Podcasts

Here’s to Your Health!

This week Roger Fuerstenau is joined once again by Subject Matter Expert Timothy Pachowitz to discuss health insurance. What types of health insurance plans are there? What do you do if you need a health insurance plan for your company? Are you looking to make a change to your health insurance plan?
Listen in to hear what we do and how The Benefit Companies, Inc.™ and Connect & Simplify™ can help solve your health insurance pain points.
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Transcript:

Here’s to Your Health!

Here's to your health. When employers put together a package of benefits for their employees, there are several components you would expect to see. Health insurance, dental, vision, 401K typically are included, and then there may be other options like life insurance, disability insurance, long term care those all might be added. Maybe a health savings or flexible spending account may be a factor also. So let's talk about the details. 

From home base in Brookfield, Wisconsin, welcome to the latest episode of Inside Connect & Simplify. Roger here, human capital management consultant, and today I'm joined by one of our subject matter experts in health insurance. Tim, welcome back.

Tim:

Thanks for the invitation.

Roger:  

Tim has joined me before today, the focus is health insurance. Now health insurance is a broad topic. What does a typical health plan look like?

Tim:

Well, Roger, there really is no typical health insurance plan. Plans vary anywhere from a health savings account type plan, to a traditional copay plan, the funding mechanisms, partially self funded, level funded. There are many different types of plans out there.

Roger:   

Alright, so we're not going to go layers deep on all of those today. But let's start with this. So you work with companies that have plans in place already, and then with companies that are looking to start a plan. So talk about how you help a company without an insurance plan in place. How do you help them develop one that fits their goals? And what might it look like?

Tim:  

Working with companies that are looking to implement a new health insurance plan can be a bit tricky, but also can be a lot of fun. The employer is looking to attract and retain employees, offer plan for the first time. So there's a lot of things that go into it. But to keep it simple, we look at the demographics of the group, the ages, what are they looking for, what is the current employer's budget, and then there's the administrative side, which we also help them with.

Roger:   

Okay, so then you also work with companies that already have a plan in place. And maybe that's a company you've been working with for years, or a company that is not a client, but they're looking for options, or maybe a review or an audit from you. Give me a couple of steps. What do you do when you're reviewing an existing health insurance plan for a prospective client?

Tim:    

The biggest thing that we do is starting the review process 90 days before an employer gets their health insurance renewal. It's huge, it's important. It's important to have any options for the employer available, with enough time to make a decision, implement the plan, and then make sure in the end that the employees have new cards when the plan comes into effect. Some of the other things we do is we take a look at you know what the current plan is. What are the employees' reactions to it? What is the environment that the employer’s working in? We all know there's a tight labor market right now. So are they looking to improve their plan? Or is it hasn't been a tough year and it looks like things are going to be tough going ahead? We look at do we need to cut some costs? There are other things we look at like contribution strategies, you know, how much the employer pays, how much the employee pays, there's a lot of things that go into it. So it's a discussion that we have with the employer at that point in time.

Roger:     

Okay, so regardless if the health insurance plan is brand new or existing, when you get to a point of bringing them on as a client, you now need to get info to the participants. Talk about how you educate the employees.

Tim: 

This is really big, and things have changed in the last couple of years. Obviously, with the pandemic, we didn't have access to employees, we weren't doing as many face to face meetings with employees, so technology played a big part. And with the technology, we embedded videos in there, we did live chats, there were a whole host of things that we did to make sure that employees got the information. With pandemic lessening, or over, depending on how you look at it, we will be getting into employers' places of business to see the employees, which is great because it's important for people to see us and know who we are and how we take care of things. In addition to that, with the communication of benefits, it's huge that we have what we call an HCM system, which, within that, has a benefits enrollment piece. And the benefits enrollment piece automates the process, gives people information, allows them to take it home, keeps them out of the HR person's office, but still answers their questions. So the benefits enrollment piece is huge. It's huge in communicating the different benefits within the health insurance plan.

Roger:  

Okay, so that's how you kind of educate and take care of the employees, how do you help the employer navigate the renewal process every year?

Tim: 

As I mentioned earlier, one of the things we do is we start early. And again, it's huge because insurance companies, we don't know when they're going to get the different quotes to us, decisions have to be made. So time is of the essence. So starting early is important. Also, having the right people in place is great. We have Ruth here, Jackie, Julie, who work with me, and they help the employers walk through the process if we're changing plans, we're changing insurance companies, if we're taking applications, they are the go-to people to make sure that that is a smooth process.

Roger: 

Alright, so talk about, then, how we customize our service to meet the needs of the clients because every client is different.

Tim:  

That's so true. There are some clients that we have that they do all the work. And what I mean by that is if they have a termination, if they have something new coming on the plan, employee meetings, they want to do all that. We have other clients that say, “hey, I'm the HR person, the office manager, the janitor, we need some help,” and we're here to do that. One of the premises or the basis of the company, when I first started 26 years ago, was that, in essence, we want to become an employer's back office and help them out.

Roger:

So in the umbrella of health insurance, what are some of the supplemental or extra optional benefits that a company could offer their employees?

Tim: 

It's a great question. There are a lot of different supplemental benefits that companies can offer employees, some of the things that we're starting to see become more prevalent, and being attached to the health insurance, is critical illness plans, which are going to pay a benefit in the event that a person has a heart attack, a stroke, develops Alzheimer's, things like that pays a lump sum to them, to help them get through that crisis. Also, we're seeing more people purchase accident plans, which pay people again in a lump sum, or an amount of money in the event that due to an accident, they have something like the end up in urgent care or they break a leg, they end up in hospital, have a surgery, those types of things. So this money, again, is paid to the employee, it helps them offset some of the costs associated either with the health insurance plan or time away from work, whatever it is, they decide what to do with the money.

Roger:

And a couple of options you haven't mentioned yet, but I know a related, would be HSAs and FSAs. Spend a minute on that.

Tim: 

Sure. Both plans are Health Savings Accounts or flexible spending accounts, what they're doing is they're allowing an insured or an employee to put money, set money aside to pay for medical expenses in the event that they have a bill that comes up. When they put the money aside into a savings account, the money is put in there on a pre-tax basis, and as long as they use the money for a qualified expense, then they don't pay any taxes on the money they have taken out. Health Savings Accounts are tied to high deductible health plans and there are certain requirements set by the IRS to determine whether or not you can offer an HSA and we'd be glad to talk to somebody about what those are. Flexible spending accounts can be put in and, yes, there are some nuances to it, but again, it's just another way to help people put pre-tax dollars away to pay for any expenses that they incur.

Roger: 

So to this point, we haven't talked about The Benefit Companies and our human capital management platform and how that relates to what we do in health insurance. But let's take a minute on that now. So with our human capital management platform, we have the ability to integrate processes. Why should, why would a company consider using us for that?

Tim: 

A lot of it goes back to there's a lot of reasons why but related to health insurance and related to benefits, the benefits enrollment pieces is awesome. Again, it's a communication tool that gets information and employees, allows them to make informed decisions, and share information maybe with a spouse at home, wherever they might be and communicate those benefits. In addition for the HR person, after open enrollment when everybody's been communicated to in a group setting, what it does is, during the year when people are hired, that benefits enrollment system allows people to be communicated to on an individual basis, where again, the HR person doesn't have to take time away, and it also serves as a tickler file for the HR person to remind them, ‘hey, Joe Smith started such and such a date, they're eligible for this insurance, make sure you get an application’. So it's a great system that takes people from start to finish with the enrollment process.

Roger:  

Nice. All right, do you have a story or an example of you helping a company solve a problem, whether it was cost, or coverage, or service, whatever it is, with a current health insurance plan? And then maybe as a bonus, they got a second issue resolved, anything like that?

Tim:  

Yes. We just picked up a new client, approximately 35 employees. And we were brought in by an outside HR consultant. The reason that we were brought in was the company was receiving no support from their insurance broker. What I mean by that is, when a person had a question on coverage, needed cards, they were basically told that they weren't big enough of an account for that insurance agency to give them help through the process. That's something that we always pride ourselves in doing, that's something that we do, it's an automatic in our service package. In addition to that, the company had not had their insurance, health insurance, reviewed for many years. They liked the insurance company, they were with, they thought they would stay with it, but when we showed them about a 35% cost savings, they put the money in their pocket and made the plan change.

Roger:    

So we sell service and save them money. Nice. Very cool. All right. Tim, is there anything else you'd like to talk about that we haven't covered already today? Anything else we missed?

Tim: 

I think that's really it for right now, Roger. I can talk about health insurance for hours, but that's not the purpose of this podcast.

Roger:   

Alright, appreciate you being here as always, and for showing why you are one of our subject matter experts in health insurance. Thanks for your time.

Tim:  

Thank you, Roger.

Roger:   

All right. To learn more about health insurance and our offerings go to connectandsimplify.com or call Tim directly at 262-207-1999, extension 122. And tell them what you're looking to solve. Tim is also a great starting point for discussion on our human capital management platform, Connect & Simplify. Thanks for listening today. Be well!

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