With student loan debt topping the list of concerns for so many young workers, more and more employers are looking for ways to help. While several large employers are doing things to help them reduce principal and save on interest, one large employer is allowing employees to trade up to 5 vacation days for a payment on their debt. In their program, a person earning $50,000 annually could receive a principal payment of nearly $1,000. The Society of Human Resource Management reports that 4% of employers are offering a student loan repayment benefit of some kind.
If your plan isn’t managing eligibility at enrollment, you’re probably throwing money away!
Managing eligibility in a self-funded environment can place a big burden on HR Directors, not only at enrollment, but throughout the year. Employee benefit elections, dependents and beneficiaries must be monitored consistently and then there are new hires and terminations to deal with.
Not all TPAs are alike when it comes to managing enrollment and eligibility. While some accept existing data in an effort to save time, Diversified Group goes to extremes when onboarding a new self-funded group or helping an existing client with open enrollment. Some HR Directors find our detailed approach annoying but thank us later when their plans avoid the huge costs associated with an eligibility audit. Click on the following link to read about a local example.
Diversified Group uses BenefitReady® technology to help employers and members facilitate many enrollment and eligibility functions. To ensure that benefits are available only to those employees and dependents who are eligible, we back this technology with knowledge and expertise.
Managing enrollment and eligibility may sound like a little thing. But little things add up, especially when they lead to costly claims your health plan should have avoided. Get the help you need to take control. Talk to Diversified Group today.
Diversified is proud to sponsor the Camphill Village 5K Trail & Fun Run coming up on Saturday, May 18th! If you’d like to participate, there are three running options that allow people of all abilities to join from virtually anywhere!
- Sign up to run from home or anywhere; just be sure to take to Facebook and Instagram to share photos and your reason for participating leading up to and during the run. Use the hashtag #Camphill5K and your posts will be featured on their website and 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!)
With these options, it’s easy to 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.
Diversified Group is proud to support this event that attracts virtual runners from all over the country and has raised more than $40,000 to benefit the lives of people who call Camphill Village their home.
To register, click below to visit the website and go to Runner Sign Up.
More 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.
HARTFORD, CT — Outgoing Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes believes two powerful groups — hospitals and municipalities — are the biggest obstacles to Connecticut’s fiscal stability.
Barnes made that statement during a far-ranging discussion Thursday at the Connecticut Voices for Children 18th Annual State Budget Forum.
Barnes joked that he could be so candid because he is resigning his position in a few weeks when Governor-elect Ned Lamont replaces his boss, Dannel P. Malloy.
“It’s the kind of thing you can say when you are two weeks away from the end of service.”
Acute care hospitals, Barnes said, “have used their virtuous status to somehow strengthen their demand for resources that the state cannot afford.”
He said hospitals are a “group that gets what they want virtually all the time.” He said they are the only group he knows of that is able to dedicate all the taxes they pay “right back to their own bottom line.”
He said if the state loses the lawsuit filed against it by most of Connecticut’s hospitals, it will cost the state $4 billion. The lawsuit, which was filed in 2016, challenges the taxing structure the state created for the hospitals. It’s still making its way through the court system and no decisions have been made.
As far as municipalities are concerned, Barnes was just as direct, stating legislators need a change of attitude.
Barnes, who once worked for the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, the city of Stamford, and the schools in Bridgeport, said he knows that won’t be easy — “I used to work in local government.” But he said until legislators look at the bigger picture of the entire state and not just their own town, Connecticut will have budget problems.
Right now, Barnes said, “no town can ever get less than what they got the year before.”
“We are spending a lot of money on communities that have plenty of money,” he went on.
He cited the Teachers Retirement System as the best example of a system that needs to be fixed.
Currently, the state funds the teacher retirement program. Attempts by the Malloy administration to have the towns pick up some of that cost was met with a huge backlash.
The annual contribution to the Teachers’ Retirement System is about $1.3 billion, but could top $3.25 billion to $6.2 billion by 2032, depending on various experts, because of years of underfunding. Connecticut didn’t start setting aside money to pay for teachers’ retirements until around 1982.
Barnes said the state, sooner or later, has to deal more directly with the fact that more affluent communities such as Greenwich, Weston, and Westport need less state funding than poorer communities such as Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport.
“We tried to re-stack the deck to put more resources into neediest communities but it was dead on arrival,” Barnes said. “My parting hope is that majority of legislators will look at this issue again. There is enough money but we are currently spending it on people who don’t need it as much.”
In answer to a question from the audience about the issue of how municipalities could find savings, Barnes said the state needs to get serious about regionalization.
He said the legislature should “compel mergers” perhaps offering incentives to do so. He called that the “kind of big idea” that Connecticut needs to be thinking about, having municipalities with hundreds of thousands instead of a few thousand people with regional police, health, and school districts.
Barnes also talked at length about the issue of state pensions. He said he felt that state workers were unfairly “scapegoated” for the problem.
He said while there are some examples of very high pensions being paid to state employees, the average state pension is about $38,000.
“Local government pensions are way better,” the OPM secretary said. He said those who work in the private sector also retire with much better pensions than the average state worker.
Besides, Barnes said, there is a moral obligation involved.
“The law of the land is that when somebody retires with a pension they have a right to that pension,” Barnes said. “We can’t renege on our deal to employees.”
He said even if there was a legal way found to tear up state pension agreements, “Why on earth would we want to do that? These are folks who are cleaning up after our elderly parents or our grandparents. The idea that we would walk away from that is reprehensible.”
Barnes said while he believes that the budget will be in good hands with Lamont in charge and the newly-elected legislature, he also said he’s worried that the 2019 budget was built with what he termed “one-time sweeps” that will create a $630 million hole that will need to be filled in next year’s budget.
“It’s going to create a huge problem for 2020,” Barnes said.
Barnes did say there was some good news, too.
He said the state has seen a 10 percent increase in the withholding portion of the income tax over the past few months — much higher than has been budgeted.
The state is on track “to see some of the most robust growth” in revenue than it’s seen in the past decade, he said.
Accomplishments over the past eight years that he is particularly proud of include Medicaid and criminal justice reform.
“Crime is down, prison population is down,” Barnes said. He added that the state has also made strides in having greater civil rights and eliminating the death penalty.
Connecticut has also had the best results in the nation when it comes to controlling the per member, per month costs of Medicaid recipients.
“We are a national model,” Barnes said.
He referred to Connecticut as a place “I’m proud to call home.”
Barnes recently landed a new job as chief financial officer for the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities.
While awareness of mental health concerns in the workplace is increasing, studies repeatedly show that not enough employees feel comfortable utilizing mental health benefits. Furthermore, many employees are often unaware mental health benefits are even available. With more than 40 million Americans living with depression, it’s more important than ever to make sure the workplace is taking positive steps to address it. Here are positive steps your company can take:
Take a holistic approach. Addressing the many areas of wellness, including physical, financial and mental, equally can help employees feel safe enough to seek treatment through employer provided healthcare plans. Stigma is still a major barrier to access, but employers can encourage accessing treatment by putting the necessary emphasis on mental health and wellness. Providing an open space for conversation, information and support can increase overall employee mental wellness. And of course, extending benefits to all family members can prove extremely valuable.
Keep employees informed. Though your company may have excellent programs and benefits to address mental illness and depression, it’s possible that your employees are unaware of how to access them. When bringing the discussion of mental wellness into the public space it’s important that the tools and avenues to accessing help are made very clear.
Promote flexibility. Certain industries deal with more critical situations, such as safety concerns, fatigue or a high risk of injury. While there is no “off the shelf” solution to mental wellness, employers can play a major role in bringing mental health out in the open. And today more than ever, a company is only as healthy as its employees.