your body
    • Stay Con­nect­ed with Fam­i­ly and Friends – Close, qual­i­ty rela­tion­ships are key for a hap­py, healthy life
    • Take a Break – a change of scenery or pace is good for your men­tal health
    • Get Out­side to Enjoy 15 Min­utes of Sun­shine – Sun­light syn­the­sizes Vit­a­min D which experts believe is a mood elevator
    • Send a Thank You Note – Let some­one know why you appre­ci­ate them. Writ­ten expres­sions of grat­i­tude are linked to increased happiness
    • Prac­tice For­give­ness – Peo­ple who for­give have bet­ter men­tal health and report being more sat­is­fied with their lives
    • Pur­sue Your Pas­sions – Enjoy­ing your­self can help beat stress and achiev­ing some­thing boosts your self-esteem
    • Sleep – Most adults need around 8 hours of sleep each night so try to make sure you’re get­ting enough shut-eye

    Men­tal health is undoubt­ed­ly just as inte­gral as phys­i­cal health but it’s some­thing that we often don’t pri­or­i­tize.  We all expe­ri­ence times when we feel stressed or over­whelmed but if these feel­ings per­sist, it’s time to slow down and re-eval­u­ate your men­tal wellbeing.

    Most peo­ple are afraid to ask for help, but seek­ing help is actu­al­ly a sign of strength, not weak­ness.  If you or some­one you know is strug­gling with their men­tal health, please reach out to a local men­tal health professional.

  • The 4 W’s of Lifestyle Benefits

    May 2, 2022

    Tags: , ,

    Com­pet­i­tive wages are no longer enough to sat­is­fy and sup­port val­ued employ­ees. Today, a vari­ety of ben­e­fits and perks play an essen­tial role in attract­ing and retain­ing tal­ent. Lifestyle ben­e­fits, some­times referred to as employ­ee perks, are non-salary ben­e­fits giv­en to employ­ees to improve their over­all lifestyle that go above and beyond stan­dard med­ical, den­tal and vision ben­e­fits. These lifestyle ben­e­fits are rapid­ly becom­ing the future of employ­ee benefits.

    Around 60% of employ­ees say ben­e­fit offer­ings are a sig­nif­i­cant fac­tor in their deci­sion on whether or not to take a new job. That’s why an increas­ing num­ber of employ­ers are uti­liz­ing lifestyle ben­e­fit plans to entice high-qual­i­­ty appli­cants.  In fact, stud­ies show that 80% of employ­ees would select more ben­e­fits above a pay increase. More­over, younger employ­ees, like Mil­len­ni­als, are more apt to change jobs than their old­er Baby Boomer coun­ter­parts if they are dis­sat­is­fied with the employ­ee ben­e­fits offer­ings avail­able to them.

    Lifestyle ben­e­fits are ben­e­fits to enjoy now.  These are mean­ing­ful ser­vices that meet the needs of employ­ees today.  Not tomor­row, next week or even ten years from now.  Employ­ees don’t have to be sick, deceased, dis­abled or over 65 to use them.

    In this arti­cle, we will explore the 4 “W’s”—Who, What, When, and Why—of lifestyle ben­e­fits to explain how you can use this tool to improve your ben­e­fits package!

    Who Are Lifestyle Ben­e­fits For?

    Even com­pa­nies with gen­er­ous over­all ben­e­fits pack­ages can suf­fer from low employ­ee engage­ment and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty which can be exac­er­bat­ed by the mas­sive shift to remote work. Offer­ing perks that are cus­tomized to your people’s unique needs is huge­ly ben­e­fi­cial for com­pa­nies want­i­ng to increase employ­ee engage­ment and reten­tion.  In the increas­ing­ly com­pet­i­tive job mar­ket, this real­ly sets employ­ers apart because it demon­strates a vest­ed inter­est on the part of the employ­er to pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties for per­son­al, as well as pro­fes­sion­al growth.   Lifestyle ben­e­fits, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the form of flex­i­ble perk stipends, are an ide­al way to offer per­son­al­iza­tion and also pro­mote an inclu­sive com­pa­ny culture.

    What Lifestyle Ben­e­fits Can Employ­ers Offer?

    Lifestyle ben­e­fits can be cus­tomized to meet many dif­fer­ent types of needs. For instance, an employ­ee might be send­ing their child to col­lege for the first time. If they want advi­sors or finan­cial plan­ners, a lifestyle ben­e­fits account can cov­er it. Or what if an employ­ee wants to take advan­tage of a gym mem­ber­ship or health app?  This could also be cov­ered through a lifestyle ben­e­fits pro­gram. Every­one ben­e­fits from a calm, hap­py, and val­ued employ­ee!  Oth­er exam­ples of offer­ings you can include in a lifestyle ben­e­fits pro­gram include:

    When Should You Offer Lifestyle Benefits?

    Real­ly the answer to the ques­tion of when you should offer lifestyle ben­e­fits is-now!  Now is the right time to make the most of lifestyle ben­e­fits by set­ting employ­ees up and edu­cat­ing them of their perks.When orga­ni­za­tions offer lifestyle ben­e­fits, it’s about build­ing pos­i­tive, long-term rela­tion­ships between exec­u­tives, super­vi­sors and employ­ees.  It’s about invest­ment and ded­i­ca­tion to employ­ee well-being.

    Why Pro­vide Lifestyle Ben­e­fits at Your Com­pa­ny 

    There are so many rea­sons to pro­vide lifestyle ben­e­fits but it pri­mar­i­ly boils down to one thing: employ­ee sat­is­fac­tion.  Employ­ees want to feel val­ued by their employ­ers and if this can be achieved by help­ing them afford the lifestyle they enjoy and envi­sion for them­selves, then do it!

    We are, after all, liv­ing in the age of per­son­al­iza­tion.  Every­thing in our lives, from our Net­flix sub­scrip­tions to Spo­ti­fy playlists is cus­tomized to us and our pref­er­ences.  Lifestyle ben­e­fits can be designed in a way that address­es the var­i­ous needs of your diverse work­force, whether that means sup­port­ing a 22-year-old recent grad­u­ate liv­ing in the city, or a 45-year-old exec­u­tive with three kids in a home in the sub­urbs, lifestyle ben­e­fits are ide­al for that type of per­son­al­iza­tion and inclu­siv­i­ty, espe­cial­ly in the form of flex­i­ble perk stipends.

    If com­pa­nies want the best poten­tial can­di­dates, they have to think out­side the box with per­son­al­ized ben­e­fit offer­ings.  Every­one wins with a flex­i­ble lifestyle ben­e­fits plat­form. After all, phys­i­cal­ly and men­tal­ly healthy employ­ees are more pro­duc­tive, which is bet­ter for the bot­tom line.

  • 5 Tips to Save Money on Health Care: Part 1

    April 25, 2022

    Tags: ,

    Health insur­ance is essen­tial to pro­tect­ing your health but the high cost of cov­er­age may leave you feel­ing sick.  Even after employ­ers pick up a sub­stan­tial amount of the cost, every year Amer­i­cans spend thou­sands of dol­lars on health­care while costs are con­tin­u­ing to rise. By tak­ing cer­tain steps, you can stretch your health­care dol­lars and still receive the care you need to stay healthy.

    1. Under­stand How Your Health Plan Works

    Review your plan to learn how to max­i­mize your ben­e­fits.  You need to know what is cov­ered (and what is not!) and what pro­ce­dures you need to fol­low to ensure your claims will get paid.  Know what your copay­ment, coin­sur­ance and deductible costs are before your visit.

    Most health insur­ance plans cov­er more of your costs if you use their pre­ferred or in-net­work doc­tors.  If you vis­it an out-of-net­work doc­tor or med­ical facil­i­ty, you’ll pay more and may end up being respon­si­ble for 100% of the bill.  Use your insurer’s online tools to search for in-net­work providers.

    1. Choose the Right Places to Get Care

    Run­ning to the emer­gency room when you get sick after hours could drain your wal­let. All too often, those suf­fer­ing from minor ill­ness­es or injuries vis­it the ER when they don’t need to.  The ER should be your last resort — con­sid­er using more afford­able options like telemed­i­cine or an urgent care cen­ter instead.  You can still get the care you require in off-hours with­out hav­ing to sched­ule an appointment.

    If you need surgery, you may save mon­ey by hav­ing it done at an ambu­la­to­ry sur­gi­cal cen­ter (ASC) which is a mod­ern health­care facil­i­ty focused on same-day sur­gi­cal care, includ­ing diag­nos­tic and pre­ven­tive pro­ce­dures.  Typ­i­cal­ly, these cen­ters charge less than a hospital.

    1. Use a Health Sav­ings Account (HSA) or Flex­i­ble Spend­ing Account (FSA)

    Open­ing a HSA  or an FSA is a handy way to save for med­ical expens­es and reduce your tax­able income. They are like per­son­al sav­ings accounts but the mon­ey in them is used to pay for health care expens­es. HSAs are owned by you, earn inter­est, and can be trans­ferred to a new employ­er.  FSAs are owned by your employ­er, do not earn inter­est, and must be used with­in the cal­en­dar year.

    1. Ask Your Doc­tor About Remote Patient Mon­i­tor­ing (RPM)

    RPM is the use of dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies to mon­i­tor and ana­lyze med­ical and oth­er health data from patients and elec­tron­i­cal­ly trans­mit this infor­ma­tion to health­care providers for assess­ment and, when nec­es­sary, rec­om­men­da­tions and instruc­tions. This type of mon­i­tor­ing is often used to man­age high-risk patients, such as those with acute or chron­ic health con­di­tions such as those with dia­betes, hyper­ten­sion and heart conditions.

    1. Use Your Pre­ven­tive Care Benefits

    Many health plans pay the full cost for impor­tant pre­ven­tive care.  These reg­u­lar screen­ings, exams, and immu­niza­tions help detect or pre­vent dis­eases and med­ical prob­lems ear­ly when they are eas­i­er to treat.  Annu­al check-ups, mam­mo­grams (usu­al­ly after the age of 40), flu shots and colono­scopies (usu­al­ly 1 every 10 years after the age of 50) are exam­ples of pre­ven­tive care.  These checks can save you a lot of mon­ey because they catch prob­lems early.

    Health insur­ance isn’t manda­to­ry — there’s no law requir­ing you to buy it — but, health insur­ance is an impor­tant part of stay­ing healthy, finan­cial­ly and phys­i­cal­ly.  Since most peo­ple who don’t have insur­ance made that deci­sion based on mon­ey instead of what is best for their health, they usu­al­ly don’t have doc­tor appoint­ments for the same rea­son – it’s too expen­sive.  But skip­ping rou­tine care can end up being more expen­sive than your pre­mi­ums, espe­cial­ly if you have seri­ous health issues that aren’t caught ear­ly.  Think of it like care main­te­nance: reg­u­lar­ly chang­ing your oil might be a has­sle but it is essen­tial to pre­vent a major break­down down the road.

     

  • What Employees Want: Hybrid Work and Flexibility

    April 11, 2022

    Tags: , , , ,

    2021 was quit­tin’ time in Amer­i­ca.  Last year alone over 47.4 mil­lion Amer­i­cans quit their jobs. This year, employ­ees seem­ing­ly have the upper hand against employ­ers.  The Turnover Tsuna­mi, a.k.a. The Great Res­ig­na­tion, has forced a reck­on­ing with the work­place and few employ­ers have come away unscathed.  Orga­ni­za­tions are now shift­ing pri­or­i­ties to make employ­ee well-being and reten­tion the pri­or­i­ty.  The fact of the mat­ter is, after health insur­ance, the most desir­able perks and ben­e­fits are those that offer flex­i­bil­i­ty while improv­ing work/life bal­ance. So, what is it that employ­ees real­ly want to achieve a bet­ter work/life balance?

    • Hybrid Work – Work­ing remote­ly some days in the week and at a phys­i­cal office on others
    • Flex­i­bil­i­ty– Being able to occa­sion­al­ly shift hours that best fit an employee’s life

    Why Hybrid Work?

    In 2020, peo­ple had to change the way they worked overnight and turned their kitchen tables into a ful­ly func­tion­ing office.  Many employ­ees dis­cov­ered they were more pro­duc­tive at home.  On the oth­er hand, some miss the social nature of the office and work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly in per­son.  Because of these mixed perks of in office vs. work­ing at home, hybrid work can offer the best of both worlds.

    Accord­ing to a sur­vey by the Inter­na­tion­al Work­place Group, 72% of office work­ers would pre­fer a hybrid way of work­ing to a full-time return to the office – even if revert­ing to Mon­day – Fri­day rou­tine meant earn­ing more money.

    Why Flex­i­ble Work?

    When the work­force went home because of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, it caused a change in the expec­ta­tions of employ­ees and there­fore the way com­pa­nies approach their work envi­ron­ments.  The pan­dem­ic prompt­ed job seek­ers to seek flex­i­bil­i­ty that allows them some lev­el of con­trol of their time.  Gene Lan­zoni at Guardian said “Time is the most impor­tant ben­e­fit an employ­er can pro­vide.  For many of us the pan­dem­ic afford­ed us more time, and we’re real­ly not will­ing to give that back.  We had a taste of a more bal­anced life.”

    Bal­ance has nev­er been more impor­tant.  60% of fam­i­lies with chil­dren have both par­ents work­ing and for these fam­i­lies, being able to work from home with flex­i­bil­i­ty is non­nego­tiable. Flex­i­bil­i­ty can allow care­givers to log off from 3 p.m. – 8 p.m. and then come back and do some work after the kids are in bed.  When employ­ees have more con­trol of their work sched­ules, they can free up time to take care of things that pop up in their per­son­al lives – whether it’s run­ning an errand, tak­ing a child to the den­tist, or being home for a delivery.

    In the end, a flex­i­ble sched­ule con­tributes to a high­er qual­i­ty of life.  Employ­ees don’t have to put their careers on hold to focus on their fam­i­lies or edu­ca­tion.  This free­dom is more valu­able in the long run than a paycheck.

    Work­er reten­tion is more impor­tant than ever in 2022.  Build­ing a good work­place cul­ture based on the cur­rent inter­ests of employ­ees plays a sig­nif­i­cant role for the suc­cess of the com­pa­ny.  Busi­ness­es now live in an employ­ee-dri­ven job mar­ket.  It is essen­tial that as an employ­er you know what ben­e­fits your employ­ees val­ue to keep them hap­py, healthy and work­ing for you.

  • Understanding Your EOB

    March 30, 2022

    Tags: , ,

    Let’s say that you vis­it­ed the doc­tor and you are won­der­ing how much that vis­it is going to cost.  A short while lat­er, you receive some­thing in the mail that looks like a bill – and even says “amount you owe” at the bot­tom.  How­ev­er, it doesn’t have a return enve­lope or tear-off por­tion for the bill.  Con­fused?  You’re not the only one!

    Most like­ly, you’ve just received an Expla­na­tion of Ben­e­fits (EOB) from your insur­ance com­pa­ny.  The most impor­tant thing for you to remem­ber is that an EOB is NOT a bill.  It is essen­tial­ly “one big receipt” that explains your vis­it.  It shows what was billed, how much you can expect your health plan to pay, and what you — the patient — have to pay. It is always impor­tant to review your EOB to make sure it is correct.

    An EOB is a tool that shows you the val­ue of your health plan.  It will detail the cost of the ser­vices you received and how much your insur­ance will pay.

    How do EOB’s work?

    The health care provider will bill your insur­ance com­pa­ny after your doc­tor vis­it.  Then, your insur­ance com­pa­ny will send your EOB.  Lat­er, you will receive a bill for the amount you owe.  How­ev­er, if the bill does arrive before the EOB, don’t pay it yet.  Wait until you have the EOB in hand so you can com­pare it to your med­ical bill.

    While an EOB will dif­fer from one insur­ance com­pa­ny to anoth­er, they typ­i­cal­ly all include the fol­low­ing information:

    • The Account Sum­ma­ry – lists your account infor­ma­tion with details like the patient’s name, date(s), and claim number.
    • The Claim Details – lists the ser­vices pro­vid­ed and the dates of the services.
    • The Amounts Billed – details the cost of the ser­vices and what costs your health plan did not cov­er. It will also include any out­stand­ing amount you are respon­si­ble for pay­ing.  If there is a por­tion that is not cov­ered by insur­ance, the rea­son why will also be listed.

    Remem­ber, insur­ance com­pa­nies rarely pay 100% of the bill.  You will need to pay any applic­a­ble deductible, copay and coinsurance.

    Deductible: The amount you pay for health care ser­vices before your insur­ance begins to pay anything.

    Copay: A flat fee that you pay on the spot each time you go to your doc­tor or fill a prescription.

    Coin­sur­ance: The por­tion of the med­ical cost you pay after your deductible has been met.  Coin­sur­ance is a way of say­ing that you and your insur­ance car­ri­er each pay a share of eli­gi­ble costs that add up to 100%.

    Why is Your EOB important?

    Med­ical billing com­pa­nies some­times make billing errors.  Your EOB is a win­dow into your med­ical billing his­to­ry.  Review it care­ful­ly to make sure that you did receive the ser­vice being billed and that your pro­ce­dure and diag­no­sis are list­ed and cod­ed correctly.

    EOBs can help you under­stand how the health insur­ance sys­tem works and pro­vide trans­paren­cy in the com­pli­cat­ed finances of health care.  While the EOB may be com­pli­cat­ed, under­stand­ing it can help ensure that you and your fam­i­ly get the most out of your health insur­ance.  Know­ing what an EOB is and what is includ­ed on the state­ment ensures that you stay in con­trol of your health care finances.

  • Benefits for a Multigenerational Workforce

    March 10, 2022

    Tags: , ,

    If only every­one val­ued the same things, ben­e­fits plan­ning would be a lot eas­i­er.  If. Only.

    How­ev­er, most employ­ers have five gen­er­a­tions of employ­ees active in the work­place who want dif­fer­ent things.  With gen­er­a­tion gaps span­ning more than 75 years, find­ing a one-size-fits-all ben­e­fits pack­age can be chal­leng­ing.  How­ev­er, there are cer­tain things to con­sid­er to tai­lor employ­ee ben­e­fits for each generation.

    The Five Gen­er­a­tions in the Workforce:

    Gen­er­a­tion Z: 1997–2012, (5% of workforce)
    Mil­len­ni­als: 1981–1996, (35% of workforce)
    Gen­er­a­tion X: 1965–1980, (33% of workforce)
    Baby Boomers: 1946–1964, (25% of workforce)
    Tra­di­tion­al­ists or The Silent Gen­er­a­tion: 1928–1945, (2% of workforce)

    Regard­less of their gen­er­a­tion, every employ­ee wants tra­di­tion­al ben­e­fits like time off, health­care insur­ance, and retire­ment plan­ning. To cre­ate a ben­e­fits pro­gram with multi­gen­er­a­tional appeal, employ­ers should first think about their employ­ees’ shared con­cerns and vary­ing needs.

    One strat­e­gy for man­ag­ing mul­ti­ple gen­er­a­tion is cus­tomiz­ing ben­e­fits offer­ings to core demo­graph­ics.  For exam­ple, would your staff val­ue on-site child-care?  Would a retire­ment plan that high­lights the need for sav­ing ear­ly or tuition assis­tance be rel­e­vant for your employ­ees? Think about who your employ­ees are and which ben­e­fits are most like­ly going to sup­port their success.

    Many employ­ees are con­cerned about their finan­cial well­ness.  Sev­en out of 10 new col­lege grad­u­ates each owe $37,000 or more.  These unprece­dent­ed lev­els of stu­dent debt make finan­cial con­cerns a pri­ma­ry con­cern for Mil­len­ni­als and Gen Z.  Gen Xers share finan­cial con­cerns as they look to pay for their children’s edu­ca­tion. While fear of not sav­ing enough for retire­ment is a con­cern for all age groups, it is most con­cern­ing to Baby Boomers and Tra­di­tion­al­ists for whom retire­ment is around the corner.

    Gen X val­ues ben­e­fits that sup­port bet­ter work-life bal­ance, such as care­tak­er sup­port, flex time, well-being and sup­port and finan­cial pro­tec­tion.  Mean­while, Gen Zers favor ben­e­fits that sup­port career growth, men­tal health and diver­si­ty, equi­ty, and inclu­sion pro­grams and perks that relate to job secu­ri­ty, a key con­cern for this generation.

    While every gen­er­a­tion faces uncer­tain­ty at dif­fer­ent stages of life, Mil­len­ni­als are more like­ly to pur­chase legal insur­ance com­pared to oth­er gen­er­a­tions. Many Mil­len­ni­als start­ed work­ing dur­ing a reces­sion which has great­ly affect­ed how they view their long-term careers. Mil­len­ni­als have adopt­ed an “any­thing can hap­pen” men­tal­i­ty and are will­ing to pay for peace of mind to be finan­cial­ly stable.

    To han­dle the unex­pect­ed, health, den­tal, vision and life insur­ance are all val­ued tra­di­tion­al ben­e­fits and are espe­cial­ly impor­tant to Baby Boomers and Tra­di­tion­al­ists.   Some Tra­di­tion­al­ists and Boomers may not be full-time employ­ees.  Com­pa­nies employ­ing more of this gen­er­a­tion of work­ers should offer some sort of well­ness ben­e­fits like gym mem­ber­ships or health services.

    Beyond the core offer­ings like health care and retire­ment sav­ings plans, employ­ers can offer a menu of non-med­ical vol­un­tary ben­e­fits that employ­ees can select based on their indi­vid­ual needs.  Those might include legal insur­ance, care­giv­er leave, stu­dent debt assis­tance or tuition reim­burse­ment, on-site child-care, pet insur­ance, finan­cial coun­sel­ing, acci­dent insur­ance and more.

    Whether a Boomer or a Gen Xer, all employ­ees want to feel con­fi­dent and informed about their health­care deci­sions. Qual­i­ty health­care that is acces­si­ble and afford­able is a pri­or­i­ty for all gen­er­a­tions.  Cre­at­ing a cus­tomiz­able ben­e­fits expe­ri­ence that rec­og­nizes the diver­si­ty across the multi­gen­er­a­tional work­force will like­ly result in employ­ee reten­tion and increased job sat­is­fac­tion as well as mak­ing recruit­ing top tal­ent eas­i­er.  By focus­ing on com­mu­ni­ca­tion, the ben­e­fits mix, and under­stand­ing what is impor­tant to each gen­er­a­tion, your com­pa­ny may well be on its way to a suc­cess­ful ben­e­fits strategy.

  • Show Your Heart Some Love

    February 28, 2022

    Tags: ,

    Feb­ru­ary is Amer­i­can Heart Month, a time when all peo­ple can focus on their car­dio­vas­cu­lar health. Do you know how to keep your heart healthy? You can take an active role in reduc­ing your risk for heart dis­ease by eat­ing a healthy diet, engag­ing in phys­i­cal activ­i­ty, and man­ag­ing your cho­les­terol and blood pressure.

    Heart dis­ease accounts for near­ly one-third of all deaths world­wide. Stud­ies and experts rec­om­mend exer­cise as an impor­tant way to main­tain­ing a healthy heart, but your diet plays a major role in heart health and can impact your risk of heart dis­ease. The most impor­tant fac­tor in healthy eat­ing is hav­ing a bal­anced diet, watch­ing por­tions, and eat­ing foods you actu­al­ly enjoy. This will allow you to stick with it for the long term.

    Let’s take a clos­er look at the 4 key fac­tors for a heart healthy diet and exam­ples of how you can incor­po­rate them into your dai­ly life:

    1. Fruits and Vegetables:
    Leafy green veg­eta­bles are well known for their wealth of vit­a­mins, min­er­als, and antiox­i­dants. An analy­sis of eight stud­ies found that increas­ing leafy green veg­etable intake was asso­ci­at­ed with up to a 16% low­er inci­dence of heart disease.

    2. Healthy Proteins:
    Lean meat, poul­try and fish, low-fat dairy prod­ucts and eggs are some of your best sources of pro­tein. Legumes – beans, peas and lentils – are good, low-fat sources of pro­tein and are a good sub­sti­tute for meat. Also, sub­sti­tut­ing plant pro­tein for ani­mal pro­tein – ie. a black bean burg­er for a ham­burg­er – will reduce your fat & cho­les­terol intake and increase your fiber intake.

    3. Healthy Fats:
    Not all fats are bad. Foods with monoun­sat­u­rat­ed and polyun­sat­u­rat­ed fats are impor­tant for your brain and heart. Lim­it foods with trans-fats, which increase the risk for heart disease.

    4. Whole Grains:
    Whole grains are good sources of fiber and oth­er nutri­ents that play a role in reg­u­lat­ing blood pres­sure and heart health.

    Eat­ing heart healthy is a lifestyle, it’s about nutri­tion, bal­ance and retrain­ing our mind to make bet­ter food choic­es. What you eat can influ­ence almost every aspect of heart health, from blood pres­sure and inflam­ma­tion to cho­les­terol lev­els and triglyc­erides. A well-bal­anced diet can help keep your heart in good shape and min­i­mize your risk of heart dis­ease. With plan­ning and a few sim­ple sub­sti­tu­tions, you can eat with your heart in mind!

  • What Employees Want: Well-Being Programs

    February 16, 2022

    Tags: , ,

    Work­place well­ness pro­grams have increased in the past sev­er­al years to pro­mote healthy diets and lifestyle, exer­cise and oth­er behav­iors such as quit­ting smok­ing.  As of 2020, most employ­ers had well­ness pro­grams of some kind, includ­ing 53% of small firms (those with 3–200 employ­ees) and 81% of large com­pa­nies.  Since employ­ees spend most of their wak­ing hours on the job, well­ness pro­grams seem to be a nat­ur­al fit to try to pro­mote healthy changes in behav­ior.  But, in 2022, employ­ees want more; many work­ers are look­ing for employ­ers who show authen­tic con­cern for their well-being.

    Well-being is about how our lives are going.  It’s not only about health and hap­pi­ness but also about liv­ing life to its fullest poten­tial.  In fact, data shows that employ­ees of all gen­er­a­tions rank “the orga­ni­za­tion cares about the employ­ees’ well-being” in their top three criteria.

    Finan­cial stress soared dur­ing the pan­dem­ic but so did reg­u­lar stress, too.  Men­tal health strug­gles such as anx­i­ety, depres­sion, and sub­stance abuse are also climb­ing.  These are expen­sive issues to ignore both in terms of the human suf­fer­ing but also the company’s bot­tom line: Depres­sion alone costs an esti­mat­ed $210.5 bil­lion per year.  These costs are due to absen­teeism (missed work days) and pre­sen­teeism (reduced pro­duc­tiv­i­ty at work) as well as direct med­ical costs (out­pa­tient and inpa­tient med­ical ser­vices and phar­ma­cy costs).

    Employ­ers must rec­og­nize the inter­re­la­tion­ship between the phys­i­cal, finan­cial, work and well-being com­po­nents of employ­ees’ lives.  For exam­ple, employ­ees who need help with their finan­cial well-being are sig­nif­i­cant­ly less like­ly to be phys­i­cal­ly healthy and more like­ly to report feel­ing stressed or anx­ious which can impact pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and job per­for­mance.  Vice Pres­i­dent for Com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Fideli­ty Invest­ments in Boston, Mike Sham­rell,  rec­og­nizes the need for all dimen­sions of well­ness.  “It’s tough to be well in one area when you’re unwell in anoth­er,” he said.

    Well-being is often asso­ci­at­ed with gym mem­ber­ships and green smooth­ies but it is much more than that; it is a result of many dif­fer­ent aspects of one’s life.  Here are 5 com­mon dimen­sions of well-being that can be addressed through a work­place well­ness program:

    • Emotional/Mental Health – Under­stand­ing your feel­ings and cop­ing with stress.
    • Phys­i­cal Health – Dis­cov­er­ing how self-care can improve your life and productivity.
    • Finan­cial Health – Suc­cess­ful­ly man­ag­ing your money.
    • Social Con­nect­ed­ness – Cre­at­ing and being a part of a sup­port network.
    • Occu­pa­tion­al Well-Being– Feel­ing appre­ci­at­ed at work and sat­is­fied in your contributions.

    Great employ­ees want great employ­ers.  Com­pa­nies that want cre­ative, high-per­form­ing teams must be will­ing to sup­port work­ers both in and out of the office.  Well-being has a major influ­ence on an employee’s per­for­mance and sat­is­fac­tion; employ­ees who feel val­ued and appre­ci­at­ed are more invest­ed in their com­pa­ny in return.

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