My Benefits Coach International LLC (MBCI) focuses on and helps facilitate your company employee benefits selection strategy, implementation, ongoing benefits administration and compliance. How? We offer our clients robust, done-for-you benefits and human resources systems that help you crush annual benefits open enrollment via employee education and tracking and then help with new-hire benefits onboarding throughout the plan year. It costs the company nothing – only up-front collaboration. It succeeds via the support team of seasoned and responsive professionally licensed benefits advisors. We call it technology with a human touch. You’ll call it love at first sight.
Our products and services reflect the strength of our commitment to delivering seamless, consistent, high-quality and world-class client service – with local support and down-to-earth fee structures for large enterprise firms.
Our benefits advisors have experience with some of the world’s top brokerage firms as trusted business advisors to top clients. Our savvy gives us the broad scope and vision to really see where a company stands and where it is headed. We want to partner with you on your journey to market leadership, whatever that looks like to you.
What’s your game plan to champion employee benefits? First you have to be aware of what stage your business is in. There are typically three distinct growth profiles:
- Emerging business — Companies concentrate on identifying their specific market opportunity, available funding sources and the right people to help rev up the business. Usually will select core benefits only, though comprehensive enough to attract new hires and keep current employees covered and happy.
- Rapid-growth business — Companies focus on becoming the supplier of choice for their most valuable customers, on managing expansion and monitoring the bottom line while securing additional capital to accelerate growth. They typically flesh out benefits in this stage to compete for top talent and support the growth mode. It is imperative to keep abreast of what the competitor is offering as far as compensation and benefits. May begin to classify employees to offer more comprehensive programs for executive management.
- Next-generation market leader — For companies with a constant eye on global presence, their attention will turn to working effectively across international markets, trying to balance entrepreneurial spirit with corporate culture and ensuring they optimize their capital structure to help meet shareholder expectations. A comprehensive, customized benefits program utilizing the latest in online enrollment and servicing technology is essential. So is comprehensive, effective benefits communication.
Each growth profile demands a specific strategy not only to provide meaningful and comprehensive employee benefits, but to communicate them properly throughout the organization using whatever new technologies the company culture will allow. Whether a local, a or multi-state or multinational PowerPoint via web platform (GoToMeeting, Teams, Zoom et al) is required, or a simple one-on-one employee or executive coaching and enrollment session is in order – remotely or in person – your company can achieve a relevant, world-class, customized benefits program by successfully addressing specific challenges:
- Adopt an annual evaluation, selection and implementation process. We like to use a Gantt timeline to keep all parties on track and tasks performed on time. There’s a method to the madness and we provide tools to our clients to master the process.
- Forecast. Know your budget for benefits and plan for company growth and market trend cost increases, and decreases.
- Manage company risk by devising short- and long-term strategies – game plans – so you are prepared for any of the curve balls life inevitably will toss you and your business.
- Adopt our done-for-you benefits online enrollment and tracking system for the ongoing communication of benefits and related human resources components. New online technologies help ease the administrative burden for the human resources professional. We research ever-morphing tech tools to stay abreast of new market offerings so you don’t have to.
- Create customized benefits packets for recruitment and new hire purposes. They help give your company a polished and sophisticated edge and could be the difference between you landing the talent or not. They are a great leave-behind.
- Communicate with your broker often – the good, the bad and the ugly. Whomever it is. We are here to help our clients every step of their business journey. Timely troubleshooting tames the tiger. Make the call and partner with us today.
My Benefits Coach International LLC. Benefits that mean business. We have your back and help you protect your bottom line. No push-ups required. Call us today. +1 888 551 5505
I’m turning 65. Now what?
For those about to turn 65, enrolling in Medicare can feel like your own personal dragon waiting to be slayed. I get it. There are a lot of moving parts with both Medicare and dragons, which can be daunting. In fact, the most common word used in relation to having to deal with Medicare: Scary.
Just like getting ready to give a public speech – something that can evoke a level of fear akin to the thought of death or taxes – the fear can be neutralized with a good resource and a little preparation. To be scared of the unknown is human, but not doing anything to help yourself is like not bringing a sword to the showdown. That’s where I come in.
Let’s talk about the basics for a minute and then run through a couple of scenarios.
You are eligible for Medicare when you are a U. S. citizen and have worked at least 40 calendar quarters. Part A entitlement comprises hospital, acute care and related benefits. There is no cost for Part A and it typically will begin on the first day of your 65th birthday month. But that can depend.
Part B covers physician, outpatient surgery, clinical lab work and related services and comes at a monthly cost for every qualified beneficiary and goes up a little every year. The exception is if your income is higher than $85,000, in which case a means test would be done and you’d likely pay a higher monthly premium. These premiums are billed quarterly by Social Security and paid directly to them.
In order to purchase a Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage plan, you must have Parts A and B and continue to pay the monthly premium. Everyone’s situation is a little different. Here are a couple of scenarios that might overlap with yours:
I don’t work and I am taking Social Security. What now?
This is an easy one. Since you are drawing Social Security, you likely will be on Medicare’s radar and will receive a welcome kit about three months prior to your 65th birthday month. This is what ideally should happen, thought best to be proactive about it.
I’m turning 65 and am still working and don’t plan to retire quite yet. What do I do?
Here you get to choose your own adventure. One option is to take Part A and stay on the group plan. If you don’t, Medicare will activate your Part A when you retire retro-effective to the first day of the month you turned 65. So when you get ready to retire, simply reach out to Social Security (you can make a phone call or in-person appointment to avoid long wait times) and tell them you want to get started with Medicare. You’ll ask to activate your Part B and may choose the date so it dovetails with the end date of your company health plan coverage.
If you still don’t feel up to slaying this dragon all on your own, I can be your knight in shining armor. Together we’ll make sure your retirement is the happy ending you deserve!
Some Medicare Basics
Before you choose a Medicare supplemental health plan, we want to help you know the difference between your many options, in particular how Medicare Supplement plans and Medicare Advantage plans differ. Many people sign up for Medicare Advantage plans thinking they are Medicare Supplement plans and visa versa, so be sure to reach out to one of our Medicare-certified independent advisors. Medicare is confusing. We can help!
A Medicare Supplement is used in conjunction with original Medicare. If you are inclined, we are happy to schedule a time to review an educational presentation with you and answer any general questions you may have.
Original Medicare: What comes with your red, white and blue Medicare card. Email us for a current copy of “Medicare & You.”
Part B Premium: $148.50 in 2021. This goes to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and will be taken from your monthly check once you activate Social Security.
Medicare Supplement health or “Medigap” plan: These allow you to see any doctor around the country who accepts Medicare without a referral. They cost give-or-take $150 monthly when you first become eligible for Medicare but many plans cover most of your costs, ie. few to no co-pays. You will want to also enroll in a prescription drug plan (PDP) because today’ Medicare Supplement plans to not cover drugs.
Prescription Drug Plan (PDP): Covers your prescriptions. If you have mostly generics, cost will be around $15 a month depending on the plan and where you live. If you have a number of brand-name and a specialty drug or two, the cost would be $50-$100 depending on the plan and your service area. Be sure to ask about and study associated terms like drug “thresholds” and “catastrophic coverage,” things that may or may not apply to you right now.
Veteran-Specific Plans: We LOVE veterans, as we have many service members in our families and as clients. We are versed in Tricare, Tricare For Life and Veterans Administration benefits and would be honored to assist you with transitioning from active duty to retirement with the right plans as reinforcements for a healthy future. Be sure to ask us about veteran-specific patriot plans in your service area. Thank you for your service, by the way.
Any caregiver that accepts Medicare will take a Medicare Supplement plan because they only need to bill Medicare. Medicare pays their part (generally 80% of Medicare covered benefits) and sends the remainder of the bill to the Supplement which pays their part (generally 20%). It is important to note that most Medicare Supplements do NOT include Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D, PDP) and for folks who do not enroll in a PDP when first eligible for Medicare, there can be a monthly penalty charge added when they do eventually get a PDP. There are exceptions to this, of course. A Medicare Supplement plan’s coverage does not change from year to year. although the cost does generally go up slightly.
A Medicare Advantage plan works differently than a Supplement. With a Medicare Advantage plan a private company TAKES OVER for Medicare (you remain in the Medicare system but Medicare is no longer responsible for your bills). These plans follow the same type of module as many group plans, such as HMO or PPO. With this type of plan it is important to remember several things. First, most Medicare Advantage plans have distinct provider networks that you need to work within, so you’ll want to make sure your doctor, hospital, and auxiliary care are within the network, otherwise you will be paying higher costs, and in some cases may be responsible for 100% of care given outside the network.
Second, Medicare Advantage (MA) plans have co-pays associated with them. It is important to be aware of these because they can add up to be quite a bit of money. Third, most Advantage Plans have the Part D “built in” which is a nice bonus but you must be aware that if ever you move from an MA plan to a Medicare Supplement plan, you will also need to add a Part D Prescription Drug Plan (PDP). Depending on where you live, there may be several types of Advantage Plans available that do NOT cover prescriptions, so this is something you need to keep in mind when choosing any plan.
Lastly, Medicare Advantage plans typically include value-added benefits. These benefits vary between from plan to plan, but typical benefits include a gym membership, limited dental, eye and/or vision, transportation, personal emergency response system (PERS) transportation, meals after a hospitalization and/or over-the-counter benefits (OTC), ie. a quarterly benefit of $50 to put toward items you would normally purchase at the drugstore.
Also, not all prescription drug plans are the same. Although they are required to be at least as good as the Medicare model, they can vary greatly in monthly premium and co-pays for specific covered drugs. It is important to check which one best meets your particular needs and to continue to check each year because they, like Medicare Advantage plans, do change a bit every year as far as co-pays and prescriptions that are covered. Just know that every Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plan must offer at least two drugs in every therapeutic category.
Because these plans vary even from county to county, we strongly recommend, again, that you talk to one of our Medicare-certified, independent Medicare advisors to help you choose a plan that best suits your needs. Please note that we do not just help you activate Parts A & B, but will help you and enroll and provide ongoing service and support.