5 things to look for in a dental plan

 

Your employee benefits package can say a lot about your company. Providing options your employees value can be a key factor in employee retention and satisfaction. It can also be an integral part of attracting new talent and growing your business. Dental coverage is a highly valued benefit that promotes excellent oral health and supports overall wellness. The right dental plan can keep your employees smiling while increasing productivity and reducing unplanned time off. Here are five things to look for:

1. Coverage that meets your needs and budget.
Every company is different. Look for a carrier that will customize their plans to fit your company. Your dental benefits should meet the needs of your employees while staying within your budget.

2. Dental industry expertise.
Many insurance carriers offer dental, but very few have the specialized knowledge and experience to design effective dental plans. Bundled benefit packages often include "one-size-fits-all" dental benefits with hidden restrictions that make it possible for the carrier to offer the proposed cost savings. To offer your employees a dental plan they value, look for a carrier with dental expertise.

3. Easy access to participating dental professionals.
With many dental plans, members pay less for their dental care by visiting a dentist or specialist who participates in the plan's network. Be sure your employees have access to network providers no matter where they live, work or travel.

4. Resources at your fingertips.
It's important that you and your employees have online access to tools and resources for your dental plan. Network search tools and secure member sites are all great perks that make it easy to access plan information and benefits.

5. Support that you and your employees can count on.
You and your employees deserve friendly, reliable service. Look for carriers that offer local, in-house support teams.

Want all five things and more? Medical Mutual dental plans feature the SuperDental® network, one of the largest networks in the United States, giving members access to participating dentists and specialists no matter where they live, work or travel. In addition, our local, in-house service team is just a call away. 

Prefer self-service? If you are a COSE MEWA member through Medical Mutual, our website and secure member portal, My Health Plan®, provide convenient access to our Find A Provider tool, ID cards, plan information and more. To learn more about the dental benefits available with a COSE MEWA plan, please contact your broker or your Medical Mutual Sales representative. 

 
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  • Next up: 5 Tips from the FTC on Avoiding Office Supply Scams
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  • 5 Tips from the FTC on Avoiding Office Supply Scams

    As a small business owner, there are a number of scams you need to be aware of designed to steal your money and harm your company. The Federal Trade Commission is bringing you a series highlighting these scams and what to do to protect your business. We’re kicking off this series with a focus on a scam involving unordered office supplies.

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the nation’s consumer protection agency. The FTC investigates and sues companies and people for unfair or deceptive acts or practices that target individual consumers or small businesses like yours. With its headquarters in Washington, D.C., and eight regional offices, including in Cleveland, the agency is well-positioned throughout the country to learn about scams and deceptive advertising affecting the local community. The FTC also has a database of more than 13 million complaints filed by consumers that it uses to determine trends in scams and which scams are affecting the most consumers. This information helps prioritize who the FTC should be investigating and can then be used to educate consumers on how to avoid the trending scams.

    In addition to preventing scams and deceptive advertising, the FTC also works to keep consumers’ data safe. The FTC ensures that companies that collect information from consumers only use the information in ways that consumers expect and that the companies take appropriate precautions to keep consumer information safe from hackers.

    The FTC also spearheads National Consumer Protection Week, a time to help people understand their consumer rights and make well-informed decisions about money, which is running now until March 10 this year.

    In conjunction with National Consumer Protection Week, staff from the FTC’s East Central Region will discuss, in this and future articles in this series, some of the scams and deceptive practices affecting businesses. Some of these tactics have been around forever but continue to make millions for scammers, while others are cutting-edge and the full impact hasn’t yet been seen. We will also talk about how to keep data secure and what to do in the event of a breach. Stick with us and your customers and your bottom-line will be grateful.

    Scam: Unordered Merchandise

    The first scam to tackle is what we call the “unordered merchandise” scam.  It typically starts with a schmoozy call to an unsuspecting small business or nonprofit. Sometimes the caller claims to be “confirming” an existing order, “verifying” an address, or offering a “free” catalog or sample. Then comes the supplies surprise—unordered merchandise arriving at the company’s doorstep followed by high-pressure demands to pay up. When business owners refuse to pay, the scammers may claim to have audio recordings that prove the order was placed, but never come forward with the purported “proof.” The scammers may also have the birthdate of one of the employees as “proof” that the employee agreed to the merchandise, when, in reality, the employee was conned into giving their birthdate during the initial call. Sometimes the scammer will insist on payment, but offer a “discount” of less than the invoice amount.

    In one recent case, FTC attorneys in Cleveland successfully sued a group of businesses and individuals for sending and billing for unordered merchandise. The defendants’ telemarketers called organizations and used deceptive tactics to get employee names—usually someone in the maintenance department—and delivery addresses. The next step: a seemingly innocuous conversation in which the defendants’ telemarketers offered to send a catalog, a small promotional gift (like a knife or gift card), and sometimes a sample of products. The defendants then shipped light bulbs and cleaning supplies to the business or organization, following up with high-priced invoices for those supplies, listing the employee’s name on the invoice as having ordered them.

    If a business or nonprofit paid an invoice, the defendants would send more merchandise and more invoices, often using different company names (although they were all part of the same organization). When challenged, the defendants would try to bluff or trick victims into paying for the goods anyway. For example, they would argue that the fact that an employee had accepted the promotional gift showed that the employee also must have ordered the supplies. The defendants took more than $58 million from businesses and nonprofits just between 2010 and 2014.

    Here are five tips for your company or nonprofit group when it comes to protecting yourself against an office supply scam:

    Tip No. 1: Keep unordered merchandise but don’t pay for it. If your business receives merchandise no one on your staff ordered, the law says you don’t have to return it and the vendor can’t legally collect on it. You don’t have to pay for it, even if you used the item before you realized it was unordered.

    Tip No. 2: Your best defense is a trained staff. Spend five minutes at a staff meeting educating your team about the signs of a supply scam. Caution them about fake friendly callers who worm their way in by claiming to have done business with you before or who say they have an “urgent” need to speak to someone in your maintenance department. If more than one person answers the main phone at your business, post a warning nearby about supply scams. For nonprofits, let volunteers know that fraudsters target charities, churches and community groups, too.

    Tip No. 3: Consolidate contacts. Supply scammers try to exploit the fact that small businesses aren’t likely to have purchasing departments. But you can still designate one person to respond to all inquiries about office supplies, “free” offers or “existing” orders. Putting one person in charge—especially a staffer with a well-calibrated baloney detector—can help protect your company from con artists.

    Tip No. 4: Investigate every invoice. Don’t pay a penny unless you know the bill is for items you or your staff actually authorized. If someone tries to pressure you into paying for unordered merchandise, complain to the FTC and Ohio’s Attorney General and let the pushy caller know you’re on to them.

    Tip No. 5: Bookmark the FTC’s site on protecting small businesses. The FTC’s website features resources to help protect your company. For example, Small Business Scams clues you into typical tactics of business-to-business cons.

    The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. You can file a complaint online at www.ftc.gov/complaint or by telephone at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).  


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  • Next up: 5 Ways to Build a Competitive Benefits Package
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  • 5 Ways to Build a Competitive Benefits Package

     

    A benefits package can be an integral part of retaining your qualified employees while keeping them productive and satisfied. It can also help you compete for talent and be viewed as an employer of choice. Here are top five things to consider when building a competitive benefits package:

    1. Comprehensive Coverage – Fully integrated benefits protect your employees and keep them satisfied. Combining health coverage with other specialty products, like dental, life, disability, vision and more, provides your employees with the best coverage at an affordable rate for you and them.

    2. Single-carrier Advantage – Working with one company for employee benefits means zero hassle. This alleviates the need to coordinate customer service or resources with multiple providers. Plus, employees will have consistent communications and tools that make it simple to understand their benefits.

    3. Extra Value – Your employees deserve benefits that go above and beyond. Find products that offer value-added services, such as grief counseling or employee assistance program (EAP) services, at no cost to them.

    4. Extensive Network Options – When employees need care, they shouldn’t have to look far. Networks with a statewide or even national presence, in addition to high-quality facilities and providers, can make all the difference.

    5. Local Sales and Services – As a smaller business, you understand the impact of keeping things local. Not having to coordinate with sales and customer service teams all over the country or even overseas can make a big difference in the experience your business and your employees have.

    By partnering with Medical Mutual, you can get all five and more—from our comprehensive health and wellness programs, to various network options and local Sales and services based right here in Ohio. To learn more about the health and specialty options available exclusively through the COSE MEWA, please contact your broker or Medical Mutual Sales representative.

     
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  • Next up: 5 Ways to Recognize Millennial Employees Without Digging Deep into Your Pocketbook
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  • 5 Ways to Recognize Millennial Employees Without Digging Deep into Your Pocketbook

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  • Next up: 5 Ways to Safeguard Your IP
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  • 5 Ways to Safeguard Your IP

    The intellectual property your business creates is extremely valuable. Here are five steps you can take to protect it today that can help you avoid a costly defense in the future.

    The intellectual property you and your business create is a vital asset. But too many small business owners aren’t doing as much as they can to protect their IP simply because they view such defense as an unnecessary expense. Others fail to protect it because they aren’t sure about how profitable it might be to protect these ideas. While it’s true that creating and maintaining a durable IP portfolio can be costly, the failure to do so can be even more expensive when others try to copy or steal your IP.

    The old adage of “the best defense is a strong offense” certainly applies to the world of IP, but it’s also important to understand IP can be employed both offensively and defensively. Investing a little bit now to build up your IP defense will pay off over time if you’re ever in a position where you need to defend it. This investment also has the added benefit of making your IP more valuable.

    So, how do you go about initiating the protection of your IP assets? Here are five examples to think about.

    • Get educated. Educate yourself on the basics of copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets and patents.
    • Know what to protect. Identify all of your registered and unregistered copyrights and trademarks, as well as any possible trade secrets.
    • Don’t delay. Identify your patentable technology including products as well as business processes. With today's first-to-file system, the sooner you file a patent application, the better—as such an application holds your place in line.
    • Get it in writing. Ensure that any written contract or agreement (including employment and manufacturing agreements) thoroughly and explicitly protects (and defines ownership of) your intellectual property.
    • Talk to a professional. Contact an attorney to learn more about what means of protection might be available to your brand, product, know-how, original work and more.

    Properly protecting IP is a valuable process. If you take the steps to safeguard your IP today, you could avoid a costly defense later.

    Kevin Soucek is an attorney at Walter | Haverfield who focuses his practice on intellectual property. He can be reached at ksoucek@walterhav.com or at 216-619-7885.

    James Pingor is an attorney at Walter | Haverfield who focuses his practice on intellectual property. He can be reached at jpingor@walterhav.com or at 216-928-2984.
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  • Next up: 5 Reasons to Consider the COSE Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement (MEWA) For Your Business
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  • 5 Reasons to Consider the COSE Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement (MEWA) For Your Business

                                                             

    Have you heard of the COSE multiple employer welfare arrangement (MEWA), but you aren’t convinced this is the right health plan for your small business? Here are five reasons why you may want to consider it:

    1.  You have the Support of COSE

    If you are reading this, you are likely already a member of COSE and realize the value of your membership. COSE has partnered with Medical Mutual to offer the COSE MEWA Health and Welfare Trust to help its small business members and their employees with the increasing cost of healthcare benefits.

    2.  Favorable rating of likeminded companies

    The way a MEWA works is by getting together a group of similar small business employers to pool their contributions in a self-contributing benefits plan for their employees. By pooling your contributions with other employers, you are better positioned to offer the best benefit package to your employees due to economies of scale. 

    3.  Strength of network

    Medical Mutual is well known for having the largest provider network in Ohio. With a COSE MEWA plan, your employees will have access to major health systems across the state of Ohio including the recent addition of University Hospitals main campus and other facilities in Northeast Ohio.

    4.  Cost savings

    Since the COSE MEWA is not subject to certain state health insurance regulations and benefit mandates, this type of plan may be less expensive for your group than similar plans on the exchange. In addition, your rate will be determined by expanded criteria including medical history and gender to allow us to better tailor the costs to the unique characteristics of your group. 

    5.  Wellness benefits

    Through Medical Mutual, the COSE MEWA offers a comprehensive suite of wellness and disease management programs designed to promote healthy lifestyle behaviors. These wellness programs start with a health assessment to provide a baseline to help your employees better understand their health and identify risk factors for disease. Additional programs are available including the Health Resource Center on My Health Plan, fitness discounts, access to the QuitLine program for tobacco users and a WeightWatchers® reimbursement.

    To request a quote, contact your broker or visit our page.


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