PSA Insurance & Financial Services (PSA), a top 100 insurance broker in the US, is excited to partner with The National Cybersecurity Society, (NCSS) — a national non-profit committed to improving the online safety and security of the small business ...

 

PSA Insurance and Financial Services - 5 new articles


PSA Partners with the National Cybersecurity Society to Support Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

PSA Insurance & Financial Services (PSA), a top 100 insurance broker in the US, is excited to partner with The National Cybersecurity Society, (NCSS) — a national non-profit committed to improving the online safety and security of the small business community through education, awareness, and advocacy.

The mission of the NCSS is to enable and empower small and medium-sized businesses obtain cybersecurity services, assist them in understanding their cyber risk, and advise them on the type of protection needed.

According to PSA Cyber Specialist, Mike Volk, “small and medium-sized businesses are facing similar cybersecurity challenges to those of large businesses. However, in many cases, smaller businesses have less time, money, and internal expertise to manage cyber risk effectively.”

PSA is partnering with the NCSS to help connect our clients with additional resources, services, and information designed for small and medium-sized businesses. This partnership further enhances our ability to assist our clients in managing the new and dynamic cyber risks of operating a business in our increasingly interconnected world.

‘We believe this is a win-win partnership, as PSA brings much needed cyber insurance to our members, while encouraging PSA clients to become part of our community’ says Mary Ellen Seale, CEO and Founder of National Cybersecurity Society.

For questions, please contact Mike Volk at mvolk@psafinancial.com, or Mary Ellen Seale at me@nationalcybersecuritysociety.org.

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Eight Secrets for Building Employee Benefits Communications Your Employees Want to Read

Despite the massive time and dollar investments in employee benefit plans, surveys show employers are not getting the mileage out of their offerings. The reason? Employers often drop the ball when it comes to properly branding and explaining the benefits via employee benefit communications, which results in a lack of employee appreciation for and understanding of how to use the plans.

There are many strategies on how to communicate benefits to employees. An employee benefits guide is a great way to pull information together in one place in a simplified, easy-to-read format that can be printed and/or accessed electronically. Benefit comparisons, key benefit details, easy-to-access vendor information, and tips on how to save money on health care services are all helpful items to include.

I’m sure you’ve seen many employee benefits communication samples – some good and some bad – and perhaps wondering how could you make your employee communication better.

If that’s the case, and you need some guidance, keep reading for my eight secrets on how to build a benefits guide your employees will actually value and want to read.

  1. Listen to your employees.

    Learn more about what they’re thinking, doing, and feeling so you can better understand where they need help and more information about how to use their employee benefit plans. For instance, if your HR department is getting numerous calls, emails, and questions about Health Savings Accounts (how to open them, the contribution limits, the bank contact information, etc.) this may be an indication that you need to expand more on that topic in your employee benefit communications.

  2. Keep it simple.

    As tempting as it might be to just stuff the guide with as much information as possible, or to insert all of the technical language from the insurance-carrier documents, don’t do it! Use simple language and keep your charts/tables to a minimum. You’ll likely still need to include some tables or charts that explain how certain benefits work and compare to each other, but you don’t have to include every scenario or benefit feature. Show the most common benefits features and highlight the differences between the various plan options.

    employee benefit communication

  3. Pay attention to how your document is structured.

    Put the most important information first, and group relevant information (e.g. keep Health Savings Accounts with medical benefits). Also, consider using descriptive headers, simple language, and bulleted lists. This layout is much easier to scan to identify important details.

  4. Use call-outs.

    Want to highlight a new benefit or make important information stand out? Use a call-out section set apart from the rest of the page. Also consider using color, icons, and/or borders to make them “pop.”

  5. Communicate visually.

    Pictures are not for decoration. Use photos to help effectively convey your message in each section. These visual elements attract your employees’ attention and help break up long sections of text to keep them engaged.

  6. Give your materials a cohesive “look and feel.”

    You want your employees to recognize your employee benefits guide was provided by your organization. It’s a good idea to follow your company’s branding guidelines, keep your overall look professional and consistent, and use your company logo. Speaking of your company’s logo – always make sure your logo is high resolution and designed for print if you’re going to print your document! Not sure if you have the right version of your logo? Make friends with your marketing team and ask them.

  7. Don’t be afraid of white space.

    Have you ever tried to save space by cramming a lot of information onto a certain number of pages? Spreading things out and limiting the amount of information you put on each page is the better way to go. The white space surrounding your information is your friend, as it allows your employees’ eyes to relax between different sections and not feel overwhelmed. Also, avoid the urge to fill that space with an image unless the image helps convey the content on that page.

  8. Hire a professional.

    As an employee benefits communication expert, I’ve seen and created my share of pieces over the past decade. Benefits are complex, and you need a professional writer and designer that knows how to untangle complicated benefit concepts and present them in a clear way. Work with your benefits consultant to have professional employee benefits communications designed for your organization. It is well-worth the investment, as it could make or break the value of your benefits plan offering.

Think of all of the hundreds of thousands of dollars that are poured into your benefits plans. When employees receive the information and education they need to break through the confusion to be able to choose and use their benefits, they’re more loyal, productive, and satisfied.

Make sure to follow the eight secrets discussed above to help you create an effective benefit guide. To request a copy of our employee benefits communication samples, or to learn more about how we can help you improve your employee benefits communications, contact me at apurdum@psafinancial.com.

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PSA is Celebrating New Achievements and Honoring Past Legacies

PSA is proud to recognize Sr. Benefits Analyst, Process Lead Flora Wang, ASA, GBDS as the first recipient of the Craig Routson Memorial Recognition Award for Advanced Studies in Insurance. An award of $2,500 is made to any PSA employee who receives advanced designations in insurance, including Associate of the Society of Actuaries (ASA), The Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC), Certified Risk Manager (CRM), Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), and Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS). The award was established in honor of former PSA employee, Craig Routson, as an embodiment of his spirit for learning and PSA’s commitment to supporting the professional growth of our employees. PSA aims to celebrate industry leaders, past and present, who bring significant contributions to our team.

In 2017, the PSA family lost one of our own—Craig Routson—a respected expert in the insurance industry. Craig was known throughout the office and in the community as a kind, charismatic, and highly experienced professional with an adventurous spirit and refreshing sense of humor. Driven by his intellectual curiosity, he was a life-long student who embraced insurance knowledge and found creative ways to solve complex challenges for his clients. He was also recognized as a generous mentor, always willing to share his wealth of experience. While PSA can never replace the talent and expertise that Craig brought to PSA, we honor his memory by encouraging and celebrating those among us who follow in his footsteps by pursuing and attaining advanced studies designations in insurance.

Flora Wang is a leading example, who embodies Craig’s spirit and commitment to learning and achievement. Flora earned her Group Benefits Disability Specialist (GBDS) designation in 2018. She also recently completed her Associate of the Society of Actuaries (ASA) designation, which was funded by the Craig Routson Memorial Recognition Award for Advanced Studies in Insurance. This designation requires the completion of various courses, a series of exams, e-learning requirements, and a seminar/conference.

Flora expressed interest in attaining the ASA designation to her manager, who supported her in-full. “Receiving this award makes me feel like PSA is a good company. They always support professional development. This ASA designation isn’t a requirement for the work that I do—it was more for my own professional development—so I appreciate the ways PSA supported me and awarded me in this process,” she explained.

While we have many analysts on the team with actuarial knowledge, this designation makes Flora the first official member of our actuarial staff. Having this expertise on our team at PSA allows us to perform actuarial work that we currently outsource. We are excited that we can foster Flora’s professional growth while providing new expertise and some new actuarial programs to our clients.

According to friend and fellow-PSA employee, Brian Marx,

“Craig was constantly looking to improve the breadth and the quality of the array of services he could provide to his clients. He would have been quite enthusiastic about this new capability that Flora brings to PSA.”

PSA considers continuing education a high priority—in fact, continuous improvement is one of the four pillars of PSA’s culture. We are constantly making strides in our capabilities to encourage and deliver professional development for our team. PSA is proud to serve our clients with the highest levels of professionalism, knowledge, and passion, and we aim to support and nurture individuals both for their own professional growth and for the benefit of our clients.

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PSA in Good Health April Tips

Colorectal Cancer Screening 
Colorectal cancer is cancer of the large intestine (colon), which is the final part of your digestive tract. Most cases of colorectal cancer begin as small, noncancerous (benign) clumps of cells called adenomatous polyps. Over time, some of these polyps can become cancers, but they may be small and produce few, if any, symptoms. This is why screening colonoscopies are so important—they help prevent colorectal cancer by identifying and removing polyps before they turn into cancer. Check out this month’s In Good Health flyer to learn about symptoms, causes, risk factors, and prevention for colorectal cancer.

For more information, click on the buttons below to download the flyers in English and Spanish, or contact me at Dherndon@psafinancial.com

Download English Download Spanish

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HIPAA Portability and Nondiscrimination – A Refresher (Benefit Minute)

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was passed into law in 1996.  Its purpose is to provide protection for employees and their dependents by affording additional opportunities to enroll in a group health plan if other coverage is lost or certain life events occur. It also prohibits discrimination against employees and their dependents based on any health factor they may have.

Although HIPAA provisions related to limits on preexisting condition exclusions and credit for prior health insurance (creditable coverage) no longer apply because the Affordable Care Act eliminated all preexisting condition limitations in health insurance, other HIPAA portability and nondiscrimination provisions continue to apply. This Benefit Minute provides a refresher on those provisions.

Special Enrollment Rights

HIPAA’s special enrollment rights allow an employee and dependents to enroll in group health plan coverage outside of the initial enrollment period or the annual open enrollment period.  Group health plans are required to allow certain individuals to enroll in the following circumstances:

  • Loss of eligibility for other group health coverage or health insurance, including loss of eligibility for both group health plan coverage and individual market coverage, complete termination of employer contributions towards coverage even if there is no actual loss of coverage, and expiration of maximum COBRA coverage period
  • New dependent as a result of marriage, birth, adoption or placement for adoption
  • Loss of eligibility for Medicaid or Children’s Health insurance program (CHIP)
  • New eligibility for CHIP state premium assistance

In the case of a HIPAA special enrollment right, the employee must be permitted to select any medical benefit package option available under the plan (the same medical plan options that are available to a similarly situated new hire). This means that a current participant may move to a different plan option in the middle of the plan year. If the group health plan is fully insured, the insurance carrier must honor the special enrollment right. HIPAA special enrollment rights do not apply to standalone dental and vision coverage.

Timeframe for Enrollment

Employees must be given a period of at least 30 days from the date of the event to request enrollment. In the case of loss of Medicaid/CHIP or new eligibility for CHIP premium assistance, the timeframe is 60 days. For birth, adoption or placement for adoption, the effective date of coverage is the date of the birth, adoption or placement for adoption, even if this results in a retroactive effective date (Code section 125 rules allow for retroactive elections in these cases). For all other special enrollments, the election change should not be retroactive and must be effective no later than the first day of the month following the event or the request for the change (whichever is later). If the group health plan generally adds new enrollees on the first day of the month, then there is no requirement to add a special enrollee mid-month (other than in the case of birth, adoption or placement for adoption). For example, if an employee is married on October 20 and the group health plan receives a request on November 3 to add the new spouse, the coverage for the spouse would begin on December 1.

Individuals Eligible for Enrollment

The individuals who are entitled to the special enrollment right depend upon the event triggering the special enrollment as follows:

  • Employee’s loss of eligibility for other coverage: employee and eligible spouse/dependents.
  • Spouse/dependent loss of eligibility for other coverage: employee (if not currently enrolled) and spouse/dependents who have lost eligibility for other coverage. The plan is not required to enroll any other dependents.
  • Marriage: employee (if not currently enrolled), new spouse and any newly acquired dependent children. The plan is not required to enroll any other dependents.
  • Birth, adoption, placement for adoption: employee (if not currently enrolled), spouse and newborn or newly adopted child. The plan is not required to enroll any other dependents.
  • Medicaid/CHIP: employee (if not currently enrolled) and spouse/dependent who loses Medicaid/CHIP or gains eligibility for state premium assistance.

Nondiscrimination

Under HIPAA’s nondiscrimination provisions, an employee and dependents cannot be denied eligibility or benefits based on certain health factors when enrolling in a group health plan, nor may they be charged a higher premium due to these health factors. The only exception to these prohibitions is premium differentials under a wellness program that complies with specific requirements under HIPAA and the ACA. A discussion of HIPAA and ACA compliant wellness programs is beyond the scope of this Benefit Minute.

Health Factors

The health factors that are protected under HIPAA are:

  • Health status
  • Medical conditions, including physical and mental illness
  • Claims experience
  • Receipt of health care
  • Medical history
  • Genetic information
  • Evidence of insurability
  • Disability

In addition, a group health plan cannot deny enrollment or charge a higher premium for conditions arising from acts of domestic violence or for participation in activities such as motorcycling, snowmobiling, all-terrain vehicle riding, horseback riding and skiing. However, a group health plan may exclude coverage for a specific disease or limit or exclude benefits for certain treatments as long as the restriction applies uniformly to all similarly situated individuals and is not directed at individual participants who may have a health factor. Plan amendments to reduce or eliminate benefits are not considered to be directed at individual participants as long as they apply to all similarly situated individuals and are effective no earlier than the first day of the plan year following adoption.

HIPAA does not prohibit more favorable treatment of participants with adverse health factors.

Other Nondiscrimination Provisions

A group health plan may not delay an individual’s eligibility, benefits or effective date of coverage nor may the plan increase the premium based on confinement in a hospital or medical facility on the date the individual would otherwise become eligible. Additionally, a group health plan may not delay enrollment in coverage because the individual is not actively at work due to a health factor on the day coverage would otherwise be effective.

The portability and nondiscrimination provisions of HIPAA for group health plans are enforced by the Department of Labor.

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