Speak to an adviser 1 (317) 522-9966

Speak to an adviser 1 (317) 522-9966


Signs There May Be Lost Revenue in Your Benefits Plan

Most schools have been at a standstill over the past two years, hesitant to make huge adjustments to their benefits plan, due to the pandemic. But with rising healthcare costs, increased student enrollments, and the uncertainty of the Great Resignation, now may be the best time to make meaningful changes.

Schools have been in a state of day-to-day survival mode, switching to hybrid models and remote learning, conducting contact tracing, juggling mask mandates, and attempting social distancing in busy classrooms. 

Parents with children who were in Zoom meetings all day saw an unsustainable way of life and went looking for better in-person learning options. 

This created growth in private and charter schools, causing expansion and space concerns in conjunction with COVID constraints. We often hear that with an enrollment of an additional seven to eight students requires an additional staff member, leaving these schools trying to hire more people.

On top of that, the Great Resignation is also putting pressure on schools to hire new teachers and retain current ones. Teachers have already been burning out prior to the COVID-19 era, with little support and stagnant pay. 

By using your benefits spend more effectively, you can free up more budget to better compensate staff, helping to fight trending resignations.

There is revenue trapped in a bad benefits plan. 

Signs you may have hidden revenue lost in your plan:

  • If you haven’t looked at your benefits in a few years, you are almost certainly missing opportunities to uncover lost revenue. The pandemic has caused a dramatic shift in current benefit trends, with a focus on the well-being of individuals and their families. Your benefits plan should reflect this change.
  • If your employees are paying more than 25-30% of the total premium (especially in child and family tiers) or a deductible over $3000. There are ways to manage the cost of your plan more effectively, benefiting your school and your staff.
  • If your employees can’t afford a surprise medical need, like a surprise knee surgery that hits their deductible. With their salary and your benefits plan, could they afford it? If not, you have a problem.

The benefits you offer could be your path to competing with other schools. If your teachers are pulling together every penny they have to make things work and they’re hit with a surprise $5000 deductible, the benefits aren’t really working for them.

You can change that.

If you have a better benefits plan, you can improve employee experience and free up capital for compensation. Salary and benefits are key factors for most employees when considering job opportunities, with many looking for employers who invest not only in their work lives, but their personal lives as well. 

Now is not the time to stand still.

You can use your benefits to help solve these problems and significantly improve your school’s ability to attract and retain talented, motivated teachers and staff. The first step is to design a strategy that builds a solid benefits plan, one that can help your school thrive. 

There is room for adjustments within your plan, even if those adjustments are minimal to start. Working towards better, more competitive benefits can help your school overcome the challenges that the pandemic has caused. 


There is a Place For Innovation in Your Benefits Program.

We often ask employees to be innovative. To develop and implement new ideas and concepts so we can promote growth in our schools and churches. We want our students and community to know that change doesn’t have to be scary but empowering.

But when it comes to healthcare insurance and employee benefits this strategic asset can be overlooked. In fact, we come across many opportunities to improve program designs but are met with employers who are hesitant to make changes, despite the cost-saving potential.

Sympathizing with the challenges of change. 

Employers can feel hesitant to make changes to their benefits programs for a variety of reasons. Some feel changes to the program will be too time-consuming or the disturbances caused by a change, big or small, may outweigh the advantages. Others may worry about how change could affect employees and company culture.

Those employers who are interested in innovative solutions to better their program may have brokers who aren’t. Brokers who are more comfortable being reactive with plans and sticking with what they know, instead of being proactive and producing a strategy that better fits the needs of the organization.

This can make even the most innovative employers reluctant to change.

Recently we were able to improve a client’s plan by coming in 20% below the broker’s current rate. We were able to strengthen their plan and reduce the costs by using a unique solution their broker was not aware of, leaving the current broker at a loss because the new strategy was better in every regard.

In these situations, brokers often engage with employers, telling them to remain skeptical while they search for answers. This can be confusing and stressful for employers and can cause them to question their decisions, delaying or even denying changes to their program that can improve employee experience and lower costs.

Helping employers feel more comfortable in these scenarios is important. Innovation comes naturally in all areas of our workplace, except when it comes to healthcare and employee benefits. This is a problem.

The proposed changes will save this organization money. And because costs aren’t getting passed onto employees, their employees will save money too. There are no holes in what we do. We were able to offer rebates, contracts, and bulk purchasing to help lower costs. With bulk purchasing you can save up to 10 to 15%, which was a big part of the savings we established for this organization.

We are confident in our strategies and we are used to discovering innovative, effective benefit solutions. We also know how important culture and mission are for employers and how difficult change can be. Managing your benefits program in a different way can be intimidating, especially if your broker isn’t familiar with the mechanisms.

Gain the confidence you need to improve your benefits program.

If you find yourself in this scenario and are worried about a new solution for your program, there are steps you can take to ensure you’re decision: 

  • Talk to your broker and/or advisor about the benefits and risks until you truly understand the strategy. 
  • Talk to your peers who are trying this kind of innovation and see what results they are getting with their plans. 
  • Ask for references. An advisor or broker who is suggesting an innovative change should have case studies, success stories, and clients who are willing to share outlooks. 

Being innovative with your benefits program can be intimidating. Talk to your peers, talk to your advisor and when you have the information, data, and references you need, take another look. Improving efficiency, lowering costs, and gaining a competitive advantage can be done with appropriate changes.

If you are looking for more information about innovation in your benefits program, let’s chat. We want you to feel comfortable with all of your benefit decisions.


Your Mission is an Important Ingredient in Your Benefits Program

Offering healthcare insurance is an important decision for any business. Designed with your organization’s unique qualities in mind, your plan needs to protect the health and wellbeing of your people and their families. Ideally, offering the best coverage available, while aligning with your organization’s financial goals.

For many small churches and Christian schools, the importance of optimizing every benefit dollar is essential. Even small increases in costs can mean dramatic changes for these organizations. To recover from unexpected expenses churches need to rely on an increase in donations or look for alternative sources of income and schools often need to increase tuition, which directly affects the families and students who attend.

You need flexibility in your benefits program.

Some churches are being led incorrectly by advisors who feel restricted by rules and regulations that other businesses need to adhere to. These advisors may not be aware that churches have certain regulations that don’t apply to them, or if they are aware, they don’t want to put in the effort to make those changes. This is an area that is often overlooked, that flexibility needs to become a reality for these churches.

Your advisor needs to know the variables that come into play when designing an insurance plan for your church or school. For example, some schools will pay teachers throughout the summer, while others don’t. This can impact policies and payrolls. It is critical your advisor understands these intricacies ahead of time.

When expanding into full benefits your advisor should be familiar with regulations for disability policies, enhanced benefits, cost-sharing options, and more. These options are very unique to schools and churches and need to be strategically planned and implemented. 

In these types of environments where your culture or mission is what attracts your workforce, not necessarily your payroll, it is important to ensure you know your options.

We have talked with schools where their families are paying $2000 a month in insurance because the organization has tried to go the route of a traditional business. That’s $24,000, when they may only make $30,000 a year in salary. This is unsustainable, unreasonable and can impact your organization’s ability to retain and recruit top talent. 

You need long-term solutions for your people. 

You need to work with an advisor that knows your organization from the ground up, that can come in from your standpoint. You need an advisor who knows your organization’s financial status and can help ensure you are offering the most appropriate, effective, and affordable benefits to your people. 

Specialty advisors, like us, know how churches, Christian schools, and universities work. We can recommend unique solutions to provide cost-effective and sustainable solutions for you and your employees. Solutions that can: 

  • Help protect your organization from the effects of unexpected cost increases.
  • Provide transparency so you can take back control of your healthcare spend.
  • Generate cost savings that can be used for your school, teachers, church, and/or community.
  • Create competitive benefits programs that work for your unique workforce, while maintaining affordability.
  • Support you and your people in every aspect of the program, so you can focus on teaching the next generation.

Your mission is important. 

The value of working with someone that has a similar mind and framework is unmeasurable. Tactically speaking, any advisor can figure out the system. They can offer a complete health insurance program for your organization, but if they don’t truly understand the nuts and bolts of your church or school, can you trust they are doing everything they can to protect your mission? 

We understand your finances and understand what your people go through on a day-to-day basis. Your benefits should be as unique as your organization.

We can create an ecosystem that helps you at every turn, we plan for the future and take care of the present so you can focus on helping your people and leading your organization.


The Value of Predictability

Predictability goes a long way. You need a plan that aligns with your school’s values and works when your people need it. They depend on their policy. But this can be difficult to provide when you don’t know what to expect and can’t plan ahead.

Many of our clients receive renewal increases of 10-20% with only a few weeks notice, leaving them with no time to look at alternative options or strategies to manage the cost.

That 20% increase is painful, no matter what, and you should have the time to plan accordingly. Practically speaking, you should know your renewal options four months ahead of time, if not earlier. By getting information sooner, you can create a better annual renewal with improved predictability, reducing surprises and stress.

You need that foresight.

If you are self-funded, you generate this data internally throughout the year and can see how your benefits are trending. But, if you are fully insured, you are likely to see your benefits handed to you promptly before renewal, with a high increase. You become handcuffed to the options, with no time to make an appropriate decision. 

If you request this information earlier, brokers and carriers may say they need more data, yet more often than not, that data doesn’t change significantly enough to justify a delay. There is a missed opportunity where they could give you that visibility, but they are typically focused more on efficiency and profit than your operations and budget. You need proactive guidance and support.

There are options if there is time.

If you have been surprised by your renewal you have options NOW to fix that. We have been able to add flexibility and visibility to groups. In a recent interaction, we were able to cut their rates by 31%, WHILE moving them to an 18-month contract that starts July 1st, saving them additional money. A good advisor can act on your timeline and budget.

You aren’t stuck for the entire year.

If this sounds familiar to you, possibly from Jan 1 of this year, there are steps you can take to help you plan ahead:

  1. Get your data. Having visibility into where the increase came from will help you better understand your plan and give you an idea of what to expect. 
  2. Work with an advisor to help you understand the data. They have the expertise to dig into your data and show you how your plan is running.
  3. Weigh your options. Your advisor should also help you decide what the best options are for your business and your people. 

You need to find a solution that provides you with more predictability. You don’t need predictability to fight increases, although that is important, you need to plan accordingly, to feel more confident and prepared. 

A good thing to remember is that a cost increase filters downhill. Deductibles go up for employees. Your coverage can change. That unpredictability is extremely painful for your people. A dramatic change can undermine their trust and hurt your retention efforts. 

Predictability creates a sense of control and dependability for employees.

Now is the time.

Talking to your advisor now can better prepare you to make appropriate adjustments, provide important data to stakeholders for budgeting purposes and allow you to better maintain a benefits plan that your school can be proud of.

Your organization needs to be able to plan ahead. Not just for the financial department, but for you, HR, and your people. Eliminate the uncertainty of renewal time. Know what to expect, plan ahead and achieve a jumpstart to a valuable benefits plan. We can help, let’s chat about it.


Meeting You Where You Are – Even With a Zero Dollar Budget

Offering group healthcare is something many small Christian schools and churches want to do, however, for some of them, the idea feels out of reach. The thought of making changes to a current plan starting with zero budget or struggling to maintain the existing budget can feel overwhelming.

Tight funds can make healthcare goals seem unattainable for large schools also. Many who may offer group insurance already could be looking into self-funding their plan to benefit from potential cost savings.

There is a way to scale into a practical healthcare plan, one that will work for your organization.

We know money is a big concern for many schools and churches, large or small. Wanting to provide the best for your people and business can feel difficult to accomplish with limited resources. We also know that extreme changes and large jumps in existing plans aren’t practical.

Usually, if you want to provide a group plan for your school, we estimate your cost per employee and say that number will be X. If you need ten people on that plan, you need to figure out how to go from a zero dollar budget to a 70 or 100,000 budget. An intimidating task to accomplish.

So, let’s meet where you are.

If you are at zero dollars, let’s start there. We know that a 70 – 100,000 increase in budget feels unrealistic. Instead, let’s build a strategic plan where each month you contribute more to each employee’s health insurance, gradually making a difference. 

With a strategic plan, we can focus on how your short and long-term goals will be met. As an ongoing process, we use available knowledge and set your organization’s intended direction to get you where you want to be. Beginning where you are.

The choice to keep your benefits the way they are can be easy. But continuing with your current benefits will create the same problem next year — no access to improved healthcare benefits for your people.

There are more options than you think, even with a zero-dollar budget.

You can facilitate your plan as a voluntary offering, like Obamacare  — which can provide more extensive coverage without added costs.  Or group care, an option that allows small employers to collectively offer healthcare to their employees.

Start there, and then contribute in different ways to build your plan up. There are a lot of subsidies currently available right now that can help small schools and churches get the healthcare they need for their people.

The passion to provide your employees with the best coverage is strong and for some, that desire comes ahead of personal income. In that case, the government can cover a great deal of the premium for you. This enables a small Christian school to expand into group healthcare plans without having to jump.

Changing your benefits, even in small ways, is an impressive turning point for any organization. By investing the time to review your insurance options and design the right strategic plan, you can find the right plan that meets your employees’ needs.

Offering group healthcare with a zero-dollar budget can feel impossible. But by meeting you where you are, discussing your goals, and designing a strategic plan we can unlock the hidden potential within your healthcare plan.


Save Costs During Renewal Time and Give Back

As an employer, you’ve likely had a really bad experience (or two) with healthcare renewals and outrageous price hikes. These price increases are a common occurrence with many fully insured plans. Increases of 30 or 40% due to past claims or a high claimant (even if that person is no longer on the plan) can affect your school board in a negative way.

But what if those price hikes were reversible?

Recently, one of our clients received a 30% increase because of a high claimant on their plan, however, the employee that was responsible for the high claims left the company in July. Our clients were being penalized for a past high claimant. After digging through the data we were able to move our client to a different insurance environment that recognized the difference in their reality. 

We were able to secure a 15% decrease for this client.

With this unlocked revenue, they were able to lean into their culture and better achieve their goals: to take care of their people. They are now able to provide enhanced benefits and truly give back to their employees aligning with the company’s overall vision.

Another client faced a 25% increase, but through appropriate risk evaluation and pursuing better alternatives, we secured a 19% decrease. This money was then used to lower employee contributions, essentially giving their people a pay raise. 

We see increases like this frequently at renewal time, but with careful analysis and research into the plan, those costs can be reversed. 

The impact of high costs is evident.

These high increases in renewals can not only affect the company’s bottom line but impact key stakeholders and employees. From the CEO to the people, a sharp increase in expenses that originate from your employee health insurance plan can impact your people, on an individual level. For example:

  • CEO’s who are responsible for the culture of a business, keeping the people happy and maintaining positive numbers each quarter are heavily impacted by increases so large.
  • A CFO wants to provide a generous and competitive plan to employees that doesn’t break the bank. Steep increases in renewal costs can alter this plan and force CFO’s to face an erosion of bottom line performance and possible destruction of budget forecasts causing undue stress. 
  • From an HR perspective, that increase erodes employee compensation, affecting overall employee morale, happiness and satisfaction negatively impacting retention and recruitment.
  • Employees dealing with increasing premiums, deductibles and copays can leave them feeling frustrated and disappointed creating an unhappy workforce. This can lead to increased employee turnover or a policy that is underutilized.

By using a health plan to effectively solve these problems and manage risks, your key stakeholders all get a win.

Working with a professional, like us, to conduct an appropriate risk assessment and negotiate on your behalf can help you reduce high percentage increases, saving you money that you can use to give back to your people. 

For our clients, their renewal was $473,000, with a thorough assessment a new price of $309,000 was secured. We were able to achieve a reduction of $70,000 from what they were currently spending, significant savings that can be used for school improvements, culture, or employees.

If you have experienced a renewal price hike, due to past claims, high claimants or for an unknown cause, reduce the price before it impacts your school. We can help correct these prices, don’t hesitate to call, let’s chat about it.


Top 5 Books Every Leader Should Read

The most important element in leading today’s workforce could be to focus on self-improvement. This can seem daunting in a position that comes with a multitude of responsibilities, but it can be difficult to lead an organization without personal growth.

With an ever-changing workforce, focusing on yourself can seem difficult to achieve. Changes internally from new hires and business strategy developments to external factors like political and economic landscapes affect the way you lead your organization and where you concentrate your time. 

So how do you find inspiration to help you grow and develop your personal leadership style? 

Many c-suite leaders gain their knowledge by reading. Reading allows us to absorb different perspectives and experiences, helping us become successful executives.

Books to excel your leadership skills

I have generated a list of the top five books every company leader should read. They are:

1. The Way of the Shepherd: Seven Secrets to Managing Productive People by Dr. Kevin Leman and Bill Pentak

About the book: Meet your people’s needs to be able to draw out their best potential. Leman and Pentak show us the importance of leading our people as individuals, not a crowd.

Why you should read it: The Way of the Shepherd will teach you how to lead the people around you so they will view their work as a calling rather than merely a job, a place to belong, rather than a place to work. It shows you how to infuse work with meaning and how to engage and energize your workforce.

2. The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek 

About the book: Take an infinite view of your work. Players may get traded and the stadium may change, but the game is always on. Have a long term perspective on strategy and decision making versus short term wins and loses, which are mile markers, in an infinite game.

Why you should read it: Simon Sinek shows us a different perspective on the thrills of promotion — there are no winners and there is no time limit. The goal is to stay in the game. An insightful book that encourages a mindshift change. Don’t just live by quarters and annual budgets.

3. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

About the book: Learn how to lead your people with habits instead of outcomes. Coach and develop strategies that create good habits and eliminate the bad ones. 

Why you should read it: You know what you have to do, but do you know how to do it? Clear shows us how to consistently and successfully develop habits that we can implement into our lives and business. We can use this knowledge and strategy when leading our people.

4. A CEO Only Does Three Things: Finding Your Focus in the C-Suite by Trey Taylor

About the book: Keep your focus as a CEO and stick to high value activities. Stay attached to the things that matter most.

Why you should read it: Taylor shares inspiring insights and practical applications that help leaders avoid burnout. Learn how to manage your attention and cut the clutter from a challenging c-suite position.

5. Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World by Bob Goff

About the book: Lighthearted and inspiring, Goff shares thought-provoking stories that show us ways to care for people in a radical way. Care by being available. Care with your actions. 

Why you should read it: A lot of times we care for people within our own convenience, but we should look at what it looks like to do that differently and apply that practice to our business and in our lives.

*bonus* book recommendation for c-suite leaders:

6. Life & Death Decisions in the C-Suite contributing author: Ben Conner

About the book: Life & Death Decisions in the C-Suite reveals the truth behind the private healthcare and health insurance industry that has plagued businesses and organizations across the US. 

Why you should read it: Leaders and executives will discover the hard truth about the current healthcare system and how to leverage specific strategies and solutions to substantially lower costs while enhancing the quality of life for their employees and their families. 

Lead with skill, confidence, and ease

Some of the best leadership skills we see from C-suite leaders are simpler than we expect and we can uncover these skills by reading these and many other books meant to help leaders excel. 

Your school can benefit from a confident leader who is always learning, adapting, and striving for the best, personally and professionally.