Fewer employees opted to register for high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) in the 2017 enrollment cycle. The most likely culprit is an increase in cost for HDHPs, which many employers are transferring to employees. Many HDHPs offer substantial savings for employers but come with deductibles that soar beyond $5000.

More Employers Offer HDHPs; Fewer Employees Take Them up on It

The 2017 benefit year saw a 12% increase in family premium costs for HDHPs. While 56% of surveyed employers offer HDHPs, up from 52% last year, only 36% of individuals signed up for an HDHP. This is a five percent decrease from the previous year. The driving force behind this decrease is families in search of affordable benefits.

The basic set up of an HDHP is a low premium with a high deductible. This type of health plan appeals to entry-level, young, single adults without children who are in good health. This is because they often cannot afford more traditional HMOs or PPOs and have fewer health care needs than their more senior coworkers who have families.

The recent increase in HDHP premiums removed some of the cost-savings appeal. Deductibles are increasing for PPOs as well. As a result, many employees do not see a significant difference between the two. The out-of-pocket cost differential is rapidly shrinking and employers are struggling to keep up with their employees’ need.

Insurance to Fill in the Gaps

This quandary poses a significant opportunity to benefit brokers. Agents can present GAP insurance solutions as a way for employers to make HDHPs affordable for their employees while keeping costs down for themselves. GAP insurance, as the name implies, fills in the gaps of HDHPs and can help employees pay exorbitant deductibles.

However, benefit brokers will have their work cut out for them. Many employees do not understand the benefits their employer offers. Brokers will have to use effective communication methods to show the true value of GAP insurance plans. To learn more about selling GAP insurance, contact Chelten Benefits.

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Offering Better Alternatives to HDHPs

  • Posted on February 16, 2017
  • by Admin

More expensive and substantial plans can actually reduce your clients long-term costs and increase employee plan satisfaction, according to a wealth of recent studies and surveys. The National Business group found that nearly two thirds of large employers believe HDHPs are one of the most effective ways to reduce benefits costs. Another study by the National Bureau of Economic Research corroborates this assertion, specifically identifying employer spending decreases of 10-15% in the areas of preventive, emergency, outpatient, and pharmaceutical care. This all makes sense as HDHPs leverage higher deductibles – transferring more expenses from employer to employee. Another recent study shows that by 2020, HDHP implementation will have tripled in just 7 years, becoming available through 40% of employers.

But this isn’t the whole story. Higher deductibles logically and experientially discourage plan usage and overall healthcare engagement, dramatically increasing the likelihood of increasingly severe health concerns down the road. A failure to capitalize on inexpensive preventive care frequently causes health issues to exacerbate, inflating long-term costs for employer and employee alike. A survey by Families USA determined approximately 30% of those covered by employer-provided benefits with deductibles upward of $1,500 per individual avoided medical care due to unaffordable out-of-pocket expenses. Other studies, including one by the Commonwealth Fund, reached the same conclusion.

Beyond an aversion to obtaining care, HDHP enrollees are often less engaged in their healthcare plans, leading to a failure to capitalize on the limited but valuable services to which they are entitled at little or no personal expense. Reduced price-consciousness and a lack of plan knowledge both exacerbate the other shortcomings of the High Deductible Health Plan. To learn more about growing your book of business and increasing client satisfaction with superior alternatives to HDHPs, contact Chelten Benefits Group.

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Watch our 8-minute on-demand webinar to learn more about opportunities to increase commissions with your current clients and build relationships with new clients – not from a bottom-up approach, but parachuting in from the top with high-quality referrals and high-value, low-risk opportunities. Then schedule an appointment with us to get started!

Click here to setup a one-on-one call with Dick Chelten.

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Marketing GAP Insurance to Reticent Clients

  • Posted on February 7, 2017
  • by Admin

There is no denying the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is uncertain. While the new administration is sorting out the details, however, employers and employees must carry on with their existing insurance. Most employers offer high deductible health plans (HDHPs), but the policies are often not comprehensive. With more employees lacking full coverage, employers are looking for solutions. Group Supplemental Health plans, also called GAP insurance, may be the answer to their concerns.

Explain the Benefits of GAP Insurance

Employers may be reluctant to invest in additional insurance. They have concerns over ACA compliance and well as rising costs. However, GAP plans are excepted benefits. This means they operate outside of the purview of the Affordable Care Act. They function as supplemental benefits in addition to an HDHP. Depending on which strategy the employer and employees take, combining GAP plans with a Bronze level HDHP can save money and provide better coverage.

GAP Strategies

No two clients are the same, and they will want options when it comes to their health insurance benefits. Pairing the following GAP insurance plans with an HDHP can help cover deductibles, office visits, prescription copays, and more. Employers can save up to $1000 per employee per year. This also benefits agents as GAP commissions tend to be much higher than major medical commissions.

  • Deductible GAP. The employee pays an upfront deductible then the Gap plan covers the rest. Employers can choose the deductible amount as well as choose from three levels of coverage.
  • First Dollar GAP. This plan has inpatient and outpatient benefits that pay up to $6500 and $2500 respectively. This GAP plan covers expenses and offers two levels of coverage.
  • Full GAP. Like the First Dollar GAP plan, Full GAP offers inpatient and outpatient benefits. However, this plan pays up to $6500 for both services. This plan also has two levels of coverage.

The benefits of promoting GAP plans to clients are obvious. The client can save a substantial amount of money while the agent can earn better commissions. Linking a Bronze HDHP with GAP insurance can also help employees achieve affordable and comprehensive medical coverage. To learn more about selling GAP insurance, contact Chelten Benefits.

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Many companies end up overpaying their workers’ compensation premiums by hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. This is most often due to a misclassification of company type and employee responsibilities. Misclassification can cause a number of issues beyond overpayment. Some examples include insurance premiums spiraling out of control or contractors paying too much in workers’ comp premiums for employees who do not work on site.

One study based out of Asheville, NC discovered 70 percent of employers overpay their workers’ comp premiums. This is why it is vital for companies to work with insurance brokers to guarantee their business has the proper classification code. It may be tempting for business owners to avoid using a broker in an attempt to save money, but their lack of classification coding expertise can be expensive and hurt their bottom line.

This issue tends to be a bigger problem for small companies that require less than $500,000 in premiums. This is because they often lack alternate funding plans for workers’ comp that large businesses can afford to retain. To put it in perspective, premium rates vary by job type and work environment. Coverage for an office secretary may be as low as $0.30 per every $100 whereas a roofer can be 100 times that amount at $30 per $100 of compensation. Workers’ comp accounts for almost 1/3 of the money businesses spend on insurance, so proper coding is vital.

Insurance agents can best help their clients stabilize workers’ comp premiums by becoming Stryde representatives. Stryde agents can provide a variety of services including workers’ comp audits, specialized tax incentives and more. To learn more about how Stryde’s services benefit insurance agents, contact Chelten Benefits.

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Business owners are often looking for ways to save money to improve their bottom line. However, many of these efforts focus on salaries, personnel, and other areas that can hurt a business if cut. For example, reducing personnel can have a deleterious effect on customer service. Dissatisfied customers will look to competitors for a better experience.  So what can insurance agents do to help their business clients improve their bottom line without damaging morale or customer relationships?

Reviewing Workers’ Compensation Premiums

A major area where businesses can recoup expenses is by reviewing their workers’ compensation premiums. Audits can reveal clerical errors or misclassifications that can cost businesses thousands of dollars. Industrial classification and experience modification calculations can help companies determine if their workers’ compensation premiums are in line with the number of individuals they employ and the level of loss they typically experience.

Revealing these mistakes can allow employers to recoup partial refunds and save money in the subsequent years. Providing tangible solutions that not only solve problems but also improve finances can help agents build leads.

Insurance agents can offer this type of audit service to their clients by becoming a Stryde agent. Stryde agents have access to expense recovery solutions and services. One of Stryde’s many services is auditing workers’ compensation premiums. Stryde Solutions can help unearth tax credits and other ways to recover overpaid expenses as well. To learn more about becoming a Stryde agent to help your clients recover expenses, contact us.

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Cadillac Tax Still 3 Years Out, but Impact Already Here

  • Posted on December 19, 2016
  • by Admin

shutterstock_174966584 - CopyAs the Cadillac tax draws closer to assessment, many businesses are growing more cautious regarding employee HSA contributions. Since 2014, HSA enrollment has increased 10.7%, according to a survey data from United Benefit Advisors. This large-scale survey of employer-sponsored health plans found that overall enrollment in HSAs is increasing, while employer contributions are not.

The Cadillac tax comes into effect January 1, 2020, but it’s already demonstrating significant influence on employee benefits planning – particularly with regard to HSA. Looking at HSA performance by industry, the UBA survey finds:

  • Government employers offer the most generous contributions at an average $834 for singles and $1,636 for families.
  • Families and individuals in the hospitality and foodservice industries received less than $200 in employer contributions.
  • While most industries have seen steady growth in HSA enrollment, the utilities sector not only has the lowest enrollment at 3.2%, but is also the only industry to see a decline in enrollment from three years ago.

To learn more about benefits solutions for your clients, contact us.

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Strategies to Grow Your Benefits Book of Business

  • Posted on December 5, 2016
  • by Admin

home-2016-05-03-8-CopyThe goal for every benefits agent is to generate more leads and increase sales. Yet this is easier said than done. The following are tips all benefits agents can use to grow their leads and their book of business.

Provide Solutions, Not Products

Even if you believe your product is the best, presenting it as an object to buy will not have high success rates. Prospective leads may not be willing to part with their hard-earned money for a product. However, you are much more likely to secure a sale if what you are selling fixes a problem in the lead’s life. Listen to the individual and learn their needs. Armed with that information, you can offer services that address their priorities. In short, people do not want a sales pitch; they want solutions.

Let the Lead do the Talking

Continuing with the above, you cannot possibly offer viable solutions if you do not listen to your lead. While you may have an insurance policy that will solve their problems, you will not know which plan is best without listening first. Ask questions to get the lead talking about their lifestyle, their family, and their worries about the future. The lead will tell you what it is they are looking for if you let them. By acting as a consultant rather than a salesperson, you will garner useful information to help the lead.

Showcase Benefits, Not Features

If you become overly focused on features, the lead may assume you are trying to increase your commission. In addition, concentrating on technical elements can sometimes come across as a tactic to distract or confuse. It’s best to contextualize benefits solutions in terms of the holistic and qualitative improvements they can make for an organization. After this, a quantitative assessment of cost structures, potential savings, employee costs, and other financial elements can be discussed.

While these tips provide a starting point for benefits agents to increase leads and sales, there’s more – much more. Chelten Benefits Group provides a number of customized services to help agents serve their clients better as well as boost their commissions. To learn more, contact us.

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shutterstock_251707783 smMargaret is a life insurance agent specializing in business and estate planning. You could always count on her to be an exhibitor at any and every CPA convention or show.  There, she would struggle to find CPA’s willing to be new potential referral sources. In the past, it was difficult to separate her services from those of other life agents.  That was until Margaret became a GMG/Stryde agent.  Then, her life changed…big time.

Margaret now promotes the GMG Cost Recovery Audit service to small and mid-sized CPA firms.  These practices often don’t have the staff or expertise to perform cost recovery audits that can recover their clients thousands of dollars in taxes.  The GMG audit service provides CPAs with a new added value service for their clients. Margaret offers an “either/or” proposition to these CPAs.  They can become GMG/Stryde representatives and offer the GMG audit services directly to their clients with Margaret earning a commission override on everything they do.

Or, if they prefer, they can simply refer Margaret to their clients and Margaret can handle the entire case.  Either way, Margaret likes to say that as a GMG rep, she is now being “parachuted” into new client’s offices rather than having to “burrow up through the floor boards” and referrals are pouring in. This year is her biggest year ever. She is on pace for MDRT Top of the Table status.  Margaret no longer stands behind an exhibitor booth.  Life is very good for Margaret.

To learn more about following in Margaret’s footsteps, contact us.

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shutterstock_174966584 - CopySo many businesses today seek to attain or improve profitability by selling more, working harder, or cutting the costs of their labor or goods. While these methods all have the potential to improve the bottom line, they often require significant time and resources and are riddled with potential consequences. Yet nearly every business pays excess taxes, invoices, contractor fees, regulatory fines, and other such expenses. Cracking down on your business classification, finding applicable tax credits, and leveraging other cost cutting measures to which you’re already entitled can save an organization hundreds of thousands – or more. To illustrate, review the case study below.

– John S, one of our GMG representatives, had business appointments in New York and was staying for a week at this Holiday Inn.  He knew that like many major hotel franchise chains, Holiday Inn required its franchise owners to renovate their hotels.  Many of these hotels already had costed $5,000,000 or more to build or buy and now these renovations were costing another $1,000,000 or more.
  
John asked to speak to the hotel’s General Manager. He introduced himself, explained what GMG does and how GMG recovers an average $240,000 in overpaid business expenses and taxes. He explained to the GM that it only takes 60 seconds to estimate how much GMG could recover for that Holiday Inn. He opened up (www.taxsavingsestimator.com) on his smartphone and in less than one minute demonstrated not just $240,000 but over $2,500,00 in savings and recoverable expenses.
 
Two months later, GMG has actually uncovered/recovered $3,600,000 for the hotel! John is now being invited to meet with other Holiday Inn franchise owners and their CPA’s. No more cold calling for John! He has plenty of referrals. –

To learn more about tax classification, business expense control, and how these solutions can benefit your clients, contact us.

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