Brian Latkowski

Maximize Your Insurance Plan with Non-Insured Benefits

The purpose of health insurance is to protect the insured from unexpected, high medical costs. But if the insurance plan isn’t completely understood or being used to its full potential, employers and employees will lose money (and face increasing premiums) due to unnecessary services and inconsistent care.

Non-insured benefits provide a strategic complement to insurance plans, working together to improve health outcomes, save money, and promote a happier, healthier workforce. Benefits like advocacy, price transparency, and telehealth services work hand-in-hand with insurance, help employees become smarter healthcare consumers, and deliver employers more “bang for their buck” on benefits.

Compass Healthcare Navigation and Price Transparency

Compass helps employees find high-quality, cost-effective care by optimizing their network and providing guidance on healthcare decisions. As part of implementation, Compass loads benefit schedules and network information into their systems, integrating with your insurance plan so employees have an immediate resource to help navigate and utilize their benefits. With Compass, employees can connect with a Health Pro who will help them understand their insurance plan, find the best provider for their needs, coordinate lower cost options for care, review medical bills and resolve errors, and more.

Say one of your employees has a high-deductible health plan with an HSA, and their primary care physician just recommended they see a specialist for their high blood pressure. The employee can call their Compass Health Pro and ask for help finding a cardiologist who works within 10 miles, has more than 8 years of experience, and is under 65 years old (really, you can get that specific with your preferences). The Health Pro will find providers within network who fit these parameters, show cost comparisons, explain how the employee’s insurance plan covers specialist visits, and even schedule the appointment. If the cardiologist recommends an expensive procedure, the Health Pro can coordinate with the provider to determine how to lower the cost, potentially by moving the procedure to another day or location. Then, the Health Pro can estimate any out-of-pocket costs the employee should expect and review their medical bill to make sure they aren’t over-billed. And that just scratches the surface of what Compass can do.

Without Compass, an employee in the same scenario may just accept whatever cardiologist referral their PCP gives, not knowing the provider is out of network, then overpay for both the appointment and the procedure.

One of Compass’ clients, national wireless carrier T-Mobile, saw an average $516 savings per employee in their first nine months with Compass. In an example of how T-Mobile utilizes Compass, their case study mentions an employee needing a CT scan. The Health Pro called the ordering physician to confirm a CT scan was needed and not another type of imaging procedure, then researched nearby facilities. The employee received three high-quality and cost-effective options from the Health Pro, saving money for both the employee and T-Mobile.

Telehealth Services

Telehealth continues to grow, not just in popularity and utilization, but also in the complexity of services provided. Along with traditional telemedicine visits with a doctor, several telehealth providers also offer access to therapists through their telebehavioral health counseling services. By expanding their services, telehealth gives employees an additional source to address different aspects of their health, from physical to mental.

Telehealth doesn’t need to be an “other” for healthcare. In fact, doctors, therapists, and other telehealth providers can help employees use their medical plans more efficiently without sacrificing continuity of care. When an employee has a minor medical issue, like a cold or pink eye, telemedicine can treat it just as easily as a brick-and-mortar clinic. The telemedicine doctor can review the employee’s medical history to provide appropriate care, then send the consultation and prescription to the employee’s primary care physician to have on record.

In the same way, if an employee receives counseling through their telehealth service, the therapist can keep consultations on the medical record, ensuring that any other provider has a full picture of the employee’s health for treatment. With the option of telehealth, the employee is able to pay minimal out-of-pocket costs.

Pharmacy Guidance with Compass

Along with the healthcare navigation and price transparency services mentioned above, Compass Health Pros can also assist with the compliance and cost management of prescription medications. Pharmaceuticals are one of the top drivers of medical costs, so having a resource partner that guides employees to make cost-effective decisions about their prescriptions can limit the impact to healthcare costs.

Compass Health Pros have access to the insurance plan formulary and can help limit the out-of-pocket expense by making sure the employee is taking the correct medication, and by comparing medication prices. The employee is able to use their prescription plan more effectively with this guidance from the Health Pro.

The Dynamic Duo

Non-insured benefits like Compass and telehealth services can work hand-in-hand with any insurance plan. They not only fill in the gaps, but enhance the effectiveness of insurance benefits, promoting a healthier and more productive workforce.

Rising healthcare costs show no signs of slowing down, so we have to make a more substantial change to how we tackle those costs if we want to see a real improvement. That means thinking beyond adjusting premiums and diversifying insurance plans.

Give me a call if you’d like to learn how New Benefits can help your clients strategically engage their employees with these complementary solutions.

Brian Option 1

Brian Latkowski, EVP of Global Sales
(512) 567-5425

Copyright © 2019 by New Benefits, Ltd.  All rights reserved.

Five Reasons Employers Should Offer Non-Insured Benefits

In the benefits world, the one thing we can rely on to be consistent is change. The demographics of the workplace are constantly evolving – generational shifts, varying employment status, etc. – and healthcare costs are rising year over year. Typical health insurance plans don’t adapt to these changes, leaving gaps in employees’ coverage. To build continuity into this ever-shifting landscape, employers are turning more and more to non-insured benefits.

Life, disability, accident, and other insurance-based voluntary benefits were the original trend-setters for bridging the gap in insurance coverage, but non-insured benefits are swiftly being added to the lineup. As the name implies, non-insured benefits are not covered by insurance – there are no premiums, claims, or deductibles. Benefits like telemedicine, identity theft protection, and caregiver resources can be offered alongside insurance plans to help employees save money on healthcare and lifestyle expenses. The adoption rate of non-insured benefits is accelerating quickly, even more so than the trajectory of insurance-based voluntary benefits 10 years ago.

There really is no better time to encourage employers to add non-insured benefits to their overall benefit program. With retention and recruiting top of mind in a tight labor market, non-insured benefits are an excellent way to enhance and differentiate a strong benefits program from an average one. Employers also have more discretionary dollars for benefits with the recent tax reform offering some financial stability. On average, New Benefits sees approximately 70% of our plan sponsor customers paying 100% of the cost for their employees’ non-insured benefits.

If your clients need a push in the right direction, here are five reasons you can use to encourage employers to get on board with non-insured benefits.

1. Create Continuity
Not all employees are eligible for or enrolled in their company’s health plan. Employees across the workplace may waive coverage, have a different 1099 status, or live in a different state/country with an unequal level of coverage. If the insurance plan includes telemedicine or an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), only those enrolled in the plan have access. When these services are added as non-insured benefits, all employees can use them regardless of enrollment status, bridging the gaps and creating continuity across the program’s reach.

2. Differentiate Employee Access
ERISA sets legal standards for health insurance coverage. Since non-insured benefits are not subject to ERISA, employers can choose how employees access these benefits, based on employee rank, enrollment status, etc. For example, some employers may offer to pay for access to telemedicine and/or healthcare cost transparency tools as an incentive to participate in self-funded medical plans. They can also make this benefit available through payroll deduction for those who waive medical coverage.

3. Address Part-time/1099 Employees
Part-time and contract employees are just as critical to a company’s success as full-time employees, and even though their numbers are increasing, they don’t have the same access to benefits. The flexibility of non-insured benefits allows employers to offer part-time employees savings on dental care, vision, prescriptions, and other healthcare expenses. This flexibility extends to funding options, like direct pay or payroll deduction, and the ability to push administration of these benefits to a partner like New Benefits.

4. Minimize the “Cost Shift”
As employers implement High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) and/or increase PPO deductibles as a way to reduce healthcare spend, employees and their dependents face significant out of pocket costs every year. The average annual deductible for all covered employees is over $1,200, and over $2,000 for those with a HDHP. Prescription drugs are one of the biggest cost issues, with employees sometimes paying $100 or more for their prescriptions under their insurance plan. As an alternative, a pharmacy discount program can offer savings between 10 and 85%. My family is enrolled in a HDHP where prescriptions are subject to the deductible, and a prescription for codeine cough syrup can cost $80. With my Rx discount card, it’s only $40. Alternative saving options empower employees to make every dollar count!

5. Fill the Gap
Traditional ancillary benefits like dental and vision insurance have their limitations. They’re subject to a benefit schedule with a maximum use cap, leaving any additional services in that calendar year to come out of pocket. And because these often-expensive benefits are usually offered on a voluntary payroll deduction basis, many employees choose not to enroll. Non-insured discount dental and vision plans can be a terrific gap-filler. Employees can save hundreds of dollars on services, whether they’re using the discounts in place of insurance or after reaching their maximum. Instead of paying $100 for a dental cleaning, a discount dental program could save an employee between 15 and 50%* off that cash price.

Clients are thirsting for new ways to add value to their benefit programs in today’s competitive landscape. Use these five reasons to start the conversation with your clients about enhancing their benefit program with non-insured benefits.

*Actual costs and savings vary by provider, service, and geographical area.

Brian Option 1


Brian Latkowski, EVP of Global Sales

Copyright © 2018 by New Benefits, Ltd.  All rights reserved.





Be Prepared for the Unexpected: How to Proactively Help Working Caregivers

A few years ago, my grandmother fell down the stairs of the house she was living in alone. This one event resulted in two major changes: My grandmother had to give up her independence and her home to get the help she needed; and my mom was suddenly thrust into a new role she wasn’t prepared for – caregiver.

After a tough conversation about my grandmother’s need for help, we decided to sell her house and look for an elder care home. My mom spent months researching quality, affordable assisted living facilities, eventually finding one where my grandmother lived for two years before her health worsened. Difficult decisions piled up again as my mom had to review healthcare options, face an emergency hospital visit, then research skilled nursing facilities.

When my grandmother passed away, my mom had been a full-time caregiver for more than three years.

The Caregiving Generation

As challenging as my family’s experience was, it wasn’t unique. 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day, and as this generation ages and faces riskier health issues, their adult children may suddenly find themselves in an unexpected caregiver role.

I think the surprise of the situation is a big part of what makes caregiving so difficult. Your dad could be the picture of health, then suddenly have a stroke. Just like that, you have to figure out how to decipher insurance policies and legal matters, whether dad should move in with you or you should hire an in-home caregiver, and how to even begin a conversation with your dad about accepting help.

Along with managing these unexpected caregiving responsibilities, 60% of family caregivers also have jobs. Trying to balance both without overlap is pretty much impossible, so productivity levels might drop while their stress levels skyrocket.

Empower and Support Working Caregivers

Companies are losing $34 billion every year due to absenteeism, lost productivity, and healthcare costs related to caregiver employees. Employers have an opportunity to address the potential challenges for their workforce by proactively offering caregiver support, ensuring employees have the right resources as soon as the need arises.

New Benefits offers a solution through our Carepack, a bundle of five caregiving support tools covering everything from healthcare and legal guidance to assisted living and provider references. The Carepack is now available for brokers, agents, and consultants to offer to their groups.

One of the Carepack tools is an online caregiver support platform through Cariloop. In this video, you can see how Cariloop help improved these members’ caregiving situations with their variety of resources.

Learn more about the Carepack by downloading this sales page, and talk to New Benefits if you’re ready to start offering this program to your groups.

Brian Latkowski
– Brian Latkowski, EVP

Copyright © 2018 by New Benefits, Ltd. All rights reserved.

Promoting a Culture of Health

Okay, I’ll admit… promoting a culture of health today within the workforce is not exactly like pressing the “easy button.” But there are solutions, which can be deployed with minimal staff resources and expertise while fitting into those tight budgets employers unfortunately have to continue to manage.

Employers are looking to their trusted advisors for new ways to engage employees because their needs are more diverse than ever.  Yes, we still attempt to tailor benefits offerings based on generational categories like Millennials, GEN X, Boomers and now GEN Z.  However, trying to match the right benefits based on these categories alone is not enough.  Employees change jobs more frequently, work is no longer confined to the office and workers are pushing retirement further down the road. Employees no longer see a clear delineation between work and life… they want more than balance. They want harmony.

Defining a Culture of Health

Historically, employees have looked to their employer for help with their physical needs (e.g., health insurance, wellbeing), but today’s multidimensional employee is also asking for help with their financial, mental and social needs.  According to the 2017 MetLife Annual Trend Study, 74% of employees agree having insurance/benefits provides peace of mind for the unexpected. Additionally, 66% of employers agree that employees are less productive at work when worried about personal finance problems.

Additional Employee Benefits to Consider

  • Telemedicine & advocacy resources
  • Healthcare cost transparency tools
  • Financial wellness, Budget/Debt tools
  • College loan programs
  • Personal protection & financial security (e.g., ID theft, Legal)
  • Caregiver support resources
  • Consumer savings programs (e.g., cell phones, cable TV, retail)
  • Discount medical programs to complement traditional insurance or fill gaps where no insurance exists

Top 5 Easy Button Considerations

Deploying additional benefits above and beyond traditional programs like medical, life, dental, disability and a retirement plan has its challenges for most plan sponsors.  HR departments have limited budgets and are generally at max capacity when it comes to benefits administration.  Follow these 5 “easy button” guidelines to help evolve your clients’ benefits programs to meet the needs of a diverse employee base.

  1. Only settle for best-in-class providers.  The alternative benefits arena is exploding with new players daily.  Partner with tenured companies that deliver ROI.
  2. Worksite pricing versus retail.  Partner with organizations that understand and price their products for the worksite–the savings can be huge!
  3. Multidiscipline companies and/or wholesale aggregators.  Ease the administrative burden by working with companies that can deliver multiple benefits on a single administrative platform.
  4. Flexible funding options.  Although many of these products require no underwriting, make sure you have the ability to offer these benefits employer paid, voluntary payroll deduct, or on a direct pay basis (think part-time employees).
  5. Post enrollment marketing and service support.  Find those partners that help with ongoing promotion of the program to increase awareness and utilization.  These benefits tend to raise a lot of questions at the employee level, so choosing partners that embed customer service in their product will further minimize the administration burden felt by the HR staff.

Ready to start promoting a culture of health? Contact New Benefits today to find out how easy it is to offer unique solutions to encourage not only physical health, but also financial and emotional wellbeing.

Brian Latkowski–Brian Latkowski, EVP

Copyright © 2018 by New Benefits, Ltd.  All rights reserved.


Engaging Millennials in the Workforce

While reading the latest issue of Benefitspro Magazine, I stumbled upon an intriguing statistic: “More than 1 in 3 American workers today are millennials (adults ages 18 to 34), and they have officially surpassed Generation X to become the largest segment of the American workforce.”[1]

The article goes on to discuss how this group expects to receive information. For millennials, it’s all about instant gratification. They want access at their fingertips – online and on their mobile devices. Millennials want to be connected with everything – just look at the way they “connect” to friends, companies, and brands through social media.

ThinkstockPhotos-472848510There’s a lesson here for the insurance industry:  In order to reach this generation, we need to engage them with technology and, you guessed it, mobile apps. The good news is several employee benefit apps already exist. It’s our job as consultants to make employees aware of these apps and when to use them.

Top Five Benefit Mobile Apps for Millennials

  1. Acute care: Although millennials may feel invincible, they still get sick. Most telehealth providers offer a mobile app to access physicians 24/7. Employees can reach doctors anytime, anywhere – even on weekends and late at night. It’s perfect for millennials who are constantly on the go and don’t want to be held up by a cough, cold, or flu.
  2. Healthcare advice: Many millennials are new to the workforce and don’t understand insurance. Health advocacy mobile apps provide a place to call for questions related to benefits, insurance, doctors, treatments, and more.
  3. Health questions: Everyone has health questions, like how to sleep better or how to treat a bug bite. Millennials turn to Google for answers, but the sources can rarely be trusted. Instead, they could be using an app like eDocAmerica to consult with a medical team via messaging on the app.
  4. Healthcare costs: Since millennials may not have paid for medical services before, a price transparency tool is paramount to show them the vast difference in cost among various providers. Employees will not only save money, but also learn to make educated healthcare decisions.
  5. Food, travel, and events: Millennials are big on experiences. Beyond health benefits, employers can provide discount apps to help employees save on restaurants, concerts, excursions, and travel.

New technologies and solutions are launched so quickly it is often hard to keep up. As an industry, we need to recognize how millennials want to receive information, embrace these changes, and incorporate these technologies into our own businesses. Mobile apps will continue to increase in popularity, and if the insurance industry doesn’t get on board, we’ll be left behind. According to a recent Barclays study, 6 out of 10 employees rate a comprehensive benefit package as a high priority when looking for a new job. So the more you can diversify your offerings and appeal to more audiences, the better.

Brian Latkowski–Brian Latkowski, EVP

Copyright © 2016 by New Benefits, Ltd.  All rights reserved.

[1] Pew Research Center, “Millennials surpass Gen Xers as the largest population in U.S. labor force,” Richard Fry, May 11, 2015

Identity Theft: It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when it will happen to you!

Brian LatkowskiMy Story

I submitted my 2014 tax return on April 15th of 2015.  I am rarely a “last minute guy” on anything I do, but when the Federal Government comes calling for money, I’ll wait until the last possible minute to mail in my return.  Two weeks later, I received a letter in the mail from the IRS requesting a call.  My first thought was, “Oh my gosh… I’m being audited and I need to call my accountant immediately.” After examining the letter more closely, the IRS was asking me to verify my identity.  I could not believe it, was this really happening to me?  There is no possible way my identity could be stolen; I am the guy that shreds everything!  Calling the IRS is scary. My mind began swimming with questions: Am I actually talking to the IRS? How long is this going to take?  The representative grilled me about my financial life as far as 10 years back to verify my identity. Then they told me someone had filed an erroneous tax return in my name.

The good news is the IRS didn’t pay out my refund to the thief. The IRS caught 19 million suspicious tax returns last year and blocked more than $63 billion in fraudulent refunds. On the other hand, fraudsters still walked away with $5.8 billion in tax refunds the same year.[i] Lesson learned: call the IRS immediately if you receive a notification like I did!

Talk About Stress

The IRS mailed me information on steps to take and entities to contact to resolve the issue. It took me a full two weeks and time away from work to make the calls (none of the offices were open nights or weekends). I waited an additional two months before the IRS confirmed my tax return was filed appropriately and my identity theft incident was put on my record. Beyond the time and effort I spent correcting this issue, the anxiety and stress made it difficult to manage everything else going on at work and at home.

Now that I’m a member of ID Sanctuary Premium, a service that monitors my PII (personally identifiable information) and sends me a monthly report confirming my good name, I have a greater level of comfort. While no company can guarantee my identity won’t be stolen, having this service working behind the scenes greatly helps. They regularly scan databases, internet surveillance and other reports for your PII, alert you if suspicious activity is found, and will walk you step-by-step through the resolution process if needed so you won’t have to do it on your own.

Why Employers Should Pay Attention

Identity theft protection needs to be integrated into client conversations just like telehealth. ID Theft Protection is just as important as medical insurance to keep employees safe. What’s in it for employers? Peace of mind leads to increased productivity, reduced presenteeism, and decreased absenteeism. Employees can strike a better work/life balance when they have someone on their side to help with these time-consuming issues.

A month ago, I received a letter from the IRS with a special PIN. I am not able to file my 2015 taxes without this PIN, which is supposed to help block additional fraudulent filings in my name. However, if you’ve seen the latest news, the IRS was just hacked and millions of these PINs were stolen. Comforting, right? Take it from me—get educated on ID theft and be proactive in monitoring and guarding your identity. It could be the difference between collecting your own refund check this year and letting a scam artist take your money.

–Brian Latkowski, EVP of Sales

Copyright © 2016 by New Benefits, Ltd.  All rights reserved.

[i] ABC News, 2015

The Workforce is A-Changin’

Brian LatkowskiBob Dylan hit the nail on the head when he sang, “The times they are a-changin’.” Even though that was written decades ago, it still applies, especially to today’s workforce. And brokers need to adapt if they want to survive.

The American workforce continues to expand beyond full-time W2 employees to an increasing number of contracted and part-time employees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are now 27.7 million people working part-time (less than 35 hours a week) in the U.S[1].

Obamacare critics say the growth of part-timers is the direct result of healthcare system pressures pushing employers to reduce hours. Others point to innovative business models like Uber, which are bringing more contracted employees into the workforce. No matter what the cause, brokers need to be in tune with this growing part-timer trend.

A Golden Opportunity

Virtually every company—whether it’s a small or mid-size business or a massive corporation—employs part-time workers. While their role may not be as significant as full-time employees, part-timers are integral to the success of these companies.

Therefore, retention of part-time workers is just as important as full-time employees. Plus, the majority of part-time employees don’t have access to a core benefits program. This opens up a world of opportunity for brokers. If you can present clients with perks to keep their contracted and part-time employees healthy, happy and loyal, you’ll be way ahead of the competition.

Part-Timers are Uber Important

In this day and age, contracted W-9 associates are critical to the success of many companies. Take Uber for example. Recently valued at an unprecedented $41 billion[2], this smartphone-based ride-sharing car service has exploded in the past six years. Without part-time drivers, Uber wouldn’t even exist.

In fact, I recently caught a ride from a young Uber driver, who told me the part-time gig is a great way to earn extra cash while she pursues another career. When I told her about some of the solutions New Benefits offers, she said they sounded awesome. Although Uber provides some benefits, she said it’s nothing she actually needs.

This got me to thinking. If Uber continues to expand at its current breakneck speed, the company will continue to hire more and more part-time workers. Other companies will undoubtedly follow suit, mimicking Uber’s genius business model. Smart brokers will cater to this demographic and offer solutions designed to boost part-time worker retention for employers.

As a broker, what’s in it for you? Let’s see: client retention, additional revenue and an expanding brokerage firm, just to name a few. After all, you’re adding a different employee to the voluntary scenario: part-time associates. Plus, providing benefits to part-time and contracted workers helps you round out your employee benefits practice, which gives you an edge on the competition.

New Benefits provides solutions designed to help part-time employees stretch their healthcare and lifestyle dollars. From vision to lab and imaging to prescription drug discounts, these valuable benefits reduce out-of-pocket expenses for part-timers. Telehealth also provides a low-cost option for part-time employees to receive care for non-emergency medical issues. (Check out Marti’s blog to learn more about these perks.)

The most successful brokers are full-service; and part-time employees represent yet another essential gap that needs to be filled. Offer your clients knowledge and expertise about part-time populations and customized solutions for these workers, and you’ll be as good as gold.



–Brian Latkowski, EVP Global Sales

Copyright © 2015 by New Benefits, Ltd.  All rights reserved.

Hitting a “Home Run” with Your Exchange

In my March blog, I wrote about the increasing popularity of exchanges and suggested some essential research steps to providing the right benefit mix in your exchange. (Hint: It’s not a cookie-cutter solution.)

  • Who is your exchange enrollee? From age demographics, income levels to industries represented.
  • Traditional benefits offered: PPO/Copay offering vs. HDHP/MEC plans
  • Traditional benefits NOT offered: Non-Traditional benefits can play a meaningful role by complementing and filling gaps.
  • Quality versus quantity: A strategic mix of programs that will empower, not overwhelm, the enrollee.

Yet even if you carefully follow these steps, it will only get you to first or second base with your exchange strategy. The next step in creating an exchange is finding a simple yet intuitive technology platform. Unfortunately, many of the technology solutions out there today are at best glorified benefits administration platforms, which engage the consumer in a one-way conversation. These platforms leave brokers stuck on second base, still searching for the elusive exchange strategy that will set them apart from the competition.

So how can you hit an exchange homerun? You’ve got to start a two-way conversation.

Stop monologuing

The enrollment process for the consumer has always been a one-way conversation, a monologue: “Here are your benefits, Mr. Employee. Good luck.” When it comes to exchanges, this approach is ineffective. You’ve got to engage Mr. Employee by asking questions. His answers will allow you to pinpoint and make available the solutions that best fit his unique needs.

When you stop monologuing and start asking questions, you might be surprised by what you hear! For example, according to an AON survey, 54% of consumers ranked having access to cost and quality data across multiple insurance companies as being valuable.[1] Does your exchange include the right solutions to meet those needs?

New Benefits offers a powerful transparency solution called Health Cost Estimator+. This product drives smarter decisions and reduces medical costs by giving employees the cost, quality and other key information they need to choose the best care at the best price. By removing the mystery and helping them understand the full costs of their care, Health Cost Estimator+ will change the way employees access the healthcare system.

In the same AON survey, nearly 60% of consumers said they think employers should offer free tools to raise awareness of personal health status and risks and provide programs to help their employees achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle. How can you meet this need? Consider Health Wealth Connection, a wellness program designed to help employees manage their physical health and personal finances, including guided assessments and weekly tips on health, money and stress management.

You’ll never know what employees want if you don’t ask them. Once you’ve started the dialogue and understand their desires, it’s time to find the right mix of solutions to meet those needs. And that is how you hit an exchange homerun.

[1] Aon Hewitt 2014 Consumer Health Mindset Survey

Brian Latkowski–Brian Latkowski, EVP Global Sales

Copyright © 2015 by New Benefits, Ltd.  All rights reserved.

Superior Customer Service Is No Longer a Luxury

121200452These days, every company’s livelihood depends on its level of customer service. Did you know U.S. brands lose approximately $41 billion each year due to poor customer service [1]? To make matters worse, 65% of surveyed consumers said they’ve cut ties with a brand over a single poor customer service experience [2]. Of course, most brokers realize this—which is why they are all about providing top-notch customer service to their employer groups.

But as a broker, it can be tricky when you have to rely on outside forces to provide customer service. What happens when you have to turn members over to representatives of the products you promote? Whether the product is traditional medical or non-traditional, you have an obligation to ensure your members receive a first-class customer service experience—or else you risk losing their business.

Fostering member loyalty

The fastest way to build member loyalty is to provide members with multiple customer service touch-points. In other words, members should have several outlets to ask questions about their insurance products. Today’s multi-generational workforce is incredibly diverse, and each unique worker navigates healthcare differently. While some employees want to call and speak to an actual person, others prefer to access their benefits information online or via their Smartphone.

At New Benefits, we provide program members with a call center and a member website ( Our call center reps speak both English and Spanish. Internally, we call this department “Member Loyalty” because the team genuinely cares about providing the best service, which leads to higher member retention.

Case in point: I recently received a testimonial from one of our marketers who used our Lab Testing benefit. He had never used the benefit before, and the receptionist at the lab didn’t know how the program worked. So he called our Member Loyalty center from the lab. Within a matter of minutes, they gave him all the details he needed to use the benefit, and he ended up saving $316 off his $753 bill. That’s a savings of 55%! If it weren’t for the first-class customer service he received from our Member Loyalty center, he may have skipped using the benefit altogether—and missed out on some significant savings.

Education is still king

While outstanding customer service is an absolute necessity these days, education is the key to success in the benefits arena. Since non-insured benefits are not common knowledge to most consumers, it’s important to teach employees how to tap into these valuable solutions in conjunction with their insurance.

When you help employees understand how to best leverage their benefits—all while providing a positive member experience—it will boost utilization and morale, decrease healthcare spending and help you build a truly loyal customer base. Satisfaction guaranteed!

Brian Latkowski–Brian Latkowski, EVP Global Sales

Copyright © 2015 by New Benefits, Ltd.  All rights reserved.

[1] 2013 NewVoiceMedia Survey

[2]  2014 Parature State of Multichannel Customer Service Survey

Got Exchange?

Gotmilk imageRemember those Got Milk® ads? They were everywhere. These days, this catchy tagline would work just as well for exchanges. Maybe something like, “Got Exchange? If you don’t, it’s time to get on board.”

According to an Accenture study, in just two years, approximately one in five Americans will purchase benefits from a health insurance exchange. “The growth of private exchanges is rapidly transforming the benefits landscape, providing more flexibility to consumers and more opportunities for brokers to consult with their clients on this evolving benefits delivery model,” says Doug Field, Founder & CEO of IHC. As exchanges skyrocket in popularity, brokers, employers and consumers must do their homework to figure out how this solution fits into the already complicated healthcare puzzle.

Find the right recipe

Today, exchanges offer solutions far beyond traditional benefits—from telehealth to health advocacy and voluntary programs. But here’s the secret sauce: Exchanges must provide purchasers with unique solutions without bombarding them with too many choices. Consumers want to feel empowered; not overwhelmed.

If you want to serve up a successful exchange, the key is to provide product flexibility. It’s not about creating a max-product offering. Rather, it’s about hitting all the hot buttons for each distinctive group by offering a strategic, customized and thoughtful mix of programs. In other words, consumers want a balance between quality vs. quantity.

Avoid cookie-cutter solutions

Every exchange enrollee is different, which means cookie-cutter solutions simply won’t work. Take a closer look at your clients’ demographic. Who is going to visit this exchange? What product mix will be most relevant to this group?

Here are a few more factors to consider when deciding what to offer in an exchange:

  • Income levels: Low wage earners vs. white collar
  • Traditional Benefits offered: PPO/Copay offerings vs. HDHP
  • Traditional Benefits NOT offered: Non-traditional benefits can play a meaningful role by complementing and filling gaps.
  • Geography: Unlike metro areas, rural areas do not have easy access to medical professionals. This presents a greater opportunity for benefits like Telehealth and Doctor Online.

You have to delve deeper into these questions before you can determine which products to offer. Present your clients with a complete solution by providing a thoughtful mix of traditional and non-traditional products that meet their employees’ needs.

Want to learn more about how to provide the right benefit mix in your exchange? Don’t miss the IHC Private Exchange FORUM expo in Dallas, Texas, March 31 – April 1. I’ll be discussing this topic as part of a selected panel of experts at a special session (see details below). I hope to see you there!

LEARN SESSION 101 – Providing the Right Benefit Mix in Your Exchange – Supplemental Health, Voluntary Benefits and More

Moderator: Rick A. Strater, Division VP & National Exchange Practice Leader, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.

Panelists: Brian Latkowski, Executive Vice President Global Sales, New Benefits; JoAnne K. Novak, AVP Business Development, Hartville Pet Insurance Group/ASPCA Pet Health Insurance; Thomas J. Dimmer, Vice President–Business Development, Individual Markets & Exchanges, Renaissance Dental, Renaissance Life & Health Insurance Company of America; and others To Be Announced

Brian Latkowski–Brian Latkowski, EVP Global Sales

Copyright © 2015 by New Benefits, Ltd.  All rights reserved.

Got Milk?® , and the Got Milk?®  logo, are trademarks or registered trademarks of the California Milk Processor Board or its subsidiaries in the U.S. and in other countries.

Don’t Be A Late Adopter

Brian Latkowski

Years ago, I invited a friend over to watch a football game. After a controversial play, he asked me to rewind and pause the game so we could see exactly what happened.
When I told him I couldn’t do that, he looked at me like I had two heads and said, “You mean you don’t have TiVo?”

It turns out I was the only person in our group of friends who didn’t have a DVR. I was a (gulp!) late adopter. Why do I tell you this? To save you from the embarrassment I felt during that game. Soon after, I purchased TiVo. And of course, this brilliant technology has revolutionized my television viewing experience.

Similarly, Telehealth can greatly improve your benefit conversations with your clients. Don’t wait until your clients ask you about this valuable benefit. Because if you have to admit you don’t have it, you’ll look like you are behind the times.

A Growing Demand

Employer interest in Telehealth is skyrocketing. Implementation of Telehealth programs is expected to reach 37% in 2015, with another 34% considering this option in 2017[1]. It’s time for brokers to get educated about this increasingly popular benefit.

Here are four critical Telehealth facts you need to know:

1. Telehealth is the ideal solution for common illnesses. 

This benefit is most commonly used for:

  • Sinus problems
  • Urinary Tract Infection
  • Pink Eye
  • Bronchitis
  • Upper Respiratory Infection
  • Nasal congestion
  • Allergies
  • Flu
  • Cough
  • Ear infection

2. Telehealth is incredibly easy.

Here’s how it works: Once a member completes their medical history online, they’re ready to request a phone consultation. A doctor calls back within 16 minutes, on average. The doctor listens to the member’s symptoms, diagnoses the issue and prescribes medication when necessary. The doctor then calls in the prescription to the member’s specified pharmacy of choice.

3. Telehealth saves employers a bundle.

This valuable benefit redirects ER and urgent care over-utilization to a more affordable option. Check out just how much employers save through Telehealth[2]:

  • Average cost of an ER visit = $1,477
  • Average cost of urgent care = $163
  • Average cost of a specialist = $196
  • Average cost of primary care physician = $131
  • Average cost of Telehealth consultation through New Benefits = $0

4. Telehealth drives employee engagement.

New Benefits provides each member with a personalized welcome kit and membership card. We can also provide drip marketing including brochures, flyers and emails to keep Telehealth front of mind throughout the year.

Don’t be the only one in your group with an old flip phone. Add Telehealth to your lineup today. New Benefits specializes in offering Telehealth with other non-insured benefits to provide a complete healthcare solution. Give me a call or watch this video to learn more about Telehealth and other innovative solutions.

– Brian Latkowski, EVP Global Sales

Copyright © 2014 by New Benefits, Ltd.  All rights reserved.

[1] Source: Towers Watson 2014 Health Care Changes Ahead Survey Report

[2] Source: Teladoc, 2014.

Make a New Year’s Resolution that Counts

Brian LatkowskiAs the end of the year grows near, ‘tis the season for festive holiday parties, tacky Christmas sweaters and decking the halls.  It’s also that magical time of year when healthcare plans change and deductibles reset. On that front, I’ve got good news and bad news: The good news is premiums are decreasing. The bad news is deductibles are increasing.

Since 2009, the average deductible has increased 47% to $1,217 compared to $826 in 2009. This year, 41% of American workers face an annual deductible of at least $1,000, including 18% who face a deductible of at least $2,000.*

As a result, consumers need to consider their costs throughout the year and tap into benefits that will help them save money.

Two Metal Mouths = A Small Fortune

As a father and husband, I understand this financial juggling act first hand. This is the time of year when I start to look at my family’s financial landscape for the upcoming year. I have two kids, RJ and Grady, who potentially need braces in the coming months. Braces, as you probably know, cost a pretty penny. As I prepare for this major expense (coupled with a higher deductible), I realize I must be an especially frugal consumer in 2015.

It’s times like this when I’m incredibly thankful for benefits like Aetna Dental Access®. This valuable benefit will provide me a discount on both sets of braces in addition to any other dental services that may crop up over the year.

But it’s not just medical expenses that can add up. When my family plans for a vacation, I always check out SaversGuide® for discounts on local restaurants and attractions. Administered by New Benefits, SaversGuide® provides access to discounts on dining, shopping and travel—which not only saves us money, but also promotes a healthy work-life balance.

Resolve to Encourage Smart Spending

As a broker, make a New Year’s resolution that matters. As deductibles continue to skyrocket, encourage smart spending by offering your clients and their employees valuable non-insurance benefits. These innovative products help stretch the employee’s spending dollars while fostering employee engagement and loyalty. This resolution is a win for everyone: You, your clients and their employees.

– Brian Latkowski, EVP Global Sales

Copyright © 2014 by New Benefits, Ltd.  All rights reserved.

* Source: Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust analysis

Be a Hero, Not a Zero

Brian LatkowskiIt’s not easy being a broker in these tumultuous times. But as the old saying goes, challenge begets opportunity. As the benefits industry continues to shift and evolve, now is the time to become a leader and innovator. It’s time to be a benefits hero.

How do you do that? I know you’ve heard this a million times—listen to your clients’ problems and offer the solution. Take a look at these simple ways to change the conversation with your clients by offering simple fixes to their issues.

“Our employees with HDHPs are worried about out-of-pocket costs.”

High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) are on the rise. As employers continue to slash medical benefits, you have the opportunity to swoop in and save the day with discount solutions. Employees who are enrolled in HDHPs for the first time may struggle with the increased out-of-pocket financial burden. Discounts on eyeglasses, contact lenses, eye exams and dental care stretch the employees’ healthcare spending dollars.

“Our claims utilization is too high.”

Employees unknowingly increase healthcare spending when they don’t know about a better avenue for care. Explain how unnecessary visits to ER and urgent care create high costs for both the employer and employee. With flu season upon us, solutions like Telehealth not only keep people out of the ER when it’s not necessary; it also gives employees another option to seek advice and professional guidance.

“Why do our employees continue to see out-of-network doctors?”

The healthcare system is more complex than ever. Employees need access to tools and resources to help sculpt them into more educated healthcare consumers. Health advocacy can be the employees’ side kick and find the right provider at the right location for the right cost.

“How can we encourage our employees to lead a healthy lifestyle?”

Promoting healthy behaviors is critical to improving population health and positively impacting healthcare costs. Health Wealth Connection is an innovative wellness program that addresses the complete spectrum of employees’ physical, mental and financial health. This benefit provides simple online tools and solutions to help employees manage their health and personal finances.

It’s time to pull discount benefits off the bench and put these powerful solutions in the game. Once your clients realize the unprecedented value these products offer, you’re certain to be their hero.

– Brian Latkowski, EVP Global Sales

Copyright © 2014 by New Benefits, Ltd.  All rights reserved.

Let’s Get Engaged

Brian LatkowskiIf brokers want to survive and thrive in today’s uncertain benefits world, they must take an active role in educating and engaging employees. There are many strategies to engage employees in their benefits program leading to increased productivity, lower absenteeism and greater employee loyalty.  There are three essential elements that can help employers achieve these goals.  First, the employer must offer a meaningful benefits program designed to meet the needs of their employees.  Secondly, brokers need to educate the employer and employees on the program.  Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, employees have to actually engage in these benefits programs.  After all, if a worker never even glances at their benefits, they certainly won’t take advantage of them.

Survey the Situation

One way to engage employees is through the use of surveys.  When you are meeting a customer for the first time, conducting an employee survey will allow you to gauge and better understand your audience and employee demographic. In the survey, ask employees to rank the importance of existing benefits and inquire if they would be open to having access to new benefit options, both insured and non-insured. This is a great way to design a program that truly meets the needs of the employees.  If certain benefits resonate with employees, you now have undeniable proof to present to the employer, which may help to secure the broker of record letter.

For existing customers, it’s time for a post-sale survey.  Are employees aware of the existing program? Are they using it? What else do they need? Based on the results of the survey, you can show the employer how to evolve their benefits program and potentially add a benefit or two. This is a genius way to gain true perspective from the employee population and keep employees activated, engaged and educated about their benefits options.

Feed the Right Engagement Channels

As an advisor, it’s important to work hand-in-hand with each client to create an activation strategy for their benefits program.  You can educate and engage employees by communicating through a variety of different mediums, from email campaigns and lunch room posters to benefits administration systems and websites. Employers can also put benefits in the spotlight by hosting an employee wellness fair. To help employers pull off a successful fair, bring in key partners and provide benefit marketing materials and information about how employees can use these programs.  Feed testimonials and information into the channels the employer typically uses to speak to their employees.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Most employees spend a mere 30 minutes a year during open enrollment to focus on their benefits. Once they make their decision, they sign on the dotted line and forget about it. At that point, the benefits program becomes sick insurance—not health insurance.

Reengagement, Something New

When supplemental programs are simply added to an overall employee benefits program, they often get lost in the shuffle.  So, how do you encourage employees to tap into these valuable benefits, including non-insured solutions?  For example, Telehealth solutions are having great success in reengaging employees, but like any other product, if the employee forgets the program exists they will not use it.  When the Telehealth benefit is strategically incorporated into the employee benefits program and its availability is communicated during the course of year, utilization increases exponentially.  It all comes down to creating an educational strategy that engages employees during and beyond open enrollment.  Call me to learn more about other engagement strategies.

– Brian Latkowski, EVP Global Sales

Copyright © 2014 by New Benefits, Ltd.  All rights reserved.

Introducing the New Benefits eBook!


Our eBook captures the thoughts and opinions of senior leadership at New Benefits including CEO Joel Ray, COO Marti Powles, EVP of Global Sales Brian Latkowski and EVP Dulce Bozeman. This first issue is a collection of the blogs and infographics published here on from July through August 2014.

Created for our marketers and prospects, the blogs discuss current events and trends related to the non-insured benefits industry. Subscribe with your email address, so you’ll never miss out when a new blog is published. 

Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation

Brian LatkowskiThese days, there are multiple generations in the workforce: from the multi-tasking Millennial who wants everything right now to the busy Gen X’er with a full-time working spouse and three kids at home to the Baby Boomer who’s still working because he/she hasn’t squirreled enough away for retirement. And employer groups have the unenviable task of finding a way to meet all of their diverse needs, from health to wealth and everything in between.

Not only do each of these distinct generations have varying benefit requirements—but the way they access their benefits is extremely different. If you can present your employer clients with a benefits solution that meets the needs of such a wide-ranging group, you’re way ahead of the game. To cater to a multi-generational work force, many employers are turning to health advocacy programs.

Benefits Behind the Benefits

As a broker, when you discuss health advocacy products with an employer group, it’s important to explain the “benefits behind the benefits.” Employers soon realize how non-insured products provide employees with guidance to navigate an ever-increasingly complex healthcare system, while also giving them complementary programs that help stretch their health and lifestyle spending dollars.

Here are just a few ways a health advocacy program can serve the needs of Millennials to seniors and everyone in between:

  • Young Millennials: Health advocacy is ideal for young employees who haven’t owned insurance before and don’t understand how to tap into their benefits. These programs include a call center, offering Millennials a place to turn and ask the questions they are accustomed to asking their parents. Additionally, online resources provide the speed of access Millennials want.
  • Gen-X: As these employees are starting and growing their families, they need help gathering resources and information. Health advocacy can help them compare facilities and get advice on what to expect.
  • Baby Boomers: While these middle age employees typically understand insurance, they often don’t have the time to deal with complex insurance issues that arise along the way. They need someone to call on who can coordinate and resolve issues for them, such as when they need help finding a specialist. Health advocacy is an attractive benefit for Baby Boomer employees who want more personalized attention from a medical health advisor.
  • Seniors: Because these traditionalist employees often have multiple plans, they need help understanding bills and coordinating claims. Health advocacy is the perfect solution.

Health advocacy programs not only help today’s multi-generational workforce spend their healthcare dollars more wisely—these innovative benefits also keep employees happier, healthier and more productive.

This is just one example of many non-traditional benefits employers should consider for a multi-generational work force. Call me to help you build a plan for your clients.

— Brian Latkowski, EVP Global Sales

Copyright © 2014 by New Benefits, Ltd.  All rights reserved.

Cover Your Assets

Brian LatkowskiThere is no question an organization’s number one asset is its people. If an employer wants to boost their bottom line, they must take care of their most important asset. Many employers believe competitive compensation is enough to keep employees engaged and happy. Yet study after study has proven this isn’t true. When it comes to attracting and retaining key talent, it’s about much more than just salary.

Survey Says…Employees Value Benefits More than Ever

The vast majority (79%) of surveyed employees say benefits are crucial for staying with a job, according to The 2014 Guardian Workplace Benefits Study. To top it off, the 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report found 60% of employees at medium-sized companies are likely to accept a job elsewhere with slightly lower compensation but better benefits. In other words, benefits are playing an increasingly significant role in whether or not an employee joins a company and how long they stick around.

Forward-Thinking Employers Incorporate “Work-Life Balance” Benefits

According to the Guardian study, employers who value wellness, preventive and work-life balance programs are more likely to be prepared for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) rollout.  A great example of a work-life balance benefit is a wellness program which provides assistance with physical health and personal finances. A program of this nature should combine engaging and interactive educational content, personalized assessments and goal trackers to help employees and their families achieve lasting change. If employers refuse to offer this type of comprehensive work-life balance program, their top employees will inevitably jump ship and seek these benefits elsewhere.

”What Have you Done for Me Lately?”

This is the mindset most employees have these days: “How is my employer helping me?”  In my last blog, I mentioned non-insured products give employers an opportunity to increase employee productivity, boost morale and decrease absenteeism. More employers are recognizing these advantages, especially when their advisor properly explains the benefits of non-insured programs.  I have seen 70 to 80% of these employers buy the program as a feel-good bonus to show their number one asset how important they are to the company.

At a minimal expense, more and more employers are offering non-insured programs to complement their employees’ core benefits or to give them peace of mind. For instance, roadside assistance may sound trivial, but it’s a great way for employers to let their employees know they have their backs. When an employee has car trouble, it’s a meaningful benefit. It shows employees exactly what you’ve done for them lately and encourages them to stick around.

— Brian Latkowski, EVP Employee Benefits Practice Leader

Copyright © 2014 by New Benefits, Ltd.  All rights reserved.

Non-Insurance Products are the Next Evolution in Employee Benefits

Brian LatkowskiAs the EVP Employee Benefits Practice Leader with New Benefits, I spend a lot of time talking with brokers. I often ask them if they remember back 10 years ago when I encouraged them to go out and sell voluntary benefits. Back then, they basically told me to get lost.

Those early products were what I call “Johnny Lunch-Bucket” benefits, created primarily for the fixed-wage earner who couldn’t afford traditional insurance.   Since then, product manufacturers have paid close attention to the evolving needs of the employee and the changing landscape of employer sponsored benefit programs.  Thanks to the evolution of products such as life insurance, critical illness and accident plans, everyone from the fixed-wage earner to the highly paid executive now has the opportunity to piece together a comprehensive benefits offering tailored to meet their specific needs.  Although they were reluctant at first, brokers today have embraced voluntary benefits.

So Much More than Filling Gaps

Earlier this month, our CEO Joel Ray wrote about how the Affordable Care Act is impacting the benefits industry. Of course before the ACA passed, we had already been dealing with steady premium increases for many years—but Obamacare has certainly accelerated this trend. In these tumultuous times, employers are looking for ways to supplement their existing insurance-based benefits through the use of non-insurance solutions.

The Next Evolution

Today non-insurance products are truly light-years beyond what they were a decade ago.  In this day and age, many leading consultant and brokerage houses include non-insurance products in their arsenal.  Simply put, their clients see how these programs provide employees with increased advocacy, helping them navigate an increasingly complex healthcare system. To top it off, these innovative products complement an employer’s core benefits program, helping to further stretch the employee’s healthcare spending dollars.

There is no question that our non-insurance medical and lifestyle benefits help employees save time and money in uncertain times. However, non-insurance solutions do so much more than that. These state-of-the-art products offer employers a unique opportunity to increase employee productivity, boost morale and decrease absenteeism.

It’s become clear that these cutting-edge products are the next evolution in employee benefits.  As a broker, if you are not currently offering these contemporary solutions, you’re already a step behind the curve.

Copyright © 2014 by New Benefits, Ltd.  All rights reserved.