Tornado FAQ: Before, During and After the Storm

Are you prepared for a tornado? Check out these great tips from Society Insurnce about what to do to protect yourself and others from the tornado by Shelby Blundell.

“It sounded like a freight train.” This is a common description from those who have experienced one of nature’s most violent phenomena: a tornado. Advances in research and technology have improved identification and measurement of critical elements of super cell storm systems, which makes predicting and identifying the development of a tornado far more effective. However, once the prediction is made or an actual tornado is identified, the responsibility falls on every individual to be prepared to respond appropriately for his or her own safety and well-being.

So, where do you begin? In this blog, I will share frequently asked questions and the answers I have learned through years of education and personal experience. I hold a master’s degree in disaster preparedness and have trained with the National Weather Service Severe Storm Prediction Center, but most importantly, I spent 20 years living in the heart of tornado alley. Let’s get started…

BE AWARE

Does my community have tornado sirens?  What do they sound like?  Can I hear them from my home or business?
It is standard practice for communities to have set days and times for testing tornado warning systems. If you do not know when this is, contact your local police department, emergency management office, or fire department to find out the test schedule. Then, be prepared to participate when the test is scheduled to occur. Make sure you can hear the siren and commit the sound to memory so you know what it means if you hear it again. Help your staff or family to know what this particular siren sound means. Let city officials know if you cannot hear a siren when the test was scheduled to occur; they can identify equipment failures, consider the need for system enhancements, and make appropriate changes to ensure you are properly alerted. Knowing the system test schedule can help you differentiate between a test and a life threatening event.

What is the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning?
Tornado WATCH: Be prepared! A tornado watch is issued by NOAA Storm Prediction Center meteorologists who monitor the weather 24/7 across the entire United States for weather conditions that are favorable for tornadoes. A watch area is typically large and can cover parts of a state or several states. A tornado watch means that tornadoes are possible in the area. Keep watch and be prepared for severe weather – and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio to know when warnings are issued.

Tornado WARNING: Take action! A tornado warning is issued by your local NOAA National Weather Service Forecast Office meteorologists who monitor the weather 24/7 over a designated area to identify tornados. A warning area is much more targeted and can cover parts of counties or several counties in the path of danger. A tornado warning means that a tornado has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar and there is a serious threat to life and property. Take action and find safe shelter!

Watch this video to learn more about tornado watches and tornado warnings!

HAVE A PLAN

Where do I go? What do I do?
The time to answer these questions is NOT when the storm siren sounds. Have a plan in advance. While tornadoes can happen anytime, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, tornado season runs between May and June in the southern Plains, June and July in the central United States, and earlier in the spring on the Gulf Coast. Even with amazing advances in technology, there may only be minutes – or even seconds – to respond when a tornado begins to develop and warnings are launched.

Am I prepared?
Use this checklist BEFORE you, your staff or your family are in the path of a storm:

  • Equip your business or home with a weather radio so you know when warnings are issued.
  • Identify the safest place to go in your business or home. A professionally-designed and installed storm shelter or safe-room provides the very best protection. Otherwise, the lowest level of the home or business should be used for shelter. Below ground level is always safest during a tornado – go to the basement if you have one.
  • A small room or hallway in the centermost part of the structure provides more walls and protection around you. In a business, this may be the restrooms or storerooms. At home, look to the bathroom; bathtubs are rather strong and provide a good source of shelter.
  • Stay away from all windows if possible! Avoid rooms with windows. And do not open windows! The theory that this will help equalize pressure and reduce damage is a myth and can actually increase the danger.
  • At home, have a “go bag” already prepared with things you might need for this or other emergency situations. A “go bag” can have flashlights, batteries, NOAA weather radio, water, snack bars, and medications – anything you feel you might need when regular life is disrupted and you may be displaced.
  • When sheltering, consider using common items, such as bicycle or motorcycle helmets, ski goggles, heavy coats, blankets, and even bed mattresses to provide additional protection.
  • Conduct tornado drills! Every business should identify where employees and customers will take shelter. Then, once a year employees should walk-through where to go (a drill!). Have an at-home tornado drill, too. Make sure loved ones know where to take shelter at home or on the road!

AFTER THE STORM

Is it safe? What do I do now?
Stay sheltered until you feel certain that the threat has ended. Many times tornadoes dissipate and then suddenly reform, or they may be followed by additional storm threats. Listen to the radio, police or fire officials, or other information sources to make sure it is safe.

  • Check for injuries and apply first aid as needed.
  • Watch out for dangerous debris or downed power lines.
  • Evacuate if directed to do so.
  • Let family, friends, and the authorities know you are safe. Consider using the American Red Cross “Safe and Well” website to help make communication easier.
  • Take photos of damaged property.
  • Consider using tarps to cover damaged areas to prevent further damage from additional rain or wind.
  • Do not go into damaged structures as they may not be structurally safe.

Don’t become complacent!
Always pay attention to the weather forecasts and warning sirens. The media may play up severe weather to grab viewers and over time it may lead to desensitization – but we must pay attention to the dangers. Generally, no location is immune from the possibility of a tornado. Tornadoes can be destructive and deadly, but a little bit of preparedness and a proper response can help minimize your risk of injury.

For more information on tornadoes and severe storms check out the following websites:

https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/climate/weather/tornado.htm

http://www.ready.wi.gov/tornado/default.asp

See the original article Here.

Source:

Blundell S. (2017 April 26). Tornado faq: before, during and after the storm [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://blog.societyinsurance.com/tornado-faq-storm/


From Boomers to Millennials, Here are Workers’ Top 6 Benefit Needs

Do you know which benefits your employees crave the most? Take a look at this great article from HR Morning about the top employee benefits for each age group by Jared Bilski.

Depending on which demographic they fall into (Baby Boomer, Gen-X, Millennial, etc.), employees have vastly different benefit needs. So why do so many employers offer a one-sized-fits-all benefits package?  

At the 2017 Mid-Sized Retirement & Healthcare Plan Management Conference in Phoenix, AZ, President and CEO of Cowden Associates Inc., Elliot N Dinkin, used the flexibility of the benefits offered through a private exchange as a reason for employers to give the exchange option a serious look.

Private exchanges — like public exchanges — are online marketplaces employers can use to provide coverage to their employees on everything from traditional benefits, like health insurance, to increasingly popular voluntary plans, like life, disability or cancer insurance.

Dinkin also used some compelling research to show just how greatly employees’ benefits needs varied from generation to generation.

Citing stats from a recent LIMRA study, which asked employees to rank their benefit needs, Dinkin laid out the top six responses of workers from 34 and under to employees 65-plus.

It’s worth noting that base pay was the top “need” for each and every employee demographic. The rest of the responses, however, were all over the map.

34 and under

The youngest workers in the study ranked their benefits needs in the following order:

  1. base pay
  2. career opportunities
  3. retirement plan
  4. low healthcare costs
  5. bonus/incentive, and
  6. flexible schedule.

35-49

The mid-life workers prioritized their benefit needs like this:

  1. base pay
  2. retirement plan
  3. low healthcare costs
  4. bonus/incentive
  5. paid time off (PTO), and
  6. flexible schedule.

50-64

Workers entering the latter stage of their careers ranked their benefit needs like this:

  1. base pay
  2. retirement plan
  3. low healthcare costs
  4. bonus/incentive
  5. paid time off (PTO), and
  6. type of work.

65-plus

Older workers tend to place a premium on the type of work they’re doing and the reputation of their employers. Their priorities are as follows:

  • base pay
  • retirement plan
  • type of work
  • bonus/incentive
  • low healthcare costs
  • working for a respectable organization.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Jared Bilski (2017 March 31). From boomers to millennials, here are workers' top 6 benefits needs. [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.hrmorning.com/from-boomers-to-millennials-here-are-workers-top-6-benefit-needs/


Getting the Most Out of an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Make sure you are getting the most out of your company's employee assistance program. Take a look at this great article from our partner, United Benefit Advisors (UBA) to see how you can maximize the employee assistance program by Nancy Cannon.

Many employers understand the value of having an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) since the heart and soul of organizations are employees. Employees who are physically and mentally healthy, highly productive, engaged in their work, and loyal to their employer contribute positively to their employer’s bottom line. Fortunately, most employees are positive contributors, yet even the best of employees can occasionally have issues or circumstances arise that may inadvertently impact their jobs in a negative way. Having an EAP in place that can address these issues early may mitigate any negative impact to the workplace. This is a win-win for both employees and employers.

A key component of EAP services lies in “catching things early” by assisting employees and helping them address and resolve issues before they impact the workplace. Most employees will use EAP services on a voluntary, self-referred basis that is completely confidential. Some employers may wonder if services are even being used by employees because it won’t be all that apparent, but most EAPs provide a utilization or usage report that will show the number of people served, and possibly the types of reasons services were requested.

If employee issues do begin to appear in the workplace—related to performance, attendance, behavior, or safety—it is important for managers, supervisors, and human resources to also have access to EAP services. They may wish to consult with an employee assistance professional that can provide guidance and direction leading to problem identification and resolution. These issues have the potential to become very costly for the organization—and again, the earlier they can be addressed, the greater chance of success for both employee and employer, with minimal negative impact to the company’s bottom line.

The key to getting the most out of an EAP is to make it easily accessible to employees, safe to use, and visible enough they remember to use it. It is important that employees understand using the EAP is confidential and their identity will not be disclosed to anyone in their organization. Promoting the EAP services with materials such as flyers, posters, or website information with EAP contact information will also increase the likelihood of employees accessing services

See the original article Here.

Source:

Cannon N. (2017 April 6). Getting the most out of an employee assistance program (EAP) [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://blog.ubabenefits.com/getting-the-most-out-of-an-employee-assistance-program-eap


Protect Yourself From Cyber Attacks

“My advice is to do all you can from a risk management standpoint but you also need insurance because you never know what can happen.” - Cathleen Christensen, Vice President of Property and Casualty

VP, Property & Casualty

In today’s world, a day does not pass without a large company being featured on the news because they are suffering from a data breach or hacking incident that has threatened personal information.

Cyber security is a concept that has become a high priority in the past five years. Since this issue is fairly new, demand for cyber insurance is emerging, since most cyber related claims are currently not covered under a standard insurance program. The questions that arise the most regarding cyber security and liability are about understanding the level of exposure a company’s data faces and knowing what cyber coverage encompasses.

Large companies are not the only ones at risk, it is often small businesses that are most vulnerable simply because they are not prepared. Most small (under 250 employees) businesses do not have the IT staff necessary to help protect a business. Even manufacturing companies are at risk because while credit card information is a large component, it is not the only type of attack. Can you afford the risk of not protecting your employee, client and company data?

With 10+ years of experience addressing cyber risks, Hierl’s process of approaching cyber security begins with an assessment of a client’s risk and exposure. This involves knowing what data a client has, who has access to it, how it’s stored and how they are backing it up. Hierl can expertly evaluate the coverage that is necessary to keep an organization secure.

Because it is an emerging coverage, cyber insurance plans are not standard. Hierl advises a three-fold type of coverage including:

  1. Business coverage for customers and employees
  2. Protection for your company and the data it houses
  3. PR assistance if a security breach occurs

The best policies offer assistance to help you to work through things if something was to ever happen, as well as forensic and technical assistance to determine how the breach occurred.

“Many organizations that have suffered cyber-crime are sophisticated, big businesses. If they can’t stop these attacks from happening, most other businesses can’t either.”

If it is determined quickly that a breach has happened and a good backup exists a company can recover quickly and the attack is much less damaging. However, when a company’s data gets out in the wild is when attacks become most expensive.

The 2016 Ponemon Institute Cost of Data Breach study reported that the average cost of a lost record rose from $154 in 2015 to $158 in 2016. Even if, you only have 20 employees now and that doesn’t seem all that bad...you need to think about how many employee records do you have from the past 10 years? Cyber-attacks don’t just affect current records nor do they only target employee data but client and company data too. This type of insurance is becoming a must have coverage for businesses because of how sophisticated these attacks have become

Three reasons to explore cyber coverage for your business:

  1. There is a higher incidence of cyber crime
  2. The longer it takes to detect and contain a data breach, the costlier it becomes
  3. Effects of a cyber-attack extend beyond monetary and data losses to losing business and customers

To download the full article click Here.


Why sitting is the new office health epidemic

Is your health starting to suffer from sitting down at work all day? Take a look at this interesting piece from Employee Benefits Advisor about the effects that sitting down all day can have on your health by Betsy Banker.

In the continuing conversation about employee health, there’s a workplace component that isn’t getting the attention it should— and it’s something that workers do the majority of every workday.

Sitting has become the most common posture in today’s workplace, and computer workers spend more than 12 hours doing it each day. Science tells us that the consequences are great, but our shared cultural bias toward sitting has stifled change. Many employees and company leaders struggle to balance well-being and doing their work. And it’s time for employers to do something about it.

Rather than accept the consequences that come as a result of the sedentary jobs employees (hopefully) love, it’s time to elevate the office experience to one that embraces movement as a natural part of the culture. Such a program will address multiple priorities at once: satisfaction, engagement, health and productivity. Organizations of every size and structure should embrace a “Movement Mindset” and say goodbye to stale, sedentary work environments.

There are many benefits to incorporating the Movement Mindset:

· Encourages face time. As millennials and Generation Z take over the office, attracting and retaining top talent is a key initiative for companies. Especially in light of the Society for Human Resource Management findings that 45% of employees are likely to look for jobs outside their current organization within the next year. Research has shown that Gen Z and millennials crave in-person collaboration, and users of movement-friendly workstations (particularly those ages 20 to 30) report being more likely to engage in face time with coworkers than those using traditional sit-only workstations.

Standing meetings tend to stay on task and move more quickly. Their informal nature means they can also be impromptu. Face time has the added benefit of building culture and social relationships, increasing brainstorming and collaboration, and creating a more inclusive work environment.

· Keeps you focused. For those who sit behind a desk day in and day out -- which, according to our research, about 68% of workers do -- it can be a feat to remain focused and productive. More than half of those employees admit to taking two to five breaks a day, and another 25% take more than six breaks per day to relieve the discomfort and restlessness caused by prolonged sitting. It may not seem like much, but considering that studies have shown it can take a worker up to 20 minutes to re-focus once interrupted, this could significantly impact the productivity of today’s office workers.

It’s time to connect the dots between extended sitting, the ability to remain focused and the corresponding effect these things have on the overall health of an organization. Standing up increases blood flow and heart rate, burns more calories and improves insulin effectiveness. Individuals who use sit-stand workstations report improved mood states and reduced stress. Offering options for employees to alternate between sitting and standing during the day could be the key to effectively addressing restlessness while improving focus and productivity.

· Addresses sitting disease. The average worker spends more than 12 hours in a given day sitting down. In the last few years, the health implications surrounding a sedentary lifestyle are starting to come to light (like the increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and early mortality). It’s a vicious cycle where work is negatively affecting health, and poor health is negatively impacting engagement and productivity. Not to mention, the benefits span long and short term, with impacts on employee absenteeism and presenteeism, as well as health and healthcare costs. Offering sit-stand options to incorporate movement back into a worker's daily regimen is a great way to offset those implications, while showing employees that their health, comfort and satisfaction are important to the company. Plus, a recent study found that if a person stood for just an extra three hours a day, they could burn up to 30,000 calories over the course of a year — that’s the same as running 10 marathons or burning off eight pounds of fat.

Our sit-biased lifestyles are beginning to be seen as an epidemic; it’s the new smoking, and office workers who spend their days behind a desk are at great risk. Providing a sit-stand workstation is more than just a wellness initiative. It offers significant opportunities for companies to retain and attract talent, improve a company's bottom line, and offer employees a workspace that gives them the ability to move in a way that can actually improve productivity.

Embracing the Movement Mindset can turn the tables on the trends, going beyond satisfaction to create a cycle where work can positively impact health and good health can improve engagement and productivity.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Banker B. (2017 March 27). Why sitting is the new office health epidemic [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/opinion/why-sitting-is-the-new-office-health-epidemic?feed=00000152-1387-d1cc-a5fa-7fffaf8f0000


Debt should be priority in financial wellness programs

Do you know what your employees prioritize in their financial wellness program? Take a look at this article from Employee Benefits News about how more employees are placing debt as their number one priority in their financial wellness plans by Kathryn Mayer.

As research continues to pile up about employees’ dire financial state, many employers are left wondering how best to help their workers become financially stable.

Step one? Help them get rid of debt.

“Debt is the biggest [financial well-being] issue right now,” Meghan Murphy, director of thought leadership at Fidelity Investments, said Tuesday during the NAPA 401k Summit in Las Vegas. “Debt is becoming a way of life for all generations.”

There’s a “huge focus” for employers to take action right now in helping employees pay down student loans, Murphy said. It’s an issue plaguing everyone from millennials entering the workforce with massive amounts of debt to baby boomers who have their own student loans and are looking to finance their children’s education as well.

“Not only is [student loan repayment] great for retention, but it makes employees feel great,” she said.

Though student loan debt is garnering more attention in the workforce, it should not be the only area of focus, she said. Credit card debt, 401(k) loans and mortgage loans should also be priorities. In particular, many employers are beginning to put plans in place for ways to manage 401(k) loans by limiting the number of loans allowed or putting a waiting period in place for employees to get the money. “People are very attached to the concept that they can have the money if needed, but we have to find a way to stop that.

“A lot of education is needed in the workplace with debt — student loan debt, credit card debt … there’s not a single focus. If [employees] can pay down debt in general, [they] can save more. Even if employees can save a little bit, with whatever tools we can build and whatever tools and engagement employers offer, that would go a long way.”

Emergency savings also should be a big area of focus for financial wellness,” Murphy said. According to Fidelity’s research, employees do not think long term when it comes to financial goals; 27% of employees only think about the next few months when it comes to money. People who lack emergency savings are twice as likely to say they do not feel good about their finances, Murphy added.

“Most people don’t have an emergency savings account, and most people who do are afraid to spend it,” she said.

What the industry should do — and is starting to do — is to come up with ways to automate emergency savings, similar to automating retirement accounts savings.

Overall, employees’ financial state is pretty dire, Murphy said, citing Fidelity Investment research. In addition to meager savings, financial stress is wreaking havoc in the workplace. More than half of millennials say they’re less committed to work when experiencing money problems, and 28% say they are distracted at work because of it. Another 24% of workers say they avoid medical treatment due to financial problems.

“It’s all very cyclical,” Murphy said. “If you have a health issue, it can impact your money; it can impact your job. If you have a money issue, it can impact your health; it can impact your job. And it all impacts our happiness.”

The overall takeaway is financial wellness is needed in a big way.

“Employees really, really want help to make financial decisions and employers are starting to step up to take this role,” she said.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Mayer K. (2017 March 21). Debt should be priority in financial wellness programs [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.benefitnews.com/news/debt-should-be-priority-in-financial-wellness-programs?tag=00000151-16d0-def7-a1db-97f03c840000


3 wise cybersecurity solutions for 2017

Is your company properly protected from cybersecurity threats? Find out how to protect yourself from online threats thanks to this great article from Prperty & Casualty 360 by Christopher Roach.

As businesses are spending millions of dollars on technology and software to protect themselves from cybercrimes, they may be missing a leading cause of cybercrime by not investing their money in training their own employees.

Human error is the leading cause of cybercrimes, according to BakerHostetler’s 2016 Data Security Incident Response Report. Some of the most prominent companies learned that all too well in the last calendar year, as costly mistakes by their employees left their business vulnerable to hacks.

In the spring of 2016, Snapchat was the victim of a phishing scam, where hackers posing as the CEO convinced an employee to email them the personal information — IRS Form W-2 data — of about 700 current and former employees of the organization. This included employee names, Social Security numbers, wages, stock-option gains and benefits. Shortly after the information was released, the employee realized that the original request was not legitimate. Everyone affected by the scam was quickly notified and offered free credit monitoring and identity theft insurance.

A human mistake was also the leading cause of a recent breach of Premier Healthcare, a multispecialty healthcare provider. After the billing department failed to secure its computers, a laptop computer was stolen from its headquarters. The electronic protected health information (ePHI) that could have been accessed from the single laptop could affect roughly 200,000 patients. The laptop was password-protected but not encrypted.

Employees reported the stolen laptop as soon as they realized it was missing, and the company took a number of steps to locate the laptop and identify the thief, including notifying patients and filing a police report. Fortunately, the laptop was returned and a comprehensive forensic analysis revealed the laptop had not been powered on since it went missing.

This year, Snapchat, Premier Healthcare and every other business big, medium or small, must invest in cybersecurity protection. They have to prepare their employees for the worst.

Here are three cybersecurity resolutions that offices need to make going forward:

1. Train employees with gamification.

In addition to sending around a list of dos and don’ts on how to prevent cyberattacks to employees, companies could get more creative when it comes to training their staff. Businesses should consider using gamification for training exercises to present real-life scenarios to employees.

One way to do this is by having “pretend” hackers try to obtain proprietary information from employees.  If an office doesn’t properly react, it could provide as a great lesson for everyone. If they react correctly they could win a prize. Every employee poses a risk, so training each individual is a critical element of cybersecurity.

2. Testing your response time.

Hackers are always going to be one step ahead due to the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape. In preparation, companies must have a cyber response plan in place and need to be ready to respond to multiple scenarios.

Employees need to understand how to identify risks and the appropriate individuals or departments where they should report findings. In addition, every employee should be taught best practices, like how to create stronger passwords or how to spot suspicious emails, so that they can use good judgement when online. If you suspect something, report it.

3. Protect your crown jewels.

The most important thing that business can do is identify their “crown jewels,” which are their data assets that are most critical to their organization and customers. Once the crown jewels have been identified, a company’s security team can establish targeted cybersecurity controls to insure this data is secure and recoverable.

While doing this, companies should make sure to conduct a penetration test to find out if their most important assets are vulnerable to hackers. This approach will save time and money. It’s not practical or cost effective to put the same level of protection on all data, so target the data that’s most important to the business.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Roach C. (2017 March 24). 3 wise cybersecurity solutions for 2017 [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.propertycasualty360.com/2017/03/24/3-wise-cybersecurity-solutions-for-2017?slreturn=1491841086&page_all=1


CMS Allows States to Extend Life of "Grandmothered" or Transitional Health Insurance Policies

Great article from our partner, United Benefit Advisors (UBA) by Danielle Capilla

On February 23, 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released its Insurance Standards Bulletin Series, in which it re-extended its transitional policy for non-grandfathered coverage in the small group and individual health insurance markets.

States may permit issuers that have renewed policies under the transitional policy continually since 2014 to renew such coverage for a policy year starting on or before October 1, 2018; however, any policies renewed under this transitional policy must not extend past December 31, 2018.

If permitted by applicable state authorities, health insurance issuers may choose to continue certain coverage that would otherwise be cancelled, and affected individuals and small businesses may choose to re-enroll in such coverage.

As background, CMS' transitional policy was first announced in November 14, 2013; CMS had most recently extended the transitional policy on February 29, 2016, for an additional year for policy years beginning on or before October 1, 2017, provided that all policies end by December 31, 2017.

Policies subject to the transitional relief are not considered to be out of compliance with the ACA's single risk pool requirement or the following Public Health Service Act (PHS Act) provisions:

  • Section 2701 - relating to fair health insurance premiums
  • Section 2702 - relating to guaranteed availability of coverage
  • Section 2703 - relating to guaranteed renewability of coverage
  • Section 2704 - relating to the prohibition of pre-existing condition exclusions or other discrimination based on health status, with respect to adults, except with respect to group coverage
  • Section 2705 - relating to the prohibition of discrimination against individual participants and beneficiaries based on health status, except with respect to group coverage
  • Section 2706 - relating to non-discrimination in health care
  • Section 2707 - relating to comprehensive health insurance coverage
  • Section 2709 - relating to coverage for individuals participating in approved clinical trials

However, issuers can choose to adopt some of or all these provisions in their renewed policies.

Practically speaking, grandmothering provides some small employers the option to maintain a pre-ACA health plan. Although not every state allows grandmothering of policies and not all insurance carriers offer the option in those states endorsing it, there are still some employers in the 35 states that allow grandmothering who are able to be composite rated (rates based on the health status of the group), which protects young, healthy groups in particular. Grandmothered groups with older, unhealthy populations could still move to community-rated ACA- compliant plans, which were generally less costly for them, giving all groups the flexibility to save money. The UBA Health Plan Survey finds that though this grandmothered group is shrinking (8.1% of all plans compared to 17% in 2015), these employers have helped to keep overall average increases in check. In fact, premium renewal rates (the comparison of similar plan rates year over year) have increased an average of 5.9% for all plans—up only slightly from last year’s 5.6% increase. Small groups who found temporary protection this year through grandmothering and the PACE Act (depending on their state) were a significant factor in overall cost mitigation.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Capilla D. (2017 March 21). CMS allows states to extend life of "grandmothered" or transitional health insurance policies[Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://blog.ubabenefits.com/cms-allows-states-to-extend-life-of-grandmothered-or-transitional-health-insurance-policies


Cindy's Mexican Favorites Will Fill You With Love

Our April Dish is brought to you by our very own Cindy Contreras

Cindy joins Hierl as our Administrative Assistant. With her degree in Management/Human Resources and Finance, she's a perfect fit for our office and our clients.

At home, Cindy enjoys spending time with her husband and 3 children. She thoroughly enjoys watching her children grow and experience the wonders of life. Together, they enjoy outdoor activities like bicycling and camping, as well as indoor activities such as visiting the library and cozying up for a nice movie.

When it comes to eating out, Cindy enjoys a local favorite that features authentic Mexican food that's truly made with love.

"Mi Casa is small little restaurant owned by people who really care about making good food. My favorite meal is the camaron suizos. Shrimp sautéed with bacon, onions and mushrooms in a cheese sauce. So delicious!"

Need Directions?

At home, Cindy enjoys making Mexican comfort foods and one of her favorites is Arroz Con Leche (Mexican Rice Pudding). Be sure to check out the delicious recipe below!

 


Arroz Con Leche (Mexican Rice Pudding)

"It's a dessert that can be served after lunch or dinner, but will also make a great treat for your children during breakfast time. Give it a try! I guarantee you won't be disappointed!"

Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 cup uncooked riceIY0109_Arroz.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.616.462
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • lemon peel (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Let's get started:

  1. In a medium saucepan, let rice soak in two and a half cups of water for 15-20 minutes. Add three cups more of water and then cinnamon stick. Simmer for 15 minutes covered.
  2. Add salt and raisins (optional), cook for another ten minutes or until the rice is tender. If you think it needs more time and water for the rice to get tender, just add one or two cups of water and let cook until soft.
  3. Mix the condensed milk, evaporated milk, cinnamon, lemon zest and vanilla and then add it to the rice. Verify sweetness and add more condensed milk if necessary. Cook uncovered on moderate heat for ten minutes, moving constantly to prevent rice pudding from sticking to the pot.
  4. Remove from heat; the consistency should be a little watery since the pudding will thicken as it cools. After five minutes, discard the lemon zest and cinnamon stick. Serve hot or cold sprinkled with ground cinnamon.

A dessert that can be served at any time of the day is a MUST! Can't wait to try it out Cindy!


Potential Impact of Good Communication

Good things come to those who wait.... except when understanding your benefits. The sooner employees become educated on why they have unique benefits, the sooner they will put them to use!

"Those who don't understand benefits, don't utilize them correctly. They are not good consumers of health care." - Scott Smeaton, Hierl Executive Vice President.

It is important to understand your employee benefits not only for your own health reasons, but also so that you are able to recognize why your employer offers the unique benefits they do.

What differentiates Hierl and how they help effectively communicate benefits?

At Hierl, we look at each client as unique. What works best for one may not be ideal for another. It's about really being able to understand the culture and provide different communication options such as presentations, visuals, emails, and website.

Hierl shines when it comes to giving employers/employees access to all forms of communication, specifically in the communication campaigns run throughout the year. By assessing the necessary points to communicate and then building quarterly and monthly campaigns around these objectives, Hierl brings unique, strategic solutions to explaining employee benefits. The evidence of communication strategies at work is apparent in the results gathered from clients.

"One of the ways companies can measure the success of their program is to measure employee satisfaction. By measuring employee satisfaction after communication campaigns, findings show that the more regularly benefits are communicated, the higher employee satisfaction goes up!" - Scott Smeaton

scott smeaton

3 Key Points on Communicating Benefits

  1. Keep it simple- (no explanation needed!)
  2. Try different avenues- one person may prefer email while another prefers paper
  3. Communicate often- benefits communication should take place all year long

To download the full article click Here.