4 Reasons Why Healthcare Costs are on the Rise in 2021

American businesses are noticing a frightening trend: healthcare costs are on the rise and there are no signs that the costs are slowing down. Studies show that healthcare spending per person has grown more than 4% in the past few years, with more individuals receiving support for multiple chronic conditions than ever before. This represents a 10-year rise of nearly 18% for individual healthcare services, which explains why healthcare utilization has stayed mostly flat while costs continue to go up. There are a number of factors that make up these figures, but the costs associated with longer lifespans and the intensity of medical services are key considerations for the future.

Growing Populations of Aging Seniors

The National Institutes of Health has seen an unprecedented change in the ratio of older people with an expected over 600 million individuals aged 65 or older. While people are living longer, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are living healthier lives and that is the challenging issue for Americans. As the aging population increases, they will be taking up additional public health resources that would otherwise have gone to younger individuals or been used to spread a higher quality of care throughout all ages of the population.

Disease Prevalence or Incidence

There has been a marked increase in chronic illnesses, with diabetes being a major factor in the growing healthcare costs. The medication alone represented nearly $44 million in healthcare cost increases over a short period of time, but problems with neck and back pain were not far behind. Other chronic diseases that had a negative impact on the costs of healthcare include:

  • Depression
  • High blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Oral disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Bloodstream infections

In addition, the costs associated with outpatient medicine continued to rise with ambulatory units seeing the greatest increases in that segment.

Medical Service Price and Intensity

With the rising costs, some patients are avoiding care until it becomes a necessity — which can often lead to additional problems that are much more expensive to manage. This avoidance of care doesn’t come due to a fear of doctors; instead, patients are more frightened about the potential costs that come along with getting the care that their family needs. The lack of understanding associated with high-deductible healthcare plans could be a key cause, which is one of the reasons that it’s critically important to ensure your staff fully understands their decision when shifting to this type of healthcare plan. On the other side of the spectrum, you have patients that are overutilizing their healthcare without optimizing their spending. This can lead to extraneous procedures, unnecessary visits and an overall rise in healthcare costs. Patients may be having trouble understanding their healthcare billing, as not all organizations have become fully transparent in the way they report healthcare costs to patients.

Healthcare may be one of the most challenging topics to introduce with your new staff members, but you’re sure to appreciate the great information you’ll find in our free download: How to Give Employees a Great First Week. Still have questions? No problem! Give the friendly and knowledgeable team at Innovative Broker Services a call at 916-932-2864 for more information about the services and tools that we offer to benefit your business.

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3 Steps to Take for a Successful 2021

3 Steps to Take for a Successful 2021

As we inch closer to starting the new year, it’s time to reevaluate and redesign your employee benefits to ensure you and your team are set up for success. So much has happened during this past year with the coronavirus pandemic. Changes have included long leaves of absences, employee status changes, and new employees hired in some cases. This means the demographics of the average work environment have changed considerably over the past months. Now is a good time to take stock of exactly what you will be offering your employees to meet employees’ needs and determine employer contributions.

Consider Offering an EAP

Many companies are now offering the advantages of an employee assistance program (EAP) which acts as a complement to employees’ main health insurance plan. EAP’s provide confidential counseling and consultation services to employees who are dealing with various mental, health, or wellness issues. With the chaos and uncertainty of the past 9 months, EAP’s can help improv attendance, reduce accident claims, yield better retention. Plus, they can significantly reduced long-term medical costs due to early identification and treatment of mental health/substance abuse issues. Employees’ mental health needs to be a priority for the new year.

While EAP’s typically focus on employees’ mental health, they do feature more general health and wellness services like nutrition consultations and child/elder care recommendations. EAP providers often send welcoming resources and even a representative to help employees understand what is available to them. EAP’s are a positive complement to your primary health care plan that will benefit the long-term health of your employees.

Finalizing Your Employee Benefits Budget for the New Year

It is important to determine your health care budgets and how much you can afford in contributions going into the new year. You want to ensure you aren’t wasting time chasing plans that are not realistic. Most benefit providers will have adjusted their limits and thresholds due to inflation; therefore, the previous years’ budget might not be adequate to provide the same level of employer contributions. With still so much uncertainty about how the pandemic will play out in the future, there is a great deal of concern among employees and how changes in their health care plans will affect them and their families. Equally, employers are mindful of the responsibility for their employee’s financial and wellness in addition to their emotional and physical needs.

Prioritize Strong Leadership in 2021

The pandemic will continue to greatly impact the first few months of 2021, but that shouldn’t stop leaders from aspiring to become better as the New Year approaches. Workers in every industry have been greatly impacted for nearly nine months straight—an incubation period that has produced enough stress, fear, pressure, and anxiety to last several lifetimes. Employee burnout and emotional stress has been on the rise. As a leader its important to help manage that for all of your employees. Be sure to make it a point to recognize employees for their hard work throughout the year. This could be as simple as a “Thank You” note or a gift or bonus. Lastly, be sure to make self-care a priority for yourself. A healthy leader is best suited to lead a healthy team.

As part of your planning strategy for the new year, download the following checklist 8 Steps to a Successful Open Enrollment. Be sure to call Innovative Broker Services directly at 916-932-2864 to discuss how you can make it easier for yourself and your employees to start the new year on the right foot.

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4 Strategies to Recruit Successful Remote Workers

4 Strategies to Recruit Successful Remote Workers

Welcoming new team members is a great step to continue building your team’s success. Though it may seem like an arduous task to integrate new faces into your existing company with so many employees working from home, proper planning can ensure that you find the right candidate to further fuel your team’s success. Consider the following suggestions to help you recruit the right remote workers.

Evaluate Who You Need to Fit the Role

Be sure to have specifics on how you need to fill the role. It’s important to define the traits you’re looking for to fill the role whether it’s for an in-office position or a remote one. But it plays a bigger role in remote hiring because it specifies the key remote working traits that candidates must have. Do you believe a specific personality type will work best for this specific role? If so, specify that you in your listing to help candidates themselves determine if the fit it best.

Additionally, sometimes, remote jobs might need a specific time zone and location requirements. This usually happens when you try to have some minimum “hours of overlap” between all your team members, or if you’re trying to cover hours for support or service for a particular region where you currently have only limited availability. If this is the case, you must clearly list these out as candidates that can’t accommodate them won’t apply.

Determine a Fit For Company Culture

Determining a candidate’s fit for your company’s culture and values is challenging for any company, even if they meet their candidates face-to-face. This can be one of the biggest factors in determining future success for that candidate. However, it can be difficult to evaluate this for remote teams when all interaction is online. Regardless, it is critical for making sure quality remote hires stay put with your company.

So how do evaluate something like this? The first step is to be sure your culture and values for the company are already clearly defined. Then you can translate these ideas into assessment tests or interview questions to score candidates on. For example, define the building blocks of your team and frame questions regarding the importance of said building blocks to the candidate on a personal level.

So start by clearly identifying and defining your culture and values. It’s only after you do this that you’ll be able to evaluate your candidates on them.

The Best Way to Interview for a Remote Role

Successful vitrual interviews can work out great with some additional planning. If you typically plan multiple interviews with in person candidates, conside the same model with remote candidates. For example, consider holding an initial interview to focus on finding how aligned a candidate is with your company’s culture. You can start by asking the same questions in the same order to each candidate and evaluate that against what elements you seek in the answers. Also, plan for an interview to dive into the candidates past experience. This can even be set up to include a practical interview regarding “real work” scenarios for your team.

Taking multiple interviews also means you have a fairly long hiring period, which might not necessarily mean a bad thing in a remote hiring setup. Some remote companies are actually a little intentional about keeping hiring cycles this way and spacing out the interviews so they get to interact more with the candidates.

These approaches are just some of the ways you can create a welcoming work environment where new employees will thrive. Be sure to download our helpful checklist: How To Give Employees A Great First Week. You can also contact Innovative Broker Services at 916-932-2864 for expert advice on how to help recruit the best remote workers.

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5 Tips to Enhance the Employee Experience Beyond Health Benefits

5 Tips to Enhance the Employee Experience Beyond Health Benefits

Happy employees are more productive employees. They are more likely to stay with your company and more likely to produce top notch work while they are there. While generous health benefits are a top draw, they aren’t the only employee benefits you have available to enhance the employee experience. These benefits are easy to put in place, but hugely appreciated by the people who work for you:

Flexible Schedules

Today’s highly connected digital landscape means that it’s easier than ever for people to get the work done on a schedule that fits the rest of their lives. Offering flexibility can make your company a work-life balance winner, and help you draw highly dedicated top talent. Are you able to offer partially or fully remote positions? Can you allow employees to switch to production-based metrics and put aside the 9 to 5 mindset? The more you can offer, the happier many employees will be.

Office Amenities

Most offices have a coffeemaker and a water cooler. Step things up by adding a bank of free, healthy snacks. These offerings don’t cost much but take the edge of hunger to keep employees engaged. Fitness gear, nap pods or other health and wellness offerings can help burn off excess energy or recharge. 

Professional Development Opportunities

These offerings are a win-win: employees keep themselves challenged and you get the benefit of their enhanced skillsets. The best professional development programs are multifaceted. In-house trainings and workshops allow you to give uniform training that benefits everyone on the team, raising everyone’s knowledge level. Tuition reimbursement or yearly funds for educational opportunities allows team members to go out on their own to develop new skills.

Community Involvement Programs

Today’s workers are more likely to say that the values of the company where they work are important to them. Show your values by making it easy for your employees to benefit the communities where they work. Companies, for instance, can offer employee benefits that include a few days a year of paid volunteer time off so that employees can dedicate time to the causes that matter to them. Donation matching programs allow charitable giving programs to go further. 

Discount Programs

Everyone likes a chance to make their money go a little further. Partner with retailers and service providers to offer your employees discounts as a benefit of working for your company. Popular options include discounted cell phone plans, reduced price tickets to local attractions and discounts on travel needs like hotels, rental cars and plane tickets. 

Offering a range of unexpected perks is a great way to set your company apart and create a more positive and satisfying work experience. By offering employee benefits that go beyond the usual, you can keep the people who work for you happier and more likely to stick around. But, the core of a good benefit program is good healthcare offerings. Get in touch with Innovative Broker Services at 916-932-2356 to learn more about how to create a great employee benefit program.

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Why Now is the Best Time to Redesign Your Benefits Options

Why Now is the Best Time to Redesign Your Benefits Options

As we come towards the end of the year, it’s time to redesign your employee benefits to get a jump start before the next enrolment period. So much has happened during this past year with the coronavirus pandemic. We have seen a lot of movement in employee status, with some taking a leave of absence, others furloughed, and new employees hired in some cases. This means the demographics of the average work environment have changed considerably over the past months. Employers need to reevaluate their employee benefits before moving into the next open enrollment period.

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Steps to Take to Get Prepped for Fourth Quarter Now

Steps to Take to Get Prepped for Fourth Quarter Now

Open enrollment for the new year’s health insurance plans can be one of the most hectic times of year for you and your human resources department. Fourth Quarter is the time to get an early start on helping many employees have to make healthcare decision that will affect them all year long. You want to do everything you can to make your enrollment a success for the people who work for you.

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3 Ways to Successfully Onboard New Hires and Keep Them

3 Ways to Successfully Onboard New Hires and Keep Them

Growing your business is an exciting venture that often results in hiring new team members or leadership. Though it may seem like a daunting task to integrate new faces into your existing company, mission and network, proper planning and foresight can ensure that new hires feel comfortable and capable in their new positions. By taking the time to establish an onboarding plan and implementing thoughtful strategies for procedures like open enrollment, you can facilitate your company’s expansion in a sustainable way. Consider the following suggestions to ease the transition for new hires and existing employees alike.

Provide New Hires with Onboarding Buddies

Even for the most confident of new hires, the prospect of an unfamiliar workplace and brand-new coworkers can be daunting. Reduce potential stress by implementing a “buddy” system. By pairing your new hire with a seasoned team member, incoming employees are more likely to feel welcomed and at ease with their new surroundings. Make sure that your “veteran” employees maintain open communication with their new coworker as well as a positive, helpful attitude. You can also split your new hires into pairs or groups during training so they start to build community within the company. This can be especially helpful if new employees belong to different departments — this way, they will understand the larger context of the company and who to go to with various questions.

Ensure All Open Enrollment Information is Clear and Consistent

When it comes to educating new hires on employee benefits, it’s imperative to communicate openly and frequently. Provide relevant information in multiple formats and let employees know about any open enrollment paperwork early on. By sharing employee benefits information in different ways such as through email, the company portal, printed pamphlets, and group seminars, employees can absorb the information in numerous ways and resolve any lingering questions. Keep in mind that the beginning of any job is typically stressful, so if new hires can’t access employee benefits for a period of time such as 60 or 90 days, you don’t need to worry about communicating benefits information on the first day. The most important thing you can do is remain available — set up “open office” hours when employees know you’ll have time to discuss topics like employee benefits.

Prevent Stress by “Dripping” Information via Email

You’ve taken your new hire on a tour of the office, made all the introductions, and shown them to their desk and computer. At this point, your new coworker has already absorbed a lot of information, so sending a bulky email with a run-down of the company is probably not the most effective first-day strategy. Instead, favor a less-is-more approach. Try parsing out relevant updates about company procedures, day-to-day operations and your expectations over time. By periodically communicating smaller amounts of information, you are less likely to overwhelm new hires, increasing the probability that they stay on track throughout the onboarding process. After you disseminate information over email, try to follow up with employees in-person so they have an opportunity to ask questions and discuss with team members.

How can you implement these strategies in your company to ease the transition for new hires? Strategies include organizing a “buddy” system between experienced team members and new employees, clearly communicating benefits information in multiple formats, and disseminating information in a measured, digestible way. These approaches are just some of the ways you can create a welcoming work environment where new employees will thrive. To learn more about facilitating new hires’ onboarding experience, download the How To Give Employees A Great First Week checklist. You can also contact Innovative Broker Services at 916-932-2864 for expert onboarding advice that will benefit your business for years to come.

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United States Supreme Court Rules Title VII Protects Individuals From Discrimination Due To Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity – Does this impact employer health plans?

On June 12, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) released its
Final Rule under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act which, among other things,
modifies the regulation issued by HHS in May 2016 (“2016 Rules”). The 2016 Rules were
subject to multiple lawsuits over the years and HHS claims the Final Rules, among other
things, “better comply with the mandates of Congress…reduce confusion…and clarify the
scope of Section 1557 in keeping with pre-existing civil rights statutes and regulations
prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, and

Just days after the Final Rule was released, the United States Supreme Court released its
much anticipated opinion in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia regarding whether an
employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity protects them from discrimination on the
basis of sex under Title VII.

While these two issues are seemingly unrelated, as we discuss in this alert, we believe the
Court’s decision makes the Final Rule ripe for legal challenge. The decision also impacts
employer-sponsored group health plans regardless of whether they are “covered entities”
for purposes of Section 1557.

Read the full report here.

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4 Ways to Support Wellness for Remote Workers

4 Ways to Support Wellness for Remote Workers

Many companies offer employee benefits such as gym memberships and wellness programs over and above normal health care benefits. A key consideration is determining how can you support the health and wellness needs of those working remotely. Working remotely is more than a trend, it’s become a necessity to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. As more companies are seeing the benefits and cost-savings of having their workforce work remotely, it’s likely many companies will continue to allow their workers to continue to work remotely post COVID-19. These four wellness tips will help staff outside your home office feel as though they are fully included in your employee benefits.

Block Out Time to Support Their Health and Wellness Needs

Going from an office environment where employees had the support and mentorship of coworkers and managers to working remotely from home is a big adjustment. Block out time to support their health and wellness needs. For those remote workers who have children, they have the additional stress of homeschooling them. This takes their focus away from work trying to juggle both work and family at the same time. Supporting them by allowing them to take a mental health day, taking time out to go to an appointment or taking time for an afternoon nap due to exhaustion, are strategies that will not only support their mental health and well-being, but it’s also better for you as they will be more productive.  Schedule time daily or weekly to follow up with them either individually or in a group zoom meeting shows them that you care about their changing wellness needs. They will appreciate this support over and above the standard employee benefits they receive.

Provide Remote Staff With Resources That Promote Health and Wellness

Yes, the gyms might be closed for now however, you could set up a weekly newsletter promoting other options and include links to online yoga, meditation tapes, and online fitness programs. You could also provide them with a list of local walking trails in their area and encourage them to share photos of spectacular scenery encouraging their remote coworkers to do the same sot hey feel connected. Consider holding weekly challenges that support healthy eating, standing while working, or getting in 30 minutes of activity daily. You could provide them with a FitBit tracker to encourage them to keep up their activity. This also doesn’t just promote health; you’ll get your team engaging with each other comparing how many steps they did that day!

A simple newsletter or blog is all it takes to trigger a healthy lifestyle while working remotely from home. Apart from the obvious health benefits, all these ideas only cost a little of your time. It helps remote workers feel connected and encourages them to embark on a lifelong journey incorporating health and fitness into their daily routines if they aren’t already doing so.

Employee Benefits Should Include Remote Health Care Options

Working remotely means employees can no longer enjoy typical perks like free gym memberships, motivational workshops, or experience other wellness programs from the confines of their home. You can harness technology to overcome these challenges to boost engagement through virtual meeting boards and using social media platforms such as yammer to share additional benefits to remote workers. Providing consistent and positive messages helps to keep remote workers motivated which ultimately leads to improved efficiency and productivity.

Your remote staff may not be aware that many doctors are taking telecalls to assess minor health issues. You could schedule a virtual health and wellness session via video conferencing and invite a health and fitness coach to give a talk ending with a question and answer session. Better still, ask your employees how you can support them right now. As the restrictions ease from stay-at-home orders, you could provide your remote workers with a voucher for a massage or walk-in clinics for check-ups. 

Encourage Ongoing Conversations About Employee Benefits

While employees depend on their employers for healthcare, mental health is an issue that still needs to be addressed. Most employer-sponsored health plans do not cover mental health to the degree that is needed. A wellness program should reflect a flexible approach where employees can address these concerns as they may differ substantially from your concerns. Now is the time to analyze if your employee benefits are right for you and right for your employees. You can download the 10 Step Checklist to Help Make Your New Employee’s First Week Great here. By broadening the definition of wellness, more employers are demonstrating their commitment to improving their employees’ lives. They are expanding their definition of wellness to include emotional and financial wellness, in addition to the traditional pillar of physical wellness. 

Putting together an employee benefits package that will resonate with your employees can be confusing. The professionals at Innovative Broker Services are experts in this field which can save you time and money.  Contact them today at 916-932-2864 to get help analyzing if your employee benefits are attracting and retaining the best employees. 

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Online Benefits Enrollment Tools for Remote Workers

Online Benefits Enrollment Tools for Remote Workers

The world of work is changing dramatically, and that isn’t just caused by the health crisis in early 2020 that caused the majority of the country to work remotely. Nearly 7% of Americans work from home or other remote locations on a fairly regular basis, and that number is likely to increase dramatically as employers and employees see the benefits of this type of engagement. There are a range of technology tools such as videoconferencing and chat that can help ensure collaboration is seamless, but what about times such as open enrollments where employees traditionally gather together to ask questions and gain an understanding of any changes from previous years? While there are certainly some challenges, there are still ways that you can have an extremely successful open enrollment period with staff members working in a variety of different scenarios.

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