Speak to an adviser 1 (317) 522-9966

Speak to an adviser 1 (317) 522-9966


“Pay or Play” Penalties. Is Your Church or School Growing?

When schools first closed their doors to in-person learning in the Fall of 2020, no one could have predicted just how the pandemic would impact the educational system. From Spring 2020 through Fall 2022, schools, teachers, students, and caregivers had to navigate masking, social distancing, and testing protocols, as well as the constant rotation of closing and reopening of schools.

By the 2020-2021 school year, many private schools began seeing dramatic growth. A recent Christian Headlines article shares that since the beginning of the pandemic, nearly 80% of private Christian schools have seen increased enrollment. With the uncertainty of the pandemic and the reality of the public school curriculum, many parents and caregivers decided to enroll their children into private and Christian schools. 

Now, as we continue into the new school year, both private and Christian schools are still seeing significant increases in enrollment. 

With an influx of new students ready to begin the year, additional staff must be hired to support them, driving these schools towards a new category of employers – an applicable large employer (ALE). This title, given by the Affordable Care Act, comes with employer-shared responsibilities that could be challenging for nonprofit Christian schools as well as smaller private schools to follow.

The provision includes nonprofit organizations.

The “Pay or Play provision,” requires certain employers to offer affordable, minimum value coverage to full-time employees. An employer is subject to the rules if they employ at least 50 full-time employees in a calendar year, including full-time equivalent employees. As seen below:

  • A full-time employee is one who works 30 or more hours each week. In a calendar month, per the Affordable Care Act, 130 hours is considered the equivalent of 30 hours a week.
  • Hours worked by part-time employees, or employees who work less than 30 hours per week, are counted and divided by 120 per month. This number will determine how many full-time equivalent employees a company has.
  • If the total of full-time employees and full-time equivalent employees are over 50, a company can be considered an applicable large employer.

Many schools will now need to determine if they qualify as an applicable large employer. Many details within the provision can make this a difficult task. For example, calculating hours worked for each employee includes non-working hours such as vacation and leave of absence.

Employers who do not offer their employees a health plan and are considered a large employer are subject to paying costly penalties. Schools need to work with their advisors to ensure they are in compliance with the Affordable Care Act as the penalties have recently increased

Tuition vs Enrollment vs Budget

Small private and nonprofit schools that have grown in size may find themselves in a difficult position. Often, these schools don’t have the ability to support a health plan due to limited budgets. Those who charge tuition could consider raising the cost to help support affordable coverage, however raising fees could affect enrollment, creating a challenging cycle. 

At City on a Hill, we work directly with private and nonprofit schools. We have unique solutions that can help. We can help schools deliver affordable health plans, designed for their unique workforce, even with zero budget. Options are available. After analyzing plan data we can develop a three to five year strategic plan.

A plan can be designed to complement your budget, from zero dollars to full coverage, allowing schools that have grown over 50 employees to avoid or minimize harsh penalties. If you have questions about Pay or Play penalties or need help to determine whether you are an applicable large employer, let’s chat.


Support Employee’s Mental Health with Unique Benefit Solutions

Rising staff shortages and mental health concerns may have contributed to a challenging recruitment process for many organizations this summer. Now, as we begin the new school year, ensuring your employee benefit programs complement a supportive and encouraging environment is essential. 

The ongoing effects from the pandemic has left teachers and staff feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. A survey from the National Education Association (NEA) shows educators feel burnout is a top concern, with “67% reporting it as a very serious issue and 90% a very serious or somewhat serious issue.” These concerns need to be addressed by schools now in order to prevent the possibility of teachers leaving their field.

Staff shortages and the pandemic are listed as leading contributors of stress and although the worst of the pandemic appears to be behind us, educators may have to navigate long-term mental health effects, not only for themselves, but the students they teach.

To address burnout, those surveyed shared they are strongly in support of schools hiring more teachers and support staff to ease additional workload. As well as options to provide mental and behavioral health support for students. NEA members also expressed an interest in increased wages and while that request could be in the budget for some schools, finding and allocating these additional funds can be extremely difficult for smaller or private Christian schools

Providing support may be key for recruitment and retention this year

In these cases, schools can offer support to their staff by looking at their benefits program in a more strategic way. Making meaningful changes within your plan can improve employee experience and reduce stress that causes burnout. An important part of assessing your benefits program is to ensure employees can access programs easily and affordably. For example, reducing co-pays for mental health programs or spreading awareness using monthly email campaigns.

Advisors, like us, can help you make important data-based decisions and develop strategies that can support your people, financially and emotionally. Whether that means providing new programs or investing in current ones.

To address burnout and build retention and recruitment strategies this year, employers should consider:

  • Providing mental health programs such as workplace Chaplain services or Employee Assistance Programs that offer confidential support for employee concerns.
  • Focusing on financial well being by offering life insurance options, financial well being programs, disability or Flexible Spending Accounts.
  • Providing job and classroom flexibility for teachers. Creating more time for teachers to prepare lessons, grade work and organize student activities.
  • Concentrating on school culture and mission can be an effective way to help your people feel valued. 
  • Offering education programs to help employees achieve personal goals and develop skills.
  • Conducting regular surveys and speaking with employees one-on-one can help you better understand how your programs are working and where improvements need to be made. 

Any changes made to your benefits programs can be done slowly over time. Using change management strategies that allows teachers and staff to become accustomed to differences in their plans without feeling overwhelmed. This can be especially important due to the high level of stress teachers are feeling.

Help teachers focus on inspiring students by giving them the support they need.

Educators often choose their profession because they want to make a difference in the lives of others. By making a genuine effort to support them in that journey you can alleviate their stress and increase their satisfaction. Recruitment and retention are closely associated. When you focus on taking care of the people you have, you can inadvertently attract more talent by word of mouth and reputation. 

At City on a Hill, we understand how important your people are. We want to help you manage your benefit program in a way that gives you more control over costs. Allowing you to provide comprehensive, supportive programs to teachers during these difficult times.

If you’re worried about your teachers and staff experiencing burnout, let’s chat.


Change Management and Your Benefits Program

Where change presents itself, uncertainty follows. Yet, in a time where employee wellbeing and health is a top priority, adjustments to benefits may be necessary to support them. Changes that can reduce costs and improve employee experience can make a big difference for employees.

Recently we discussed a place for innovation in your benefits plan, and organizations are responding. Innovation can promote a positive workplace culture, help avoid employee burnout, and generate cost savings for your organization. But once employers have taken the first step— deciding to make a change—how do you overcome the risks and anxieties of that uncertainty?

Change Management

Employers often receive large increases from their insurance carriers, many times with no explanations as to why. This leaves employers with one option: to try to argue down the cost. While a lesser increase is a great place to start, employers really need to ask themselves if their carriers are truly looking out for their best interests. Increases year after year with no options to improve your program can become unsustainable, which can negatively affect your organization and employees. 

This is especially important for small churches and Christian schools, who sometimes have limited budgets to work with. Partners that are more aligned with your mission are better able to support you.

We have a client who is insured with a larger carrier and is interested in making changes to their plan but doesn’t want to transform the plan entirely. For these clients, we were able to save them money for the current year by uncovering and alleviating immediate high costs within the plan. This led to reduced rates and a better ability to manage changes appropriately and allow transition slowly the following year.

Flipping all the switches at once is not required. 

Currently, over 70% of employers are worried about stress and burnout affecting their business, according to MetLife’s 29th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study. With numbers like these, any changes made to a benefits program need to be done deliberately and carefully.

Strategically, we will do what we can to keep your organization with the same carrier and your employees with the same doctors. We make changes step by step to avoid stress for employees and ensure we stay within budget. If you have a preferred network and are comfortable, we can work to keep you there. 

At the same time, we recognize that circumstances and priorities can shift, the recent pandemic is a great example of how quickly those factors can change. Bumps in the journey are often preventable, but where they aren’t, we have a suite of solutions and partners we can leverage to address them. Where change is the smart option, how we implement that change is often as important as the change itself.

For example, changing networks, even when employees have access to the same doctors, can create discomfort. HR staff, who are used to operating a certain way and employees who are accustomed to the way their insurance works often need time to adjust and familiarize themselves with new processes. They need to be led into a new system with ease, allowing time for education, training and support, which is why our process includes making adjustments over time, to give employers and employees more runway to work through.

Alleviate unnecessary stress to you and your people.

A gradual change allows for innovation and improves efficacy. We design the pathway with you. Starting with small, intentional adjustments to manage costs and reduce risk. Our three-year pathway can look something like this:

Year 1: Manage the initial changes. We strategically design a 12-month runway with employers. Time is taken to discuss options and answer questions. We recommend a minimum of 4-6 months to introduce changes to those employees who will be impacted, whether that’s a few individuals or the entirety of your workforce.

Year 2: Expand on those changes. To reduce disruption to the organization, data-based decisions and pathways are continued. Valuable data, such as plan usage or sources of costs, is pulled and analyzed. If employers have concerns, we are able to provide appropriate solutions for those concerns as well. 

Year 3: Continue to build. Every year provides new opportunities and challenges, but by this stage in the plan, your organization and its members are in a position to adopt aggressive cost-saving measures because we have trained them, educated them, and prepared them for this new way of approaching benefits. Not all aggressive options make sense for every organization, of course, but we have managed change in such a way that you can make those choices with less anxiety.

Improve your plan with your mission in mind.

Change management, when done in this manner, can produce cost savings and improve employee satisfaction. Adding new processes too quickly or without proper planning can cause confusion for employers and employees, which is why change management is important.

We have niche solutions for the schools and churches we serve, specifically tailored to their needs. Our process is different from other advisors because of the relationship we have with our partners and how we can leverage opportunities for savings and improvement. We believe in the benefits of data-based decision making and long-term planning.
Our goal is to be able to help all organizations thrive. We work with schools of all sizes and budgets. If you are interested in discussing unique options for your business, let’s chat!


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.


Broker Relationships — Where is the Trust?

You’ve got to be able to trust your broker. In today’s business world if you want to do something different with your benefits program, you need to trust that your broker knows what they’re doing. If not, your school board could unknowingly end up on the losing side.

In 2013, University of Louisville fans, coaches, and players believed they played a flawless game, winning them the NCAA championship. But it turns out they didn’t. Some of the team members were exhibiting dishonest behavior and as a result, the title was vacated. 

A title that could have been advantageous to the lives of each player, coach and the University as a whole. Don’t let this happen to your school, to your staff. If you can’t trust your broker to make beneficial suggestions, based on your unique workforce, you can’t trust your benefits program is ideal for your school.

Trust is a delicate balance. 

Knowing if your broker is truthful can be difficult to assess. The relationship between you and your broker should be transparent with strong, consistent communication. Be wary of people who stretch the truth or give immediate answers to all of your questions. 

We have been talking to a CFO who is facing this challenge. He knows there is a problem, but without a trusted advisor to help, he is attempting to navigate the healthcare industry largely on his own. This has introduced complications and friction in the renewal process, because healthcare is not the CFO’s expertise. 

Managing your benefits program alone is not a feasible option for many employers, as benefits can be extremely difficult and time-consuming. That’s why having a trusted broker on your side to help you make decisions for your school and your people is important. You need someone who takes pride in providing the best for their clients.

Where to begin.

To determine the culture of your broker, you need to set expectations, ask questions, initiate conversations and consider answers carefully. A request for proposal (RFP) process is a tool some employers utilize because it will allow you to examine prospective insurance brokers. However, this process should not be used alone because it doesn’t give you enough insight into how your potential broker operates and you could fall short of your goals. 

Some key considerations and questions that you should focus on when assessing the relationship between you and your broker are:

  • Consider your business’s process and what you expect from your broker. How do they impact the bottomline? How do they build a strategy?
  • Talk about where you’re uncomfortable or where you are confused in your plan. A good broker can propose new, bold and exciting options, so be sure you fully understand the mechanics, not just the salesmanship.
  • Ask for clarity on both sides. Where do they contradict? Where are they similar? Don’t immediately agree with what the salesperson promises in a single meeting.
  • Accountability and transparency should be tied to everyone involved, including your broker. How are they compensated? How are they held accountable for their promises? How is their performance measured? What happens when they succeed? What if they fail?
  • Start this process, and examine these matters a year or more ahead if you can.

New transparency rules will help you trust your broker is doing what is best for your school. The rules require brokers to disclose compensations they receive, which will give you a better idea about where recommendations are coming from. 

The rules also come with an additional set of rules for employers, rules that make you responsible, emphasizing the need for a trusting relationship with your broker.  Learn more about these regulations here.

Something to keep in mind.

A great broker should be an asset to your school. You should be able to rely on them to keep your plan updated with new regulations and rules. They should be able to introduce new options and have recommendations about ways to engage and educate your staff about your benefits program.

But, be wary if your broker has all the right answers right away. A lot has changed over the past eighteen months, so someone who has all the right answers could be stretching truths. 

University of Louisville may have won the 2013 NCAA, but the success was short lived. The team has been left with only a memory of a tremendous title due to dishonesty and poor decisions. You need to have a trusting relationship with your broker or you could be left with benefits that don’t represent your school.

You deserve to have a broker that is open and honest with you. Ask the right questions and don’t settle for all the right answers.


Do You Want What’s Best for Your Employees?

Your staff is one of the most important aspects of your school. For this reason alone, when it comes to your employee benefits, you need to make the right choices and decisions for them. 

Often, we choose to make quick, easy decisions in our daily lives and if we apply this technique to our employee benefits we could be doing our staff a major injustice. Yes, the healthcare industry is confusing and complicated but if you don’t focus and prioritize the benefits you offer, you cannot say with confidence that you’re providing the benefits your staff actually requires.

You need to start asking yourself if you really want what is best for your employees. In modern business, there is no acceptable way to answer this question with a simple “No”. However, there is room for uncertainty.  If your answer is yes, but you’re unsure how to proceed, you are still headed in the right direction. 

Health insurance can be difficult, but your people deserve the effort.

Knowing what’s best.

Currently, employees are bankrupted by health insurance costs. Some are receiving low quality care, they are being sent to collections, and they are confused. All of these concerns equate to a workforce that may have a difficult time focusing on what matters most, the students. 

If you really want what’s best for your people, you need to actively try to solve these issues. There’s a call for us to try. Although making changes to your benefits plan is not always easy, you don’t want your people in medical debt. With a poor surgeon or a bad health outcome.

Some key areas to begin your focus are:

  • Education. Your employees might not understand how your benefits work, what they are eligible for, or even how to apply. By educating employees about their benefits — new hires and continuously throughout their employment — they will have a better understanding of what’s being offered to them.
  • Plan ahead. Set a schedule and assess your timing. Know when to address your benefits plan and address it regularly, especially before renewal season begins. Don’t avoid or delay this process.
  • Revenue options. Your spend can do more than you think. By analyzing your data you can gain insight about where your money is going and if you are getting a return on your investment. 
  • Communicate with your leadership team. They may have concerns that need to be addressed such as employee engagement, retention or absenteeism.
  • Communication with your people. Your employees are a reliable source of knowledge, only they can tell you what they need and if the benefits are working for them.

We can argue that some of the best things in life are difficult to achieve. We can also argue that some of the best places to work are those who fight for their employees. We need to support our people, now more than ever. Medical debt is a growing concern in America and your teachers and staff are not immune.

Doing what’s best.

Employee benefits are there to protect your people. They are also a big part of your business’s costs, which should make them a priority to the school. If your plan is not set up to provide the best for your employees, there could be hidden revenue that could be put back into the school in a more meaningful way. 

Your staff are crucial to the success of your school board, you need to make sure they are taken care of to the best of your ability. If you need help, or have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.


When Health Insurance Companies Merge

As an employer, you should be aware of changes occurring in your health insurance policies. This is especially true following an acquisition because when a large health insurance company steps in, your policies could be adjusted, which can affect your school in a significant way.

By definition, an acquisition is the act of gaining a possession, or in other words, an acquisition is when one company takes over another. When an acquisition occurs between health insurance companies one will receive the clientele along with the company and when that occurs, modifications to the policies can be made. 

Although these changes may not be obvious at first, slowly over time your policy can shift in a direction that benefits the insurance company and not necessarily your school.

Large companies can be wrapped in bureaucracy 

True story — a school that we work for purchased insurance from a small health insurance agency and was happy with the service they received for a number of years. Eventually, the owner of that company decided to retire and sold the business to a larger health insurance company. Over time, the school’s insurance policy slowly became more about driving efficiencies toward the insurance company’s revenue and not the schools.

At a certain size, health insurance agencies can become less personal and direct because of the bureaucracy involved. Incentives are easily misaligned and policies and procedures become layered, preventing creativity and flexibility for brokers and agents. These situations are unfortunately more common than you might think. 

Know what information is important, and who to get it from

If your school’s health insurance company is considering an acquisition there are several key points to keep in mind, such as:

  • Request your policies data and be sure you receive it in a timely manner.
  • If your policy has changed over time and no longer fits your company culture, discuss your options with your provider to make necessary adjustments.
  • If a broker is suggesting a specific plan or carrier, ask if there is a different commission or monthly fee for that particular plan compared to others that are not being recommended. It is your right to know if incentives are being offered.
  • Maintain communication with your employees during renewal time as well as periodically throughout the year, to be sure your benefits align with their needs. If there are employee complaints or desires, be sure to bring them up with your provider.
  • Customer service can suffer after a merger or acquisition. If you find you are not getting the help you need, you may need to consider another carrier.
  • Stay on top of your health insurance policies, or bring in the help of an advisor who can help. Remember that maintaining a good health insurance policy needs attention throughout the year, not just at renewal time.

By staying informed with the correct data and asking the right questions you can help keep your health insurance policy working to its full potential. Remember to include opinions and information from your employees as well as your broker or agent.

Your employees can give valuable feedback

Cara Silletto, a workforce thought leader from Magnet Culture recommended in a recent Conner Chat webinar that companies should “…conduct pulse surveys, not just annual one-time surveys but regular one or two questions out to different pockets of the employees to collect more valid data.” 

By collecting this data and information you can get a better understanding of what is happening with your policy and remain mindful of any changes that are occurring throughout the year. Then, you can take this knowledge to the insurance provider to keep your policy moving in the right direction, which is a quality, cost-effective benefits program for your staff and school.

When health insurance companies merge, or an acquisition takes place, the immediate effects to your company’s policy aren’t always obvious. Know what questions to ask, what your plan options are and where the recommendations are coming from. 

If you need help with your health insurance policy don’t hesitate to reach out. 

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