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4 Star AchieveWELL Designation

Unified was recently acknowledged by the Wellness Council of Indiana for our continued efforts to improve member wellness!

“On behalf of the Wellness Council of Indiana, we would like to congratulate you on your 4 Star AchieveWELL designation! You join a group of organizations who truly value employee health and well-being.”

Unified Group has been a member of The Wellness Council of Indiana since 2014. Our team received the 3 Star in 2016.

To earn the 4 Star we had to meet the following criteria:

•Demonstrated proof of specific program(s) addressing chronic disease management issues

•Demonstrated proof that wellness initiative is focused on all dimensions of well-being and not exclusively on reducing costs

•Must have a minimum of five programmed activities for employees ongoing throughout the year

•Demonstrated evidence of community involvement

•Documentation of increased awareness toward safety, ergonomics and/or corporate risk mitigation

•Must show proof of start date of wellness initiative and have completed 24 months of continuous program activity

•Onsite evaluation conducted and the workplace wellness assessment will be the guideline for the evaluation

We at Unified have been recognized for our chronic disease management data analytics, our robust walking initiative, our commitment to healthy meetings and new employee orientation. We are continually looking for ways to promote EAP usage/availability and all areas of well-being (such as financial, social and mental).

We will be honored at the 2017 Indiana Health and Wellness Summit luncheon on October 4 in Indianapolis.

If you are looking to engage your population toward a healthier lifestyle, contact your Account Executive at Unified Group Services.

A little info about the Wellness Council:

The Wellness Council of Indiana (WCI) works collaboratively to positively impact the economic vitality of the State of Indiana by evaluating and guiding workplaces and communities through the development of their own comprehensive health and wellness strategy. The Wellness Council of Indiana is an organization and the only statewide not-for-profit specifically dedicated to work site wellness and community well-being in Indiana. The Wellness Council of Indiana has grown to be one of the largest state councils in the United States. The WCI believes that the quality of life of any community is measured, to a large degree, by the health of its people. It is their vision to make Indiana a model state by improving the quality of life of employees and residents in order to enhance the competitiveness of our workplaces in a global economy.  https://www.wellnessindiana.org/

 

Outside Unified

Years of farming and urban expansion can take its toll on farmland and the wildlife native to the area. As a land owner, our own Rich Mousty, President & CEO of Unified decided to take a different approach to preserve the integrity of the land. He and his son-in-law, Ryan Chapman chose to place the 10 acres into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Ryan, the Director of Business Development at Unified, has worked alongside Rich over the last two years to prepare the land in order to meet the guidelines of the program.

In the fall of 2016, the land was tilled and clover planted along the outer edge of the property. Clover acts as a natural fire break which is important because the land needs burned every three years. Burning the land replenishes soil nutrients in a natural way.

Earlier this year, the two worked the interior sections of land tilling up each acre and unearthing large boulders. This inner section of land is now planted with native Indiana grasses & wildflowers which will grow anywhere from 1 foot to 6 feet tall.

Rich chuckles, “Ryan doesn’t only work hard while on the clock, but also over the weekend doing manual labor! I’m sitting here in the comfort of my skid steer supervising!”

The CRP land will provide a natural habitat and protection to various types of regional songbirds and quail. Rich hopes to share photos of the property and growth of the redeveloped land as it flourishes.

The Conservation Reserve Program was established 30 years ago when President Reagan signed it into law. This voluntary program is set out to preserve land, improve water quality, and provide a safe habitat for wildlife.

Throughout the country there are approximately 500,000 acres of land participating in the CRP State Acres For wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program.

What Is A Narrow Network?

Since the Affordable Care Act or "Obamacare" the conversation around narrow networks continues to increase.  We are often asked what is a narrow network and why?
 
A narrow network simply describes the number of providers and hospitals that are in the network. Narrow networks are nothing new to the marketplace.  They are often referred to in different terms; PPO, HMO, and EPO are all technically a form of narrow networks.
 
The next question I often get is why do a narrow network?  This is simple - to control costs and help improve care.
 
By limiting the number of network providers and hospitals, you are able to improve the continuum of care and offer deeper negotiated discounts.  Groups utilizing these types of arrangements beat the national averages when it comes to cost and trend.  
 
With self-funding your benefit plan, you have the flexibility to look at network alternatives.  Your group health plan may already have the best fit based on your location and benefit plan design, but I encourage you ask the question.  
 
If you have questions please contact Forrest Williamson at FWilliamson@UnifiedGrp.com.
 

Unified in the Community

Unified in the Community

Many of us go home after a long day of work to receive unconditional love from our pets! This is why our Unified Cares Community Project for this quarter is promoting the Madison County Humane Society!

MCHS is a no-kill cat and dog receiving shelter funded by donations, fund-raising efforts & nominal fees; they receive no taxpayer monies. MCHS shelters more than 100-115 homeless animals every day and often has some in foster care.

Our team at Unified held a soup luncheon, raffled off some gift baskets, gathered supplies and collected more than $450 in donations!

The Madison County Humane Society and shelters in your area are always looking for volunteers and assistance. If you are interested in adoption, donating or learning more, please click on the link below to locate a humane society near you.

LEARN MORE

Three Tips for Establishing a Wellness Program at Your Company

Three Tips for Establishing a Wellness Program at Your Company

There’s more to a wellness program than simply providing your employees with pedometers and doing wellness screenings on an annual basis. Here at Unified we have integrated our wellness program to become part of our culture. This has been successful on many fronts including, lowering employee BMI, cholesterol and blood pressure; encouraging the addition of exercise as part of a daily routine; and increasing overall employee happiness.

If you are looking to establish a wellness program at your company, or simply build on an existing program, here are some tips to consider based on our own experiences.

  1. Assign someone to manage the wellness program – Employees are bound to have questions, which is great because they’re engaging in what you are offering. Having a dedicated wellness person or team will provide an expert to track metrics you are measuring, monitor progress, and provide encouragement to your staff. Our certified wellness team at Unified helps our employees by sending out weekly quizzes, recipes, and updates us on the progress of our group as a whole.
     
  2. Offer incentives – Engagement increases when you use a carrot rather than a stick! During our Summer Super Challenge at Unified, employees earn wellness points. At the end of the challenge, points can be redeemed for cash or prizes! Plus the program is seeing results, which is the ultimate goal of all wellness programs. Just be careful if you are considering incentives such as premium discounts; there are certain parameters that must be followed to keep your program compliant.
     
  3. Keep programing new and exciting – Variety is the spice of life! It’s important to keep your employees motivated, so keep your programming fresh on a quarterly basis. Everyone has different tastes and motivations, and by rotating your campaigns you can keep engagement high. At Unified, the “Colorful Choices” component of our wellness program encourages the addition of fruits and veggies – adding various colors to your plate – to increase the nutrient value. Right now, our employees are also doing a Chug-A-Jug challenge to track water intake. Each week, we prepare new flavors of infused water to make drinking water a little fruitier! Our most popular flavor is pineapple mango!

If you are looking to create a culture of wellness within your organization, you don’t have to do it alone!  Our team here at Unified can sit down with you to discuss office demographics and goals for your wellness program. We can customize a plan to meet the needs of your population and budget necessary to execute the plan.

No matter what path you choose for your corporate wellness needs, by increasing the well being of your employees, you can ultimately reduce unnecessary claim costs and potentially eliminate the need for ongoing maintenance medications. Help your waistline and your bottom line!

Take the Worry out of Compliance!

Whether you are a large or small employer, have one benefit plan design or multiple networks, Compliancedashboard® and the team at Unified can reduce the workload and burden of upcoming compliance responsibilities.

Through UnifiedGrp.com employers have access to the Compliancedashboard®. All obligations based on your plan year and company size are categorized in a timeline for the upcoming year.

  • Your time is valuableCompliancedashboard® provides a calendar to outline your responsibilities and provides educational materials in clear and understandable formats. Email reminders are sent out on both long-term and time-sensitive subjects.
  • Who is responsible – Tasks can be assigned to designated HR staff and require those individuals to respond once they are completed. This eliminates the discussion breakdown of who in the department needs to distribute notices or manage reporting. If a task is past due, reminder emails will be sent out to make sure that notices are not overlooked.
  • Audit Trails – Employers need the ability to show their compliance actions and procedures. Many employers cannot provide this information when requested for either internal or external review. Compliancedashboard® keeps record of all compliance actions with dates, names and acknowledgments. These reports are always available and can show an employer’s good faith efforts to comply with rules and regulations.

With the help of your compliance team at Unified, and access to Compliancedashboard® you can proactively receive notifications for responsibilities and ensure you get the information you need at the time you need it. Staying on track with ERISA, HIPAA, Health Care Reform and other federal regulations is easy to do all in one place with Compliancedashboard®.

 

Wellness Incentives

Let’s face it…incentives are about getting people to do things they would not otherwise do! Like it or not, people frequently do not do what will help them stay healthy and live longer. Changing this situation is what wellness is fundamentally about. With a multitude of factors affecting our behavioral choices, health behavior is extremely difficult to change.

Why use incentives?

We often get asked this question from employers…Why should I use incentives in my wellness program? We believe there are many reasons, but a portion of the response is related directly to the fundamental nature of “wellness”. Wellness is defined as “An organized set of activities designed to help individuals and their family members make and/or maintain voluntary behavior change(s) that help reduce their health risks and/or enhance their ability to function.”

The focus on “voluntary” behavior change at the center of this definition of wellness emphasizes our need to continually examine the factors that influence behavior change. “Voluntary” by its very nature means at the volition or choice of the individual. It is not automatic, but must continually be selected by an act of will on a moment-by-moment basis. Carefully designed incentives help to influence this longitudinal expression of will leading to behavior change.

On May 17, 2016, the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) issued a final rule that describes how employer-provided wellness programs can comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). The final rules, which went into effect January 2017, applies to all workplace wellness programs, including those in which employees or their family members may participate without also enrolling in a particular health plan. The rule embraced the HIPAA/ACA approach to incentives, limiting incentives for wellness programs including disability-related inquiries or medical examinations to 30 percent of the total cost of employee-only coverage. The ruling allowed incentives to rise to 50 percent of the total cost of employee-only coverage for programs not asking disability-related questions targeting tobacco use. However, where an employer requires any biometric screening or other medical procedure that tests for the presence of nicotine or tobacco, the rule’s 30 percent incentive limit applies. Outcome based programs that require an individual to attain or maintain a specific health outcome (such as not smoking or attaining certain results on biometric screening) in order to obtain a reward must offer a reasonable alternative to earn the incentive. Learn more by going to:

https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/regulations/qanda-gina-wellness-final-rule.cfm

 

Terri Vetor

TVetor@UnifiedGrp.com

Wellness & Consumer Products Coordinator

Unified Group Services, Inc.

Unified in the Community

From our humble beginnings 21 years ago, Unified is proud to participate in events throughout our community.  This is driven by our local workforce, and causes are promoted and fundraisers coordinated on a quarterly basis. We would like to highlight these organizations in the hopes that you may be encouraged to pay it forward as well.

Most recently, Unified partnered with The Christian Center in Anderson, Indiana. The Christian Center provides shelter, food and companionship for those in need. They have found that a plate of food and a few minutes of fellowship can have a significant impact. 

Unified’s employees chose to donate through a soup and sandwich luncheon, and raffle.  Our team stepped up and generously raised more than $700 in food donations.  In addition, we are collecting necessities to help them fill their pantry during these cold winter months. 

There are many ways that you or your organization can help too! Learn more by visiting www.TheChristianCenter.org

Level Funding

With the constant conversation of healthcare in the news, health benefits have become a mainstay discussion for most Americans.  Benefits are becoming more and more important in recruiting and retaining top talent and business owners are searching for ways to continue offering competitive benefits.

I have found this is even more troubling to the small to midsize business owners.  Healthcare continuously ranks in the top 3 expenses for employers of all sizes, not just large companies.  This has caused business owners to start to look at alternative solutions to providing healthcare for their employees.  While there are many solutions in the market one of the most popular is self-funding.  Self-funding in itself can be a scary word for most employers.   In the past self-funding was for larger companies, but this has changed with time and many small employers have migrated to self-funding.

Why self-fund? 

  • Self-funding gives you predictability, control, protection, speed, flexibility, and savings potential.
  • Small employers who are used to seeing renewal after renewal with 10-15% premium hikes without justification; self-funding may be right for you. 
  • Small and midsize companies looking for the same pieces of information that a large company gets; self-funding may be right for you. 

While all this sounds attractive for small and midsize business owners, cash flow can be a tricky subject.  In traditional self-funding arrangements this could’ve been an issue causing the companies to remain fully-insured in the past.  Today, there are contracts in the market that allow the employers to take the rollercoaster effect of claims out of the picture.  I refer to the concept as level-funding.  With level-funding, an employer pays a fixed amount per month similar to a fully-insured scenario.  The difference for an employer is 100% of the claim funds not used at the end of the contract is theirs to keep.  This is a great scenario for the employer because they not only get the benefits of self-funding, but are protected from cash flow issues.  Most importantly in a good claims year the employer retains the reserves.

The conversation of healthcare cost is not going away; we need to turn to looking at solutions that are outside of the norm.  Introducing different financing and management strategies for healthcare can help you take back control of your benefit plan expenses.  If you have been facing these issues, please reach out to Unified and learn more about the solutions that we offer.

Forrest Williamson

Sales Executive

Unified Group Services, Inc.

Noncompliance Fines & Penalties

As a customer of Unified Group Services you have access to tools and resources to ensure that your benefit plan is compliant. Our compliance team will advise on benefit recommendations, and you can proactively address responsibilities through Compliancedashboard®. Noncompliance can result in hefty fines and penalties. Learn more about these consequences by viewing this Compliancedashboard® penalty chart.

Download Fines and Penalties PDF