Better Benefits Podcast Episode #8: Better Health Savings Accounts with Lively CEO, Alex Cyriac

In this episode, our guest Alex Cyriac, Founder and CEO of Lively, shares how their modern health savings accounts help families prepare financially today for tomorrow’s healthcare needs. 

Why health savings matters

Alex never planned to found a company. He spent years early in his career in payment processing followed by a stint at Justworks in the health benefits space. During that time, he discovered that his parents were struggling under the weight of healthcare costs even though they had coverage through Medicare. With a growing family of his own, Alex realized that a nest egg of health savings is an important asset to grow in preparation for health issues and medical expenses that inevitably happen later in life. 

Lively’s consumer-first health savings accounts

The Lively team takes a consumer-first approach in everything they do. At first, that meant just removing the friction in the process of getting started, both for the employer and employees opening a health savings account. Their onboarding experience is so easy that only 3% of Lively HSAs are not funded by the employee, while 20% of accounts go unfunded with other HSA providers. 

Next, they turned to features that Cyriac and his team are really excited about. Today, you can link your health insurance to your Lively health savings account so you can see the full picture of your health-related finances in one place. They also offer debit cards and investment opportunities so you can easily access your savings and watch it grow. And since knowledge is power, they’ve produced educational content and engaged with their account-holders to help them make smart financial and healthcare decisions along the way. As a result, Lively’s NPS scores soared to 73 while the rest of the industry’s scores languish in the low teens.  

Supporting the employer’s strategy

81% of Lively’s employer clients contribute to employee HSA’s, which is higher than the industry average. Lively also facilitates company matching of employee contributions, which some employers utilize as an incentive to encourage employees to save for future healthcare costs. Together these efforts contribute to Lively’s track record of having above average employee engagement in their savings accounts.

Adapting to COVID-19

Over the course of 2020, Lively saw many of their employer clients hold steady with their health plan strategies and HSA offerings. However, with more layoffs happening, they saw an uptick in individuals signing up for accounts independent of an employer. The service is 100% free and you’re able to transfer funds over from your previous employer’s HSA provider. Currently, they are partnering with employers to think about what’s the right strategy going forward.

“Our goal is to make sure that our employers have the most information available to them to make the right decisions for their employees.”

To hear more about what Lively has in store for 2021, listen to the full episode.

Alex’s resources

Alex recommends Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham’s essays for wisdom on a wide range of entrepreneurship and business management topics. 

You can check out Lively’s HSA plans on their website at http://livelyme.com. Note, this episode is for informational and educational purposes only. Alex Cyriac and Lively are not compensated, affiliated with, nor compensated by Greenhouse Life Insurance Company.

If you liked the episode, don’t forget to subscribe. Leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform. To get in touch with Brella, you can email us at sales@joinbrella.com. We’d love to hear from you.

4 Health Benefits Strategies That Will Give Your Team Peace of Mind

by Mike Zarrillo, Chief Revenue Officer at Brella | February 17, 2021

Unfortunately, when your employees get sick or injured, it’s difficult for them to know what kind of care they’ll need or what it will cost. If they have major cost-sharing responsibilities with their health insurance on top of these uncertainties, employees may delay getting care to avoid unaffordable medical bills. This can lead to further, costlier health issues down the road.

Your employees earn good salaries—they couldn’t be stressed, could they? Contrary to popular thinking, research has shown that it’s not always lower-earning employees who may struggle to afford high out-of-pocket healthcare costs. Recent research found that people who make between $130,000 and $160,000 a year are the second highest group experiencing financial stress, surpassed only by people who earn $25,000 or less.

Employee financial stress impacts all areas of an employee’s life, including their work, which is undoubtedly costing your company. The same report found that people who are financially stressed are more likely to be absent, have strained relationships with coworkers, and leave daily work tasks incomplete. They’re also more likely to be looking for a new job.

The best way to keep your team both healthy and productive is to ensure that your health benefits strategy gives employees the peace-of-mind they need to go get quality care when they need it and focus on doing their best work.

With an ongoing pandemic, rising healthcare costs, and challenging economic headwinds, there’s never been a better time to make sure your employee health benefits put your team’s mind at ease. Here are a few tactics to get you started:

1. Supercharge your team’s health insurance.

If your team should become sick or injured during the year, a small investment in Brella’s supplemental health insurance plan can go a long way toward helping them cover high out-of-pocket healthcare costs. Brella stands apart from traditional voluntary plans because we offer a wide range of coverage all in one plan, and we make it easy to file a 100% paperless claim.

With personalized benefits for more than 13,000 conditions — from dehydration and concussions to heart attacks and cancer — your team won’t have to worry about whether they’ll be covered if an unexpected health issue arises. Brella brings peace of mind quickly, paying cash via Venmo, Paypal, or directly to the employee’s bank account within hours of claim approval.

2. Make health benefits easy to use.

Your team can’t rest easy if they have benefits that are hard to use and a hassle to figure out how to access. Too many benefit offerings are stuck in the past, using confusing terminology and outdated processes instead of simple solutions backed by modern technology. Brella’s claims experience, on the other hand, is fast and easy.

Your employees can easily file their claims online or through the Brella app using readily available information about their diagnosis. There’s no need to wait weeks for EOBs or invoices before filing. They can take photos of things like a discharge summary, a prescription, or even an emergency room wristband. Once they hit “submit,” our team will review the claim and pay cash within hours of approval.

3. Select employee health benefits that include support.

Your employees are more aware — and more worried — than ever about their health thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. In light of this uncertainty and the complexity of today’s health benefits, offering guidance and education about your employee health benefits is key to your team’s peace of mind.

To that end, Brella’s supplemental health insurance plan offers members a dedicated Concierge (a real person!) devoted to supporting them throughout their membership. That means if your team ever has a question or problem, we’ve got an easy solution — and that’s a relief to employees who’ve had bad experiences trying to get answers about their benefits.

4. Don’t wait until open enrollment to take action.

Waiting for open enrollment to update your health benefits strategy is risky at a time like this. Your employees may struggle to cover out-of-pocket healthcare costs this year because they didn’t anticipate or understand the costs that might be coming their way when they elected their health insurance plan. 

Fortunately, you can introduce Brella off-cycle in just a few weeks without creating administrative headaches. Our paperless implementation and account setup are quick and easy. We can handle enrollment on our platform where employees can personalize their benefits and enroll in minutes.

Your employees have enough to worry about without stressing over whether they’ll be able to afford care when they get sick or injured. With Brella’s simple supplemental health insurance plan, your employees can get the peace of mind they need to thrive at work.

If you’d like to learn more about Brella, have your broker get in touch with us at sales@joinbrella.com today.

Better Benefits Podcast Episode #7: Better Dental Benefits with Alex Frommeyer of Beam Dental

In this episode, our guest Alex Frommeyer, Founder and CEO of Beam Dental shares the vision he is realizing at Beam for better dental benefits that don’t just cover costs but also help us keep our smiles healthier. 

A new approach to dental benefits

The problems are clear. The dental industry is huge and very fragmented, made up mostly of independent dental care practices. This makes it really difficult to innovate because there are no economies of scale or margins to accommodate ramping up new technology or learning new systems. However, brokers always want to have the best new benefits to offer, and employers also want exciting new benefits that employees will love. So Alex, who’s known to friends as “Fro,” and his co-founders focused on bringing innovation to dental insurance rather than to dental services from the outset.

Beam is the first and only digitally native dental insurance company. They focus on easy, smart, and preventive dental insurance solutions. Fro took a minute to unpack this statement for us: 

Easy means a digital, automated, and frictionless experience from quoting, implementation and enrollment, to administration, claims processing and customer support. Smart means providing custom pricing to groups with machine-learning models that allow them to be more confident about pricing for a specific group. The advantage of this is that they can offer lower rates where possible and provide a smoother renewal process. 

Preventive is a focus with their connected toothbrush and their dental wellness program. Beam’s connected toothbrush gives employees credit for building good habits and that ends up mitigating the group’s dental risk. The insurance product and the wellness program work together to offer discounts at renewal for teams with healthy dental practices. Increasingly, the wellness program is going to be a platform for new products and services. Listen to the episode to hear more about Beam’s exciting plans for 2021.

Bringing a new benefit to market

When Fro and his team first brought Beam’s dental insurance plan to market, they received a lot of feedback from brokers that the risk was not worth the reward of working with a young insurance company. They needed to go back and get the basics right, supporting all the common enrollment edge cases and billing processes that employers need to fall in love with a benefit program.

Since then, the team has worked hard to not only check all the boxes for how a benefit needs to operate for brokers and employers, but they’ve been able to innovate on top of that foundation of operational excellence. This has been the winning combination.

“Brokers are so excited about innovation that doesn’t force them to compromise on a great base benefits experience for their clients.”

The barriers to innovation in insurance

One of the reasons we don’t often see innovation in insurance produces is because of a couple of big endemic challenges in the industry. Regulation is a huge barrier to innovation because insurance isn’t regulated at the federal level. This means you have fifty departments of insurance to negotiate with at the state level to scale a new insurance product across the U.S. 

Technology is another challenge. There’s a lot of technology needed to just administer an insurance product and to give brokers, employers, and members access to administer the policy and manage their coverage. On top of this, partnering with outside technology from agencies and benefits administration platforms can be essential for operating with a given group. This requires a lot of costly customization. Over time, Beam has been able to grow by making smart investments in automation and by integrating with key partners.

Adapting dental benefits to COVID-19

As with most of healthcare, the coronavirus pandemic threw dental care for a loop in 2020 when 85% of all practices were basically closed, or offering emergency services only, from March through May. Fro and his leadership team in their monthly all-hands meetings have been complimenting their team for their resiliency and adaptability. 

“The number one skill of the 21st century for a professional is adaptability. Adaptability of your skills and how you work with different teams and different size companies or geographies, that’s an attractive quality for anyone who’s working today and COVID has only  accelerated that sentiment.” 

Listen to the full episode to hear more from Fro on the ways COVID is continuing to force innovation within both the dental industry and the employee benefits space. 

Fro’s resources

During the show, Fro recommended a book by Reed Hastings called No Rules Rules. It’s a continuation of a long discussion Netflix has been leading in the business world about how to create company culture that drives success. It really challenges a lot of cultural norms that companies unthinkingly perpetuate. No one has cornered the market on what “good culture” means—it’s different for every business. But for anyone who wants to spend more time contemplating their company culture and then intentionally designing the culture for a specific outcome, this book will help. 

Beam Dental is not affiliated with Brella Insurance Inc., and Brella does not offer dental insurance. You can check out what Beam is up to on their website at http://beam.dental

If you liked the episode, don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform. And to get in touch with Brella, you can email us at sales@joinbrella.com. We’d love to hear from you.

4 Ways to Reduce Employees’ Unexpected Out-of-Pocket Healthcare Costs

By Mike Zarrillo, Chief Development Officer at Brella | February 10, 2021

Like most employers, you’ve probably had to make some tough choices to control the cost of your company’s health benefits in the past decade. In an effort to control rising premiums, employee healthcare costs in the form of deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance, and other out-of-pocket medical expenses have increased substantially.

Today, as much as 83% of insured workers are stuck with an average deductible of $1,644. Only a decade ago, 70% of workers had a $917 deductible on average. All in all, these numbers amount to an 111% increase in the burden of deductibles for insured workers! That’s not to mention the rise in out-of-pocket maximums, which the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services allowed to increase 35% since the Affordable Care Act was passed just 7 years ago.

The average out-of-pocket cost for healthcare is a heavy burden for your employees to bear, and unfortunately many don’t realize the implications of their plan until they’re faced with unaffordable medical bills after being treated for a health issue.

Given the fact that only 39% of Americans can afford to cover an unforeseen $1,000 healthcare expense, employers who don’t help their team manage healthcare costs risk the loss in productivity and morale that comes when employees are stressed about finances.

The good news is that by offering innovative and practical employee health benefits, employers can help their teams manage the average out-of-pocket costs for healthcare and any unexpected medical expenses that come their way. Try the following strategies to help ease the burden for your employees:

1. Offer a truly supplemental health insurance plan.

Traditional supplemental health insurance plans fall short when it comes to filling the gaps left by your employer-sponsored health insurance. Accident plans only cover accidents, for example, which excludes illnesses. Critical illness plans limit coverage to a short list of covered conditions, and hospital indemnity plans only apply if an employee is admitted to the hospital. As a result, sudden out-of-pocket medical expenses often aren’t covered by traditional voluntary policies. 

We started Brella because we believe supplemental health insurance plans should actually provide financial relief when employees are sick or injured. In just one simple plan, Brella covers more than 13,000 injuries and illnesses with no accident or hospital admission requirements. With Brella, your employees can choose the level of coverage they need to offset their cost-sharing responsibilities. Plus, they can use Brella’s benefits to cover other everyday costs that may pile up like groceries, transportation, and childcare. 

2. Choose employee health benefits that are easy to use.

Supplemental health insurance plans often sound great, but in practice they’re difficult to use. Most require employees to fill out and fax in long claim forms. And employees often wait weeks for their benefits to be approved and paid. This was once the norm in most of the business world, but today’s consumers want fast, digital experiences that provide greater ease and transparency. 

Brella makes it much easier to file a claim — and receive cash benefits for a wide range of covered conditions. All your team has to do is download the Brella app or log on to their online Member Portal. They can submit a claim in minutes and, once approved, they’ll receive their benefits in a few hours. 

Best of all, your employees don’t have to wait until their bill comes to file a claim. Any evidence that verifies their diagnosis will do. Employees can submit photos of items they commonly have on hand after treatment, such as photos of their hospital wristband, cast, or IV bag, discharge paperwork, lab results, or prescriptions. By offering employees a modern, easy-to-use way to control healthcare costs like Brella, you’ll not only save them money, but time and stress as well.

3. Improve financial and healthcare literacy.

Employees who have a solid financial position and who understand their benefits are less likely to be stressed by their health insurance cost-sharing responsibilities. However, many Americans live paycheck to paycheck and research has shown that 25% of those struggling make over $160,000 per year. Financial literacy, coaching, and health benefits navigation services can help employees across your organization build a stronger financial position and make more confident healthcare decisions. 

4. Don’t wait until 2022—make benefits changes off-cycle.

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, employees have new health concerns and pent up demand for care that was deferred in 2020. This means your employees are more likely than ever to pay out of pocket for healthcare in 2021. They can’t wait until 2022 for support. Consider adding supplemental health coverage like Brella off-cycle. It’s easier than you might think.

Brella was built to easily bolt onto existing health benefits programs. Our paperless implementation and account setup and easy online administration, we won’t create administrative headaches for your team. Plus, your team can learn about Brella, make their benefit selections, and enroll in minutes through our proprietary enrollment platform, Brella Enroll.

By carefully researching your choices and making bold changes early in 2021, you can ease the looming financial burden of out-of-pocket medical expenses for your employees and offer them much-needed peace of mind.

Don’t wait until next Open Enrollment to bring your team relief. If you’d like to learn more about Brella, have your broker email sales@joinbrella.com today.

Better Benefits Podcast Episode #6: Helping Employees Journey Toward Financial Dignity with Anita Ward of Salary Finance

In this episode, we were honored to welcome as our guest Anita Ward, an applied anthropologist and Chief Development Officer of Salary Finance. Our conversation with Anita was about so much more than the financial wellness benefits that Salary Finance brings to their employer partners. We talked about Salary Finance’s social purpose and how their work is bringing financial literacy and financial dignity to millions of people.

“At work, poverty is a dirty little secret in America.”

Anita started by graciously sharing her emotional story of growing up without a home address. She got her first taste of financial empowerment from her first job at a McDonald’s in Las Vegas at just fifteen years old. Watching her parents struggle to find their financial footing, Anita knows firsthand the insecurity and taboo that surrounds families who experience financial hardship. Yet so many Americans live paycheck to paycheck–and 25% of them are making over $160,000 per year.

Financial dignity and financial literacy are basic human rights. We as a country—and definitely we as employers—need to provide people with that dignity… We’re all facing financial stress and we should all have the dignity to find that path [forward] and be willing to authentically share that path.

How Salary Finance helps employees journey toward financial dignity

Today, Anita and the team at Salary Finance are partnering with employers to help create inclusive programs that drive cultural change and bring employees along the spectrum toward financial dignity. To her, having financial dignity means employees have the agency to understand their finances and make smart financial decisions. Salary Finance provides tools and interventions that include financial coaching, tech-enabled financial tools, and salary-linked loans that can help individuals rebuild their credit. And they partner with employers for free.

“It’s one thing to educate people and provide financial literacy, but it’s an entirely different thing and much more impactful when you can remove the barriers to lending and saving.”

The cost of financial stress

According to their 2020 study, even before the coronavirus pandemic 42% of employees said that they were stressed because of their financial situation. 79% of employees say their stress level has worsened since the pandemic began. 42% of them don’t have savings to handle an unexpected expense, and 21% of employees borrowed from their retirement savings in 2020. This doesn’t put employees in a position to be financial resilient when unexpected expenses or a loss of income happens.

While Anita subscribes to the late Tony Hsieh’s belief that there are certain things we should do even without a measurable ROI, the cost of financial stress and the ROI on mitigating that stress for corporate employers is crystal clear. 

Financially stressed employees lose an average of 3 hours a week on the job worrying about money. They have an increase in sick days. They are 9 times more likely to produce lower quality work and they’re 10x more likely not to be able to finish their daily tasks. They’re 7.7x more likely to have difficulty getting along with colleagues. They’re also 2x more likely to be looking for a new job and they’re 7x more likely to be depressed. 

A closer look at Salary Finance’s program

The journey starts with an interactive Financial Fitness Score. The assessment helps employees know where they stand on the spectrum from struggling to prospering. They have access to financial coaches, educational curriculum, as well as tools to build savings.

Employees also have the opportunity to borrow against their salary with attractive interest rates (from 5.9% up to to 19.9% annual percentage rate) that often aren’t available to borrowers with subprime credit. By taking loan payments directly from the employee’s paycheck, Salary Finance mitigates their risk, allowing them to be much more inclusive in their lending. As a bonus, Salary Finance reports these regular payments to the credit bureaus, which helps the borrower improve their credit score. 

In a Harvard study on the efficacy of Salary Finance’s program, they found that employers experienced a 28% boost in retention and 11% growth to the bottom line as employees became both more productive and more loyal to the company.   

Listen to the full episode to hear more from Anita on the societal implications of their work.

Anita’s resources

During the show, Anita recommended a new book by Raj Sisodia called The Healing Organization. Anita resonates with his thesis that business is about alleviating suffering and elevating joy. After experiencing her own “sacred moment” in the face of a health complication that threatened her life, Anita became determined to make a difference in some of the ways that Raj discusses in his book. 

Don’t forget to check out the resources available from Salary Finance, including their most recent Annual Survey and their report on Financial Stress in the time of COVID-19.

If you liked the episode, don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform. And to get in touch with Brella, you can email us at sales@joinbrella.com. We’d love to hear from you.

3 Signs Your Health Benefits Strategy Is Costing More Than You Think

by Mike Zarrillo, Chief Revenue Officer, Brella Insurance | February 3, 2021

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to employers that financial stress is a leading cause of anxiety for employees. Because of the coronavirus, finances are tighter than usual for a lot of people. In fact, income is still below pre-pandemic levels for 42% of households.

What may come as a surprise, however, is that this financial stress might be related to gaps in your company’s health benefits strategy. If you’re like most employers, the unrelenting increases in the cost of your health benefits has forced you to make some tough decisions in order to gain financial control. Those tough decisions often result in insurance plans that simply can’t offset the high cost of healthcare for your employees. What may seem good for business isn’t actually good for the people in it: Plans with higher cost-sharing and deductibles burden employees with prohibitive upfront costs that lead to more financial stress.

In turn, employee financial stress can have negative effects on your company. The sleepless nights caused by this kind of stress make employees 10 times more likely to leave daily work tasks unfinished, nine times more likely to have problems with their co-workers, and two times more likely to look for a different job.

So how do you know if your health plan is adding stress to your employees and costing them — and your business — too much? And what should you do to fix it?

Your health benefits strategy might be causing your employees financial stress if…

1. Your employees are delaying healthcare.

Preventive healthcare services are crucial in catching health issues early and keeping more costly treatments at bay. Yet employees are putting off treatment due to the high cost of medical bills. In 2020, 33% of Americans reported either putting off treatment for a medical condition or knowing a family member who had done so in order to save money.

If your health benefits strategy includes higher deductibles and cost-sharing, many of your employees may be forced to do the same thing. With additional COVID-19 concerns in 2020, look out for more claims in 2021 to get an idea of just how common it was for employees to delay care.

2. Your employees are absent or less productive than usual.

The high cost of healthcare doesn’t just impact employees’ stress — it also impacts their productivity. How exactly can financial stress affect employee productivity? The more expensive it is to get treated, the more likely employees are to delay getting care for unresolved or chronic health issues. This, in turn, pushes the stress and health issues to even greater heights.

That’s not a formula that empowers your team to do their best work. Instead, it leads to reduced productivity and increased turnover costs of anywhere between 13% and 18% of your yearly payroll. That means employee stress isn’t just a morale issue — it could be hurting your company’s bottom line.

3. Financial stress is leading to employee health issues.

For many people, the high cost of healthcare is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to financial stress. Worry over credit card debt, student loans, and rent or house payments plague many employees. Add to this the fact that half of adults in the U.S. worry that “a major health event in their household could lead to bankruptcy” and you have a cumulative effect that harms not only employees’ happiness in their personal lives and their productivity at work, but also their health.

People dealing with financial stress are six times more likely to suffer from panic attacks and seven times more likely to suffer from depression. Chronic stress has serious effects on a person’s physical health, too. Not only can it cause headaches and digestive problems, but it can also have more dire repercussions, like increased risk of heart disease. Financial stress and health are inextricably linked, for better or worse.

Brella is here to ease employees’ financial stress.

Fortunately, there are innovative options for mitigating the effects of financial stress on the health of both your employees and your company.

Adding a supplemental health insurance plan like Brella can help employees handle unexpected medical bills. Brella eases the burden of out-of-pocket costs by offering cash-on-diagnosis for more than 13,000 conditions — from broken bones and pneumonia to heart attacks and cancer. Brella can even be added off-cycle so employees don’t have to wait until next year to get help.

We make it easy to file a claim with just a few photos of documents employees usually have on hand after they receive their diagnosis. They’ll be able to file a claim online or via the Brella app in minutes. Once approved, they’ll be paid by Venmo, PayPal, or directly to their bank account within hours, not weeks. 

And we didn’t just make things easy for your employees. Implementation, enrollment, and ongoing administration are 100% paperless, so employers can offer superior supplemental coverage without administrative headaches.  

Together, these changes can put your employees on the path to becoming healthier, more financially supported, and ultimately more productive. That’s not only good news for them — it’s good for your company’s bottom line, too.

If you’d like to learn more about Brella, have your broker get in touch with us at sales@joinbrella.com today.

Better Benefits Podcast Episode #5: The Blueprint for High-Performance Health Benefits with Dave Chase of Health Rosetta

For our fifth episode, we’re joined by Dave Chase, the founder of Health Rosetta, an organization that promotes proven principles for building high-performance health benefits that cost a lot less than what you might be paying today.

Dave starts by sharing how, after grieving the loss of several friends, he discovered his calling to help change health benefits for the better so that families have affordable access to quality care. Since then he’s done just that for thousands of businesses and their teams through his work at Health Rosetta and their network of benefit advisors. 

Listen in as Dave shares his proven blueprint for high performance health-benefits. He also shares the stunning outcomes businesses all over the U.S. are discovering once they adopt Health Rosetta’s mindset and practices. 

High-performance health benefits aren’t expensive

On the Better Benefits podcast, we’ve spent weeks talking about the high cost of health benefits and the rising cost of the health care service underneath these insurance products. But Dave gives us a different perspective at the very beginning of our conversation. 

Healthcare’s actually not expensive. What’s expensive is profiteering, price gouging, administrative bloat, and outright fraud—and inappropriate treatment in some cases, like the opioid crisis. So the question is how do you do it? You just pay for good care. In fact, we would up the pay of a lot of the best high-value healthcare delivery organizations and individual clinicians.

It sounds simple, but how can businesses approach creating less expensive health benefits?

A new blueprint for high-performance health benefits

Just as the LEED organization created a playbook for environmentally friendly buildings and worked with professional architects, Health Rosetta’s health benefits blueprint was designed to help benefit advisors and their clients re-architect their employee health benefit programs. 

LEED’s guidelines didn’t make legacy buildings green overnight, and for good reason. They weren’t just advising putting out recycle bins in old buildings. Becoming LEED certified is a big change and an investment.

LEED’s practices gained popularity in local communities like Portland, Seattle, Boulder, Denver, and Austin—places that really valued taking care of the environment. Similarly, benefit advisors and their clients are catching on to Health Rosetta’s blueprint in local communities across the country that are tired of the high cost of traditional health benefits. 

The blueprint itself begins by creating a transparent relationship between benefits advisors and their clients. Once they’ve established that, the broker gets to work on building a solid foundation of access to quality primary care. From there, they layer on relationships with local hospital systems for more specialized care and pharmacy benefits with competitive prices on prescription medication. Lastly, they create access to other centers of excellence for highly specialized care, such as the Mayo Clinic. 

High-performance health benefits unlock social good

There’s no doubt that re-architecting your company’s health benefits requires an investment of time and energy to build a better set of local relationships with providers who can take care of your team’s health. But done right, the outcomes can be stunning. 

Dave shares the story of Rosen Hotels in the Orlando, FL area. The company redesigned their health benefits some years ago to give their team low cost access to top quality care. This move cumulatively saved $425M over the course of 25 years of success. By reinvesting just 5% of their savings into their local community, they were able to adopt a nearby crime-ridden neighborhood. They invested in kids and education by financing pre-school, daycare, after-school programs, and college tuition. As a result, crime went down 78%, high school graduation rates have gone up to nearly 100%, and Rosen’s team still has one of the best employee health benefits programs in the country. 

Pacific Steel is another company that took the cost of health benefits for 750 employees from $8M down to under $3.5M while benefits improved. As a result of these savings, they have been able to up their investment in their team’s retirement plans. Today, a forklift driver can retire with a 7-figure retirement lump sum. These are the things that become possible when you don’t squander money on overpriced health benefits.

Listen to the full episode to hear more from Dave on the mindset that’s holding employers back and how to overcome this mindset to embrace the changes that could transform your business and your community. 

Dave’s resources

If you’re interested in learning more about the Health Rosetta mindset and strategies to build high-performance health benefits, check out Dave’s books. He has kindly shared a link to his books at www.healthrosetta.org/friends where you can download his books for free (PDF) or find links to purchase at booksellers. During the podcast, we spoke about his latest book—Relocalizing Health: The Future of Health Care is Local, Open, and Independent as well as his earlier book—The CEO’s Guide to Restoring the American Dream.

Other titles that have had a big impact on Dave and his leadership include:

  • The Price We Pay by Marty Makary, which outlines the challenges in healthcare
  • The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday, for inspiration on navigating life’s challenges with the wisdom of the ancient Stoics 

If you liked the episode, don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform. And to get in touch with Brella, you can email us at sales@joinbrella.com. We’d love to hear from you.

Better Benefits Podcast Episode #4: 2021 Trends in Group Benefits with Dick Mucci

For our fourth episode, we sat down with Dick Mucci, former Lincoln Financial Group Protection President, to talk about the dynamics employers are facing with group benefits as we move into 2021. In this wide-ranging conversation, we covered both where group benefits have been historically and where they need to go in 2021 in light of changing employee needs. 

The problems we face in group benefits

We started by asking Dick why he joined Brella’s corporate advisor board. He gave a really concise summary of the challenges and the urgent needs we face together as insurance companies, benefits advisors, and employers when it comes to protecting employees. 

“There is a crying need for insurance coverage for rank and file Americans… I’ve seen too many situations where a family suffers a premature death or someone gets sick or hurt and families suffer, people lose their homes, kids don’t get educated, and we as Americans tend to sweep that under the rug. We don’t pay attention to it until it’s too late. So our mission as an industry is to do a better job of providing protection to Americans first by having them understand the risk and the options they have, and to deliver those options in a very efficient way that’s customer satisfying. Brella is a company that’s making inroads with that type of thinking.”

It’s not enough simply to design better group benefits, they need to be communicated clearly and deliver benefits efficiently. Dick cites Brella’s simpler claims workflow and fast payments as one example of what this looks like.

The history of group benefits

Group benefits first became prevalent in the U.S. after WWII as employers were looking to attract and retain the best employees. Employees at that time didn’t have much choice, but these benefits were appreciated and it’s become embedded in our culture in the U.S. more so than in other countries around the world.

When Dick joined the insurance business in the mid 1970’s, healthcare costs started to increase. Over the years as costs continued to rise, premiums rose, which lead to higher deductibles and increased cost sharing to the point that employers couldn’t afford to cover all the premiums and employees had to contribute more. To keep their benefits package attractive, employers added a wider variety of benefits like dental and life insurance, which were well received. 

Over the years, employees became more focused on their benefits. Not only were there complex choices they needed to make to elect their benefits, but also they were increasingly responsible for sharing the cost of these benefits with their employer.

Where will group benefits go in 2021 and beyond? 

With the high cost of healthcare comes huge risks for the average American family. Group Benefits are in a position to protect those families if insurance companies, brokers, and employers embrace products that offer the protection today’s employees need. Here are the trends Dick sees driving necessary change in 2021 and beyond.

Trend #1: Changing demographics are driving a need for diverse benefit offerings.

Today’s employees have a wide variety of family structures and they’re retiring later. Employees may be childless and unmarried. They may be Gen-X, Y, or Z. They may be caring for kids and aging parents. These dynamics create a wider variety of needs when it comes to employee benefits than we’ve ever seen before, both in terms of the plans themselves, and how to communicate with those employees about their coverage. 

“We need to have more tailoring of insurance programs to better meet the diverse needs of the consumer.”  

Trend #2: Consumers want guidance.

With the plethora of choices available and the option to customize benefits to their needs, this creates a huge need for employee education and guidance. Given the tremendous health crisis we’re facing in our country, consumers are more aware of their risk than ever before—health risk, life risk, unable to work risk—so they’re looking for someone to help them sort that out. 

In research he conducted, Dick saw firsthand that employees who are worried about their financial situation are more stressed, more likely to be absent from work, and less productive overall. This is a huge motivation for employers to keep their benefit programs up to speed with the current needs so that employees can do their best work.

Trend #3: Employers need guidance.

In light of the diversity of products, and the heightened level of risk, the role of the broker has become more important than ever. At the beginning of the pandemic, many employers hesitated to make changes to their benefit offerings, but there’s an opportunity now to bring on new benefits, even through off-cycle enrollments to meet employee’s concerns. 

Listen to the full episode to hear Dick’s recommendations of new products brokers should be looking at in 2021. 

Dick’s leadership resources

If you’re going to lead a group of people, leadership traits are really important, so Dick has studied leadership for years as he grew as a manager of global insurance businesses. While he recommends reading about any leader who’s gone through stressful situations, he especially recommends: 

If you liked the episode, don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform. And to get in touch with Brella, you can email us at sales@joinbrella.com. We’d love to hear from you.

Jumpstart Your 2021 Employee Health Benefits With Off-Cycle Enrollment

by Mike Zarrillo, Chief Revenue Officer, Brella Insurance | January 20, 2021

In the midst of the economic uncertainty of 2020, many businesses hesitated to make major changes to their employee health benefits programs for the 2021 plan year. With employees deferring certain healthcare services to 2021 and the pandemic raging on, we’re entering a year when the ongoing risks and pent up demand for healthcare have never been higher.

For the average family with a deductible and cost-sharing responsibilities, that means medical bills are in the not-too-distant future. Are your employees prepared for that?

Naturally, the coronavirus pandemic has intensified these financial concerns for employees — especially those who reviewed their employee benefits and made elections months ago. They may be unprepared to manage the cost-sharing required by their health plan if they have an unexpected health issue in 2021.

Will you leave them in this situation until 2022?

Rather than waiting, smart benefits advisors and employers are making changes now to improve their employer-sponsored health benefits. Here’s why:

1. Financially stressed employees are less productive.

An illness or injury can happen at any time, and until the majority of our communities are vaccinated, COVID-19 continues to pose a threat. As the year unfolds and the pandemic continues, employees may realize that they selected a plan during the 2020 health insurance enrollment period that leaves them too financially exposed should they need healthcare. Some employees may already have medical bills stacking up, and their financial stress makes them less productive and more likely to be absent from work. 

Smart employers are recognizing this need and working with their brokers to identify solutions, even if it means introducing a new benefit outside of the annual open enrollment period.

2. New benefits can prevent or alleviate financial stress.

Unfortunately, financial stress among employees is real. In fact, 50% of U.S. adults fear bankruptcy due to a major health event. That’s a heartbreaking statistic but one that can be addressed with new benefits designed to prevent or alleviate financial stress.

Brella’s supplemental health insurance plan is one example. Our simple supplemental plan pays cash on diagnosis for any of the 13,000+ covered conditions. It’s designed to help ease the burden of the up-front out-of-pocket costs families must pay with most health insurance plans. 

In addition, financial tools such as HSAs and salary-linked loans can help employees avoid going into debt or borrow responsibly if necessary. Salary-linked loans, such as those from Salary Finance, can even help employees improve their credit so they can finish 2021 in a better financial position. 

3. Off-cycle enrollment can lead to better employee engagement.

Without the noise that comes with the annual open enrollment period, introducing a new employee benefit off-cycle gives employees a better opportunity to learn about the benefit and make a decision that works best for their situation. Plus, a new benefit that starts off-cycle means employees will already be familiar with the program come next Open Enrollment. 

Brella was built to make enrollment a snap no matter what time of year you introduce us to your team. Our standalone enrollment platform, Brella Enroll, provides an end-to-end online education and enrollment experience. In just a few clicks, employees can learn how Brella works and personalize their benefits to meet their individual needs.

Brella makes off-cycle enrollment easy.

Adding Brella off-cycle gives your employees the opportunity to supplement their health benefits at a time when the risks have never been higher. What’s more, our supplemental health insurance plan standardly covers many conditions related to COVID-19*, such as pneumonia, respiratory distress, and respiratory failure. That brings peace of mind so employees can focus on doing their best work.

Health-related benefits are valued above all other employee benefits, so an easy-to-use supplemental health insurance plan will support your employee retention efforts. Don’t let “we missed the open-enrollment window” stand in the way of providing benefits that employees will appreciate. It’s never the wrong time to bring employees much-needed peace of mind. Instead of waiting, strengthen your employee benefits package with off-cycle enrollment in a robust supplemental health plan that meets employees’ needs now when they need it most.

If you’d like to learn more about Brella, have your broker get in touch with us at sales@joinbrella.com today.

*Please note that a COVID-19 diagnosis is not a covered condition. However, as described above, associated medical conditions may be covered.

Better Benefits Podcast Episode #3: Dramatically Reduce your Health Benefit Costs with Josh Butler

For our third episode, we sat down with Josh Butler, President of Butler Benefits, a leading benefits advisory firm in Amarillo, TX. Josh was kind enough to share the mindset and road-tested strategies he’s using with his clients to deliver dramatically lower healthcare costs—an impressive feat in a time when health insurance premiums and deductibles seem to be perpetually on the rise. 

The secret to lowering your health benefit costs

It all starts, Josh says, with having an advisor, or being an advisor, who is bringing creative solutions. A recent client came to Butler Benefits facing a 46% annual rate increase in their health benefits. Josh and his team spent a few days looking over the group’s situation and came back with a solution that cut that down to only a 2% increase in premiums. How did they do it? They weren’t afraid to fire a major insurance company and partner with smaller, more collaborative partners in the community who are willing to compete for his client’s health benefits dollars.  

Josh is quick to mention that these aren’t all proprietary ideas unique to Butler Benefits. A lifelong learner, Josh has crowdsourced strategies from other broker advisors through the Health Rosetta network to bring the best solutions possible to his clients. 

The challenges that hold employers and brokers back

Fear of change and perceived switching costs tend to stand in the way, but ultimately those costs pay off if you’re able to truly deliver a superior health benefits package that saves an employer money. In the beginning, it’s twice as much work for half the money when you look at totally restructuring the healthcare supply chain. But for many employers, this brings massive savings, and when employers see how much lower the costs can be, they become motivated enough to insist on making a change. It’s a big reason why Butler Benefits is renewing so much business this year.

Josh brings his clients some tough love as he helps educate them to the point that they’re willing to make a change. 

Josh says:   

“I’m not blaming you for doing it the way you’ve always done it all these years. You didn’t know any better. But now you know. Now you’re responsible. Now what are you going to do about it? Are you gonna keep doing it the old way? Or are you going to put that aside because you see how bad it is, how many people it’s hurting in this country, and go do something different? We just challenge people that way. What are you gonna do? Are we gonna be part of the problem or are we gonna be part of the solution? And that’s just a choice people gotta make.” 

Tune in to the full episode to hear more from Josh, including how he managed to erase $1.3M in medical debt for 730 people in Amarillo, TX.

We know you’re going to feel truly inspired after this time spent with Josh. To connect with him, visit http://butler-benefits.com.  And to get in touch with Brella, you can email us at sales@joinbrella.com