Employee Benefits Survival Kit During COVID-19 And Beyond!

Staff article
May 13, 2020

How can I keep up with all the COVID-19 laws and orders to ensure I am compliant in the workplace?

Make use of your online HR portal! During these times there are so many changes, and us, as employers and administrators, want to make sure that any changes we implement for our business are compliant. This is why we offer to our clients an online, free of charge, HR Portal, Mammoth HR.

As an employer, you want to make sure you have access to the correct information so you can make the best decision for your company and your employees. Even when there is not a pandemic going on, there are always questions on how you should handle certain situations in accordance with HR laws. This portal includes, HR Fitness Tests, an HR state by state and federal topic library, Guides, Checklist, Online HR Training, forms and templates for almost every HR-related topic you can think of.

Below is an example of one of the hundreds of templates that are available. Download our free “COVID-19 Return To Work Letter” to use with your employees.

How would I be able to have an open enrollment meeting in this social distancing environment?

With all the advances in health technology, you can use an online enrollment platform and an online video conference to deliver the same meeting to your employees, just virtually!

Open enrollment meetings are important because they explain to the employees the benefits being offered, so that they are able to make the right choices for themselves and their families. The two main goals of these meetings are to inform employees what is being offered and assist them with enrolling. Usually, employees either fill out their enrollment forms on paper or have one on ones with enrollers who help them submit their elections electronically.

There are now many enrollment platforms that can help employers provide the same value as they would in an in-person meeting. We, at Financial Designs, have been using Zoom or Teams to explain the benefits and then provide employers with our online enrollment platform. On this platform, employees can elect benefits and even have access to the recorded meeting in case they need a refresher. This portal makes enrollment run seamlessly and efficiently. Click the video below to get an idea of how an online enrollment platform works and how it can benefit your employees and company.

How can I take advantage of telemedicine during these times?

As of now, most telehealth costs are being covered 100% by most carriers. Telehealth is a great resource and tool for your employees to use especially during these times of social distancing. Employees are able to see a doctor in minutes, through their phone, and have the prescription ready for pick up by the end of the call. Telehealth helps keep claims costs low for employers and copays costs for employees. A win win all around.

Telehealth apps also have specialists and mental health therapists, which allows your employees to have 24/7 access to the healthcare. Below are the telehealth providers for Aetna, United Healthcare, Humana, and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

How can I save money on my renewal?

There are many ways that you can improve your plan design and costs. You want to ensure your agent specializes in group health insurance since there are so many plans out there; you want someone who is well versed in ALL plans and options.

Some questions we like to ask new prospects who are looking into improving benefits and costs are:

  1. Have you looked into Gap combination options?
  2. Do you have a healthy group and qualify for level-funded options?
  3. What alternate options have you been shown?
  4. Have you heard about bundling?

Some ways we save our clients’ money on their renewal is by:

  • If applicable, looking into level funded options. Companies with a healthy population can qualify and receive competitive rates compared to fully insured plans. If the group runs well throughout the year, you can even receive money back!
  • Every year we shop the group with all carriers and look into different plan design options to ensure we have all comparable alternates.
  • We look into combining a major medical plan with a gap plan. This lowers premiums significantly since you are spreading the risk between two carriers.
  • Some carriers offer bundling discounts, meaning if you bundle your ancillaries (such as dental, vision, and life) you can get additional discounts on your health insurance rates!

How can I ease my employees’ worries about the markets and their retirement plan?

A few tips to remember during this time:

  1. Try to stay calm through the ups and downs. (Remember there’s going to be bad years but they are balanced out by the abundance of good years.)
  2. See the potential opportunity with market losses. (When your favorite shoes are 50% off, you buy extra! Try to think the same with stocks)
  3. Resist the urge to get emotional! (Remember we are long term investors, so as long as you do not sell off your investments you are not locking in any losses!)
  4. Don’t check your account too often. (Checking too often may lead us to make emotional decisions. Remember you are not touching your retirement accounts, until retirement. So if you are in a 5+ time range until retirement your account should indeed recover.)
  5. Remember that your advisor is here to help.

We know with all the COVID-19 worry, markets have been extremely volatile over the past few weeks. Not only do you have to worry about staying healthy but also worry about your investment balances. We are here to tell you that volatility is normal and it is important to remember that these are just temporary losses. Once business operations and consumer activity normalize, so will the markets. Our portfolio managers expect that the impact on U.S. growth will be short-lived, lasting for about two quarters before we start to see some recovery in the markets.

As you can see in the figures below, provided by City National Rochdale, short term volatility is normal and every year has had a point where the market is down. In the past 40 years, only 8 years ended in a decline. Below you can see how other viral outbreaks affected the markets, how long it lasted and how 3 months later, we were already seeing positive returns.

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