Stripping Down Group Dental

Group Dental: a complex topic that may seem simple on the surface, but if you truly want to make an employer and employees happy, there’s more to it than rates.
Did you know that next to medical benefits, dental is the next sought after benefit?
It’s our opinion that it is better to offer it on a voluntary basis than not at all.  This is one of the many benefits that can be deducted before taxes and still help the employer save money.
So why is dental not as simple as we may think? Let’s delve a bit into the inner workings:
  • Maximum Annual Benefits
More often than not, the standard maximum annual benefit is usually $1,000, but are you aware there are options for $1,500, $2,000, and depending on the group size, even higher?
Tip: Some companies won’t count the preventative dollars used towards that maximum, which can help increase the actual benefit by several hundred dollars.
  • Deductibles
Ranging anywhere from $0 to $250 per person and up to three times per family,  a carrier may often increase the family cap from 2 times to 3 times to be a bit more competitive in the marketplace.
Tip: Lifetime deductibles are an option to encourage a group to stay with a carrier.  Once the lifetime deductible has been met per person and family member, no further deductibles are required.
  • How are the benefits paid?
It’s important to analyze where Endodontics and Periodontics are paid. Together with surgery and anesthesia, these are means to get the pricing down (and lowering or raising benefits to the employees).
Tip: This is where a rate is not simply a rate and you are really doing your client a disservice if that’s all you are reviewing. 
  • What about networks & how they function?
Closed network HMO’s only allow a member (unless an emergency) to receive benefits from a listed provider, and referrals are required for specialist services to be covered. The same is true with some carriers when they quote a MAC (maximum allowable charge) plan or a DHMO (Dental HMO).
Tip: Comparing a carrier that quoted a MAC plan versus a UCR (usual, customary, and reasonable) would be a mistake.  Let’s not forget that many individuals aren’t so lax to change dentists and if forced to do so may resent the employer and insurance carrier in the end.
  • It’s all in the details!
Before you quote your next dental plan, make certain to take these variables into account.  If this is a daunting task (which it can be if you are truly quoting the dozen or so carriers that are out there), please feel free to allow us to do the work for you.  We will make the process painless and the sale will be easier than ever before.
We look forward to working with you on your ancillary group cases this year!  Thank you for your loyalty and let us know what more we can do to help you in your group and disability solutions.

Vacation All I Ever Wanted

 It’s a pretty incredible time of year if you’re living where seasons change.  The grass is still green, the leaves are changing colors and beginning to float to the ground, and there’s a crispness in the air.  While we want to bask in the present moment and enjoy all things Fall, we know that the holiday season is soon approaching.  And for many, that means travelling!

As insurance industry professionals we are hardwired and/or trained to educate others on ways to plan for the unexpected.  So if you, a client, or someone you know is anticipating overseas travel, an International Medical Insurance policy should be taken into consideration.

Why? Anything can happen!

Picture yourself savoring the taste of delicacies from a foreign land then uh oh, food poisoning! Or taking in your exotic surroundings and oh no, twisting your ankle! It can be aggravating enough to have to tend to these small things at home let alone a new place where you may not speak the language or know the lay of the land. This is where an International Medical policy steps in to help, especially if you need to be transported to another area to get the care you need!

Policies will vary based on needs, travel time, deductibles, and amount of coverage…but that’s why we are here to simplify and guide you through the various products and options available.

Common plans include:

  • Individual & Family
  • Business Travel
  • Employer Sponsored Group Plans
  • Student Exchange Programs, International Students, & Student Travel
  • Extreme Athletics & Adventure
  • Mission Trips
  • Marine Crew & Captain Members

 

Even if you have a tendency to over pack, do not fret! An International Medical Insurance policy won’t take up any space and you and your clients will be happy to have “brought it” along!

 

 

Safe Travels!

 

Melody

 

 

“I’m Brian Fellows!”

I don’t know about you but I am geeking out a little over the return of Tracy Morgan to Saturday Night Live tomorrow. A super fan of SNL and 30 Rock, Tracy has made me laugh hysterically more times than I could ever count.

My happiness isn’t only about seeing an incredible comedy actor star on a favorite show but more so, alongside many of his fans, we’ve missed him and we’re relieved that he is once again capable of doing what he loves and comes so naturally to him…making us laugh.

If you hadn’t heard about it, Tracy was in a fatal 6 car crash back in June of 2014. After an 8 day coma he awakened to a broken femur, leg, nose, ribs, and a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Up until his recent appearance at the Emmys and one reported standup performance, Saturday’s SNL hosting gig will be Tracy’s first time back at it after having to put his life and career on hold in order to heal for the last 16 months.

If you missed him on the Emmy’s you can guess it was emotional. He cried, I cried, the audience applauded and gave a standing ovation and in true Tracy form, he made us laugh when he said that after he regained consciousness after the accident, “I was just ecstatic to learn that I wasn’t the one who messed up.”

Now because I’ve grown up in the insurance industry I can’t help but think about how disability insurance plays into this. I know that most people (including myself) believe that “something like this would never happen to me.” But let’s face it, it can happen to anyone. Car accidents happen every day and we could only hope for the full recovery that Tracy is beginning to experience.

So what happens in this situation if we aren’t able to perform our job for 16 months (or more or even less)? How do we pay for our homes, utilities, groceries, and other monthly expenses (while also potentially shelling out money for medical expenses)? If we have a spouse or family, how do also continue to provide for them? How do we keep from depleting our savings? And most importantly (I have said it before and I will say it a million more times), how do we heal when we’re stressed and anxious about money?

Disability insurance policies are there to provide you with a portion of your income if you can’t work due to injury or illness. If income protection is something you’ve never thought to look into, it’s worth the time. We can only control so much in this life and it’s important to have things in place to protect what’s most valuable to us; our families, our future, and our ability to earn an income.

I hope you will join me in celebrating Tracy’s recovery and return to the comedy world; welcome back Brian Fellows!

Melody I. Herman

Insurance Specialties, Inc., Pine Street Insurance
Broker specializing in Disability Insurance, Holistic Agent, Lover of Comedy
melodyherman@insurance-specialties.com
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“Stars: They’re just like us”

Hayden Panettiere has never been on my favorite actress list but for the first time I’m a fan. In case you hadn’t heard, she checked herself into a treatment facility for postpartum depression.

As women we are expected to be pillars of strength when it comes to families (and let’s face it, everything), especially after bringing life into the world. But just because someone suffers from a mental illness (and that’s exactly what postpartum is) doesn’t make them any less strong. A woman has just created and birthed a tiny person, this is warrior goddess stuff here and beyond all the hormonal and emotional responses that occur it’s not uncommon to experience deep depression. So why don’t more people talk about it?

Remember when Brooke shields came out and wrote a book about this same topic? Do you also remembered how Tom Cruise publicly criticized her for taking anti-depressants after giving birth to her daughter?

Do we really have to dig deep on the “why” behind so many women keeping quiet about postpartum? Or why so many keep quiet about any mental illness? Shame. And the shame keeps those that need help from getting it. So on top of the illness, add shame, and then sprinkle on judgement from society. What human can harbor all of that?

To go even further what if the treatment you need requires you to take time away from your job? What if you’re not a celebrity with a hit show and hit movies with a celebrity spouse both bringing in millions of dollars of income? How would you continue to earn an income and provide for your family, cover basic expenses, and medical expenses? How does one heal from this or any illness while anxious about money? The answer is Disability Insurance.

Did you know that treatment for postpartum depression is covered under disability insurance? Had I not grown up in this business, I most likely wouldn’t have known. A policy will provide you with a portion of your income for this and all other mental illness for up to 2 years.

While there is definitely a movement surrounding mental illness right now and removing the stigma, there is so much work to be done. Celebrities, someone at work, a neighbor, a family member, it doesn’t matter. Mental illness can effect anyone at any time. Let’s be more open and compassionate so that those that suffer will speak up and get the help and support they need.

Thank you for reading.

Melody I. Herman

Insurance Specialties, Inc. & Pine Street Insurance

Broker specializing in Disability Insurance, Holistic Agent

melodyherman@insurance-specialties.com 

Give Them What They Want

They’ll be jumping for joy…

As a couple of the most desired benefits you’d think more companies would offer dental and vision insurance to their employees. So why don’t they? Probably because you’re not talking about it!!

There’s no denying that taking care of oral and eye health is essential for overall health; problems in the eyes and mouth can cause or be indicators of problems in the rest of the body.

Fun facts:

  • About eighty percent of the U.S. population has some form of periodontal gum disease (yikes)
  • Many systemic diseases (including hypertension and prediabetes) are visible simply by looking into the eye, even before symptoms arise (who knew!?)

When you’re jumping into the ring, keep in mind there are more carriers than meet the eye (no pun intended), and we use our same methods of analysis and customization as all other ancillary lines.

One of the many things you can always count on from us is to get the 

BEST BENEFITS for the LOWEST COSTS, 

to both employer AND employee.

And just like all other group ancillary benefits the employer/business owner has the option to:

  • Pay the premiums in full
  • Share the cost with the employee
  • Offer the benefit as voluntary to either supplement employer paid benefits or just as a means to offer something to the employees and their families.

Don’t forget, a group can be as small as 2 employees!

I think it’s safe to say that all employers and business owners dream of having healthy and happy employees, and the more benefits they’re offering, the better.  Let’s help them make that dream come true; they’ll be jumping for joy!

The Talk of The Town

Have you heard about the integral role Voluntary Benefits will be playing in the future of employee benefits???  If you are a group producer, we are certain you have!

For some companies, many of these benefits will be offered in lieu of the employer paying due to cost of providing health benefits to employees.  For others, it is a mechanism to enhance the value of being an employee of that business.

So what is being offered in today’s Voluntary (or Buy-Up) marketplace? It’s not just your group life, short or long-term disability, accident insurance, vision, or dental.  Today, the offerings go on to such plans as whole life, universal life, critical illness, legal shield and/or identity theft, concierge services, pet insurance, homeowners, and the like!  There appears to be no limit to what is being offered depending on the industry and company location.

Other changes to consider are the manner in which these benefits are offered.  We still have the traditional face-to-face group meetings followed by the one-on-one.  However, if there is a large group, that process is far too cumbersome and time consuming; that said, some insurers are offering to do this for you with no loss of compensation.

As a rule, if the case is large enough, you will want to offer a specialty web portal for the company that includes training pieces to help the employee (and their family) make the proper voluntary benefit selection.  At the very least, you will want online or telephonic enrollment.  The latter’s’ benefit is that there is a person that can help the employee to better understand what they have available.

Taking this to the next level are carriers that provide these benefits not on a group chassis but on an individual (and portable) platform.  Do not get lost in the analysis and try not to over complicate the process.  Even if you have an enrollment company assist you, it is better to let a group of professional enrollers take on the case then to sit and learn on the job.  The overall enrollment will increase and your client will be far happier with the results.

From the less expensive group basis to the individual platform, we can help you and your clients make the best-informed decision.  Please let us know how we can together, help your clients tailor and enhance their benefit offerings.

It is our advanced knowledge and understanding that drives us forward.  Let us share our expertise with you!

Be Their Hero!

Having spent the first half of this year on Disability products in both the personal and business realm, it’s safe to say we are passionate about income and business protection!

For those that are business owners and/or selling to the business community, let’s now talk Group Short and Long Term Disability.

Why Group STD and LTD?

  • Providing these benefits helps employers protect a portion of their employees’ income (and their own income) should they become too sick or injured to work.
  • Offering benefits sets a business apart from other employers; it makes the company more attractive to quality talent, aids in employee retention rates, and are a way of saying thank you … we value you!
  • The plans are Guaranteed Issue regardless of employees’ health and group size!
  • Employers can include themselves in the plan to supplement their own individual protection.
  • Plans can be customized to be 100% Employer paid, 100% Employee paid (Voluntary), or a combination of both.
  • The portion a business pays for this insurance is considered a business expense and is tax-deductible.

Our Process

  • All we need is a census that includes gender, salary, occupation, and home zip code of each employee.
  • If the group has a plan in place, we need the current benefit summary in order to match benefits at a lower cost, or provide a better plan at the same cost.
  • We send a request for proposal (RFP) to as many of the top carriers in the country as possible.
  • We analyze all quotes based on cost, volume, and definitions (the latter being the keystone of our agency).
  • We create an easy to follow spreadsheet (including notes for the broker or employer allowing us to make the best and most knowledgeable recommendations).
  • When necessary we will go back to the carriers and negotiate better plans and/or rates to best fit the client’s needs.

As experts in the field of employee benefits and disability insurance we can support you whether you are a broker or employer.  If you are an employee and your company doesn’t offer benefits, we will be happy to start the conversation!

At Insurance Specialties Inc., we are here to help you design and implement the most comprehensive and competitive plan(s) based on the carrier strength, occupation, health, and goal(s) of your client.

 

It is our advanced knowledge and understanding that drives us forward.  Let us share our expertise with you!