We are currently in the midst of USFSB’s open enrollment process.   This is always a difficult time for USFSB’s employees since we, by necessity, become the messenger that has to convey to our Members the insurance carriers’ ever increasing premiums which, of course, tend to make our Members upset.

The Open Enrollment Period is when the insurance carriers assess their products and benefits, make changes and issue their new annual rates.   It is also when our Members have the opportunity to change insurance plans or carriers.   This period, for USFSB, begins in October when we start to meet with our insurance carrier representatives to discuss their proposed plans, benefits and rates for the coming year.  At that time, we also determine which of their available new or existing plans we can offer.  In November, we receive the new rates and open enrollment culminates in January when all of the changes are finally completed.

This is the busiest and most stressful period of time for our employees.  Once we have decided on the insurance plans and received the new rates everything must then be organized and entered into our computer system both for billing purposes as well as to update the Insurance Clearing House section of USFSB’s web site.   This can be a difficult and arduous process since, in many cases, the insurance carriers are not able to provide the new rates until the last minute. This puts USFSB in the position of having to scramble to get everything entered in time so that we can notify our Members by December 1st of the new rates and their options if they want to change plans or carriers.

Our custom computer system makes the job a little easier then it was in years past and we are able to provide our Members with a custom grid that gives them all of their options in a very clear and organized fashion.  Then the real fun begins as our Members call with their questions and concerns which we take pride in answering with the best information possible so that they can feel comfortable with their current plan or make a well reasoned decision to move to a different plan or carrier.

Even with these helpful tools and all of the efforts of our employees, open enrollment often feels like a runaway train that might fall off the tracks at any moment.   However, we manage to keep everything under control even if we are a bit frazzled by January. 

The biggest problem for me is that every year the premiums go up and USFSB is always put in the position of being the bearer of bad tidings, during the holidays no less.   We do everything we can to help our Members get through open enrollment as painlessly as possible and try to be the one safe port in this storm of ever rising insurance premiums.



Insurance is one of those ironies of life.   You know you should buy it; but, you hope you will never need to use it.

There are many types of insurance that are designed to cover many types of risks.   Life Insurance, of course, is unique in that you will only use it once and never for your own benefit.   Property & Casualty Insurance as well as Auto Insurance is, primarily, meant to protect your assets from damage or from the claims of those you may have injured.

Arguably, the most important type of insurance is Health Insurance.    It has been said that of all of the things we may possess, good health is our most prized possession.    Since most of us are not so wealthy that we can afford to risk the expense of long and costly health care, health insurance becomes an important safeguard to have in place.

Yes, it is true that Health Insurance premiums continue to increase at an alarming rate making it almost impossible for some small businesses to obtain adequate health insurance coverage for their owners and employees.    However, we must accept the fact that there is always a price to pay to get what we need; and, it is hard to argue that we do not need Health Insurance.

Whether we are young or old; active or sedentary; come from a good gene pool or have a family history working against us, we all run the risk that we or a family member will become seriously ill or injured sometime during our lives.  Short of an unlimited source of money, we can only protect ourselves from such an unfortunate circumstance with Health Insurance.

Health Insurance not only provides the obvious benefits to you and your family, it can also help keep you in business.   Without Health Insurance, the expenses of any extended health care and treatment could wipe out your savings and force you to lose both your personal and business assets.   Further, many Health Insurance Plans provide for the costs of preventative health care which can go a long way to reduce absenteeism and boost the productivity of you and your employees.

It is becoming nearly impossible to live with the rising cost of Health Insurance; but, can we really live without Health Insurance.   Time will tell if health care reform helps or only serves to make matters worse.



Brace yourselves for a wild ride in 2011 when it comes to your health care plan.  Since President Obama signed the new health reform bill in March of 2010, carriers and State Departments of Insurance have been scrambling to comply while balancing their bottom lines.

As a result, we consumers are going to see more and more consumer-driven plans.  These new plans will help lower premiums, but can also bring higher deductibles, coinsurance, additional co-payments and the loss of some benefits.  Prescription plans have also undergone some renovations.

To be fair, there are a few new perks.  If your 26 year old is still living at home, they can have continued coverage on your plan and there are now no limits on coinsurance maximums.  In addition, there are no co-payments for some preventive care and no denial of benefits for children under 19 with pre-existing conditions. 

In New York State where many businesses relied on HMO plans for their employees’ health care coverage, most carriers have informed us that these prized plans will no longer be available.  For those carriers who have kept these plans, the premium rates have significantly increased from 2010.   

Personally, our HMO health insurance plan that we have been on for the last 20 years was discontinued and replaced by an EPO plan with a different carrier.  Even though it was surprising and will require some adjustments on our part, I have learned that it may not be a bad thing after all.  I have already checked and all of our doctors still participate with this carrier and will accept our plan.  Also, our new carrier now offers a nationwide network of coverage which may be of some help if we spend time this year at our home in Arizona. 

It will be a wild ride as we all make adjustments to our new plans and benefits in 2011, but in the long run, these changes might make us more responsible with our health care costs or at least that’s what the politicians are hoping.