woman on smartphone surrounded by locks graphic img

5 Tips To Help You Protect Your Identity In 2019

Despite best efforts on behalf of businesses and consumers alike, cases of identity theft and fraud have continued to rise. In 2017 alone, an estimated 16.7 million individuals had their identities compromised, up 1.3 million from 2016 and 3.6 million from 2015, according to the 2018 Identity Fraud Study conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research.

While banks and retailers have taken steps to protect credit card information from being stolen (such as with EMV chips), many retailers still require customers to swipe – which eliminates the benefits of the EMV chip altogether.

Know Your Options

You may be feeling helpless when it comes to identity theft, but there are steps you can take to keep your information protected.

Tip #1: Freeze your credit

Thanks to the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, there is no longer a fee associated with freezing your credit. This is one of the easiest ways you can protect your information without doing anything more than contacting the three major reporting bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. According to Experian, “when you freeze your credit report, you are stopping any of your personal data from being reported to lenders and creditors. Thus, in the event that a fraudster would try to use your Social Security number to apply for a credit card, that application would be rejected, as the bank would be unable to verify your credit score.”

If freezing isn’t for you, all three major credit bureaus offer mobile apps that allow you to lock and unlock your credit using your smartphone.

Tip #2: Update your passwords

The street you grew up on, your pet’s name, or the high school you graduated from are not hard to find out. Instead, consider a random series of letters, numbers, and special characters. Experts such as Perfect Passwords author Mark Burnett suggest coming up with a new secure password every six to twelve months.

Tip #3: Monitor your accounts

If you suspect your identity has been stolen, the faster you act the better. Many banks now monitor your accounts for you and will either text or call you if they suspect any fraudulent activity, but it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your accounts yourself. It’s important to read through every account charge and investigate anything you don’t recognize immediately.

Tip #4: Don’t leave a trail

How many credit card offers do you receive in the mail, and then simply throw away? According to NerdWallet, “Stolen mail is one of the easiest paths to a stolen identity.” If you haven’t already invested in a personal shredder, there are a number of models designed to help keep your identity safe and protected for less than $30.

Tip #5: DON’T CARRY YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY CARD EVERYWHERE

No one means to misplace their wallet, have their car broken into, or their purse stolen, but accidents happen. This is why it is never a good idea to carry your social security card with you at all times. According to Steven J.J. Weisman, Esq., an Amherst, Massachusetts-based college professor who specializes in white-collar crime, “A Social Security number is the most important piece of information that a criminal can use to make you a victim of identity theft so you shouldn’t carry it with you in your wallet, anyway.”

A better place to store your social security card may be at home, in a safe place, preferably under lock and key.

Protect Your Information In 2019

Are you concerned about your risk of identity theft? To learn more about identity theft protection options available to you, please visit your association page.

elderly couple weighing their long term care options at a dining room table

Dispelling 3 Myths of Long-term care

How much of our lives do we spend thinking about the future? When we’re kids, we think about what we’re going to be when we grow up, what our first car will be, whether or not we’ll get married or if we’ll have children of our own.

At some point, we stop thinking about the future—usually when it stops being fun to imagine. But this is when thinking about the future becomes the most important.

Common Misconceptions Regarding Long-term Care

Myth #1: Medicare will pay for it.

No. Medicare will not pay for your long-term care needs. While Medicare is designed to help those over the age of 65 keep on top of their healthcare needs, long-term care is not one of them according to the federal government. And while Medicare Supplemental plans are often touted to cover things that Medicare leaves behind, long-term care is still not one of them.

Myth #2: I won’t need long-term care.

While this may be true for some, according to Longtermcare.gov, if you were to turn 65 today, you would have almost a 70 percent chance of needing some form of long-term care service during your remaining years.

The generation currently facing the greatest growing need for long-term care services are the Baby Boomers. Born between 1946 and 1964, the Baby Boomer generation accounts for roughly 78 million Americans, and according to Medicare.gov, it is estimated that 12 million of them will require long-term care services by 2020.

Myth #3: My spouse or kids will take care of me.

According to the National Academy of Social Insurance, it is estimated that 25 to 30 percent of the baby boomer generation “will become divorced or widowed by the time they reach ages 55 to 64,” increasing the likelihood of needing to depend on one’s children to provide care.

However, studies have shown that rates of childlessness continue to rise. According to the Center for Disease Control, new data has shown that the birthrate has hit an all-time low. This statistic may not have as large of an impact on older generations who have more children than it will eventually for younger generations that do not.

Taking Control Of Your Future

According to an article from Forbes, “A private room in a nursing home now costs consumers more than $8,000 per month, or $97,455 per year… That’s an increase of 5.5 from just one year ago and a nearly 50% increase since 2004. A semi-private room is less expensive, but still carries a hefty price tag: $85,775 per year.”

Assisted living facilities are more affordable but the national average for a private room will still run approximately $45k a year — which is actually proving to be more affordable than in-home health aids ($49,192) and standard homemaker-type services ($47,934), according to the Genworth 2017 Cost of Care Study.

With the yearly cost of long-term care only continuing to rise, long-term care insurance can help both you and your family cover the cost of your care should you need it in the future.

To learn more about long-term care insurance or what other products may be available to you, please visit your association page for more information.

professional african american holding jaw experiencing dental pain

5 Most Common Dental Problems And How To Avoid Them

According to American author William Arthur Ward, “A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.” Smiling is something we do instinctively as infants and something we carry with us all throughout our lives. Unfortunately for some, their smiles may not prove to be as warm and welcoming as they would hope. Problems such as gum disease, yellowed teeth, and chronic bad breath can have a negative impact when meeting new people and could be a sign of a deeper issue due to the close link between oral and overall health.

Many people learn the importance of oral hygiene at a young age. Those who don’t may face a variety of oral health problems down the road, some being scarier than others. So, what are some of the most common dental diseases?

  1. Bad Breath

While some cases of bad breath can be the result of eating foods like onions, garlic, or hard-boiled eggs, other cases may prove to be more serious. Bad breath, otherwise referred to as, Halitosis, may be something that even a good solid brushing won’t be able to fix. Halitosis can be a symptom of larger problems such as gum disease, infection, dry mouth, or even other seemingly unrelated issues like gastric reflux, diabetes, liver or kidney disease. In some instances, Halitosis may even require a trip to your doctor.

  1. Gum Disease

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are over 3 million cases of gum disease each year. And while gum disease, otherwise known as Periodontitis, may be common, that doesn’t make it any less serious. In fact, those with gum disease have a higher chance of developing diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease and other ailments. In order to lessen your chances of developing gum disease, it is advised to practice good oral hygiene and schedule regular cleanings with your dentist, who may decide whether more preventative action is needed.

  1. Yellow Teeth

While not exactly a disease, yellow teeth can be a sign of poor oral hygiene and can, in some cases, indicate other dental issues that may be lurking just beneath the surface. Visiting the dentist once every six months for a thorough cleaning can help prevent yellowing teeth due to diet or lifestyle choices. In some severe cases, veneers may be recommended.

  1. Toothaches

A toothache should never be ignored. While some cases of a toothache may be related to minor inflammation, other cases could indicate the presence of gum disease, cavities, pulpitis, a broken tooth, or more. When confronted with a persistent toothache, the best course of action is to have a dentist find the underlying cause.

  1. Tooth Erosion

There are few substances within the human body that are stronger than our enamel. This is why everyone from our dentists to television commercials are constantly urging us to protect it — because once our enamel is gone, it cannot be brought back. The loss of enamel is referred to as tooth erosion. Soda, sugar, and some acidic foods can eat away at our enamel. In order to combat the chances of experiencing tooth erosion, brushing with a soft-bristled brush is suggested as well as reducing the number of acidic drinks consumed.

Taking Control of Your Oral Health

When was the last time you visited the dentist? Could you be at risk of developing one, or even all, of these potentially costly dental problems?

Members can secure dental and vision insurance coverage for the whole family. Visit your association page to learn more about what our dental and vision insurance plans can do for you.

young business man explaining group health insurance options to business group at a table in an office

New Strategies to Save Money on Group Health Costs in 2019

As group health insurance costs continue to increase, many employers are looking for new, creative ways to save money while still providing their employees with coverage.

Reference Based Pricing

Reference Based Pricing is a rapidly growing strategy that a number of employers are using to save money on group health insurance costs. This technique gives the employee the ability to choose any provider without the limitations and higher costs of a traditional provider network. By choosing to take advantage of this method, employers have the potential to save between 15 and 20 percent on group health insurance costs.

Association Health Plans

According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Association Health Plans are defined as “group health plans that employer groups and associations offer to provide health coverage for employees.”

In April of this year, the federal government will begin to allow small employer groups to form new associations based on industry and finally receive access to group health insurance plans typically only reserved for larger companies. While many association health plans already exist, the new legislation eliminates the geographic barriers previously in place.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, “four million Americans, including 400,000 who otherwise would lack insurance, will join an AHP by 2023.”

Direct Primary Care

Direct Primary Care (DPC) is an alternative payment model to third-party billing. With DPC, there is a flat monthly membership fee and nothing else. Employees have access to a physician of their choice and the physician remains accountable to only their patients. This option can also exist alongside a comprehensive major medical plan.

Level Funding

For groups of five or more, level-funded plans are becoming increasingly popular. These plans boast a nationwide network of hospitals and physicians and are offered by a number of reputable insurance carriers. Designed to offer more flexibility to employers, level-funded plans are ERISA complaint and partially self-insured with a savings potential of 10 to 15 percent. Many also offer return-of-premium potential.

Learn More

Want to learn more about these strategies? Tune in to our free webinar on March 7th at 1 pm EST. Jason Cleary, a licensed Benefits Counselor with over 18 years of experience, will be sharing information on how to utilize these tactics and save on group health costs in 2019.

Click to register today.

 

Chip Trefry Member Benefits CEO Gator100 2019

Member Benefits Selected to Gator100

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Member Benefits was named to the University of Florida’s 2019 Gator100 during a ceremony on Feb. 22 at UF’s J. Wayne Reitz Union Grand Ballroom.

Sponsored by the UF Alumni Association, in partnership with the UF Entrepreneurship & Innovation Center, the Gator100 recognizes the 100 fastest-growing businesses owned or led by UF alumni.  Ernst & Young calculated each company’s compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the past three years to generate the ranking.

Member Benefits is a family-operated, full-service insurance and financial services organization specializing in Third Party Administration of professional affinity group and association member benefit programs.

Chip Trefry Member Benefits CEO Gator100 2019Member Benefits has been previously featured in the Gator100 two other times since its inception in 2015.

Member Benefits CEO, Earl C. “Chip” Trefry Jr., CLU (72’) and COO, Nicklaus A. Trefry (01’) both graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in Business Administration from the Warrington College of Business.

On news of the selection, Chip Trefry had the following to say: “It is my privilege and honor to be selected to the Gator100 for the third time. There is just something extra special about being acknowledged by your alma mater.”

“The Gator100 honors UF alumni from across the university who are founding and growing amazing companies around the country,” said Kent Fuchs, president of the University of Florida. “It’s an incredible affirmation of the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of the Gator Nation.”

To qualify for the Gator100, companies must have been in business for five years or more as of Sept. 28, 2018 and have had verifiable annual revenues of $250,000 or more every year since 2015. Additionally, a UF alumnus or alumna must have met one of the following three leadership criteria:

  1. Owned 50 percent or more of the company from Jan. 1, 2015, through Sept. 28, 2018; or
  2. Served as company’s chief executive from Jan. 1, 2015, through Sept. 28, 2018; or
  3. Founded the company and been active as a member of the most senior management team from Jan. 1, 2015, through Sept. 28, 2018.

View the full list of Gator100 honorees at gator100.ufl.edu.

 

About Member Benefits

Member Benefits is a technology-driven insurance brokerage and third-party administrator that focuses on benefit programs and insurance exchanges for member-based organizations. Member Benefits specializes in the design, marketing, and administration of programs for employer groups, associations, affinity groups and franchises. Member Benefits operates in many states with locations in Jacksonville, FL and Austin, TX. For more information, visit www.memberbenefits.com/.

3 Ways Pets Keep Us Happy And Healthy

According to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey, 68% of U.S. households (about 85 million families) own a pet. This number is up a whopping 56% since the first survey conducted in 1988 and has led to a steady increase in the amount of money people are spending to keep their pets happy and healthy.

In 2018, the American Pet Products Association (APPA) estimated that Americans were on track to spend approximately $72.13 billion on their pets, up $2.62 billion from the confirmed numbers of 2017.

But aside from spending our hard-earned money on our four-legged friends what do pet owners really get out of the relationship?

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business man sitting at a cafe discussing his health options on his cell phone

I Missed Open Enrollment and Need Health Coverage — What Are My Options?

The next official ACA Open Enrollment period isn’t slated to begin until November 1, 2019. But depending on your circumstances, you may not have to wait that long to obtain coverage.

Qualifying Life Events and Special Enrollment Periods

Sometimes our circumstances change, and if they change due to specific events, you and your dependents may be able to secure health insurance through a Special Enrollment Period. When this occurs, it is called a Qualifying Life Event, otherwise referred to as a QLE.

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parents watching and smiling at little girl putting coins in a piggy bank

6 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your 401(k) in 2019

The start of a new year is universally acknowledged as a time for new beginnings and inevitably, reflection. Whether your new beginning involves cutting calories, making a daily trek to the gym, or working on a bad habit, this is also a good time for setting goals aimed at self-improvement.

It’s a time for thinking about your future. What will your life be like in twenty years? Ten Years? Next year? How far are you from retirement? Do you feel comfortable with your existing retirement planning strategy? Do you have a 401(k)? When was the last time you looked at it?

These are all important questions but, for many, are often overlooked. We tend to see retirement as something far off in the future, something that there’s plenty of time to prepare for — not at all like those pair of pants in the back of the closet that have always been just a little too snug.

This year, why not make room on your resolutions list for your 401(k) plan as well?

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