May is Employee Health & Fitness Month

May is National Employee Health & Fitness Month! Diversified Group’s wellness consulting and services company, Corporate Fitness & Health (CF&H), celebrates employee health and fitness all year long. But, they want to encourage all organizations to use this month to show their employees how much they care about their well-being. With chronic illnesses (and the expensive medical claims that go with them) on the rise, employers have started to take it upon themselves to help encourage employees to focus on their health. However, employee wellness programs are not just about saving money on medical claims. It’s about taking care of the people you rely on for your business to be successful.

So, What Can You Do to Celebrate?

Here is a list of things you can do to encourage employee wellness at your organization:

  • Provide employees with a company-wide walking break. Even just 20 minutes of walking can do wonders for the heart and the mind.
  • Provide a healthy breakfast or luncheon. Many companies are quick to bring in pizza for their employee luncheons, but if you have been trying to educate employees on good nutrition, providing healthy sandwich and salad options sends a stronger message that you really believe in it. More and more places are now offering healthier catering options such as Subway, Panera, Cosi and B.GOOD (locations vary).
  • Provide an onsite seminar or display. Give your employees a chance to learn something new about their health or an opportunity to practice some healthy behaviors. Corporate Fitness & Health can offer a variety of educational opportunities with topics ranging from exercise to stress to nutrition.
  • Host an onsite blood pressure clinic. A simple blood pressure check takes less than 2 minutes, but it can potentially save a person’s life if they haven’t been to see their doctor in a few years.
  • Kick off a wellness challenge. Sometimes a little competition goes a long way when it comes to motivating people to focus on their health. Challenges can cover a variety of health habits, such as walking or other exercise, fruit and veggie consumption, weight loss, hydration challenges and more.

And, don’t forget that May is also Mental Health Awareness month. So, it is also a great time to try offering meditation breaks. CF&H has skilled staff members who can lead guided meditation sessions and teach valuable breath-work techniques to help reduce stress.

Corporate Fitness & Health

Participate in the Camphill Village 5K Coming up on May 12th

joggers

Diversified is proud to be a sponsor of the Camphill Village 5K Trail & Fun Run again in its 3rd season and we’d love to have YOU be a participant! The event takes place on Saturday, May 12th and there are three running options…

  • Run virtually from home! No matter where you participate, take to Facebook and Instagram to share photos and your reason for participating leading up to and during the run. Be sure to use the hashtag #Camphill5K, and they’ll feature your posts on their website and share them on social media. If you send your address, they will also send you a gift from their event to show their thanks.
  • Sponsor a runner or sign up to personally run the 5K Trail Run through the Camphill Village scenic woods and pathways.
  • Sponsor a participant or sign up to leisurely walk, jog or stroll around Ring Road at the Village in the Fun Run. (Kids 12 & under run the Fun Run for free!)

See – it’s easy for just about anyone to participate and support this wonderful cause. Through sponsorships, donations and registrations, this 5K and Fun Run will help to provide the programs and services that make Camphill Village the very special place it is for adults with special needs.

At Diversified Group, we’re helping to raise awareness of this event and this cause and hoping to make virtual participation even larger! The Camphill Village 5K has attracted virtual runners from all over the country and raised more than $40,000 to benefit the lives of people who call Camphill Village their home.

To run virtually, all you have to do is click below to visit the website, go to Runner Sign Up and be sure to select “Outside of the Village” when registering.

About Camphill Village

Camphill Village in upstate New York is 615 acres of wooded hills, gardens and pastures. Adults with special needs and long- and short-term service volunteers live and work together as equals in extended family homes throughout the area. We are a non-profit organization dedicated to our mission of being an integrated community where people with developmental differences are living a life of dignity, equality and purpose. Through sponsorships, donations and registrations, this 5K and Fun Run will help to provide the programs and services that make Camphill Village the very special place it is for adults with special needs.

Congress Must Preserve CT Employers’ Right to Self-Insure

Self-Insurance in CT

This article appeared on HartfordBusiness.com on December 18, 2017 from Brooks Goodison, President of Diversified Group.

Connecticut health insurers recently announced their 2018 premiums. Employers won’t like them. Rates for some small business plans will rise more than 25 percent. That follows an average increase of 5 percent last year.

Many Connecticut firms are understandably looking for ways to avoid these premium hikes. Some are opting to “self-insure,” or pay their workers’ health claims directly instead of turning to traditional insurers for coverage.

Unfortunately, officials in some states want to effectively ban self-insurance. The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation that would counteract those efforts. But it’s stalled in the Senate.

The upper chamber must stall no longer. Scores of Connecticut businesses, nonprofits, and municipalities — not to mention their workers — are counting on Congress to safeguard their self-insured health benefits.

When employers buy health plans from traditional insurers, they typically pay far more than their employees’ care actually costs. Their premiums cover insurers’ overhead, administrative costs and profits.

Insurers also have to protect themselves against a potential worst-case scenario, where multiple employees face huge medical bills. That pushes premiums even higher.

But if an employer has a good year, with low medical costs, his insurer doesn’t send him a rebate. That insurer keeps the excess, perhaps to cover another employer in its risk pool that wasn’t so lucky.

Self-insured organizations, by contrast, pay only for the care their employees consume. According to one study, employers can cut their health expenses by about 10 percent over the first five years following a switch to self-insurance.

Continue reading

Donate at Diversified

DG Food Bank

Diversified Group is holding a food drive for our local food bank, the Food Bank of Marlborough, Connecticut. This is the time of year when the food banks are in the most need. Therefore, we will be collecting donations until mid-December. We hope that you will take the time to donate this holiday season. Below is a list of some suggested items:

Cake Mixes
Frostings
Pie Crusts (Boxed)
Muffin Mixes (Pumpkin, Cranberry, Blueberry are recommended at this time)
Cranberry Sauce
Stuffing Mixes
Flour
Sugar
Any Baking Items
Any Canned Goods
Spray Shortening (Pam)
Salt & Pepper
Rice Packages (Flavor or Regular)
Any Cereals/Bars
*Please no Paper Goods

Please drop off all donations to our offices at 369 North Main Street in Marlborough, Connecticut. If you would like more information on the Food Bank, you can find more details here: http://www.foodbankofmarlborough.org/.

Responding to Growing Demand for Transparency

Experts agree that a lack of true price transparency has contributed significantly to the inefficiency in healthcare. Several websites compare the costs for certain procedures at varying hospitals, but it’s still very difficult, if not impossible, to make an informed choice when preparing for a non-emergency procedure. As a result, most people still go to doctors participating in a covered network and follow physician referrals when a specialist is required. In most cases, these choices are made without any knowledge of the cost.

Powerful Mobile Technology

Today, leading TPAs are providing self-funded health plan members with a variety of very powerful mobile transparency tools. One new mobile app enables members to identify fair pricing for more than 200 common procedures, including surgeries, imaging and diagnostic testing. By linking a rewards program, the app awards financial incentives when high quality, competitively priced providers are selected over those with lesser ratings.

Another software maker that describes a third of healthcare procedures as “shoppable”, has introduced a mobile app that enables plan members to search for physicians by procedure, location and price. This tool even goes beyond facts and figures to provide detailed descriptions of the procedure being searched. When members need further assistance, care navigators are available to provide online support via a live chat option.

Expert Administration Still Matters

While a totally open pricing system may never be possible in a business as complex as healthcare, TPAs are making self-funded health plans more transparent all the time. Strategies such as Reference Based Pricing and Concierge Health Advocacy are having a tremendous impact on cost and employee engagement. And while insurance carriers typically withhold claims data from fully insured groups, TPAs are experts at helping their clients put valuable claims data to work to identify cost drivers and manage chronic conditions in ways that help the plan avoid catastrophic claims in the future.

As the transition from volume to value-based healthcare continues, more responsibility will land in the hands of plan members. Smart employers know that a well-designed health plan can foster positive change and lower costs only if members understand their benefits. As long as self-funded plans, highly personal service and creative ideas are allowed to flourish, the number of engaged consumers capable of making economically wise healthcare decisions will continue to grow.

self-fundingCTA

On the Horizon: Compliance Issues

The article below was published on June 2, 2017 by BenefitsPRO, written by Nathan Solheim.

In several “Star Trek” series, an alien villain known as the Borg travels the galaxy, assimilating creatures from all walks of life into its space-borne collective. Serious fans know that it’s almost impossible to escape the Borg and its nefarious designs. The Borg’s catchphrase, “resistance is futile,” has since been assimilated into the lexicon.

When it comes to the matter of compliance, benefits professionals across the nation must be feeling exactly like those brave men and women from Federation starships who had the misfortune of coming across the Borg. From the Affordable Care Act to ERISA to the EEOC to a number of other alphabet-soup agencies and regulatory bodies, 2017 is shaping up to be the year of compliance.

Brokers and agents simply need to accept it.

Immediate issues

For most benefits professionals, the ACA will dominate compliance issues that are top of mind. The ACA, at least for the time being, is still the law of the land. While House Republicans tried earlier this year to repeal and replace the ACA with the American Health Care Act (AHCA), they came up short thanks to internal disagreements. After the initial failure, they redoubled their efforts and passed the American Health Care Act. The AHCA will now head towards the Senate, where its future is impossible to predict.

While the political wrangling makes for an uncertain compliance environment, brokers and agents should keep their clients in compliance with the ACA.

“No matter what you predict, it will not happen that way,” says David Contorno of the Hilb Group’s Lake Norman Benefits in Mooresville, North Carolina. “We have a set of rules and we operate within those rules—that’s our obligation to clients. That’s our job. Our job is not to predict what will happen, it’s to help advise our clients on their options and what they should be doing at the end of the day.” Continue reading

Health care reform: Don’t wait for the politicians

The article below is from BenefitsPRO written by Dinesh Sheth on May 16, 2017.

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Let the politicians argue about who is going to pay for health care and who is not.
Photo: Getty Images

Business owners across all industries are facing uncertainty surrounding the status of current laws and regulations. A Republican majority in Congress and the new presidential administration have created a climate of de-regulation. Luckily, or perhaps unluckily, depending on your view, U.S. employers of all sizes are currently facing a potentially major regulatory change with U.S. Republicans attempting to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with their own bill: the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Now, the big question is: “What will be next?”

Aside from the implications this holds for the health care industry, enacting the ACHA would have a tremendous impact on employers by repealing the mandate that requires certain businesses to offer health insurance to their employees. While most businesses would likely support fewer regulations, repealing this mandate would do little to help them encourage healthier behaviors amongst their employees; and at the end of the day, that is the only true way to lower health care costs. Rather, repealing the mandate simply means that fewer Americans will be insured and that the cost-burden will shift to employees and their families.

Whether or not the current administration or even the public at-large wants to admit it, someone is going to pay for the costs of health care. All current or proposed laws and regulations do is juggle who is going to pay and who is not. Behind all these changes, however, it’s necessary to understand that employers need healthy, productive employees in order for their business to function, In addition, they want them to be insured at a reasonable cost, while also staying healthy and avoiding getting sick or injured. If the goal really is to lower actual costs, then this is where the real debate must be focused. Since it’s impossible to predict exactly how legislative initiatives will play out, employers should double down on their approach to employee wellbeing and examine how a holistic approach to wellness will improve the health of their workforce and bottom line, independent of laws or mandates from Washington. Continue reading