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Valerie Koch: Staying competitive requires retaining and attracting key talent through superior employee benefits


In spite of a rapidly changing health care environment, employers remain the reliable link to health benefits for most Americans. As the burden on business owners increases, employers seek meaningful, yet affordable, solutions. There are many great tools to attract and retain key employees.

Staying informed regarding employee benefits helps you maintain your competitive edge. For decades, small employers have been limited to fully insured plans, providing few plan design options and no real opportunity to control premium costs, other than shifting a greater percentage of the cost to plan participants. Consider the following options that may help as you look for new and better ways to retain and attract valued employees.

A new Connecticut Chamber of Commerce Health Care Coalition program geared for employers with 20 to 200 employees can now offer the benefits of self-funding that a majority of large employers have enjoyed for decades. By participating in a captive stop-loss insurance program, formed to insure the risks of its owners, mid-market employers pool resources to spread their risk and reduce the volatility that has deterred some from pursuing self-funding in the past. This program is focusing on helping employers reduce claims and provide better outcomes.

In addition to paying fixed expenses (administrative fees and stop-loss premiums) each month, employers make an initial deposit to a claims fund, followed by predetermined monthly installments. By joining together to reduce the cost of their medical spend, participating employers have the opportunity to share in any unused premiums that result when overall claim costs are lower than anticipated.

Partial self-funding for small groups, sometimes referred to as level funding, helps employers regain control of their health plan costs and creates an opportunity for savings.

Level funding offers the flexibility of partial self-funding, but retains the predictability of fixed monthly payments, common to fully insured arrangements. Each month, the employer pays a predetermined amount to cover anticipated claims, along with fixed expenses. At the end of the plan year, a portion of the unused claim funds are credited to the plan’s renewal. If actual claims are greater than the amount that you fund, stop-loss insurance covers the excess claim costs. Fixed expenses, including stop-loss premiums and administration fees, are not refundable.

In today’s highly competitive business environment, success hinges on the ability to recruit, retain and reward valued employees. And when it comes to senior executives, the stakes are even higher. When designing executive benefit plans, it’s necessary to take these things into consideration. Take the time to understand your objectives, your organizational culture and the competitive environment in which you operate. Then, develop the solution that meets your needs. Some of the options being implemented by a growing number of businesses include:

• Salary continuation plans;
• Selective incentive plans;
• Executive long-term care;
• Restricted executive bonus plans;
• 401(k) alternative plans;
• Executive disability insurance; and
• Executive retirement plans.

One of the more rapidly expanding uses of technology in the U.S. is telemedicine, which enables individuals, typically health plan members, to consult with a licensed physician via phone, video or mobile application. By contracting with one of the many telemedicine networks available, plan members and their dependents can enjoy 24/7 access to board-certified physicians and other health-related professionals, at any time and from any location.

In just a matter of minutes, physicians can answer questions, treat medical issues and prescribe medication when appropriate.

There are plans available to individuals and businesses, large and small.

Valerie Koch is the vice president and COO of Ganim Financial in Bridgeport. She can be reached at 203-335-0851 or vkoch@ganimfinancial.com.

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