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Wisconsin Employers Rise to the Healthcare Challenge

analysis-charts-coffee-1446319As we kick off 2019 , the Integrated Risk Solutions, Inc. Benefits team takes stock of the value we delivered to our valued clients in 2018. Healthcare is not for the faint of heart, and we look forward to continuing to expand our next-generation management consulting process with our employer partners.

If you are an employer who has elected to offer healthcare as an employee benefit, we commend you. Your company obviously values your people, and you have made no small financial commitment—seeing as the average cost of offering healthcare was roughly $12,148* per employee in 2018.  It’s even tougher for middle market employers in the 2-499 space, where over 35% reported receiving a 10%+ increase in 2018.

Our team is passionate about challenging the status quo with curiosity and grit.

Why? Because all too often, we see good companies and great people fall victim to the great American PPO healthcare heist. Not only have the insurance community and the healthcare system conspired to increase premiums at annual double digit rates, but they have also made already high deductibles even higher. We do not believe employers should settle for a double-digit increase, nor do we feel that more costs can be transitioned onto the backs of employees who are already paying too much for their coverage.

For all of 2018, our Integrated Risk Solutions, Inc. client base leveraged our next-gen, multi-year strategies, as well as our communication, wellness, and compliance resources to reduce costs and keep healthcare premiums descending, flat, or in the low single digits. We saw more rate decreases in 2018 than in 2017 and worked with many employers to increase their benefit offerings to employees. In composite, the 2018 average premium increases among our client base are below;

  • Average fully-insured employer increase: 4%
  • Average self-funded employer increase: 4.9%

In 2019, we expect to see middle market employers continue to realize lower healthcare costs as a result of alternate payment methods, benefit technology, flex funding arrangements, and value-based pricing. Change is coming, and if your company is looking for a new approach to managing your benefit program, you can take control of your healthcare budget. 

A few other evolving macro trends for S.E. Wisconsin employers to watch:

  • Employers in the < 50 life market are moving to flex-funded programs to avoid community rating, reduce premiums and lower deductibles
  • Primary care only networks are expanding their geographic footprint and filling a considerable gap for high deductible programs and part time employees
  • Self-funded employers leverage bundled pricing solutions on both the workers compensation and health plan (savings achieved are used to increase benefits for leveraging available resources)

Achieving best in class outcomes is not a once-a-year meeting with your benefit advisor. Our team would like to hear your challenges and build a plan for your company’s successful Benefit program, which will help you attract and retain your greatest asset: your people.

* Mercer’s National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans 2018

 

Risk Management Bulletin: Post OSHA 300A Summary by February 1st

 REMINDER: It’s time to post the OSHA 2018 300A Summary in a conspicuous location!

construction-helmet-industry-1216589It’s that time of year again! OSHA 300A summaries must be posted as of February 1st in a conspicuous location through April 30th.   If you haven’t yet, double-check your 2018 OSHA 300 logs for accuracy­—as companies often over/under report injuries and illnesses, which can have a negative impact. Failure to record required injuries and illnesses on your logs may result in OSHA citations with substantial penalties.

This bulletin will review steps in order to successfully complete the OSHA Form 300 Log as well as the OSHA 300A Summary.


Step 1: Determine the Establishment Locations

An OSHA Form 300 Log is required for each physical establishment location that is expected to be in operation for at least one year. OSHA considers the worker’s establishment to be a location to which an employee reports, receives direction or supervision, and collects pay.

Step 2: Identify Required Recordings

Work-related injuries and illnesses that result in the following must be recorded:

  • Death, loss of consciousness, days away from work, restricted work activity, or job transfer.
  • Medical treatment beyond first aid.
  • Any work-related case involving cancer, irreversible disease, a fractured/cracked bone, or a punctured eardrum.

Step 3: Determine Work-Relatedness

When an accident occurs, employers must document a recordable injury/illness on the 300 log within seven days. An injury/illness is considered work-related and must be recorded on the log unless an exception applies. Some exceptions include:

  • At the time of the injury or illness, the employee was at work as a member of the general public.
  • The injury or illness surfaces while at work, but results solely from a non-work-related event or exposure.
  • The injury or illness results solely from voluntary participation in a wellness program.
  • The injury or illness is the result of eating or drinking or preparing food or drink for personal consumption.
  • The injury is the result of an employee doing personal tasks outside of work hours.

Step 4: Complete OSHA Form 300

  • Fill in the year, establishment name, city, and state.
  • Assign each event a case number.
  • Identify employee, employee’s job title, date of the injury/illness and location where the event occurred.
  • Describe the event in detail, along with the parts of the body affected and the object/substance that directly injured or made the employee ill.
  • Classify the case by choosing only one of the categories. The most serious outcome will need to be recorded; the employer should revise the log if the injury or illness progresses or the outcome is more serious than was originally recorded. The original entry must be crossed out, deleted, or concealed with correctional fluid.
  • Enter the number of days the employee was on restricted work or job transfer, number of days away from work, or both.
  • Identify whether the event is an injury or an illness.
  • Total all columns at the end of the year.

Step 5: Complete and Post the OSHA 300A Annual Summary

The information from the OSHA Form 300 Log is then transferred to the 300A Summary by matching the corresponding lettered column on the log with the lettered blank space on the summary.

The employer must complete the establishment information section and have the summary signed by an authorized executive of the company. After completion, post the 300A summary form in the workplace from February 1 through April 30 of the year following the year in a conspicuous location.

Step 6: Electronic Submission

Employers with 20 or more employees who are subject to OSHA’s recordkeeping regulation must electronically submit to OSHA their information from Form 300A by March 2, 2019, deadline. https://www.osha.gov/injuryreporting/ita/

Employers with fewer than 20 employees at all times during the year do not have to submit information electronically to OSHA.

Step 7: Record Retention

The OSHA Form 300 Log and the OSHA 300A Summary must be kept for five years following the year that the log and summary pertain to.

Integrated Risk Solutions is available to assist you with any questions or concerns you may have. Please feel free to contact Matt Ingraham, mingraham@intrisksolutions.com or by phone at 262-523-9600.

Source: OSHA

Manufacturing Risk Management in a Global Economy: Quarter 3 Risk/Reward with Tom Precia

business-circuits-computer-1476321My guess is you’re reading this on a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Take a moment and give that device a good, close look.

Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Do you have any idea where that device, and all of its internal components, came from? Let’s say it’s an iPhone. There are components in there from at least a half dozen countries. There’s China, of course, where the iPhone is assembled, but inside are parts from Singapore, the Netherlands, South Korea and elsewhere.

 If one of those components failed and caused you harm, where would you turn?

You’d turn to Apple, of course. Because in our global economy, claims for product liability come to the manufacturer. The various makers of the pieces and parts might be scattered all over the world, which can make the original sources difficult to trace.

If your company is a manufacturer, it’s imperative to know where your parts, components, or ingredients come from, and how to hold their manufacturers accountable. Because whether you make engines, cell phones, or frozen TV dinners, once your product enters the stream of commerce, you could be liable for any injuries or property damage caused by defects in that product.

It would be wonderful if your supply chain extended no further than the city limits, but that’s not the world we live in. You probably use parts or ingredients from manufacturers all over the country, and likely all over the world. This can present a challenge, because when you are dealing with international businesses, you are dealing with different cultures and different worlds.

How can manufacturing companies take advantage of the global economy while carefully managing their risk? 

The best defense starts with a good contract. Review your indemnification agreements to make sure your suppliers are legally obligated to defend and indemnify you when their product leads to a loss. The contract should not only include defense and indemnity, but also language that also holds the supplier responsible for attorney fees, withdrawal and recall expenses, and other costs associated with the loss.

Once you have a strong contract in place, pursue equally strong insurance coverage from your suppliers. Make sure they provide you with a certificate of insurance outlining general liability and product recall coverage. Review that coverage to make sure the limits are adequate, the insuring company is sound, and perhaps most importantly, that the coverage applies in the parts of the world where your product will be sold and used.

Finally, know your suppliers. Make the extra effort to build a relationship with key personnel in the organizations with which you do business. If you need to present them with a claim, you will be more successful if you are on a first-name basis with the people who will need to respond.

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Establishing and maintaining your supply chain can be difficult enough. Ensuring your parts are appropriate, available, and priced right is an immense job. But if you don’t ask the right questions about liability and insurance coverage, even the best components at the best price can be a nightmare.

Our global economy has opened up tremendous opportunity for manufacturers to grow and diversify. At the same time, however, barriers like time zones, distance, language, and culture can translate to increased risk. By crafting a good contract, pursuing strong insurance coverage, and getting to know your suppliers, your business can expertly manage manufacturing risk while seizing every opportunity.

Worker’s Compensation Mental Injury Standards in Wisconsin: Supreme Court Rulings

design-desk-display-313690“I could put 20 more people to work tomorrow,” the president of a mid-sized construction company told me recently. “But I can’t find 10 qualified people. I can’t even find 10 unqualified people.”

If that sounds familiar, be warned: The breaking point could be expensive.

Consider the case of Etha Schillinger and the rapid growth of Swiss Colony, Inc. Swiss Colony, now Colony Brands, Inc., is a classic American success story. According to the company’s website, founder Ray Kubly pioneered mail-order cheese sales, starting with just 50 holiday shipments, in 1926. By 1941, there were 100 seasonal employees, and “by 1948, the Milwaukee Road had to send an extra boxcar to Monroe daily from early December until Christmas to handle the demand for cheese,” the website says.

Schillinger began working for Swiss Colony in 1955, and by 1961—the year the company introduced its popular line of Petits Fours—­she was promoted to purchasing agent. She was responsible for purchasing all of the food products and packaging materials. With $2 million in sales that year, the job was tolerable. But Petits Fours, an ever-diversifying catalogue of mail-order holiday gifts, and the introduction of retail stores (for which Schillinger also performed purchasing tasks) fueled a decade of tremendous growth. By 1971, sales totaled more than $13 million, and Schillinger began to feel the strain.

In the spring of that year, Schillinger said she began to feel “rattled, disorganized, and less able to withstand the mounting pressures of her job.” By this time, she was reporting to a new Director of Materials, a man by the name of Ted Schneider, who would later be described in testimony as “emotionally cold.”

On October 29, 1971, after an incident of “abrupt, brusque criticism” by Schneider, Schillinger suffered an emotional breakdown. She sought medical treatment for exhaustion, depression, insomnia and weight loss, and was admitted to the hospital where she remained until mid-November. She underwent extensive psychological treatment and was in and out of the hospital over the next several months. She was ultimately diagnosed as schizophrenic. She resumed work intermittently at various light duty tasks, but never returned to her job in purchasing.

Mental Injury Standards Established by Supreme Court Cases

In Wisconsin worker’s compensation practice, mental injuries, suffered in the absence of a physical injury, are not compensated unless the mental stresses and strains causing the mental injury are out of the ordinary. The standard was established in a case brought by a contemporary of Schillinger’s, Mary Tauscher.

Tauscher worked as a guidance counselor at Brown Deer High School. In 1971 she was presented with a list of recommendations from the student council; among them was her removal from the school staff. Tauscher suffered an emotional breakdown and period of disability and sought worker’s compensation benefits. In “School District No. 1 vs. Industry, Labor and Human Relations Department,” the Wisconsin Supreme Court wrote:

“Here the emotional stress is no greater than the many differences and irritations to which all employees are subjected and is not an accident compensable under workmen’s compensation. The mere receipt of a partially blacked-out list of suggestions prepared by the student council which asked for her dismissal could not be deemed to be so out of the ordinary from the countless emotional strains and differences that employees encounter daily without serious mental injury. Rather, it is our opinion that the critical remarks advanced by the students of Brown Deer High School is but an occurrence encountered by numerous other employees in their day-to-day employment.”

But the court went on:

“We do not believe that an average man who, after being criticized and berated by an employer or whomever for a significant period of time, suffers a mental injury should be denied compensation.”

Wisconsin’s mental injury standard was further clarified by the Supreme Court’s 1989 ruling in Probst v. Labor & Industry Review Commission. In that case, the claimant ran a successful business supply company that came upon difficult financial times. The nuance in the Probst case was that the courts focused on the type of job duties that employees in similar situations face, rather than the stresses and strains which Probst actually endured.

“The Probst decision has been cited repeatedly to support the proposition that you must compare similar employment settings in order to establish exposure to unusual stress,” said Bob Zilske, a Brookfield defense attorney who specializes in worker’s compensation. “In other words, you do not compare neurosurgeons to garbagemen to establish relative stress levels.”

The Takeaway: The Boss Makes the Difference

What then, of Schillinger’s day-to-day stresses and strains?

When her own case was heard by the Supreme Court—two years after “School District”—Schillinger’s treatment by the “emotionally cold” Schneider was a key factor.

The Supreme Court wrote in its opinion:

“Ruth Gibbons, Schillinger’s assistant, testified that Schneider was negative, brusque, and belittling, especially to women, and that he challenged and belittled any decision Schillinger would make. Gibbons also stated that this attitude upset Schillinger and made her unsure of herself. Schillinger testified that Schneider was abrupt and overly critical of her, and that she would make statements she knew were correct and he would contradict them. She stated that this was very frustrating and disheartening.”

Bizarrely, one of Schillinger’s treating psychologists lived next door to Schneider and testified to his demeanor. The psychologist described Schneider as “a very aggressive man, somewhat cold in his dealings with other people, emotionally cold … brusque, very challenging, very critical.”

That testimony convinced the Supreme Court that Schillinger had endured constant criticism, and was berated and belittled by her immediate supervisor. The court found that the treatment was enough to give rise to an occupational accident, and awarded benefits.

The case should be instructive to employers today, according to James O’Malley, administrative law judge and Director of the Legal Services Bureau of the Worker’s Compensation Division of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

“At a time when business needs to do more with less, it is important for supervisory personnel to be mindful of the consequences this has on the workforce and the potential for generating valid worker’s compensation claims,” O’Malley said. “Employers should train supervisory personnel to recognize and appreciate the employees working in challenging jobs. Supervisory personnel should be trained to appropriately motivate and discipline employees by avoiding unwarranted and constant unreasonable criticism—belittling and berating such as occurred in the Swiss Colony case.”

In order to protect your employees and your company from expensive claims of this type, it’s important to consider wellness and stress management resources. In our next issue, Integrated Risk Solutions Benefits Practice Leader John Gallagher will discuss how wellness programs and employee assistance programs can help your business generate a healthier culture.

Self-Driving Commercial Vehicles: Driving Change in the Insurance Industry

In recent years, motorists have shared the road with increasingly capable evolutions of self-driving commercial motor vehicles (CMV). At first, “self-driving” meant obstacle detection and collision avoidance. Then, in October of 2016, Uber’s former subsidiary Otto (now Uber ATG) succeeded in delivering 45,000 cans of Budweiser Beer with a 100% on-highway driverless solution.

Technology continues to progress, and manufacturers are striving to create a fully autonomous CMV that may eventually eliminate the need for CDL drivers altogether.

With true driverless technology on the horizon, the entire industry is asking, “How are we going to insure this?” 

It might not come as a surprise that there is no clear answer. There are many factors to consider, and uncertainty lingers on what exactly the final product will be. One major issue is the varying degree of autonomy that will likely exist.

Consider this: currently, the driver that a motor carrier places in a truck is one of the key factors that an insurance carrier evaluates. By how much will that factor be reduced if the driver is no longer operating on-highway, or if he or she is a passive observer altogether—only to be used in an emergency?

Whatever the answer is, insurance carriers are no longer focusing on who is driving the vehicle, but what. As the focus shifts to the artificial intelligence powering these vehicles, many believe that liability in the event of an accident will shift as well.

Should a motor carrier be held responsible for an accident that occurs while a CMV is operating autonomously?

While future legislation—and litigation—will likely weigh heavily on this decision, many believe the answer is no. If that’s the case, insurance companies will no longer focus on providing coverage to motor carriers, but to the manufacturers of self-driving CMVs. However, none of the major CMV manufacturers are responsible for the development of the self-driving technology in their vehicles. The software developers and sub-system manufacturers of driverless technology are all potentially liable for accidents, injuries, and fatalities that motor carriers have traditionally had to answer for. Yet, even if the liability of the motor carrier is diminished, it will never go away completely.

How might the underwriting process change with the evolution of driverless technology?

Trucking companies will still need property and casualty insurance, but the underwriting done by insurance carriers will be vastly different. A motor carrier’s hiring practices, driver training, and corrective action procedures all become obsolete when the driver is removed from the equation.

At this point there are still more questions than answers, but self-driving CMVs are already on the road, and the technology continues to evolve at an incredible pace. Through questions and conversation, the industry must evolve along with it.

So consider the conversation started!

Additionally, historical loss experience is no longer useful in forecasting future losses as companies transition into what should be safer driverless technology. Rather than focusing on the individual exposure of each vehicle, underwriters will concentrate on the company as a whole. For example, here are some of the underwriting questions that could come to the fore:

  • List all autonomous technologies currently being used in your fleet.
  • Provide make, model, and software version for each CMV in your fleet. How often is software updated, and who is responsible for the updates?
  • Who is your Chief Technology Officer (CTO)? Provide qualifications and experience with autonomous vehicle technology.
  • Describe your “human firewall” best practices (e.g., password protection, cyber security procedures, and training).

Furthermore, cyber liability protection could become the fundamental component of an insurance program for a motor carrier. Statutory limits, similar to those in place for auto policies, may become the norm for cyber coverage as well.

To discuss CMV coverage, contact an Integrated Risk Solutions Account Executive. It’s an exciting time to be in the transportation industry! 

 

Quarter 2 Risk/Reward with Tom Precia: Preparing for Growth and Competition in Wisconsin

Ground was broken last month on Foxconn’s planned facility in Mount Pleasant, marking the official start of a project expected to have as much as a $7 billion economic impact on Wisconsin’s economy.

Foxconn has named 27 Wisconsin subcontractors to build the facility and is forecasted to purchase one third of its annual $4 billion in supplies from Wisconsin vendors. Those subcontractors and vendors will need their own subcontractors and vendors, and so forth. It’s an exciting yet challenging time to be in business in Wisconsin.

As the saying goes, “A rising tide raises all ships.” Steady economic growth means more opportunity to realize your goals and the vision you have for your company. Our professional team here at Integrated Risk Solutions is here to help your team turn those visions into a reality.

An immediate challenge will be competition for resources. Mostly, that means people.

Later this month, our benefits team is hosting a free seminar where you’ll have an opportunity to hear from top business development and talent acquisition experts on how to best position your business to thrive in Wisconsin’s burgeoning economy. Topics covered will include:

  • How Foxconn will impact the job market
  • Smart hiring practices
  • Strategies for retaining the best people in a hyper-competitive environment
  • Innovative benefit package options that help control cost

Innovation is the key to managing your cost of risk in transformational times like these.

So, in addition to the forward-thinking experts our benefits team has assembled, we have also partnered with leaders who are revolutionizing the way businesses pay to treat work injuries. You will begin to hear more about bundled surgical costs, pre-negotiated fees, and even early intervention options that can help you care for injured employees without triggering claims.

A fee schedule to control medical costs for work injuries remains something of a “Holy Grail” for Wisconsin, but it is a worthy goal, and Integrated Risk Solutions remains committed to it. Through our continued involvement in the Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council and your input through Wisconsin Employers for Equitable Worker’s Compensation, we hope to influence the State Legislature to approve positive change for Wisconsin business. As Wisconsin’s economy grows and changes, it’s imperative that lawmakers keep up.

On these and many other fronts, we are working to make sure you have all the right tools to thrive in these exciting, challenging times. Talk to your Account Executive about the opportunities you anticipate in the next few years, and we will make sure you have the right insurance and benefit solutions to make the most of them.

Worker’s Compensation Legislative Update: Still No Fee Schedule

appointment-appointment-book-blur-40568The Wisconsin State Legislature chose not to act on the agreed-upon bill negotiated by the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council (WCAC). The agreed bill would have introduced medical cost containment to Wisconsin in the form of a fee schedule.

Because the legislature failed to act on this measure, however, Wisconsin employers will continue to pay unmitigated costs for medical treatment of work injuries.

Did you know that Wisconsin is just one of six states without a fee schedule for worker’s compensation medical services?

According to the Worker’s Compensation Research Institute,

  • Wisconsin had the highest average per-claim medical payments from 2014-2015.
  • Wisconsin employers pay more than double the typical price for common services like X-rays and basic evaluations.

According to the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), from 2009-2013 (the most recent years for which that organization has data),

  • Wisconsin’s costs for no lost time claims rose by 30 percent compared to just 14 percent nationwide.
  • Wisconsin’s costs for lost time claims rose by 22 percent for the same period, compared to just five percent nationwide.

If Wisconsin employers are paying so much more for Worker’s Compensation claims, why hasn’t a fee schedule been approved? 

Medical providers are intent on protecting their rich revenue stream from worker’s compensation, which means the healthcare industry contributes a pretty significant amount of money to Wisconsin lawmakers. In fact, the healthcare industry contributed more than $4 million to Wisconsin lawmakers in 2017, according to data from followthemoney.org. That’s more than the combined contributions of the transportation industry, agriculture industry, and labor unions.

It’s imperative that Wisconsin employers stand together and insist the legislature act on their clear demand: Bring medical costs for work injuries in Wisconsin in line with the rest of the nation.

To learn more, read the full article available on our WEEWC website. You’ll gain even more insight about:

  • How we can create and propose a fee schedule that more effectively rallies the support of employers and appeals to a wider audience
  • Whether a solution beyond a fee schedule could be feasible
  • Steps employers can take to control costs under the current law
  • Worker’s compensation indemnity benefits and how they could be improved

Wisconsin employers face many issues as our state competes for business and labor. Wisconsin Employers for Equitable Worker’s Compensation provides a forum to understand the challenges and opportunities in our worker’s compensation system, and to stand together for positive change.

For more information on WEEWC, please contact John Tindall at jtindall@intrisksolutions.com.

 

Risk Management Bulletin: OSHA 2017 Form 300A due July 1st

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REMINDER: It’s time to electronically file OSHA 2017 FORM 300A!

All covered establishments must electronically submit their 2017 Form 300A data to OSHA by July 1, 2018. Employers can view their submitted 2016 Form 300A summary information, but they cannot edit or submit additional 2016 data on this website.

Covered establishments with 250 or more employees are only required to provide their 2017 Form 300A summary data. OSHA is not accepting Form 300 and 301 information at this time. OSHA announced that it will issue a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to reconsider, revise, or remove provisions of the “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses” final rule, including the collection of the Forms 300/301 data. The Agency is currently drafting that NPRM and will seek comment on those provisions.

The Injury Tracking Application (ITA) is accessible from the ITA launch page, where you are able to provide the Agency your 2017 OSHA Form 300A information by July 1, 2018.

Recap of Electronic Submission Requirements:

Who: Establishments with 250 or more employees that are currently required to keep OSHA injury and illness records, and establishments with 20-249 employees that are classified in certain industries with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses.

What: Covered establishments must electronically submit information from their 2017 OSHA Form 300A.

When: In 2018, covered establishments must submit information from their completed 2017 Form 300A by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, covered establishments must submit the information by March 2.

Failure to electronically submit the Form 300A could lead to a substantial fine from OSHA. In February, OSHA issued a memorandum to all regional administrators reminding them that failure to submit reports could lead to “other-than-serious” violations for workplaces and potential fines of $12,934.

If you have any questions regarding Electronic Reporting please contact Matt Ingraham at 262-993-2937.

 

Source: OSHA

 

Critical Trends on the Healthcare Front for Wisconsin Employers

Critical Employer Benefits and Healthcare Trends for Wisconsin Employers

The sun is shining for employers in Southeastern Wisconsin! Amazon has opened a new fulfillment center along the I-94 corridor, Uline opened a new warehouse in Kenosha, and soon Foxconn will also be putting down roots.

Add to the list the upcoming openings of Ikea and the new Bucks arena, as well as our exciting new streetcar system that will transport residents and tourists throughout our fine city. We’re looking at thousands of new jobs, large purchase orders, expansion loans, and new housing demands. Wisconsin employers are enjoying a business cycle that has not been seen in a long time.

As employers in Southeastern Wisconsin ride the wave of growth, how can you attract new employees to support your company’s demand? What are your strategies to keep your valued employees?  

We believe the answer lies within your benefits package. According to a recent employee benefits study conducted by Fractl, 88% of respondents would give either “heavy or some” consideration toward health, dental, and vision insurance when choosing between a high-paying job with lesser benefits and a low-paying job with better benefits.

While this is definitely good news for most employers, the downside is that healthcare costs are projected to increase by 2 times the level of inflation in 2018.

On July 26th, we’ll be hosting a seminar to take a closer look at how your organization can create a human capital strategy that attracts & retains talent—with a  focus on both hiring “smart” and engaging your multi-generational employees with a health plan they value and you can afford.  Read on for more information or scroll to the bottom to register!

In building an effective human capital strategy, the following four emerging trends will impact your company in 2018 and beyond.

Multi-Generational Talent Shortage

You inevitably have a multi-generational workforce that are serving the needs of your customers. We all do. Have you given thought to what these different generations value most in their benefit programs? We all need to. The competition for talent is real, and understanding who you employ and what they value has become strategic planning for many high performing companies.

What predominant generation do you employ? Millennials, baby boomers, generation Xers, or the evolving generation Z? What specific needs do these multi-generational segments value most? Knowing the answers to these questions is the first phase in structuring a benefit program that can attract and retain your greatest asset: your people.

Our seminar will discuss strategies your business can use to enhance the value of your benefit plan through structure and communication. This will make it more difficult for Foxconn (or others) to lure away your employees with a promise of a higher wage.

Rising premiums will impact your 2019 healthcare budget

In December of this past year, President Trump signed a tax bill that will ultimately repeal the individual mandate tax penalty beginning in 2019. How could this change impact your company’s health plan over the coming years?

urban-institute-2019-premium-increase-data A recent report by the Urban Institute estimates that the individual mandate repeal—combined with the expansion of short-term, limited-duration policies—will cause insurance premiums to rise by an average of nearly 20% in 2019.

The looming increase in premiums for the individual markets will impact employers in the 2-50 life market who are subject to community rating. If your company has less than 50 eligible employees, you’ll need a plan to address increasing health insurance costs as your premiums mirror the individual market.

Regardless of your organization’s size, your employee health plan is a great alternative to the individual market. Tax advantaged contributions through a section 125 plan, an expanded PPO network, and lower overall costs will lift current participation levels in your health plan in 2018 and beyond.

It’s time to develop a strategy for keeping this plan affordable so your employees are financially protected. The message to your CFO is to expect a larger percentage of employees participating in the company plan as the individual market struggles with affordability.

Expanded funding alternatives set middle market employers on a new course

Employers in Southeastern Wisconsin have historically had some of the highest healthcare costs in the United States on a per employee basis. As a result, local employers have been pushed to the cutting edge in adopting innovative programs around wellness, consumer driven plans, and narrow networks to minimize the year-over-year impact of rising costs. While these programs have had an impact, it’s time to put the insurance carrier market on notice that double digit increases are unacceptable.

The next phase in the evolution is underway as middle market employers are turning to flex funding, benefit captives, and self funding their health insurance programs. These funding alternatives can be a great strategy for controlling costs for your company and your employees, while mitigating certain taxes and profit margin components you would otherwise be paying to an insurance carrier.

Since a change in your funding arrangement can represent a new set of risks for the first time buyer, it is vital to understand some of the key concepts to determine if this approach is right for your company. Come to our seminar to learn some of the basic components to see whether flex/ level funding, benefit captives, or self funding might be avenues worth exploring.

Reference-based pricing (RBP) is on the horizon. Is your self-funded healthcare plan ready for this?

If your company chooses to self fund its health plan, implementing a fixed fee reimbursement schedule that is based on Medicare reimbursement rates can help to control medical costs. By using historical Medicare claims data, which is publicly available, your organization can partner with a Third Party Administrator (TPA) that will reimburse your employees, doctors, and facilities on a % of the Medicare reimbursement rates. This is an up and coming trend that has both providers and insurance carriers nervous. Come learn the answers to all the what, why & how questions your Chief Financial Officer may be asking in the not-so-distant future.

To register for our upcoming seminar on this topic, please fill out the form below! Or click here for more information. We hope to see you there.

Traveling the Globe with Peace of Mind Part 1: Tips to Minimize Risk While Traveling Abroad

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If your job requires international travel, stories about the violence, drug wars, political unrest, and terrorism taking place in countries all over the world have probably caught your attention. For example in Mexico, we’ve heard accounts of tainted alcohol, gunpoint robberies, kidnappings, and even drug-related violence that has occasionally caught a tourist in the crossfire. Mexico is certainly not alone in this respect, however—nearly any country (including our own!) can pose risks to American tourists.

This is why it is so important to weigh the relatively rare instances of tragedy against the fact that the vast majority of travelers from the United States return unscathed and energized by their experiences with new and interesting cultures. The key is taking steps to reduce your overall exposure to risk by being an informed, mindful traveler who takes precautions when necessary.

This article is the first in a series of three that will explore the steps businesses and their employees can take to minimize the risks of international travel. They include tips for traveling safely, information about the State Department’s new travel warning system, details regarding travel insurance and medical assistance, as well as conversations with experts in these areas.

 

So how can we strike a balance between the risks of international travel and the continued advancement of our companies’ interests abroad?

To answer this question, I recently spoke with John Makowski, President of Makowski Global Security Solutions, LLC and former Director of Global Security for Briggs and Stratton. As you can imagine, he’s well-versed in the steps international business travelers can take to increase their odds of safety in foreign countries. Whether you’re planning to travel for business or pleasure, the following tips can help you enjoy your time abroad with peace of mind.

  • Avoid large crowds. Crowded areas provide an opportunity for pickpockets to steal valuables like wallets or passports without being detected. In some countries, large gatherings of people might also indicate a demonstration or protest that could potentially get out of hand. Either way, it is best to steer clear.
  • Use trustworthy transportation. If you’re travling for business, the ideal situation is to use transportation that has been coordinated and vetted in advance by your company. Otherwise, work with hotel staff to arrange safe, reputable transportation. If possible, make sure the driver matches any license or credentials posted in the vehicle.
  • Carry a color copy of your passport. Your passport is your way in and out of the country, so leave it in your hotel safe if you have one (along with any other valuables), and carry a color copy with you instead. It’s also a good idea to place additional copies in your luggage, your briefcase, etc.
  • Travel with a group whenever possible. A lone tourist is much more vulnerable to a robbery or attack, so stick with your group as often as you can. If you’re hoping to venture out and explore, an organized tour group is your best bet.
  • Avoid “risky behavior.” According to Makowski, examples of risky behavior include drugs, sex, and alcohol. Expecially on an international business trip, it’s best to limit these types of behaviors, since they will only reduce your ability to effectively identify and respond to potentially risky situations. Additionally, depending on the country, attracting negative attention from local authorities could be dangerous.
  • In riskier countries, avoid Western branded hotels. In countries where Westerners may be at higher risk, it is often a good idea to avoid staying in common Western branded hotels. These locations can become targets for terrorists and others who wish to harm Westerners.
  • Cooperate with robbers and kidnappers. Although it may seem counter-intutitive at times, Makowski explains that it is best to cooperate with robbers and even kidnappers, since there is no way to know for sure whether they have weapons or even how many people in the area may be working with them. For example, in an “express kidnapping” situation (a type of kidnapping where a traveler is picked up and driven around to ATMs to withdraw money until they don’t have any left), the kidnappers typically let their captives go once they’ve gotten all the money they were looking for.
  • Put together a safety net. Makowski often instructs his clients to put together a “safety net,” which he defines as all of the contact information for people and places with which a traveler will be in frequent contact. All the information from the safety net is then left with the traveler’s friends and family at home in case they would need to reach or locate that individual quickly.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. This covers a variety of different things—such as avoiding areas where people seem to be gathering, keeping an eye out for anything unusual when using public transportation, reporting unaccompanied packages, following your instincts by leaving when you feel uncomfortable, and walking with confidence and intention. Avoid looking down at your phone as you walk, and try not to carry a map in your hand.
  • Use travel apps on your phone. At the same time, your phone can be a useful tool as a visitor in a foreign country. A translation app can help you communicate with locals in a pinch, and a currency conversion app can ensure you know what the currency exchange rate is no matter where you are.
  • Try not to travel after dark. In general, it’s best to avoid travel by car or foot after dark. If you must drive somewhere, stick to main roads in well-lit areas.
  • Be well-acquanted with the Department of State’s website. On its site, the DOS describes the safety level of each country in the world and also includes the locations and contact information for United States Consulates and Embassies. Do your research before you go, and be sure to bring contact information for the nearest embassies and consulates in case of an emergency.
  • Enroll in STEP. This is the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, a free online enrollment that allows travelers to register their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. You will be sent up-to-date information from the Embassy about the area to which you are traveling, and you family, friends, and the Embassy would be able to contact you in case of an emergency.
  • Make sure you have a travel insurance plan with travel medical assistance. Last but certainly not least, a travel insurance policy that includes travel medical assitance often covers services like identifying a medical facility appropriate for the level of care needed, arranging transportation if necessary, contacting family members to update them, paying a good portion of medical costs, and more! Ideally, you would have this coverage through your employer and will just need to make sure you have the necessary contact information with you at all times.

While no one can ensure safety when traveling abroad, these tips are definitely a step in the right direction.

Interested in learning more? The next article in the series continues the conversation by looking at the Department of State’s new travel warning system and how you can use that information to make travel decisions for your organization.


Disclaimer:  Makowski Global Security Solutions, LLC (MGSS), offers reports, services, training, evaluations and opinions of various types without liability for the content, decisions, or actions taken based on the information provided.  All work and information is provided in good faith and based on current information, industry practices and various sources.