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‘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.

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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.
small dulce

-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.

Healthcare Savings: There’s An App for That

Marti Powles COOToday’s consumers expect to have information at their fingertips. Take my son Jacob for example. He is 18 years old and constantly on his iPhone. While I typically use a computer to do research, my son will use his iPhone. I have come to the realization, the way people access information is changing and mobile solutions are becoming more critical than ever before.

I was inspired to do some research online and found that mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) account for 60% of time spent on digital media compared to desktop computers.[1] When it comes to consumer demand for immediate information, the benefits industry isn’t immune. There are nearly 43,700 medical apps available in the Apple store today, 69% of which are targeted to consumers and patients.[2] People want instant access to healthcare answers and details about their insurance benefits. These days, employees no longer consider this a luxury—it’s an expectation.  This is why it’s critical to promote benefits that feature user-friendly mobile apps.Share of U.S. Digital Media Time Spent by Platform

Benefits at Your Fingertips

The most effective healthcare apps enable employees to research medical options, receive immediate care and manage healthcare expenses. Here are some examples.

  • Teladoc offers employees and their families 24/7 access to non-emergency healthcare consultations with U.S. board-certified doctors via phone, online video or mobile app. This valuable app makes it easy for employees to request a consultation, keeping them healthy and at work.
  • Health Advocate helps employees navigate complex healthcare and insurance-related issues. Their free app gives employees on-the-go access to Health Cost Estimator™, a medical services price comparison tool that allows employees to make more cost-effective healthcare decisions.
  • Doctors Online has an app, providing employees with timely medical answers from an expert medical team—all at their fingertips.
  • NBRx Card allows employees to receive a discount on prescriptions at the pharmacy. Employees can also use the app to compare drug prices at different pharmacies. This encourages consumers to shop around for the lowest prescription price.

App Recap

Jacob will be entering the workforce in four years, and I have no doubt he’ll be looking for ways to access healthcare and benefit information on his smartphone. Your clients and their employees are no different. It’s time for you to take advantage of this growing phenomenon and get on board with products that offer mobile apps.

[1] Source: comScore: Major Mobile Milestones in May: Apps Now Drive Half of All Time Spent on Digital

[2] According to a report co-authored by Murray Aiken, executive director of the IMS Institute of Healthcare Informatics.

–Marti Powles, COO

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

What Is Your Why?

small dulce“The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have—the goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.” – Simon Sinek

I recently watched an insightful TED Talk video called Start With Why, which challenges leaders to find their unique Why statement—the purpose, cause or belief that inspires them to do what they do. The video left me reflecting on my particular journey through my career.

I started working at New Benefits as a mere 19-year-old. I was a starry-eyed young adult with little experience but plenty of ambition. It wasn’t long before I crossed paths with New Benefits’ President, Terry Ray. She quickly took me under her wing, providing a wealth of business knowledge and advice, and became one of my dearest and most-respected friends and my mentor. She saw something in me I couldn’t yet see myself—my Why—and it wasn’t until much later I realized how fortunate I was for such a rare opportunity.

Terry believed in me and helped me define my purpose. And as the years have passed and my experience has grown, my Why has also evolved. And it turns out, unlike many who have a full-time job, for me it was never about the money.  Of course I need money, but I don’t work for money.

In every interview I conduct, I always get asked the same question, “Why do you like working here?”  My answer is simple:  the people.  I believe in our CEO.  I believe in the company.  And, conversely, they believe in me.

My Why is further reinforced when I get to witness the “lightbulb” moment of a new hire, when their training finally clicks.  When a former bartender without business experience embraces the challenges presented to him (as painful as they may be) and flourishes wearing numerous hats in the organization.  When a team unifies to support a colleague or department in need of help; not because they have to, because they want to.

My Why is part of who I am both at work and at home and drives me in every aspect of my life. Today, I lead and motivate others to succeed, hoping that they, too, will discover their own Why.

As a leader or an individual contributor, I challenge you to find your Why. Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Why do I get up in the morning?
  • Why should I care?
  • Why am I here?

At the end of the day, if you don’t have a sense of purpose, what’s the point? Inspired individuals know why they do what they do is more important than what they do and how they do it. (Pause) Reread the previous sentence again and let it sink in. Believing in what you do and why you do it is the backbone of your own success.

Stay tuned later this week to learn more about my Why. (Specifically, why I’m mad about mentors.)

– Dulce Bozeman, EVP

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

Get Out Your Umbrella!

Marti Powles COOIf you’ve filled a prescription recently, you were probably shocked by the price tag. U.S. drug prices are on the rise, with some specialty drug prices skyrocketing at extraordinary rates—and healthcare consumers are feeling the squeeze. In fact, a branded drug that cost $100 in 2008 now costs $197.[1] Even generic drugs are getting pricier. Today, more than a third of available generic drugs cost insurers and consumers more than $100 per prescription.[2]

Unfortunately, the storm is just beginning. According to a health plan cost trend survey from benefits and HR consulting firm The Segal Group, respondents predict higher trend rates for all prescription drug plans in 2015.

Darker Skies Ahead

To make matters worse, deductibles are also mounting. In 2015, 32% of large employers will offer only high-deductible plans, up from 22% in 2014.[3] Because so many employees fail to meet their ever-increasing deductibles, many consumers are forced to pay for high-priced prescriptions out-of-pocket.

When I recently sat in a New Benefits senior management meeting, I discovered our company would once again endure a 15% increase in premium costs. It’s a harsh reality to face, but we worked together to find the best way to take care of our employees while protecting the bottom line. Like countless other companies, we settled on raising the deductible. Our employees will see a $5,000 deductible for 2015. Yet, many employees will never meet that deductible, which means they’ll have to dip into their own wallet to pay for prescriptions. Fortunately, there is a solution—and it comes in the form of one small card.

The Silver Lining

Our discount prescription card helps consumers weather the storm of increasing out-of-pocket expenses by providing a second option when paying for their prescriptions. As a consumer with a high deductible health plan, I don’t automatically purchase a prescription using insurance. I always present both my insurance card and discount card to find the lowest price because every dollar counts.

As deductibles and prescription prices continue to soar, employers are searching for creative ways to help their employees pay for medications. If you’re searching for new solutions to offer your employer groups and their cash-strapped employees, look no further than our pharmacy card. This one small card is the umbrella consumers need at the pharmacy.

–Marti Powles, COO

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

[1] Source: Express Scripts’ prescription price index

[2] Source: Catamaran, a pharmacy benefit manager that administers prescription drug programs

[3] Source: National Business Group on Health

Introducing the New Benefits eBook!

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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 blog.newbenefits.com 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.