100% ONLINE. NO TRAVEL EXPENSES.
Don't miss this opportunity to learn about NEW SOLUTIONS that can help you solve your clients' biggest employee benefits challenge (cost!) and help you win new business. A big advantage of a virtual conference is that all sessions are recorded, so you can watch or re-watch them at a time that is convenient for you.
AUGUST 27-31, 2018
ComedyCE.com recently hosted a four-hour webinar entitled "Innovative Ideas to Save Small Employers Money." Recognizing the fact that employers are struggling and that the government is unlikely to solve the problem anytime soon, we wanted to share some ideas and strategies to help brokers help their clients. The webinar went really well, but we realized three things:
For those reasons, we decided to expand the webinar into a full conference. Drawing on the expertise of two-dozen industry experts and solution providers, the Innovative Ideas Summit will provide you with lots of strategies that you can implement right away to assist your large group, small group, and individual health insurance clients.
Attend online at a time that's convenient for you
Low registration fee and NO travel costs!
You should! You'll learn strategies to save clients $$$.
(You'll have access to all sessions through the end of 2018)
Or you can attend the sessions the week of the summit for just $18. Keep reading for more info.
Each day of the summit, several new sessions will be released, but YOU DON'T HAVE TO WATCH THEM THAT DAY. With an ALL ACCESS PASS, you can view all of the recorded sessions through the end of 2018.
Or, if you'd prefer, you can purchase our CONFERENCE PASS and watch the sessions on the day they're posted.
The CONFERENCE PASS is only $18. You'll have access to the recordings on the day they're posted. The next day, those classes are archived and a new group of sessions is posted. Just like with an in-person conference, you can pick and choose the sessions you'd like to attend, but when they're gone they're gone.
for $50 more, you can watch the sessions at a time that's convenient for you.
Upgrade to an ALL ACCESS PASS and you can watch and re-watch the sessions anytime you'd like through the end of 2018.
Here are the general topics each day's sessions will address:
DAY ONE: Plan Selection and Contribution Strategies – Health insurance is expensive. We all know that. But did you know that employers and employees can save money by looking for hidden value in the plans they currently have to choose from? We'll show you how to find it.
DAY TWO: Hybrid Plan Designs – In the old days, employers and individuals could buy a low-deductible copay plan and call it a day. Not anymore. Today's plans are more catastrophic in nature and don't cover everything the member would like. By pairing these plans with other solutions, you can create a more complete solution for your clients.
DAY THREE: Consumer-Directed Solutions – Consumerism has been a buzz word in the insurance industry for nearly two decades now, and now there are finally some tools available that allow people to be health care consumers. These tools are essential for all employers who have had to reduce benefits in recent years.
DAY FOUR: Employer Alternatives to ACA Plans – With the increasing prices of fully-insured, ACA-compliant plans, employers are looking for alternatives. Fortunately, the market has delivered a number of great solutions.
DAY FIVE: Options for Individual Clients – Even if you don't specialize in the individual market, you need to be aware of what options are available for people without access to employer-sponsored coverage or employees who are losing their group health plan.
TODAY'S FOCUS: PLAN SELECTION AND CONTRIBUTION
Why do we need new ideas?
Employers offer benefits to attract and retain quality employees. Employees and individuals purchase health insurance to protect their families in the event of an unexpected illness or injury. The problem is that premiums are so high now that employers are finding it difficult to offer benefits their employees actually want, and the out-of-pocket costs have gotten so high that people don't feel they even have health coverage. Something needs to change, but it's clear that the solution is not going to come from our elected officials. Benefit advisers need to offer solutions to help their clients save money, and that's what the Innovative Ideas Summit is all about. In this session, Eric will discuss the state of the health insurance market and give a preview of what you'll learn in this virtual conference.
Mispriced Plans - Capitalize on the Carrier's Mistakes
Perhaps the easiest change employers can make is to select the right plans to offer to their employees, and that starts with searching for options hidden values. Carriers categorize their health plans as bronze, silver, gold, and platinum, which makes it easier for consumers to compare their options. Sometimes, though, these plans seem to be mispriced - a gold plan might be less expensive than a silver plan, for instance. In this session, we'll take a look at some examples of "actuarial outliers" and mispriced plans, try to explain the carrier's pricing methodology, and give you an easy way to help your clients compare their options.
To Be Announced
HMOs and Smaller Networks
Before the Affordable Care Act, HMOs had all but disappeared in many markets. Well, they're back - not because of consumer demand, but because they offer a way to keep premiums under control. With some insurers, an equivalent HMO plan offers up to a 30% savings vs. a PPO. In this session, we'll evaluate some of the options that are available to consumers right now and explain how to work HMO offerings into the benefits package without an employee backlash. HMOs are a great option IF you know how to sell them.
To Be Announced
Are dependents good or bad?
Most employers nowadays contribute toward the cost of employee coverage but choose not to contribute toward the dependent premium; the entire cost of adding dependents is normally the employee's responsibility. But that begs the question - are dependents good or bad? Would it be better or worse for our employer clients if the had a lot of dependent participation on the health plan? In this session, we'll answer that question and help you develop a dependent strategy that you can use when consulting with your clients.
To Be Announced
AGE VS. COMPOSITE RATING
Age vs. Composite Rating
In the small group market, most carriers offer employers a choice between age and composite rating. Composite rating, in which the EO, ES, EC, and EF premiums are based on the average ages of the participating employees and dependents, is certainly easier for employers, but is it better? The answer, of course, is IT DEPENDS. In this class, we'll take a look at the two pricing options and discuss when age rating is better and when composite rating is better. Choosing the right option at renewal time can result in some big cost savings for small employers.
To Be Announced
MEDICARE PREMIUM REIMBURSEMENT ARRANGEMENTS
The LEGAL way to convince older employees to drop off the group plan
This session will examine a number of topics related to employees working past the age of 65:
QUALIFIED SMALL EMPLOYER HRAs
Now that they're legal, are QSEHRAs actually a good solution?
After years of debate, the insurance industry recently received the good news that defined contribution for individual plans is, in fact, LEGAL. With a Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement (QSEHRA), small employers can reimburse employees for individual health insurance premiums and qualified medical expenses, but with the current state of the individual market, there's a real question about whether this is still a good strategy. Some brokers think we've missed the window and that individual premiums are too high at this point to consider a QSEHRA. Before you write off this solution, though, you should listen to this webinar - there are some signs that QSEHRAs could be an excellent strategy in the near future.
SMALL GROUP OPEN ENROLLMENT
No Participation / No Contribution Groups
Most small employers want to take care of their employees, and many would love to help their loyal workers obtain health insurance coverage. The problem is that the amount these employers can afford to pay toward their employees' health insurance premiums either 1) does not meet the insurance company's minimum contribution requirement or 2) is not enough to get 75% of the employees to participate in the plan. Not to worry. The Affordable Care Act provides an open enrollment option for small employers who cannot meet the carrier's contribution or participation requirements. With this option, there's really no reason for a small company not to offer health coverage to its employees. In this class, we'll explain how companies can take advantage of the no participation / no contribution option and how you can use this strategy to recruit new small group clients.
To Be Announced
DEFINED CONTRIBUTION CAFETERIA PLANS
Defined Contribution Cafeteria Plans
Most brokers are somewhat familiar with cafeteria plans and defined contribution, but there's still a lot of confusion. In this session, we'll talk with a cafeteria plan expert to make sure everyone understand the terminology, the strategy, the potential savings, and the compliance requirements for an employer to make a defined contribution through a section 125 Cafeteria Plan. We'll cover the simple to the complex:
TODAY'S FOCUS: HYBRID PLAN DESIGNS
What is a Hybrid Health Plan?
"Hybrid Health Plan" is a term Eric coined to explain the reality of today's plan designs. In the old days, employers and individuals could buy a low-deductible copay plan and call it a day. Not anymore. Today's plans are more catastrophic in nature and don't cover everything the member would like. By pairing these catastrophic health plans with other benefits, though, you can create a more complete solution for your clients, a solution that provides better protection and that employees will truly appreciate.
MEDICAL EXPENSE REIMBURSEMENT PLANS
Have you heard? About the MERP?
Back before HRAs had a rollover option, they were called MERPs - Medical Expense Reimbursement Plans. Our instructor for this session, Gentrie Pool, has been talking about MERPs for years and how incorporating this strategy can help employers offer the same level of benefits while potentially saving tens of thousands of dollars. This is an oldie-but-goodie strategy that still works today, and it's something nearly every employer should consider. In this session, we'll do some math to show you why you should be talking about this solution with your clients.
Supplemental Coverage : it doesn't have to be voluntary
Back when health coverage actually protected people against unexpected and costly medical expenses, supplemental or "worksite" insurance was pitched as a way to pay for other non-medical expenses that continue when someone is out of work due to an illness or injury. With today's high deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, though, these same products are now being used as a way to offset the portion of the medical bill the health plan doesn't pay. In this session, we'll talk about why you should incorporate supplemental insurance products into your benefits offering and why employers should consider subsidizing these "voluntary" benefits.
To Be Announced
DIRECT PRACTICE PHYSICIANS
The Direct Primary Care Movement
Under the Affordable Care Act, millions of people who were previously uninsured gained health coverage. That's the good news. The bad news is that there wasn't a corresponding increase in the number of physicians treating people, so wait times at the doctor's office increased. Combine that with the current doctor shortage we're experiencing in this country and the shrinking provider networks on both group and individual health plans, and we have a real problem: it's harder and harder to get a doctor's appointment, and when we do we often end up seeing a physician's assistant or nurse practitioner. There is another option, though: for a fixed monthly fee, patients can get unlimited access to a "Direct Practice Physician" or "Concierge Doctor." It's more convenient, and patients often get better care. And now, we're starting to see this solution paired with level-funded, reference-based plans for a truly unique solution.
FIRST DOLLAR BENEFITS
Telehealth and Other First Dollar Benefits
As we remove the up-front copayments from today's health plans to keep premiums under control, we sometimes see members who must now pay the full cost of their doctor visits going without needed medical care. That doesn't need to happen. Telehealth and other "first-dollar" benefits give employees and their family members access to doctors and other health care providers by phone, video, or email. It provides important access to care that is much more convenient and much less expensive than an in-person visit. These are benefits that employees will appreciate and actually use, but there's a trick to making this strategy work. In this session, we'll discuss how to SUCCESSFULLY roll out a telehealth benefit.
To Be Announced
TODAY'S FOCUS: CONSUMERISM
What is consumerism and does it even work?
Consumerism has been a buzz word in the insurance industry for nearly two decades now, and now there are finally some tools available that allow people to "shop around" for healthcare. But are employees actually using these tools, are they actually making better health care decisions, and how do they feel about an employer-sponsored health plan with no up-front copayments? These are important questions for employers who want to offer a benefits package that employees will appreciate while working toward the long-term goal of building better healthcare consumers.
To Be Announced
HEALTH SAVINGS ACCOUNTS
Health Savings Accounts
These days, a lot of health plans are HSA-compatible, but studies show that a high percentage of employees with a compatible plan have not actually taken the time to set up their Health Savings Account. In this course, we'll talk about how an HSA-qualified plan can save employers and employees money, how to explain HSAs in terms the employees will understand, how to get them to set up their accounts so they can pay with tax-free dollars, and how to make sure they're MORE happy with an HSA plan than they were with a copay plan.
THE PROVIDER HIERARCHY
The Provider Hierarchy
One way for employers to save money on their benefits offering is to remove some of the up-front copayments for doctor visits, emergency room visits, etc. This of course creates a problem for the employees and can backfire if the employees go without necessary coverage. When offering a plan with fewer first-dollar benefits, it's essential that employers take the time to educate their employees about all of their options for medical care. For most conditions, the emergency room should be the last resort, not the default. In this session, we'll discuss the various options for health care and explain how to communicate those options to the employees.
To Be Announced
ADVOCACY AND TRANSPARENCY TOOLS
Advocacy and Transparency Tools
One of the goals of consumer-directed health care is for people to "shop around" for medical services. While this is a good idea in theory, there are a couple problems: 1) People don't know how to shop for health care services, and 2) to this point, there haven't been a lot of tools available to help consumers compare their options. Fortunately, the tools are getting better - there are now both cost and quality transparency tools that allow healthcare consumers to make more informed decisions. There are also advocates available to help guide consumers through the process. In this session, we'll discuss both. Together, health care advocacy services and transparency tools can lead to better health care decisions that save consumers and employers money.
To Be Announced
Prescription costs continue to increase, especially the cost of specialty drugs, and that's having a big impact on the premiums our clients are paying for their health coverage. To help keep premiums under control, members are being asked to pay more and more for their prescription drugs -- copayments are increasing or disappearing altogether. It also means that employees need alternatives, and increasingly those alternatives can be found outside the health plan. In this session, we'll take a look at some of those alternatives and explain how consumerism can really have an impact on the amount people pay for their monthly medications.
To Be Announced
One of the reasons for the high utilization rates on some health plans is that members are shielded from the cost of health care services by flat-dollar copayments. High-Deductible, HSA-compatible health plans remove these copayments and give consumers an incentive to "shop around" for lower-cost health care services, but there's still not much incentive to compare prices for higher-cost procedures that exceed the plan's out-of-pocket limit. Reference-based pricing may be the answer. By rewarding members for making good choices, these plans help people understand that where they go for care makes a difference. Some models eliminate the provider network altogether and pay in reference to a set fee schedule like Medicare, creating an even bigger incentive for consumers to compare their options and make wise decisions. In this session, we'll explain what reference-based pricing is, take a look at some of the different models, and introduce you to some of the solution-providers that already have reference-based plans available to your clients.
To Be Announced
You've certainly heard about employer-sponsored wellness programs and the ROI that these programs offer. The idea behind a wellness program is to reduce risk factors and, therefore, claims costs. But did you know that a wellness program is also an important part of a consumer-directed strategy? And did you know that employees with consumer-directed plans, especially those who have set up a Health Savings Account, have a higher participation rate in wellness programs and actually get more out of them? In this session, we'll talk about the relationship between wellness and consumerism and share some ideas to increase employee participation in and enthusiasm for workplace wellness programs.
To Be Announced
A COMPLETE CDHC STRATEGY
Putting It All Together
In today's sessions, you've learned about the various ingredients of a consumer-directed approach: a high deductible health plan, a tax-advantaged account, alternatives to the flat-dollar copayments, a reference-based pricing model that encourages consumers to use lower-cost providers, easy-to-use price and quality transparency tools, and a wellness program that employees will be excited to participate in. But how do you assemble the various pieces into a benefits package that will make sense to the employees? That's what consumerism expert Richard Stephenson will discuss in the last session of the day.
TODAY'S FOCUS: EMPLOYER ACA ALTERNATIVES
What are the ACA rules for small and large employers?
The Affordable Care Act impacts small and large employers in different ways. Small employers are subject to the essential benefits requirement and modified adjusted community rating rules. Large employers are subject to the employer mandate. In both cases, employers are looking for alternatives to help them save money, and that's the focus of today's sessions. We'll kick off the fourth day of the summit by discussing the ACA rules for small and large employers and giving a quick overview of the various alternatives available to companies that feel they're overpaying for their current coverage.
To Be Announced
One alternative to a fully-insured ACA metallic small group plan is a level-funded plan. Level-funded is a term used for self-insurance small group plans that ask the employer to pay the maximum exposure amount each month. The level premium makes it feel like a fully insured plan, and often the maximum liability under a level-funded plan is lower than the cost for a fully-insured plan with similar benefits. These plans are great solutions for about 25-33% of small group clients, but the reason small employers buy level-funded plans are very different than the reasons larger employers decide to self insure. That means your conversation with the client needs to be different as well. In this class, we'll explain how level funding works, discuss when it is and isn't a good fit for a small employer and tell you how to explain it in terms that your clients will understand.
In October of 2017, President Trump signed an executive order that, among other things, encouraged the Department of Labor to modify the rules for Association Health Plans, or AHPs. The DOL issued proposed rules earlier this year and finalized those rules in June. Now we're waiting to see what solutions the market will deliver. While Association Health Plans are not a new idea, the refreshed rules will almost certainly result in some new solutions for your clients. In this session, we'll talk about the final rules for association health plans, discuss the pros and cons, and introduce you to a solution that your clients may wish to consider.
To Be Announced
PREFERRED EMPLOYER ORGANIZATIONS (PEOs)
PEOs - friend or foe?
If you've been in the insurance industry for a while, chances are you've lost one or more clients to a PEO, or Preferred Employer Organization. At least that's what more than half of the participants in our recent "Innovative Ideas" webinar told us. So you might be surprised to learn that some PEOs actually work with brokers to help their clients, and they can be a great solution for the right group. In this session, you'll learn about the administrative services and health insurance options a PEO can help your clients with. A PEO won't be right for every employer, but it's definitely a solution you should have in your bag of tricks.
In an effort to avoid the costly Modified Adjusted Community Rating rules, many small employers have opted for level-funded plans. While these plans are self-insured, they don't really offer all of the traditional benefits of self-funding. Captives, on the other hand, can help make self-insurance work for even for small or mid-size employers. The NAIC defines a captive as "an insurance company created and wholly owned by one or more non-insurance companies to insure the risks of its owner (or owners)" and points out that captives have been in existence for over 100 years. Still, our recent surveys have found that a lot of brokers have never even heard of a captive and don't understand the benefits to their clients. This session will help change that.
To Be Announced
MULTIPLE EMPLOYER WELFARE ARRANGEMENTS (MEWAs)
Understanding Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements (MEWAs)
A MEWA is an arrangement that offers medical benefits to the employees of two or more employers. While MEWAs can save some employers money, the Department of Labor warns that "employers are often told that MEWAs are more affordable than traditional forms of coverage, but unscrupulous promoters, marketers and operators of certain MEWAs have taken advantage of gaps in the law to avoid state insurance regulations, putting enrollees at financial risk." In this session, we'll try to help you understand what a MEWA is, how joining a MEWA could potentially help your clients, and how to make sure your clients is not misled in the process.
To Be Announced
MINIMUM ESSENTIAL COVERAGE (MEC) PLANS
Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) Plans
The ACA's employer mandate requires applicable large employers (ALEs) to offer minimum essential coverage to their full-time employees or pay an across-the-board tax penalty. Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) plans help employers avoid that tax penalty by providing the minimum level of coverage under section 4980H(a) of the tax code. In this class, we'll take a look at some of the MEC plans and answer some important questions about the benefits that are offered, the monthly premium, and broker commission. We'll also discuss the strategy of pairing an MEC plan with a plan that provides minimum value in order to avoid the separate 4980H(b) penalty and to offer a more comprehensive option to employees.
To Be Announced
TODAY'S FOCUS: OPTIONS FOR INDIVIDUALS
Why will individuals have more options in 2019?
One of the goals of the Affordable Care Act was to give individuals more options for health coverage, but we've seen just the opposite of that in recent years. 2019 may be different, though. In the opening session on our last day of the conference, which is focused on solutions for individual clients, we'll discuss why individuals may actually have MORE options available to them in 2019. This is definitely good news and could help you better solve your clients' problems during the upcoming open enrollment period.
MARKETPLACE AND OFF-EXCHANGE PLANS
Marketplace and Off-Exchange Plans
Despite the Trump administration's efforts to dismantle the ACA, people are still signing up for coverage through Healthcare.gov and, to a lesser extent, outside the marketplace. However, with the individual mandate penalty going away starting in 2019 and short-term plans being expanded to 12 months, we may start seeing a departure from the individual market. Still, there definitely some clients for whom a Marketplace plan or an Off-Exchange plan is the best solution. In this session, we'll talk about who should and who should not purchase individual health coverage.
To Be Announced
CONTINUATION AND SPECIAL ENROLLMENT OPPORTUNITIES
Continuation and Special Enrollment Opportunities
We all know that people have 60 days to "special enroll" in an individual plan outside of the annual open enrollment period if they lose other coverage or if they have a qualifying life event. However, that may not be the best option for them. The same sorts of events that create a special enrollment opportunity in the individual market often create a COBRA, state continuation, or HIPAA special enrollment opportunity. In other words, your clients might be able to enroll in group coverage rather than individual coverage, which should help them save some money. In this class, we'll compare the various continuation and special enrollment options and discuss when one option is better than another.
To Be Announced
SHORT-TERM HEALTH PLANS
Under the Obama administration, the Department of Health and Human Services reduced the maximum length of short-term, limited duration health insurance plans to 3 months in an effort to reduce the temptation for healthier individuals to select these plans over more comprehensive ACA-qualified coverage. The Trump administration, however, may soon reverse this decision, expanding the length of short-term plans from 3 months to 12 months. If and when that happens, short-term plans may become a great option for individual clients with no pre-existing conditions who do not qualify for a premium tax credit. In this session, we'll discuss the strategy, explain the pros and cons, and share some information on availability and timing.
To Be Announced
HEALTH CARE SHARING MINISTRIES
Health Care Sharing Ministries
The Affordable Care Act requires most people to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty. However, there is a an exemption for members of a Health Care Sharing Ministry. These organizations have been around for a long time, but they really took off starting in 2014 as a way around the Individual Mandate. The penalty for not having health insurance, though, is reduced to $0 starting in 2019, so will people still be interested in this option next year? In this session, we'll explain what a Health Care Sharing Ministry is, discuss what it does and doesn't do, and talk about the future of this non-insurance solution.
SOME INDIVIDUALS CAN GET GROUP COVERAGE
Some individuals can get group coverage
As you're searching for options for your individual health insurance clients, one idea you may want to consider is group health coverage. Yes, that sounds weird, but if your client has a side business, even with no employees, it's possible to get a group health plan. Group plans are generally less expensive than individual health plans for comparable levels of coverage, and PPOs are still available in the small group market. In this session, we'll explain what's required for a sole proprietor to set up a group health plan and show why this can be a great solution for your clients.
How to Use What You've Learned
Everybody says that knowledge is power, but that's not actually true. Learning stuff that you don't put into action is really just a waste of time. APPLIED knowledge, on the other hand, is very powerful, so we'll conclude the Innovative Ideas Summit by discussing how you can turn those ideas into action. We'll quickly recap the strategies, explain which strategies are right for which clients, and share some information on the solution providers who can help you help your clients. This is a session you definitely don't want to miss.
The Innovative Ideas Summit is designed to give you ideas and strategies to help you clients save money. Currently, there are no plans to include continuing education credit. The good news is that we can provide more information about the specific solution providers that you may want to reach out to since the sessions do not provide CE.
The conference will provide a LOT of information that can help your clients, but because much of the content is targeted at brokers, we wouldn’t recommend inviting your clients. A better idea might be to upgrade to the ALL ACCESS PASS, watch the sessions, and determine for yourself if they're appropriate to share with your clients.
No, there’s a single price for this event, one that we believe is very reasonable. Allowing people to register for just one or two breakouts would complicate the registration process. That said, we’re trying to make sure that the entire event will be beneficial. If you only watch a couple sessions, you might be missing out on some valuable information.
Absolutely! A special group rate is available if multiple people from the same office would like to attend. Email Eric for more information.
No, you just need to sign up for the event - either the Conference Pass or the All Access Pass. We'll email you before the summit with your login information. After logging in, you'll click on the sessions you'd like to view and will be prompted to enter your name and email address.
If you purchase a Conference Pass, you'll have 24 hours to watch each day's sessions. The next morning, those recordings are archived and the next day's sessions are posted. If you'd prefer more time to watch or re-watch the sessions, you can upgrade to the ALL ACCESS PASS to view the recorded webinars anytime through the end of 2018.
The slides for many of the sessions will be available to in PDF format to attendees with an ALL ACCESS PASS, as will some supplemental material. Some speakers consider their presentations proprietary and may choose not to share the slides.
Contact the event host, Eric Johnson, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hi, I'm Eric, and I'm the host of the Innovative Ideas Conference. I've worked in the health insurance industry for over 20 years and have been teaching continuing education classes since 2008. I even founded a small CE company called ComedyCE.com just a week before the ACA was signed into law.
I created this virtual conference after hosting a four-hour webinar on saving small employers money. There were a lot of great ideas that came out of that event, and I'm confident that this summit will be even more beneficial. I hope you enjoy it!