Three eggs with 401(k) saving and IRA written on them laying on top of dollar bills and coins

Ringing In The New Year With 401(k)

From abandoning vices to dedicating time for some inward reflection, there is no denying that the start of every new year is a time for reflection, looking to the future, and abandoning what didn’t work in the past.

When was the last time you examined your 401(k) business plan? Do you have a 401(k) plan for your business? Are you sure that your current plan is doing everything for you and your employees that it can? If you answer any of these questions with uncertainty or hesitation, it may be time to spend some of that reflection time on your retirement planning strategy.

If your businesses does not offer a 401(k) plan as a part of its benefits package, you could be missing out on valuable talent that may seek work elsewhere— perhaps with other businesses that do.

401(k) plan paper on top of desk with calculator, blue folder and glasses401(k) Plan Types and Benefits Offerings

A 401(k) is a product that is often purchased by a business when their income begins to increase. Attractive to new and potential hires, a Safe Harbor 401(k) Plan is a type of plan where you, as a business owner and your employees, can defer up to $18,500 of pre-tax dollars into the plan.

When your business begins to become even more successful, then the day may come when the formula will need to be analyzed to see if it is truly maximizing what it can do for you and your employees. This is the point where a Safe Harbor New Comparability Formula may prove helpful financially for the businesses owners.

And then last but not least, if there’s a big need for tax deductions, and because your once-humble business has now become extremely successful ($270-thousand-dollar+ revenue per year), then you may be looking for something a bit more supercharged than what a standard 401(k) profit sharing plan can offer. In cases such as these, a Defined Benefit Plan could allow employers/business owners to receive well above the $50 to $55 thousand dollar a year limit that can then be put into a traditional profit-sharing plan. A Defined Benefit Plan allows significantly higher contributions than a Profit Sharing Plan.

401(k) Plans are available to firms both big and small with no minimums. It is crucial however to pick a provider that does on-site enrollments rather than just having the employees visit a website to learn about the plan because ultimately a website is never going to excite an individual into putting their own money in and if they don’t contribute, then the plan won’t work as efficiently as it could if the employees decide to contribute.

The Best 401(k) Plan For Your Business

Interested in incorporating a 401(k) plan into your employee benefits offerings? The start of a new year is the perfect time. To learn more about the unique 401(k) plan options available to you please visit your association page for more information.

mother and child practicing good dental hygiene in bathroom

The Cost Of Not Having Dental Insurance

If you and your family have been skipping trips to the dentist, you’re not alone. “For every adult without health insurance, an estimated three lack dental insurance” this comes according to a quote issued by the Kaiser Family Foundation based off of research conducted by the National Association of Dental Plans.

A Key Component Of Overall Health and Hygiene

But what so few realize is the close relationship between one’s oral health and their overall health. A person’s mouth is a haven for potentially harmful bacteria, regular flossing, brushing, and cleanings can keep the bacteria at bay but when a person is neglecting their teeth, the bacteria can build and lead to infections, tooth decay, and gum disease. From there, it is possible for the bacteria to enter the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body leading to other serious problems.

man with young daughter at doctors office doing paperwork smilingAccording to, the following have been found to possibly share a link with poor oral care:

  • Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of your heart (endocardium). Endocarditis typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in your heart.
  • Cardiovascular disease. Some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries, and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.
  • Pregnancy and birth. Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.

And if you suffer from any of the following conditions, your oral health may be at risk of deterioration without extra care administered by a dental professional:

  • Diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection — putting the gums at risk. Gum disease appears to be more frequent and severe among people who have diabetes. Research shows that people who have gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels and that regular periodontal care can improve diabetes control.
  • HIV/AIDS. Oral problems, such as painful mucosal lesions, are common in people who have HIV/AIDS.
  • Osteoporosis — which causes bones to become weak and brittle — might be linked to periodontal bone loss and tooth loss. Drugs used to treat osteoporosis carry a small risk of damage to the bones of the jaw.
  • Alzheimer’s disease. Worsening oral health is seen as Alzheimer’s disease progresses.

In addition to the most noted above health issues, poor oral health has also been linked to such health issues as eating disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, head and neck cancers, and Sjogren’s syndrome among others.

Dental Insurance Can Help

When a person develops a cold, or the flu, that’s when they know they need to take it easy for a few days and give their body time to rest and recharge. But when it comes to your teeth, symptoms of ailing oral health may not be so obvious. This is why it is important to visit your dentist for routine exams and cleanings to avoid problems down the road.

Got Dental Insurance? If not, there’s no time like the present! From now until December 31st, you can enroll in Dental and Vision Insurance with an effective date of Jan. 1st to ensure coverage throughout the 2018 year. This is a special opportunity that arrives just once per quarter.

For more information, click here to learn more about our Dental and Vision Insurance offerings.

couple happy with the future thanks to supplemental health insurance taking a walk on a country road

The Insurance For When You Just Need More

What do you do when your insurance deductible is so high that it doesn’t even seem like you have insurance but that’s all you can afford? For some people who seldom seek medical treatments, this doesn’t really bother them. But for others whose only option is a plan with a high deductible, this can prove extremely frustrating and almost like the deck is stacked against them.

Despite the current political environment, the Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land and this means that all Americans must have health coverage or face a fine at tax time.

Young woman’s hands filling out application on a white deskHow Supplementary Health Insurance Works

Enter Supplementary Insurance plans. Sometimes referred to as Gap Insurance, these plans are designed to help the insured pay for many additional costs that standard insurance may not cover by offering a cash payout. Most basic health insurance plans will cover up to a certain percent of your overall bill, supplementary insurance is there to help with the rest.

For example, say something happens and you find yourself in the emergency room. Your insurance company will pay their part and you are responsible for the rest. If you have Supplemental Insurance, you will then file a claim and once it is processed, you will be reimbursed up to a pre-determined amount.

According to HealthValues Editor Colleen McGuire “Supplemental health insurance helps families pay for high health care costs and other monthly bills that can be affected if a family member is unable to work due to an accident or illness. The insurance is strictly a cash benefit, which means individuals and families can use the money to pay medical bills or other lifestyle expenses, like the mortgage, car payment or even child care. And unlike some insurance policies, supplemental insurance is guaranteed issue with no medical questions.”

Is A Supplemental Health Plan In Your Future?

With recent industry analysis and the start of this year’s Open Enrollment period confirming the rising cost of health insurance premiums available on the Federal Exchange, many individuals are left paying more than they ever have for less coverage than in years passed. This is why some industry analysts believe the future for Supplemental Health Insurance Plans is bright. Supplemental Insurance plans allow the insured to pay less for the same quality of care on more inexpensive health insurance plans and ultimately save thousands of dollars a year depending on their level of needs.

Are you overwhelmed with the cost of health insurance this year? A Supplemental Insurance plan may be just what you need to put your mind at ease throughout the holiday season and 2018. To learn more and to view specific plans and pricing options, please visit your association page for full details.

african american man stressed and dealing with depression at work

Attorneys: When Depression Strikes and When to See A Doctor

When the air turns cooler and the autumn breeze picks up the holiday season is never far behind. It is a time for family, friends, good food, shopping for gifts, and enjoying each other’s company. But what happens when you can’t seem to find your holiday spirit?

Just because your holiday spirit is lacking doesn’t necessarily make you a Grinch, though it could be a sign of something much more important.

Depression doesn’t strike when it is most convenient for you, sometimes there is a reason for it and sometimes there is not. In fact, it is not at all uncommon to develop depression symptoms during the holiday season.

But not all cases of the winter blues are the same and therefore, it is important to know when to reach out to your doctor and discuss what you are experiencing.

african american man relaxed and happy at home on couch with laptopKnow The Signs of Depression

Being a lawyer is one of the most stressful professions, so it’s understandable if you count yourself among the 28 percent of lawyers who struggle with depression.

According to Tyger Latham Psy.D. in an article posted on Psychology Today, “In counseling law students and many early career attorneys, I’ve come to recognize some common characteristics amongst those in the profession. Most, from my experience, tend to be ‘Type A’s’ (i.e., highly ambitious and over-achieving individuals). They also have a tendency toward perfectionism, not just in their professional pursuits but in nearly every aspect of their lives. While this characteristic is not unique to the legal profession – nor is it necessarily a bad thing – when rigidly applied, it can be problematic. The propensity of many law students and attorneys to be perfectionistic can sometimes impede their ability to be flexible and accommodating, qualities that are important in so many non-legal domains.”

In short, Latham goes on to suggest that it is the very character traits that make lawyers successful that also makes them prone to experiencing depression and anxiety.

But how do you know when you are displaying symptoms of depression?

One of the largest misconceptions regarding depression is that people who suffer from it are sad all the time and in some cases, may want to commit suicide. What many fail to realize is that depression is much more than that.

Depression is different in that it can creep up on you without you even noticing it. Symptoms that might be described as being in relation to a bad day may continue to linger for multiple days or weeks before you even realize feeling off.

According to Mayo Clinic, the most common symptoms of depression are as follows:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness.
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports.
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much.
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort.
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain.
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness.
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame.
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things.
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide.
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches.

If you should experience any of these symptoms, or a combination of them for a period of two weeks or more, it is advised to consult with your primary care physician.

Taking Care of Yourself

If you are without health insurance or haven’t reviewed your current health insurance plan this year, from now until December 15th is the 2018 Open Enrollment period where you can enroll in a health insurance plan designed to provide you and your family with the health care you need.

To learn more about Open Enrollment or to see your health insurance options, visit your association page for additional information.

If you would like additional assistance, our licensed Benefits Counselors are on hand to help. Click here to schedule an appointment to speak with one about your 2018 health insurance options.

black and silver ear buds on laptop for group health insurance podcast

Year End Insurance Planning for Law Firms Podcast With Member Benefits CEO Chip Trefry

Member Benefits own CEO Chip Trefry had the pleasure of sitting down with the hosts Christine Bilbrey and Jonathon Israel of The Florida Bar Podcast recently about year-end insurance planning for law firms.

To list to the full audio, please click here.

To learn more about Group Health Insurance, Disability Insurance, Cyber Security, and more, please visit your association page to contact one of our licensed Benefits Counselors.

For a full transcript, please see below:

Standard Opening: [00:00:03] Welcome to The Florida Bar Podcast where we highlight the latest trends in law office and law practice management to help you run your law firm. Brought to you by The Florida Bar’s Practice Resource Institute. You’re listening to Legal Talk Network.

Christine Bilbrey: [00:00:26] Hello, and welcome to The Florida Bar Podcast brought to you by The Practice Resource Institute on Legal Talk Network. We’re so glad you’re joining us. This is Christine Bilbrey I’m a Practice Management Adviser at PRI and one of the hosts for today’s show which is being recorded from our offices in Tallahassee, Florida.

Jonathon Israel: [00:00:43] Hello, and I’m Jonathon Israel the Director of the Bar’s Practice Resource Institute. Our goal at PRI is to assist Florida attorneys with running the business side of their law practices. We’ll be focusing on a different topic each month and we’ll carry the theme through our newsletter, website with related tech tips and articles.

Christine Bilbrey: [00:01:00] So, this month at PRI our topic is year-end planning and joining us today is Chip Trefry. Chip is the founder and CEO of Member Benefits Inc. It’s a little bit confusing because at The Florida Bar we have The Florida Bar Member Benefits and Chip’s company is a member benefit. He graduated from the University of Florida in 1972 and has spent most of his career specializing in helping professionals with their insurance and planning needs. Welcome to the show, Chip.

Chip Trefry: [00:01:27] Thank you. My pleasure.

Christine Bilbrey: [00:01:29] So Chip, please tell our listeners a little about yourself and your company, Member Benefits.

Chip Trefry: [00:01:34] Well, as you said, we’ve been doing this, professionals, for close to 40 years now and we try and work with the smaller law firms, CPA firms, and medical practices who through the associations that their members are. Our longest standing client is The Florida Bar for almost 30 years and we also have the State Bar of Texas, The Missouri Bar, and the State Bar of Georgia as clients.[We] have somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 to 18 thousand law firms that seek their advice in regards to benefits to our company.

Jonathon Israel: [00:02:16] So, Chip, as some of these solo and small firms again to kind of wrap up their year-ends and look forward to the next year, what are some things they should be considering in regards to their insurance coverage as they start to plan out the next year for?

Chip Trefry: [00:02:28] Well, of course, the 800-lb gorilla is the health insurance problem that everybody’s facing today and the increasing costs and proportionately the smaller the firm gets, the bigger the problem is. So, therefore, that’s why we work with an awful lot of the two, three, four-person type law firms and even the sole proprietors— those that have no employees. Their biggest problem is that the carriers have exited the market— many, many of them have exited the market, especially on the individual major medical policies, and there’s also been some significant increases in the cost of the insurance— particularly on the individual major medical. But that’s probably the biggest issue that law firms face at the end of the year is most of them have renewal dates of January, so, they’re starting to look in November at which carrier they might need to move to, if their carrier exited, or what plan they might need to consider for themselves and their employees, what deductibles they ought to consider; and interestingly, there are some new solutions in the market. One of them is called “level-funding,” which can go all the way down to with several carriers offer this product. It’s kind of like a self-insured option for very small law firms where you can actually store reserves. If your firm has a successful year and the claims are low, those reserves then can be used the following year to either increase your benefits take lower deductibles and lower copays without additional cost or they can use it to stabilize the premium. And that’s become very popular. We’ve done quite a few of those for firms [of] anywhere between three, four employees up to 50 employees.

Chip Trefry: [00:04:32] And when you get into the above 50 space, you can start looking at some options of fully self-insured risk involved in the fully self-insured plans, versus the no risk on the level-funding. And then last is what most firms are used to having presented to them, is the fully-insured options and the fully-insured, is just the normal premium versus benefits. If your experience is bad it’s not going to affect, necessarily, your firm if you’re in the under fifty marketplace because the rates are controlled so there’s no real rewards in having a good year. There is incentive from the insurer, the health insurance carriers, to try and motivate employers to incent their employees to become more healthy for many reasons; one, it drives down the cost of the health insurance and also increases productivity in regards to their coming to work and being more productive. Other considerations on the year-end are disability income- look and see if your incomes have increased on yourself and your employees. Do you have the proper amount of disability insurance to ensure a disability? It should be determined first how much non-can individual DI policies that can, if you have the proper documentation, be paid for by the law firm. It can be an expense to the firm and it’s the first step in disability planning. Do you have the proper amount of non-can and secondarily, go and look at the amount of group health insurance that you might purchase in the firm to see if you want to insure anywhere between 60, between the two products, up to as much as 100 percent of your income.

Christine Bilbrey: [00:06:30] So, if a solo or very small firm comes to you through The Florida Bar are you able to get them better rates than if they just went out on their own to sign up for a policy?

Chip Trefry: [00:06:41] Yes, we do. We have a group policy with Guardian through The Florida Bar, that say, it’s a very inexpensive option for an individual to purchase whether they’re a small firm and they purchase it just for themselves, or they work for a large firm that doesn’t offer disability insurance and it’s also an alternative to purchasing an individual non-can policy in the open market which is about three times more expensive.

Christine Bilbrey: [00:07:12] And is there a set enrollment period if someone’s coming to you? Do they have to come during certain months to get it to start in January or, can someone come mid-year and decide to add health benefits for their employees?

Chip Trefry: [00:07:25] Yes and no. If you’re purchasing an individual major medical policy because you’re a very small firm, firm of one would say, then there’s the Open Enrollment, which starts this week, and you have that period of time where the enrollment carriers have to take you. During the rest of the year if there’s a life event that occurs, like you lost your job, so, therefore, you lost your group insurance; you got married; you move to a different location— and there’s several more events that can take place called “life events” which will cause the carriers to have to sell you a health insurance policy. For the group insurance policies, for the larger firms five or more employees, they’re going to almost always buy a group policy. One policy insures all the members of the firm. There’s no real enrollment period for that. It’s just that most firms do renew at the end of the year— December 31st January 1st start date.

Jonathon Israel: [00:08:33] And you said for that there’s five or more employees— is there are set limit, a minimum, that they need to have in order to get the group rates.

Jonathon Israel: [00:08:40] The five, is typically where you’re not going to see a firm of five or more buying individual major medical policies but no, it can go down to, I believe, two in the state of Florida. I know it’s two in Texas. In Florida— I believe it’s two.

Jonathon Israel: [00:08:55] And are there tax benefits that these small firms are seeing by offering the insurance for their employees that they’re going to get some extra benefits for it?

Chip Trefry: [00:09:04] Well, that’s interesting because the executive order that just came out, if it goes through, will allow employers to purchase individual major medical policies or individuals to purchase it, and expense it where there’s limits on that currently, if you buy an individual major medical policy— and let me explain that “individual” means the policy’s issued to the insured; “group” is issued to the company— the firm. The group benefits are always deductible to the firm, the cost of the insurance, and on the individual side, the executive order that President Trump put out a couple of weeks ago will have the premiums treated the same on individuals as for group, once that’s been enacted. In regards to the question earlier on how many employees you have to have to get a group policy in Florida, it’s the same as Texas— that’s two.

Jonathon Israel: [00:10:01] And in Florida, are you required to offer insurance to your employees?

Chip Trefry: [00:10:04] No, lots of firms that just buy an individual policy for themselves. If they’re a lawyer and they might have a secretary, hopefully she’s covered somewhere else, but it’s not mandatory that you offer insurance to your employees.

Christine Bilbrey: [00:10:20] And what if their only employee is a spouse or family member? Is that a consideration when they’re looking into plans that they qualify for?

Christine Bilbrey: [00:10:26] Yeah, in Florida the spouse will not count as an employee. They still have to have another employee. So the spouse, if they have another employee, then they qualify for group coverage and then the spouse would be covered, if they truly are an employee, as an employee or they could be covered as a spouse/spousal rider because at the end of the day, you’ve got to have [an] employee working for you in order to qualify for the group insurance.

Jonathon Israel: [00:10:59] Sure makes sense.

Chip Trefry: [00:11:01] It’s interesting that the trend now has gone from individual major medical policies, that were significantly less expensive approximately four or five years ago, and now what’s happened is the individual major medical policies have become more expensive than the group on average. So, there’s a big trend for small employers to try and qualify for group insurance so that they can reduce their costs.

Jonathon Israel: [00:11:29] And then in regards to some of the other insurance areas you know, as far as professional liability [insurance] or other coverages that a firm should be looking at at the end of the year, what’s your advice to them, as they review those policies?

Chip Trefry: [00:11:41] Well, I’ll just pick a few areas that should be looked at. One is, of course, professional liability is always a big issue and most attorneys have professional liability, particularly those that are forced to have it by their clients. There’s Cyber Insurance now that’s becoming a big concern in the industry, and there’s programs out there where you can test your firm for a risk assessment to determine how vulnerable you might be to a cyber attack, or to be “hacked” as they call it or “black screened” where somebody comes in and just shuts all your systems down. So, those are typically very inexpensive and sometimes free where you can have your self-assessed. The ultimate goal of those companies that are offering those services, of course, are to ultimately have the firm purchase Cyber Insurance to cover the liabilities that exist because of somebody hacking you. The program will offer on-going assessment where there’s those that will come in and make sure that you’re in compliance with the law and also offer an executive summary that will describe all the things that you need to do to improve your system. And then if you want the system, sometimes they’ll offer on-going monitoring and compliance.

Chip Trefry: [00:13:06] Some firms are subject to audits SOC audits, like we are as a TPA, and those audits are now getting much more particular about the cyber attack potential in asking for you to go and get certified that you’ve done everything you can to avoid that problem arising and that if you actually do have a cyber attack take place, that you’re adequately insured. The insurance will cover restoration of your system, liability breach when liability you might have caused to your clients for having that information breached, business interruption— you could be shut down for some period of time and loss of income so, the insurance should cover the business interruption. You might possibly have to have accounting— forensic accounting it covers that and then fines— regulatory fines. Those are the broad coverages that should be considered in a cyber policy.

Jonathon Israel: [00:14:10] And I think that there’s a big misconception out there with some of the small firms that their Professional Liability Insurance will just cover the cyber attacks. But you know, that’s not the case in some of these and especially as it comes to the restoration, like you’re talking about, and some the other areas that they really need to be paying attention to. The professional liability just doesn’t live up to having a separate Cyber Insurance policy out there as well.

Chip Trefry: [00:14:34] No, the studies that we’ve done for our bar clients around the country show that even the riders that are available that you can put on a professional liability policy still have very limited coverage. And firms will be surprised at how low the premium can be to go ahead and get full coverage for cyber— it can be as little as four or five hundred dollars a year to cover the firm up to as many as five employees.

Jonathon Israel: [00:14:59] It’s almost a no-brainer at that point.

Chip Trefry: [00:15:01] It is. The typical cost to have the assessment done can be as much as the insurance would be, in some cases. A lot of associations are now looking at endorsing cyber-type products. The Florida Bar’s done it and so has Texas.

Christine Bilbrey: [00:15:18] Is there a one size fits all? Like, if someone approaches your company to get Cyber Security Insurance and they really don’t know that much about it, are there different levels? Are there different products? Or, do you have people there that can guide them through to figure out what they need?

Chip Trefry: [00:15:32] We do, and it does make a difference in the size of the firm. We have two carriers. One would be for the small firm— up to somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 or 60 employees, and then once you get above that, is where we’re going to go to a different carrier. So yeah, there’s not a difference in the coverages, it’s a difference in the insurance company for the small firm and then the carrier for the large firm.

Christine Bilbrey: [00:15:59] So, what other kinds of insurance is your company offer? Can attorneys get dental or vision? Are there other things that they could look into with you?

Chip Trefry: [00:16:08] Yep. We have one area is 401k plans, which is one of my favorite areas to work in, it’s interesting to me that, you know, the 401k is a product that’s purchased by a firm when their income starts going up and sometimes they’ll start making some money, they’ll start their firm off, they’ll bring their employees in, [who] came from other firms, or they came from the firm they left from, or they’re just a start-up and they put in what would be called like a “Safe Harbor Basic 401k Plan”, where you can put up to 15 percent of your income into the plan and that satisfies the need immediately to hire and attract the type employees that you want in the firm. But ultimately, when the firm becomes more successful, the formula needs to be analyzed to see if it’s really maximizing what it can do for the partners. Then there’s what’s called a “Safe Harbor New Comparability Formula” that will skew more money toward the owners of the firms, that, of course, being the lawyers, and then ultimately, if there’s a real big need for tax deductions, and because the firm has now become extremely successful— in the marketing pieces that I’ve seen, we’re talking the 350 to 400 thousand dollar range for the owners, when they’ve hit that level they’re looking for something more than what a 401k profit share will offer, there’s what’s called a “defined benefit plan” and that’s where you can get well above the 50 to 55 thousand dollar a year deduction that you can put in the accounts of the owners in the profit sharing and you can go significantly higher than that in the defined benefit. That’s one area.

Christine Bilbrey: [00:18:00] And the 401k is that available to the very small firms? Say, three people, can they start a 401K plan there?

Chip Trefry: [00:18:07] Yes. Yes, they can. Absolutely.

Christine Bilbrey: [00:18:10] That’s excellent, and I think that that’s an area that’s overlooked, especially young attorneys because they think they can’t afford to do that yet. Do they have to put— is there a minimum amount that they have to go put into that 401k to start? Or, you know, what’s the threshold for them to get it started?

Chip Trefry: [00:18:23] No, there’s no minimums but you’ll see a firm, you know, let’s say, two partners and they get three or four employees with three, four, five employees, forty to fifty-five thousand dollar a year contribution for the for the whole firm. Probably about the lowest you’d want to start it off at. That’s including what the employees would put in because they can, of course, match and put their own money in the plan. It’s crucial that you pick a provider that does on-site enrollments rather than just having the employees go onto a website and learn about the plan because the websites are never going to excite them into putting their own money into it and if they don’t contribute, then the plan won’t work as efficiently as it will if the employees contribute.

Christine Bilbrey: [00:19:18] That makes sense.

Christine Bilbrey: [00:19:19] So, it looks like we’ve reached the end of our program, and I want to thank Chip Trefry for joining us today.

Chip Trefry: [00:19:25] Thank you.

Christine Bilbrey: [00:19:25] And Chip, if our listeners have questions and they want to follow up, how do they reach you and your company?

Chip Trefry: [00:19:31] They can go onto the Florida Bar website and look for The Florida Bar Member Benefits and they’ll see The Florida Bar Private Insurance Exchange and they can call in on that number.

Christine Bilbrey: [00:19:44] Great. Thank you, Chip. So, if you like what you’ve heard today please rate us in Apple Podcast. Join us next time for another episode of The Florida Bar Podcast brought to you by the Practice Resource Institute on Legal Talk Network. I’m Christine Bilbrey.

Jonathon Israel: [00:19:58] And I’m Jonathon Israel. Until next time thank you for listening.

Standard Closing: [00:20:03] Thanks for listening to The Florida Bar Podcast brought to you by The Florida Bar’s Practice Resource Institute and produced by the broadcast professionals at Legal Talk Network. If you’d like more information about today’s show, please visit Subscribe via iTunes and RSS. Find The Florida Bar, The Florida Bar Practice Resource Institute, and Legal Talk Network on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn or download the free app from Legal Talk Network in Google Play and iTunes. The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by, Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.


young happy doctor high fiving little girl after open enrollment

Knowing Your Open Enrollment Options In 2018

Here are some important reminders to help guide you through the 2018 Open Enrollment process.

You may have recently received a letter from your health insurance carrier about the 2018 year. If the letter was confusing, don’t worry—a licensed Benefits Counselor will help you navigate your health insurance elections for the 2018 coverage year.

Need To Know For Open Enrollment 2018

Unlike years past, this year the Open Enrollment period lasts from a start date of November 1, 2017, and ends on December 15, 2017.

In order to obtain coverage on January 1, 2018, you must apply by the December 15, 2017, Open Enrollment deadline.

Plans and pricing will be available for review on November 1, 2017. We recommend that you evaluate your health insurance options every year in order to ensure that you are still receiving the benefits you need.

applying for health insurance on atablet during open enrollmentOpen Enrollment Is The Time For Changes

Open Enrollment is the time to make changes to your current plan.

If you are currently enrolled in a health insurance plan from the exchange, it may automatically renew if it is still available in your area. However, it is still important to review the details of your current plan, as providers may have made important changes that will be implemented for the 2018 coverage year.

If you have received a notice notifying you of upcoming changes to your plan, it is important to take the time to read it and determine what these changes could mean for you and your family. Be sure to check that your preferred doctors and hospitals will still be considered in-network. It is important to note that in some cases, you may not be covered at all should you receive care out-of-network.

It is possible that your prescription drug coverage could also change with the new year. Your plan may no longer cover the essential medications you, or your dependents, require in order to manage chronic conditions. This is why it is of the utmost importance that you review your existing plan’s drug benefits for 2018 before you allow it to renew.

Enroll Now Or Wait Until Next Year

So, what happens if you miss the Open Enrollment deadline? In the event that you miss the Open Enrollment cut-off date and still find yourself without insurance, you may be forced to wait another year until the next Open Enrollment period unless you qualify for a special enrollment period.

A Special Enrollment Period can be classified as a divorce, marriage, birth or adoption of a child, death of a spouse or a partner that leaves you without health insurance, your spouse or partner who has you covered loses his/her job and health insurance, you lose your job and with it your health insurance, your hours are cut making you ineligible for your employer’s health insurance plan, or you are in an HMO and move outside its designated coverage area.

In order to avoid paying a penalty on your taxes, you must have health insurance as per the Affordable Care Act.

Applying For 2018 Coverage

When you are ready to apply, make sure you have the details of your current plan, payment information, and any dependent information (social security number, birth date, etc.) on hand to make the application process easier.

Schedule an appointment with a licensed Benefits Counselor for a simple one-on-one approach to Open Enrollment. Our Benefits Counselors are specially trained to focus on your individual needs in a health plan and find you the best fit.

To schedule an appointment, please fill out our Online Appointment Scheduling form to secure your preferred date and time today!

young female asian doctor treating mother and daughter

What You Need for Open Enrollment 2018

Open Enrollment 2018 is just around the corner and for many, this is the only time to secure health insurance coverage for you and your dependents.

Since the beginning of the Affordable Care Act, the term Open Enrollment refers to the specific period of time each year when an individual can enroll in, or switch, their health insurance plan without the need to qualify for a special enrollment period. This is also when additional eligible members can be added to an existing plan.

Open enrollment only occurs once per year, so keeping an eye on the Open Enrollment deadlines is important in order to avoid losing coverage. This year the Open Enrollment window has been shortened and begins November 1st with a December 15th deadline.

young doctor explaining open enrollment 2018 to coupleKnow The Open Enrollment 2018 Terms

We know that Open Enrollment can seem stressful and completely overwhelming — but it doesn’t need to be! One of the best things you can do to make the Open Enrollment process easier is to know the most frequently used terms:

  • Coinsurance: Coinsurance is your share of the costs of a covered healthcare service calculated as a percent (for example, 20 percent) of the allowed amount for the service. You pay coinsurance plus any deductibles you still owe for a covered health service.
  • Premium: A premium is the amount of money charged by an insurance company for coverage. The cost of premiums may be determined by several factors, including age, geographic area, tobacco use, and number of dependents.
  • Copayment: A copayment, or copay, is a fixed amount you pay for a covered healthcare service, usually at the time of service. The amount can vary by the type of covered healthcare service.
  • Deductible: A deductible is the amount you owe for healthcare services each year before the insurance company begins to pay.
  • Out-of-pocket Maximum (OOPM): An out-of-pocket maximum is the most you should have to pay for your healthcare during a year, excluding the monthly premium. It protects you from very high medical expenses. After you reach the annual out-of-pocket maximum, your health insurance or plan begins to pay 100 percent of the allowed amount for covered healthcare services for the rest of the year. The deductible, coinsurance, copays and prescription drug copays are included in the out-of-pocket maximum.
  • Preventive Care: Rather than waiting for a patient to become sick, preventive care aims to keep people healthy, or at least catch illnesses at their earliest and most treatable stages. Preventive care includes preventive services performed by providers, such as annual physicals or mammograms. Under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), policies must cover various preventive services for men, women, and children without sharing the cost for these services through coinsurance, deductibles or copayments. Certain Preventive care services are subject to frequency limitations.
  • Annual Limit and Lifetime Limit: In the past, health insurance carriers imposed Annual and Lifetime limits on the benefits you receive. You are no longer subject to these limitations and there is no maximum to the benefits you may receive.

Asking For Help

Our team of licensed Benefits Counselors are here to help! Schedule an appointment so you can get your questions answered —And don’t forget, Open Enrollment only runs through December 15th for the 2018 season!

family in white smiling and happy about ancillary benefits

Beyond Health: The Ancillary Benefits Your Association Needs

We’ve all heard of Health Insurance, but it’s not uncommon to hear the term “Ancillary Benefits” in the same sentence. But while everyone is familiar with health insurance, not everyone is equally familiar with ancillary benefits. So, what exactly are they and should you be offering them to your employees?

First and foremost, while health insurance is just health insurance, ancillary benefits can be made up of a variety of different insurance and benefits offerings made available to your employees. Oftentimes, instead of listing out each and every benefit and insurance offering a company may offer, the term “ancillary” may be used instead.

Potential Ancillary Benefits Offerings

But despite the unfamiliarity of the term, the types of insurance benefit offerings it can refer to are all too common. Offerings such as Dental and Vision insurance, Term Life insurance, Long-Term Disability Insurance, LifeLock, Pet Insurance, among many others are among the most popular ancillary benefit offerings companies and associations can offer their employees.

inside of dental office with toolsDental and Vision Insurance

Providing your employees with dental insurance can benefit you as much as them. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular dental check-ups can improve an individual’s personal health and having dental insurance can help save your employees from additional costly expenses should more serious treatments be needed. As is the case with anything health related, regular check-ups are the key to catching any potential problems early and avoiding costly procedures later on.

Like dental check-ups, regular eye exams not only diagnose vision problems but can also provide early detection of serious health problems. Vision insurance is frequently offered alongside dental insurance and can be every bit as beneficial for employees to have as poor vision can result in everything from migraines, to blindness, and more.

Term-Life Insurance

Life insurance provides crucial financial protection for your family if something were to ever happen to you. An offering like this would help to give your employees peace of mind and let them know that you are looking out for their family’s financial future. It is not uncommon for Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) insurance to be included as well.

man in a wheelchair rolling down street next to carLong-Term Disability Insurance

Long-Term Disability insurance has been designed to help protect your employee’s financial well-being in the event an accident or illness occurs outside of the workplace. It is estimated that just over one in four of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before they retire. Long-Term Disability insurance helps your employees replace their lost income if they have an accident or illness that prevents them from working. Leading Long-Term Disability Insurance provider Guardian, can provide your employees with up to $10,000 in monthly disability coverage.


In today’s internet age, you can never be too careful when it comes to protecting your identity. According to the 2017 Identity Fraud Study, conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research over $16 billion was stolen from 15.4 million consumers in the U.S. in 2016—up 700 million from the previous year. With cyber criminals showing no sign of slowing down, it falls on individuals to protect their identity with smart banking practices and services offered by companies such as LifeLock.

LifeLock is a great ancillary benefit for employers to offer to their employees and is becoming arguably as important as health insurance to have.

Pet Insurance

Nothing will show your employees that you value them and their happiness more than by offering pet insurance for their four-legged friends. Just like the health costs for your employees, vet bills can be every bit as expensive. But by offering your employees pet insurance, they will be able to make sure that their pets stay as healthy as possible and be reimbursed for their vet visits via their pet insurance company.

Why Your Association Should Offer Ancillary Benefits

When benefit programs meet employees’ needs, employers enjoy a significant competitive advantage in attracting and retaining valuable employees. In addition, employees are more satisfied and become more willing to stay with your company. When you go through your association program, you get access to rate and participation concessions on Dental, Vision, Life, Disability, and more!

To see the insurance benefits we currently offer, please visit your association page

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