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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.

 

 

 

 

Why the Workplace Needs to Address Mental Health

Mental health has increasingly made headlines, and for good reason. One in five Americans face mental health issues like anxiety and depression at any given time, and the majority don’t seek the appropriate treatment. Often this is because they don’t have the right resources, they can’t afford it, or they’re embarrassed to ask for help.

Regardless of why, delaying mental health treatment can set off a chain reaction of additional health issues. These issues aren’t left at home – they impact every aspect of a person’s life, including their work.

When the Mind Suffers, So Does the Work

Without some form of treatment, employees with poor mental health are less engaged and productive at work. Showing up to work doesn’t improve productivity any more than taking a day off; both absenteeism and presenteeism levels are higher when employees neglect to seek treatment for mental illness. Between the lost productivity and resulting physical health issues, employers lose at least $193 billion annually to employees’ untreated mental health disorders.

As much as the workplace hurts from poor mental health, most businesses aren’t actively addressing it. But if an employer invests in resources to address their employees’ whole well-being – including mental health – they experience a unique return on their investment: a return on health (ROH). This ROH is reflected in happier, healthier employees who are more productive at work, and more loyal to their companies. In the long run, ROH can also result in financial returns with fewer claims, more work accomplished, and less turnover.

Addressing Mental Health at Work

ROH can only be achieved by directly addressing mental health issues. Rather than stigmatizing mental health as a hush-hush problem, employers should start the conversation and show employees they care. Since actions speak louder than words, the most effective way to do this is by offering and promoting mental health resources.

While Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) may be the most commonly offered resources, they often include a limited number of sessions and tend to be better suited for short-term issues such as dealing with a recent loss. To give employees an accessible, long-term solution, employers can offer telemedicine behavioral health.

The number of options available through telemedicine continues to grow, as does the willingness for people to utilize it. Telemedicine behavioral health counseling allows employees to get the treatment they need over the phone or video chat, from the comfort of home. With lack of access and high-cost barriers removed, people with mental health issues are more likely to schedule therapy sessions – and they can receive treatment for as long or little as needed.

MeMD, one of the leading providers in telehealth, understood the growing need to address mental health more effectively and added behavioral health to their roster of services. “Providing behavioral health benefits via teletherapy allows employers to prioritize employees’ mental health in a cost-effective way, while also addressing access issues and improving confidentiality for employees who seek care,” said Kevin Wallquist, EVP of National Accounts and Health Plans for MeMD.

As employees feel more comfortable seeking treatment for their mental health, they’ll experience positive change in other areas of their life. The workplace will benefit too. The more an employer understands the necessity behind addressing well-being holistically, and the more they invest in their employees’ health, the greater return (on health) they’ll see.

Find New Benefits on the Road This Month!

September is a busy month for New Benefits, as we’ll be attending and exhibiting at three different tradeshows. For each tradeshow, attendees have the opportunity to learn more about New Benefits’ non-traditional benefits, technology, and print solutions. Those who stop by our booths will also be entered to win a $100 Visa gift card.

First up is the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO) Annual Conference, which started this week, September 5-7, in Phoenix, Arizona. Gene Wedgeworth, Benefit Solutions Manager, is representing New Benefits at booth 103. NAPEO invites the PEO industry to enjoy a variety of educational sessions, including a full day dedicated to technology.

The 2018 American Agents Alliance Convention & Expo brings independent insurance agents and brokers to Palm Desert, California, September 20-23. Between educational sessions and networking, attendees can visit with New Benefits at booth 700, represented by Greg Schlatter, VP of Sales, and Gene Wedgeworth, Benefit Solutions Manager.

Rounding out our September tradeshows is the Self-Insurance Institute of America’s (SiiA) 38th Annual National Educational Conference & Expo, September 23-25 in Austin, TX. Brian Latkowski, EVP of Global Sales, and Jake Cleer, VP of Sales, will represent New Benefits at booth 800.

Introducing: My Benefits Work

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact:
Kenda Hoffman
800.800.8304×1618
khoffman@newbenefits.com

New Benefits Launches Mobile App, My Benefits Work

Streamlined delivery makes it easy for members to access and use their benefits.

DALLAS – Aug. 22, 2018 – New Benefits, the leading provider of non-insured benefits, announces the launch of its mobile app, My Benefits Work (web portal coming soon). The technology solution empowers members to use their benefits wisely with on-the-go access. Members can download My Benefits Work for free on the App Store and Google play.

“The driving force behind My Benefits Work is member engagement,” said Joel Ray, CEO and Founder of New Benefits. “We’ve had rave reviews from our clients because they love the ability to put benefits in front of members where they already spend hours every day – on their phones.”

Too often members forget they have benefits provided by sponsoring organizations such as employers, associations, insurance companies, and consulting/brokerage firms. With My Benefits Work, members are reminded to complete registrations, use their benefits to save on daily expenses, and periodically receive custom push notifications from the sponsor.

With full customization capabilities, My Benefits Work allows clients to white label our technology with their brand, driving loyalty and affinity to their unique programs. Additional features of My Benefits Work include:

  • On-demand support from BEN (Benefit Expert Navigator) – a chatbot powered by Artificial Intelligence
  • Interactive provider locator services
  • Ability to rate providers
  • Pricing tool for prescription drugs

Learn more about My Benefits Work at NewBenefits.com/mobile

About New Benefits
Since 1990, New Benefits has worked hard to keep money in people’s pockets, saving Americans millions of dollars a year on their healthcare and everyday living expenses. As the leading provider of non-insured health and lifestyle benefits, we make it our business to help your business by providing an all-in-one benefit experience with unbeatable products, customer experience, technology, compliance team, print services, and administration. For more information visit NewBenefits.com.

Return on Health: Taking a Different Approach to Employee Benefits

Any savvy business owner will tell you to analyze the Return on Investment (ROI) before making a purchasing decision. While it’s in every company’s best interest to evaluate ROI, many products and services, particularly in the employee benefits arena, do not deliver a direct dollar savings. They provide a different kind of value to the organization, best described as Return on Health (ROH).  

Download our white paper to learn:

  • The costs of financial, mental, and physical health
  • The impact of poor well-being on health and work performance
  • Resources employers can offer to improve well-being and see ROH

Download the White Paper

Highly-stressed employees take twice as many sick days per year. See some startling stats on how stress impacts employee health and work performance in our infographic.

Download the Infographic

 

See you at PiMA 2018!

New Benefits will host an exhibit at the PiMA 2018 Consumer Insights Conference in Broomfield, Colorado, June 11-13. Attendees can visit Brian Latkowski, New Benefits EVP of Global Sales, at booth #21 for the chance to win a $100 Visa gift card and learn about the wide selection of non-traditional benefits offered by New Benefits such as telemedicine, health advocacy, identity theft protection, and caregiver support.

The annual PiMA Consumer Insights Conference brings together leading brokers, insurance companies, and product manufacturers to discuss the latest marketing and technology strategies, tools, and trends for affinity benefits distribution.

New Benefits is hitting the road for trade shows!

Greg Schlatter, VP of Sales, is attending the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference in Chicago, June 17-20. The annual SHRM conference provides HR professionals with learning and networking opportunities to deepen their understanding of leadership, motivation, and success.

Colby Ray, VP of Business Development, and Jake Cleer, VP of Sales, are hosting a New Benefits booth at Gallagher’s GBS Sales Conference in Las Vegas, June 20-22. Any attendees who stop by the booth have a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card.

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.

New Benefits Exhibiting at TAHU

New Benefits will host an exhibit at the Texas Association of Health Underwriters (TAHU) Convention in San Antonio, Texas, May 2-4. Gene Wedgeworth, Benefit Solutions Manager for New Benefits, will represent the company at booth #200, happy to discuss our wide selection of non-traditional benefits, including telemedicine, identity theft protection, dental and vision discounts, and legal assistance.

The annual TAHU Convention focuses on professional growth by bringing together hundreds of insurance professionals for continuing education sessions and networking opportunities. TAHU 2018

New Benefits is Silver Sponsor at BenefitsPRO Broker Expo 2018

New Benefits will sponsor BenefitsPRO Broker Expo 2018 in San Diego, CA, April 17-19. A gathering for benefit brokers, insurance companies, TPA’s, benefit technology and more—it’s the place to make meaningful connections with long-time partners and new ones. Visit us at booth #501 and enter to win Beats Wireless Headphones.

Haven’t registered yet? Contact info@newbenefits.com for a free guest pass.

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.

 

Looking Ahead: What’s on the Horizon in 2018

When the New Year comes around, everyone sets resolutions… but how many of you have actually stuck to your resolution? Resolutions often don’t work because they’re set at the start of the year, without much consideration for longevity and sustainability. Instead of setting a resolution, I urge you to think about the entire year and a change that would bring about long-lasting improvement.

At New Benefits, we have a clear strategy for the year. As all the major publications have released their benefit trend expectations for 2018 including BenefitsPRO, Employee Benefit Adviser, and HR Dive, we have identified a few of the most talked about trends. This year, employers are focused on:

  • Lowering health care costs
  • Benefit variety to complement demand for growth areas
  • Data security and identity theft

Start with these 4 strategies to tackle top trends so they become long term resolutions.

  1. Telehealth: As the health care cost per employee rises to approximately $14,156, employers should expect a five percent increase in the total cost of providing medical benefits to employees this year.1 Due to this increase, brokers need solutions like telehealth to drive down claims experience and offer other avenues to care for non-emergency medical situations. This year, 96% of employers will offer a telehealth benefit.1

Although many carriers embed telehealth services with major medical, they charge a consultation fee. Bundling a telehealth benefit with $0 consult fee with other products like health advocacy provides a more robust solution that saves employers more money. Without a per visit consult fee, employees utilize the benefit more frequently, driving more value for both the employer and employees.

  1. Benefit Diversity: By identifying the problems that employees struggle with the most, and offering benefits that give them the tools to overcome these obstacles, employers can achieve a positive user experience as well as benefit variety. This can include services like long term care, student loan assistance, personal financial planning, and pet insurance.
  1. Data Security: With more than 15 million victims per year, identity theft continues to be a growing concern, not only to the individual, but also to employers.2 Individuals affected by identity theft are four times more likely to utilize medical benefits and are absent from work five times more than usual.2 There are a variety of identity theft monitoring and resolution services available to help employers sustain productivity in the workplace when a cyberattack happens.

Aside from identity theft services, it is always a great idea to provide employees with tips to protect themselves from identify theft in the workplace. Remind employees to:

  • Use complex passwords
  • Lock devices
  • Question emails from unknown senders
  1. Caregiving Support: The struggle to manage caregiving on top of everyday life is stressful and can cause employees to be absent or not fully present at work. More than one in six full-time employees care for an aging loved one, but lack the resources to properly manage the many aspects of caregiving.3 Our Caregiver Support benefit gives employees access to a healthcare coach so they do not have to face caregiving hardships alone. To complement this benefit, consider offering legal aid, Worklife services or medical equipment savings. The AARP also provides many valuable resources and information for caregivers.

As employees continue to tackle life’s obstacles, it’s important that employers provide them with the best tools to ensure health in the workplace while supporting company efficiency and growth. As benefit trends shift in 2018 and there is a higher demand for new solutions, consider these strategies for your clients.

So, I leave you with one question. Are you prepared for the latest trends in 2018?

Marti Powles COO

–Marti Powles, COO

 

 

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

1 National Business Group on Health Survey

2 ID Sanctuary Premium Employer Infographic: FY18_Employer_Infographic

3 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, 2011.

New Benefits to Exhibit at KAIA 2018

Greg Schlatter, VP of Sales for New Benefits, will attend Kansas Association of Insurance Agents (KAIA) Small Agents Conference in Hutchinson, Kansas, January 23-25. The show is the largest conference of independent agents in the state, bringing together a group of approximately 600 agents for educational sessions, top-notch speakers, and networking.

Greg will discuss non-insured benefit offerings featuring our best-selling products including telemedicine, health advocacy, identity theft protection, caregiving support and more.

Please contact Kendall Mason (kmason@newbenefits.com) for more information.

‘Tis the Season… for Identity Theft

Holiday shopping is more dangerous than you think.

Shopping has never been easier or more convenient. You can research items online, read reviews, and purchase them with your mobile phone or tablet. Carrying cash is going out of fashion—fast. According to a recent survey by U.S. Bank National Association, an overall 50% of consumers reported carrying cash less than half of the time. 47% also preferred to use digital apps to make payments.1

But with convenience also comes great risk. Last year, 15.4 million consumers were victims of identity theft or fraud, an increase of 16% from 2015.2 That number is expected to increase this year as thieves focus on sensitive digital information. It seems like a new mass-security breach is on the news every week with millions of accounts put at risk… Equifax, Netflix, and Uber have all suffered mass data breaches in the past year. The number of compromised accounts is staggering—and the damage costs add up very fast. Identity theft and fraud cost more than $16 billion for consumers in 2016.3

Fortunately, there are several basic steps you can take to help prevent identity or credit fraud during your holiday shopping. Here are our top 8 tips to stay safe:

  1. Don’t trust every online store. Fake websites are created by people who want to steal your credit card information and personal details. Before you shop online, research sites you haven’t shopped with before. Make sure they are legitimate and trustworthy with your information. If a site doesn’t seem secure, or there are reviews saying the seller can’t be trusted, take your business elsewhere.
  2. Purchase identity theft protection. Identity theft protection provides 24/7 monitoring and identity management services to help minimize the risk of an identity or fraud crisis. To discuss identity theft product options for your clients, contact New Benefits today.
  3. Never toss credit card receipts into a public trash container. We’ve all been in a situation when we don’t want a receipt (and tell the cashier to keep it, sending it straight to a general trash can). But un-shredded credit card receipts can be used to discover your full credit card number and other processing information. Instead, be sure to shred your receipts and throw them away at home.
  4. Carry receipts in your wallet instead of your shopping bag. This one can be tricky, given how busy and rushed we might feel at the register. It’s easier to throw the receipt in the bag, but it also means your credit card information is vulnerable. The receipt could fall out or be thrown away in a public trash bin and be found by thieves later.
  5. If you’re worried, pay with cash. If it doesn’t look like a business will handle your credit card information securely and safely, pay with cash instead. Be sure to carry a certain amount of cash with you just in case.
  6. When paying your bill, watch what waiters, cashiers, and bartenders are doing with your credit or debit card. One technique by fraudsters is to “skim” the credit card number and it use for later purchases. Pay close attention so this does not happen to you.
  7. When filling out applications for loans, credit, mobile phones or other services, find out how the company stores and disposes of your files. Every company has different standards for securing valuable information. Unfortunately, identity or credit thieves can exploit lax security to get your info. It’s especially important when your social security number, banking information, or tax ID is involved. Be careful when providing this information, and avoid it entirely if it’s not a requirement.
  8. Watch out for “skimmers” at public ATMs. Skimmers are devices placed over the card insert slot on ATMs designed to look like part of the machine. In reality, the credit card information is read and stored separately for a thief to retrieve later—or the information is sent directly to the nearby thief through a wireless connection. Inspect the card reader first before taking money from an ATM.

Be vigilant during your gift shopping this winter. The holidays can be stressful enough—don’t let credit or identity fraud add to it!

To protect your clients and their employees from identity theft, contact us today at newsales@newbenefits.com or 800-800-8304.

Sources:

1 US Bank: Digital Platforms Printed to Topple Cash

2 Javelin Strategy & Research: Indentity Fraud Hits Record High with 15.4 Million U.S. Victims in 2016, Up 16 Percent According to New Javelin Strategy & Research Study

3 CNBC: Identity theft, fraud cost consumers more than $16 billion

Sportsmanship in the Workplace

I was recently touched by admirable demonstrations of sportsmanship during this year’s Olympics. New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin stopped during the 5,000m race to help American Abbey D’Agostino after she fell, which impacted her medaling potential (but she won the Pierre de Coubertin medal celebrating sportsmanship).   Earlier this year American tennis player Jack Sock told his opponent Australian Lleyton Hewitt to challenge a call when the umpire called out the ball.  “It was in, if you want to challenge it.  Challenge it!”  And Sock was right, despite the point going to Hewitt, the ball was clearly in bounds.

Hamblin and Sock cared more about the integrity of their sport than just their own win. They saw a bigger picture. It made me think about how employees often think feedback is only about improving their own journey and not a tool to improve the overall company.

After countless interviews and feedback sessions it has become clear employees want an environment where they are given feedback and opportunities to learn and grow.   But apparently that’s only a one way street.  I started asking candidates about the hardest feedback they’ve ever provided their manager and found most didn’t really ever do it.  I get it…  you don’t want to bite the hand that feeds you.

I also learned some employees feel people in management positions should “know better.”  Apparently people in those positions are perfect (a title change on a business card is THAT magical).  So when those managers are failing, you should grab some popcorn and watch their demise.  Because they’re managers, they should “know better.”

As a manager, I gladly take on the responsibility of being held to a higher standard. But at what point are we no longer subject to fault?  Why aren’t we worthy of feedback and opportunities to grow and learn?  Do employees really think it’s better to watch us rise and fall than help us up?

I’ve been fortunate to work with a handful of people who tell it like it is.  They’ve called me out when I’ve made mistakes or could have handled a situation better.  Sometimes they don’t even have to use words; I’ve learned what their faces say.  And I trust them.  Because there isn’t an “us” vs. “them” mentality.  And there have also been times when I’ve clearly made bad decisions, my team watched me make bad decisions, and didn’t tell me.  “Why didn’t you say something?!??!  Why didn’t you stop me?!?!?”

Don’t get me wrong…  I recognize the “ideal” employer/employee arrangement requires the manager acknowledge their personal flaws or the manner they’re perceived which is hard for most, regardless of the position.  But employees can play a significant role in their manager’s success no differently than the manager can for the employee.  Because at the end of day, we’re all on one team.

small dulce

–Dulce Bozeman, EVP

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

The Many Faces of Identity Theft

If you think the only kind of identity theft is financial fraud, you’re wrong, wrong, wrong. In reality, if you’re going to experience ID theft, financial fraud is typically the least traumatic or expensive to clear up. Compare fraudulent charges on your credit card to fraudulent use of your child’s credit to purchase a home, or fraudulent use of your social security number to get thousands of dollars’ worth of medical treatment. There’s no comparison.

ThinkstockPhotos-470446765.jpg

Today I want to share a few different types of identity theft that should be on your radar. Let’s start with medical. Thieves may use your name or health insurance information to get medical care, prescription drugs, or submit claims. If the thief’s health information is mixed with yours, think about how it could affect your insurance records and credit score. It could be very dangerous if a thief gets medical treatment in your name and incorrect health information is stored on your medical record. According to EY Research, the black market value of a medical record has spiked from $50 in 2014 to $700 in 2015 because they are densely rich with personal information. In fact, IBM data shows health care took the top spot in cyberattacks in 2015, with 111 million health records compromised that year.

Next, if you pay taxes, your identity is at risk. Tax fraud occurs when an identity thief uses your Social Security number to file for and collect your tax refund before you do. Then, when you file your legitimate return, IRS records will reject it as a duplicate. Dealing with this type of theft is a nuisance, as the process to prove “you are you” is tedious, time consuming and you have to deal with the Federal Government.

Last but not least, your child’s credit is a prime target for identity thieves because their credit is pristine and scammers can usually get away with the crime until the child turns 18. An estimated 140,000 identity frauds are committed against minors each year, according to FTC identity protection specialist Steve Toporoff. They can open bank accounts, credit cards, personal loans, student loans, car loans, and mortgages; rent an apartment; purchase smartphones, utilities, cable, internet; obtain illegal jobs; and get government benefits.

The first line of defense against these types of identity theft is a proactive monitoring product like ID Sanctuary. To learn more about group sales or for more information visit idsanctuary.com or call 855-647-6768.

Marti Powles COO–Marti Powles, COO

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

How you DON’T create a company culture

I’m always asked, “Why do you like working here?”  Hands down… the culture.

However, I don’t think you can create a company culture.  You believe in the company.  You believe in the people.  That becomes the culture.

I believe in our CEO.  I believe in his passion and his commitment.  I believe in him as a person.  It’s easy to follow the leader when you believe in the leader.

I approach work very similarly to the way I approach personal relationships.  I’m personally close to and nurture relationships with people with whom I connect, people who have similar interests, people who bring me joy, people who are hard-working, people who like to have fun, people who are drama-free, people who are low-maintenance.

While some may disagree, I think establishing personal relationships with co-workers is incredibly important to a positive work culture.  It just organically produces good work.  This company taught me personal investment.  Through high expectations and incredibly candid (and sometimes incredibly tough) feedback, I grew with every failure.  Over the years I realized my motivation for getting my job done was driven by my personal connection to the company and the people within it, not my job description.  I wanted to make my managers proud.  Because I like them.  Because I care for them.  Because they care for me.  I never intended to stay at New Benefits when I first applied to be the receptionist (which I didn’t get).  16 years and probably a good 10 positions later, they’re my second family.

My work family is comprised of people who exhibit the following traits (to name a few):

  • Teamwork
  • Motivation
  • Consideration
  • Selflessness
  • Happiness
  • Excellence

Those are the people who make up our culture.  Our culture is people.

Don’t get me wrong…  We have plenty of paycheck employees.  And that’s okay.  But those who are emotionally connected, those who are genuinely interested in their professional growth, those who welcome higher expectations…  those are the ones who can inspire the next generation of employees.

And it’s more important than ever because the latest generation of employees are job hoppers.  I actually kinda get it… the days of settling down with one employer are long gone.  Personal connections to a company are no longer necessary.  The number of likes and followers on social media now validates a person’s existence so the need to feel a part of something bigger (and actually real) is unnecessary.  And that’s sad to me.

Thankfully, I didn’t just cash a check.  I got the opportunity to feel the growing pains.  I got to see the excitement of automation and the incredible impact it had on the business.  I got to see the company move the holiday party from our CEO’s office (we all managed to squeeze in there) to an outside venue and being completely stoked about it.  I got an opportunity to watch the underdog work their tail off and be promoted numerous times into the perfect position.

That was just the beginning and there’s plenty more exciting changes to come.  And it’s those people who want to be part of a company, its DNA, that make the culture.  Because they’re not just employees…  they’re family.
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-Dulce Bozeman, EVP

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

Why Did You Put the Banana in the Cage?

small dulceI am fortunate to be involved in almost every new employee’s training at New Benefits. I don’t just train employees who report to me; in fact the majority of employees aren’t my immediate reports. Training is valuable for many reasons beyond teaching employees how to do something. I look at training as Phase Two of the interview. I establish a relationship with them, identify their learning style, and can oftentimes anticipate what type of employee they’re going to be. Employees’ engagement in training is very telling of their journey at the company.

My latest training epiphany stemmed from being a trainee.  I needed to get into the weeds to fully understand what my new hires were going through. I’m acutely aware staff begrudgingly accepted my attendance because my presence doubled the allotted time simply because they knew I would ask why.  And I was going to document the heck out of their answers.  Learning from employees, especially those who have done the job for years, led me to ask the question –

Why did you put the banana in the cage?

In other words: Why did you just do that step? What happens to the banana? Is an animal coming to eat it? Is the banana going to rot in the cage? In other words: Is there a rational explanation for this step? What did that step do for us?

Regrettably, “I don’t know” or “because that’s what I was told to do” was a common response.  My primary focus during training is explaining the “why.”  If they click on a checkbox, I need them to understand why the checkbox exists, what it does, and who it impacts.  Otherwise they’re just putting the banana in the cage.  It’s incredibly important they know how the watch was made, not just that it tells time.  How did we get here?  What led us to make the decisions in place?  Expounding on how we operate as a business helps the new hire understand all perspectives and the flexibility that drives some of our decision-making.

In a recent conversation about a process, I was told sometimes mistakes were made because employees were rushing to get it done within a specified timeframe.  Great!  You got it done on time.  It was done wrong, but yay for getting it done wrong quickly!  Understanding both the “how” and the “why” of a process allows employees to know the end goal. Even though we have timeframes, finishing a process within this timeframe is NOT the end goal. The end goal is completing the process successfully so the next step can happen, then the next step, then the next step.

Getting into the weeds of our processes also reminded me sometimes it’s easier to put the banana in the cage and point to the individual that requested it be placed there, than to take responsibility for your own actions.  If you don’t know why you’re doing something or you’re doing something just because someone else told you to, then it’s time to rethink your role and impact you want to have on the business. dumb and dumber

Discovering why the banana is put in the cage takes longer—it’s not the easiest route. But if you are truly putting the business first, you should scrutinize each task and seek ways to improve it. At the end of the day, you have to care enough to ask the question.  It’s your responsibility. Don’t put the onus on someone else.

–Dulce Bozeman, Executive Vice President

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

 

 

 

Reflections on our 25 Year Journey

Today, it’s a rare thing for a company to celebrate 25 years in business. As a pioneer in the non-insured benefits industry, New Benefits is proud to accomplish this milestone. As such, this is a good time to take a step back and reflect on how we arrived at this point in our journey. Below are memories and stories from a few of the people who have contributed to our success along the way.

Joel RayJoel Ray, CEO & Founder, 25 years

What is the biggest change you have experienced at New Benefits?

“Going from a single health product (Coast to Coast Vision) in 1990 to providing customers with an array of 35 health and lifestyle related products today. The expression, “the only thing constant is change” really resonates at NB because I never would have dreamed in the beginning that one day we would service millions of members across such a wide spectrum of broker relationships and industries.”

How would you describe New Benefits’ culture?

“In the beginning, our culture was: all hands on deck; do what you need to do to keep the lights on. As in all early cycle companies, many of us wore several hats. A vivid memory was a client calling after we were in business approximately three years and asked why I was answering the phone. While I no longer answer incoming calls in customer service, our culture has never wavered from being a company ‘with all hands on deck.’

Additionally, our culture has always been one of innovation, flexibility, leadership, integrity and passion. I’ve always believed if a company  stops pursuing perfection,  it will become less relevant over time and vanish along with Blockbuster, Polaroid, and Worldcom – just to mention a few.”

What are your favorite or funniest memories?

“For many years at our annual holiday party, Terry and I would sing karaoke. Terry would have the song and act picked out, bring in a boombox, and we would practice for hours.  Most memorable were “I Got You Babe” by Sonny and Cher (I was Cher and Terry was Sonny) and Grease (John Travolta and Olivia Newton John).”

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Terry Ray, President, 20 years

What is the biggest change you have experienced at New Benefits?

“In the 25 years we’ve been in business, I’ve been part of this company for 20 and a client for three years before starting here, and the biggest change is what we learned about ourselves—that we could overcome just about any hurdle. When you’re small, the ups are really high and the lows are really low because you tend to put so many eggs in one basket. We’ve overcome every hurdle and come out stronger on the other side. We’ve learned from every challenge. And we found out when we set our mind to something, there isn’t anything we can’t do.”

How would you describe New Benefits’ culture?

“I’d like to think I’m personally responsible for crafting the culture we have. I’ve always understood the importance of culture because of my seven years at Apple where culture was huge. After coming to New Benefits, I thought we could make this even better than Apple—we can craft our own culture and values. If you don’t have certain inherent values and you don’t look for those values in your candidates for hire, you won’t be able to sustain the culture. I’ve always looked for people who are going to reflect our values… people who have a sparkle. People who look at this as a journey, not a job, and want to make a difference. That’s the glue that holds us together culturally. We do everything in our power to invest in our people so they are constantly prepared to carry the value torch.”

What are your favorite or funniest memories?

“One of my favorite memories was years ago, when we were in the old building, and we got our first big fulfillment order and most of us stayed until the wee hours of the morning stuffing envelopes. That’s a fond memory because most of our employees today will never understand what we went through to make this company what it is. We had to get our hands really dirty! Clean toilets, sweep floors–do whatever it took to launch the business.”

Marti Powles COOMarti Powles, Chief Operating Officer, 21 years

What is the biggest change you have experienced at New Benefits?

“When Mike and I started working at New Benefits, there were four other employees. We now have 85 employees in the company. Additionally, over the years we have moved from the very small office space we occupied in 1993 to our current building which we have remodeled to feel like a home.”

How would you describe New Benefits’ culture?

“Our culture is a friendly, family environment. When guests visit our office they often comment how happy our employees are and want to know our secret. The secret is to hire employees that live our core values on a daily basis and want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.”

What are your favorite or funniest memories?

“Employee events such as Joel Ray Day (Chili Cook-off), Cinco De Mayo, Halloween Costume Contest, Thanksgiving Lunch and Holiday parties are the most memorable to me. We work hard, but always take time to celebrate.”

small dulceDulce Bozeman, Executive Vice President, 16 years

What is the biggest change you have experienced at New Benefits?

“The biggest change I have experienced is the automation of processes and the impact it has had on our growth.  Working smarter and aligning ourselves with individuals who see the bigger picture has played a significant role in our success over the years.”

How would you describe New Benefits’ culture?

“NB’s culture is largely comprised of individuals who consider their jobs an extension of themselves.  Individuals who operate differently but toward the same goal.  Individuals who know how to have fun while getting the work done.  Individuals who develop relationships with other another and, ultimately, people who care about their success and the impact they have on the business.”

What are your favorite or funniest memories?

“There have been so many memorable moments during my tenure with New Benefits but I would say holiday performances at our company party have always been the most entertaining.  Some of the best and worst singers/dancers have surfaced during karaoke and/or choreographed performances.  To think our karaoke was once held in Joel’s office behind his desk in the early 2000’s further illustrates the fun family environment we’ve worked so hard to maintain over the years.”

Mike-Crop-RT small squareMike Vance, VP Print Services, 21 years

What is the biggest change you have experienced at New Benefits?

“The evolution of our membership materials and the print process has been the biggest change I have experienced. We started with a machine which printed plastic cards one at a time by hand insertion. Now we have a fully automated color printer where we can produce 3,000 cards an hour.”

How would you describe New Benefits’ culture?

“Creative, fun, and ever-changing… but the biggest is passion. People here have a passion for the concept and each other—we stay late and get the job done. Joel isn’t a typical CEO. He comes in on weekends and stays late; he has the same passion today as when he started the company.”

RichardBrown_ImageRichard Brown, Programmer & Analyst, 21 years

What is the biggest change you have experienced at New Benefits?

“All change has been positive and moving us forward. Hiring Mike, Marti and Terry was probably the most important change. Joel brought some very smart people into the operation to advance the firm, even though he may not have been able to afford to at the time.”

How would you describe New Benefits’ culture?

“Never stay stagnant.”

This Holiday Season, Don’t Be Surprised by Unwanted ‘Gifts’

ThinkstockPhotos-478407254Cyber criminals are busy hiding malicious advertisements in online shopping sites.

FEATURED GUEST STORY 
BY JAIKUMAR VIJAYAN, THIRDCERTAINTY

Consumers and online retailers beware. ’Tis the season for a spike in malicious advertisements, or malvertisements.

Cyber criminals have made a fine art out of imperceptibly slipping malicious ads onto popular shopping websites. And they gear up to swarm the Internet with malvertisements during the upcoming holiday shopping season.

Most website publishers generally are not equipped to detect malvertisements that typically come and go, the better to elude antivirus filters.

This seasonal phenomenon continues to pose a major security threat for consumers and retailers alike.

Online shoppers who navigate to the wrong website at the wrong moment can get their computing devices infected—turning over control to these attackers—simply by visiting a webpage carrying a corrupted ad.

Malicious ads basically are online advertisements crafted to deliver spyware, ransomware and other malware on to end-user systems. They usually are rendered as targeted pop-up advertisements or as banner ads on online retail sites, news portals, social media sites and gaming and adult platforms.

Unlike other malware delivery mechanisms, which require the victim to click on a link, open an email attachment, or take some other action, malvertisements often require no user interaction in order to work.

Sometimes, the mere act of visiting a webpage with malicious ads on it is enough to infect a system. In other cases, users can infect their computers when they are lured into clicking on rogue Flash updates, fake Java updates, and fake anti-virus alerts.

Malvertising multiplies

Over the past two years, malvertisements have emerged as a weapon of choice for cyber criminals trying to break into business and consumer systems. In the first half of 2015, the number of malvertisements in the wild increased by a stunning 260 percent over the same period last year, according to security vendor RiskIQ. Between January and June this year, RiskIQ counted 80,000 unique malvertisements compared to the 50,000 samples it observed in the first half of 2014.

Contributing to the surging volume is the increasing automation of the online ad purchase process, according to the vendor. The machine-to-machine ecosystem of the online ad world has created more opportunities for cyber criminals to try and exploit advertising for the purposes of distributing malware.

Kevin Epstein, vice president of operations at email security vendor Proofpoint Inc., said the massive increase in volume is testimony to the effectiveness of malvertising as a malware delivery system. “The average user is not prepared for malvertising,” Epstein says. “It’s the online equivalent of walking into a mall and being pickpocketed.”

Little skill needed to create chaos

The relative ease with which cyber criminals can insert a malicious ad into the online ad chain is one major reason why malvertisements have become such a popular malware distribution method, Epstein said.

Typically, larger websites receive ads through multiple ad brokers and ad networks in a completely automated fashion and do little to filter the material for malware. The malvertisements often are tailored for individual users based on their browsing habits, location, demographics and other factors. By inserting a malicious ad into the online ad distribution and delivery chain and specifying a target demographic for the ad, criminals have a relatively easy way of distributing malware to targeted victims.

The huge volume of ads flowing through these networks makes it very hard to spot ads that are laced with malicious code and harder still to identify the individuals who placed the ads into the system.

Automation makes attack easier

The automated nature of the online ad business also has made it easier for attackers to infiltrate legitimate websites with malicious display ads. In this scenario, attackers might display legitimate, malware-free ads on a target website for several months to establish legitimacy and credibility on the site. They then start lacing their display ads with malware code capable of infecting the systems of those who view the advertisement or merely land on a webpage displaying it.

Often such malicious display ads are placed on trusted, highly trafficked websites. Over the past few months, for instance, the websites of eBay, Forbes, Match.com and the UK’s Daily Mirror were all used to serve up malicious display ads to potentially millions of users worldwide. Security experts believe that thousands of other sites are likely similarly infected without the website owners’ knowledge.

“You can say I want my ads to go to only a specific gender within a certain age group and within a certain geographic location,” Epstein said. “If you are one of those targets, when the ad is shown in your browser, instead of just displaying an innocent picture or video, it will also use an exploit kit to find a hole to sneak malware onto your system.”

Businesses also at risk

Malvertisements pose a threat not just to consumers, but also to businesses and the websites that are used to serve up these ads, said Ben Johnson, chief security strategist at security vendor Bit9.

An employee browsing a website containing a malicious ad can easily infect a corporate system or network with spyware, ransomware and other rogue software. For the websites that unknowingly display these ads, the concerns have to do more with brand and reputational damage.

Consumers need to be aware of the threat and take appropriate steps to mitigate risk, Johnson said. Applying proper security patches and keeping systems updated for instance can reduce the risk of malware infections for both consumers and corporations.

Similarly, disabling Flash and Java, especially while shopping online can mitigate the risk of malicious pop-up ads being served up on a system, he said. Instead of having the system automatically open an Adobe PDF document for instance, it is better to configure the browser to execute a plug-in only when a user clicks on it.

Website owners should not assume that ad brokers and others in the online advertising stream are vetting advertisements for malicious code before serving them up to users, Johnson said. Instead, they should consider investing in tools or services that help them review and scan the advertisements that are being delivered to users via their website, he said.

Back Home

DSC_0415_final_tinylsquareHave you ever returned to the home you grew up in after being away for an extended period of time?  You walked into the house with all the same sounds and familiar smells.  It was complete nostalgia –memories of good times and relationships built.  Mom’s lasagna (feel free to insert your favorite dish here) still had the same great taste.  Everything remained unchanged.  Until you turned the corner in the hall and realized they converted your old bedroom into the “activities” room? That’s the feeling I have right now.

For those of you wondering who I am and what point I am trying to make, let me provide a little background. From 2010 to 2013, I was a Business Development Manager at New Benefits. I worked in the Client Services department with marketers throughout various vertical markets and helped them create successful business plans.

In 2013, I left New Benefits to work for a national brokerage and, subsequently, a national health insurer. While I understood the value New Benefits brings to the benefits marketplace, I wanted to branch out to better understand the industry holistically. By doing so, I was able to see exactly how our benefit programs fit into the ever-changing employee benefits puzzle.

This January, I returned to New Benefits as the Director of Benefit Solutions—and I have to say, it’s great to be back home! I have a renewed passion and awareness for our products and services.  Mom’s lasagna tastes even better than it did before!

Time to Take Notice

While I was “away,” not only did I gain priceless experience at HUB International and United Healthcare; but I also rediscovered the value of non-insured benefits for brokers and consultants. Brokers often pushed non-insured benefits to the back of the line. But with valuable products like telehealth services, health advocacy assistance and identity theft protection (to name a few), it’s time we all start taking notice of New Benefits.

As Director of Benefit Solutions, I’m responsible for the development, growth and retention of clients within the worksite benefits industry. My role is to educate brokers and consultants about the importance of our benefit programs and demonstrate how these benefits can be the low-cost, high-value solution they need to keep employees engaged and satisfied.

I now see our non-insured benefit solutions with a fresh set of eyes. I truly have the full picture now—and I believe everyone in the insurance industry needs to hear about us and what we bring to the table. The opportunities are endless—and we’re just getting started.  Now, if I could only figure out where Dad hid the Parmesan.

–Jake Cleer, Director of Benefit Solutions

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