A New Option for Small Business Health Insurance

We are excited to announce the creation of a new option for small business owners to access health benefits for themselves, their employees and their families—The COSE Health and Wellness Trust—a self-insured, multiple employer welfare arrangement (MEWA) designed for companies with up to 50 employees participating in health benefits. In anticipation of the next wave of transition required by the Affordable Care Act, the COSE Health and Wellness Trust gives small business owners another option to meet the health benefit needs of their companies.

We are excited to announce the creation of a new option for small business owners to access health benefits for themselves, their employees and their families—The COSE Health and Wellness Trust—a self-insured, multiple employer welfare arrangement (MEWA) designed for companies with up to 50 employees participating in health benefits.

In anticipation of the next wave of transition required by the Affordable Care Act, the COSE Health and Wellness Trust gives small business owners another option to meet the health benefit needs of their companies.

This self-insurance option is a lot like the option that unions and large companies have in the market today. Similarly, the COSE Health and Wellness Trust leverages the combined size of many small employers working together and balances the risk across the pool of companies.

Unlike community-rated ACA plans, the plans available through the COSE Health and Wellness Trust recognize the unique preferred health risk of most small businesses.  The plans that will be offered have far fewer restrictions on the benefit structures that are available under the ACA. Many of the plan structures reflect the kind of benefit options that were common to small businesses before the ACA and that exist in their current grandfathered and transitional plans. Those transitional plans must be ended by January 1, 2018.

And for the smallest of businesses, the COSE Health and Wellness Trust provides an option for group coverage for small businesses with no employees. Today, new small business owners with no employees can only access insurance through the individual market. Only grandfathered plans and transitional plans (that are slated to go away by January 1, 2018) exist as additional options here. The COSE Health and Wellness Trust will be a new option with plans available to these small business owners without employees to provide coverage for themselves and their families.

The COSE Health and Wellness Trust will be an additional renewal option available to members of COSE and the Greater Cleveland Partnership with less than 50 eligible employees and we are currently providing quotes for coverage as soon as September 1st.  Getting a quote is easy for those enrolled in our insurance program. You can request rates for this option effective immediately. Those members not enrolled or small business owners that are not yet a member can also get a quote for coverage and then determine if the plans and membership make sense for them.

A Little Background About How We Got Here…

When the ACA became law in 2010 and was implemented in 2014, our focus was on finding the best option for each small business under the new law. For some of our members, ACA was the best option—either because the health status of their group benefited by the community rating feature of ACA or the subsidies available due to the income of the owner or their employees were of benefit.  For the vast majority of our members, however, the best option was to preserve the ability to stay on their current plan—either by allowing them to elect “grandfathered” status or enrolling them in a transitional or “grandmothered” plan to delay their move to ACA.

Now, the next wave of ACA changes will require that as of January 1, 2018, all small businesses that want group insurance and that are not “grandfathered” must be in an ACA compliant plan. The law requires that the “grandmothered” transitional fully insured plans will be eliminated. The only way to stay on an old plan is if you were on it before the law was enacted in 2010 and you’ve done everything required to establish and maintain “grandfathered” status.  While some of those plans will still fit, they limit the ability to make any significant benefit changes. The shift to ACA compliant plans is going to result in rates that are more expensive for most companies and, for many, rate increases of 30 percent to 70 percent are likely.  The COSE Health and Wellness Trust is an option to access coverage outside of the requirements of ACA.

The Solution

The COSE Health and Wellness Trust leverages more than 40 years of experience within COSE providing small business benefit solutions and our long term relationship with Medical Mutual. We have selected Medical Mutual to continue to work with us to support several of the underlying actuarial and insurance functions of the COSE Health and Wellness Trust.  Medical Mutual’s long-term commitment to the small business community as a local, Northeast Ohio company that is significantly invested in the small business market distinguishes them as a part of this solution. We also have engaged actuaries, legal advisers and a variety of other resources to help structure and guide the COSE Health and Wellness Trust to ensure it is a solid, viable, long-term resource for our members.

We are pleased to announce that after more than a year of work on developing this plan and a rigorous review, the Ohio Department of Insurance awarded our Certificate of Authority earlier this week.

We are confident that the COSE Health and Wellness Trust will be a great option for the vast majority of our members. The licensed COSE team at Medical Mutual and more than 200 specially trained brokers are able to talk with small business owners about the fit of this option with their needs.  As with other self-funded arrangements, there are some additional responsibilities involved in utilizing this plan, but based on the way we have structured it, we think they will be manageable and make sense for a broad set of small business owners.

To learn more about the COSE Health and Wellness Trust and to find out if it is a good solution for your benefit needs, contact the COSE Sales and Service team at Medical Mutual at (440) 878-5930 or talk with your broker. 

And, if you like the plan you are on now, know that COSE will continue to offer a range of fully insured plans side-by-side with the COSE Health and Wellness Trust through Medical Mutual and we will continue to make our members’ grandfathered plans available.

We hope you’ll take the time to evaluate the fit of the COSE Health and Wellness Trust with your own needs.  As the ACA continues to evolve, we have continued to update what we can do to help you adapt to it.   In every area of your business, since 1972, our goal has been to be here to help you grow and succeed.  We hope that once you take a look at the plans available in the COSE Health and Wellness Trust, you’ll agree these options give you one more tool to achieve your success.


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  • Next up: A Silver Bullet for Hiring the Right People
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  • A Silver Bullet for Hiring the Right People

    Behavioral profiling can help you select the best candidates and lower your company’s turnover

    One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2017 is to systematize hiring the right people.  In my experience, hiring is always a major issue at companies from $1 million to $100 million in revenue.  The problem is we rarely have systems to help make it manageable, and since it’s one of the most important drivers of growth, owners and executives really can’t delegate it (not with good results anyways). So how can we take some of the pain out of the process?    

    Don’t agree the hiring process at your company is painful? Let me ask you this: The last time you realized you had an interview with a new potential hire on your calendar the next day, how did you feel about it? Did you say, “I can’t wait to get up tomorrow and get to work so I can meet a new potential employee!” Or was it more like, “Crud, I have to burn two hours tomorrow doing an interview …  I wonder if I can move it or pawn it off on HR to handle without me.”

    The solution lies in using behavioral profiles to improve your process. These “tests” don’t tell you about people’s personalities, rather they are designed to help you understand how employees will behave at work. Are they going to be autonomous, outgoing, and detail oriented or conservative, introverted and slower paced? Depending on whether you’re hiring a salesperson or a bookkeeper, you’ll be looking for different profiles.

    The first question is which behavioral profile you should use. Truth be told, there are many to choose from, which can seem overwhelming. But don’t worry, I’ve done the research for you and will share with you my two favorites.

    Culture Index

    For hiring, my preferred behavioral profiling system is called Culture Index. My favorite part about this profile is you purchase a one-year license (it costs several thousand dollars a year) and you get unlimited access. With Culture Index, you can have as many candidates or employees take the profile as you want.

    The biggest mistake I see companies make with hiring is waiting to do behavioral profiles until too late in the process. Because behavioral profiles often cost $50 to $100 each, many companies try to save money by not “wasting” a profile on a candidate until later in the hiring process. I believe candidates should fill out profiles at the very beginning of the hiring process to avoid “wasting” your top executives’ time interviewing the wrong candidates. Overall, $50 to $100 is a small price to pay if it prevents your company’s CEO and top executives (i.e., Head of HR, COO, VP of Operations) from burning an hour or two at lunch with the wrong candidate. To get over this psychological hurdle, I recommend Culture Index because having your candidates fill out profiles will be guilt free. 

    My second favorite thing about Culture Index is they have come up with a brilliant system to make it easy to figure out if a candidate would be a good fit for each position. The hiring manager simply answers a bunch of questions about what kind of person would be well suited for the position and then Culture Index creates a template of which behavioral profile the ideal candidate would have. You can create unlimited templates, so you can have one for salespeople, bookkeepers, executives, front line employees, and then when your candidate fills out their profile, you can easily identify which position is the best fit.

    The Culture Index template keeps you and your hiring managers from lying to yourselves. You know what I’m talking about: You interview a candidate and you know that they probably aren’t going to be a good fit for the accounting department where you have an opening (since they’re a people-loving extrovert who gets bored with detailed work) but you justify it because they are so awesome and you really want them on your team. Two months later, you’ve spent countless hours training them to count your beans and they walk into your office one Friday afternoon and tell you they have accepted a position in sales with a competitor because they just can’t stand spending 40 hours a week managing your payables. Culture Index will help you avoid this trap because it gives you a visual graph of your candidate’s behavioral profile and compares it to the graph of what the ideal candidate for the position would look like, so you can’t cheat! Unless the graph of your candidate matches up with the graph you created for the position back in the cool, rational light of day, then you cannot make the hire.        

    Behavioral profiling using Culture Index is just the start of a world class hiring process. Once you have a candidate that fits the right profile, then you must determine how many times you’re going to interview them, what questions to ask in each interview, and how to close the deal once you’ve got one that you want to hire. For answers to several of those questions, I recommend the book “Who” by Geoff Smart and Randy Street.   

    DiSC Workplace Profile

    Once you hire a new employee, I like to use the Everything DiSC Workplace Profile to better understand who they are and how they are going to interact with the team. The DiSC profile places employees on a continuum of behavioral traits including Dominance, influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness. I don’t use the DiSC as much for hiring, but more to lower turnover with the current team.

    After they have joined the team, I give new hires the DiSC and then I hold a staff meeting to discuss the results of their DiSC profile (depending on the size of the company, I’ll invite the entire staff or just the new hire’s department). Every new hire I’ve ever profiled has always been interested to learn about their own behavioral preferences and how they differ from their co-workers. 

    In the disaster mitigation and restoration world, business owners (and often their top managers) tend towards being high in the dominance (D) trait. This dominance is good for getting a fire damaged house cleaned up, but not always so good for morale. The challenge is high D’s drive towards getting the job done; however, immediate action is not always aligned with your client’s need for support, communication and compassion. As a business owner and leader myself, I often have to take a deep breath and spend some time with a client explaining what I am about to do and why before getting down to business. It isn't my natural behavioral tendency, but all it costs me is a little extra energy so that I can build rapport with my client and help them understand their situation better. The DiSC profile helped me learn this about myself and it has paid massive dividends. High D’s like me often need some help in the emotional intelligence department.

    The good news is we can all choose to modify our behavior depending on the situation. For example, if I give a new employee the profile and find that they are high in the dominance trait, I can make them aware of this tendency to be overly aggressive so they understand that sometimes their unbridled need for results can be overwhelming. I don't want them to change their personalities, but rather understand that situationally they may need to temper their exuberance when it's time to complete interact with a client whose home or business has recently been destroyed by water or fire.

    There is another huge benefit to the Everything DiSC profile. They offer free “comparative” reports, which allow you to take any two employees you’ve profiled and run a report that will show them how they are alike and different and offer suggestions on how they can work better with one another. Many times when employees approach me with a “we can’t get along” problem, I won’t even broach the subject until I’ve given them a comparative DiSC report and they’ve read it over and met to work it out amongst themselves. This approach doesn’t work for every employee conflict, but many times a little bit of perspective on each other’s natural behavioral tendencies allows them to see things from the other’s point of view and solve their issue. One more tip: My wife and I each took the DiSC and ran our comparative report and it has worked wonders for our marriage! 

    To start using DiSC, I recommend you invest in profiling every one of your current staff members (each profile costs about $45-$55). I use a third-party website to manage all of my profiles. I recommend www.resourcesunlimited.com to my clients since they have always given me excellent support. They make it easy to email each employee their online profile, and they manage filing all the completed profiles in an online database. I have 24/7 access to all of my staff's profiles. Plus, I can print free reports using their cloud based service. 

    Every business has trouble with hiring, and if you have more than one employee, then undoubtedly you have people issues from time to time. Behavioral profiling has been a silver bullet for me in making people issues more manageable by using tools that are a lot more reliable than my “gut.” I’m not saying your gut shouldn’t play a role in the hiring process; however, the more you systematize your approach, the more you can rely on others to help you hire, interview, and manage as your company grows. Our industry has enough unknowns already—use behavioral profiling and hiring won’t be a disaster for your company!

    Jonathan Slain is the founder of Disaster Ventures Unlimited which provides consulting and other services to disaster businesses that want to double in size or sell within five years.  He can be reached at jpslain@gmail.com or 216-870-4219.  

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  • Next up: ADR Clauses in Contracts: Should You Mediate, Arbitrate or Litigate?
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  • ADR Clauses in Contracts: Should You Mediate, Arbitrate or Litigate?

    Should you negotiate means for Alternative Dispute Resolution into your next business contract?

    Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) refers to either mediation or arbitration, which provide alternatives to litigation. ADR, by comparison to traditional litigation, can sometimes be a less expensive, less risky means for parties to a contract to resolve their disputes.

    Unsurprisingly, then, parties to business contracts routinely include ADR clauses as a precaution against potentially becoming embroiled in a lengthy, protracted dispute with their counterparts in court. However, there are circumstances in which an ADR clause might not be appropriate, depending on the sophistication of the parties, the nature of the contract and the kinds of disputes that can arise from it, among other factors.

    In this post, we focus on whether and the extent to which ADR, specifically, mediation (arbitration was discussed here) should be negotiated into your next business contract. For now, it will suffice to know that, while arbitration and mediation share similar pros and cons, the most important difference between the two is that arbitration automatically yields a binding decision, whereas mediation does not. In practical terms, this means if the parties to a dispute cannot reach a settlement through mediation, they remain free to pursue their claims in court (or through arbitration).

    What Are the Objectives of Mediation?

    The objective of mediation is to resolve a dispute by informally talking through issues in a low-pressure environment conducive to open communication. Discussions are facilitated by the mediator, who is usually an attorney, and who might also have experience practicing in whatever area of law is relevant or applicable to the parties’ dispute. The mediator seeks to ease tensions and facilitate negotiation and dialogue between the parties by speaking to them both jointly and individually.

    What Are the Benefits of Mediation?

    There are no “winners” and “losers” in mediation. The only outcome that can be reached through mediation is one that both parties agree on.

    Some statistics suggest mediation might be a more productive forum for dispute resolution to traditional litigation. For example, the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service (a federal agency designed to mediate labor disputes that was created in 1947 under the Taft-Hartley Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 141–197) reported that 87.1% of the negotiations it was involved with in 2017 achieved settlements.

    Moreover, if the parties cannot reach an accord through mediation, they can still decide to litigate (or arbitrate) their dispute. The costs of litigation (and to a lesser albeit similar extent, arbitration), however, provide a significant incentive for parties to reach settlements at mediation. By avoiding litigation and everything it involves (depositions, document requests, subpoenas, motion practice, trial, etc.) the parties are better able to control costs and mitigate risks. The costs of attending mediation, which are nominal compared to the costs of filing a lawsuit, are borne equally by the parties. Mediation and its outcome are also private and just between the parties. The privacy of mediation is generally regarded as a benefit, unless an aggrieved party wants to bring public attention to an issue, in which case a lawsuit, which naturally becomes part of the public record, may be more appropriate.

    Mediation can also bring closure to a dispute much faster than litigation. From this perspective, contracts containing ADR clauses likely also alleviate burdens on the court system. Indeed, courts frequently encourage or, in some circumstances, even order litigants to attend mediation before permitting their case to proceed to trial. Not doing so might mean backlogged court dockets for years or even decades. For (an extreme) example, some courts in India have a backlog of cases through the year 2330.

    When Should Mediation Be Avoided?

    Of course, there are also times when mediation might not be the best means for resolving a dispute. The history of the parties’ business relationship, for example, might not make it worthwhile to negotiate an ADR provision into a contract. Mediation usually works best between parties who approach it with a ready and open willingness to communicate and resolve their dispute. Mediation is less likely to produce a successful resolution if one party goes into it with an inflated belief in the strength of its position—whether that belief is true or not.

    Mediation is also not well suited for resolving disputes that arise from intentionally deceptive or other bad faith conduct. For instance, parties that stand accused of engaging in deceptive behavior seldom admit to engaging in that conduct, which leaves very little, if any, neutral ground for negotiation. Claims arising from this conduct are therefore best pursued through arbitration or litigation.

    Of course, if the parties negotiating a contract are uncertain about the desirability of mediation, they can always propose revisions tempering the restrictiveness of the ADR clause. For example, the parties can agree that they “may” rather than “must” resolve any disputes arising from their contract through arbitration or mediation. Parties can also agree to attempt to resolve disputes through mediation first before escalating to arbitration or litigation.

    This article is meant to be utilized as a general guideline for mediation clauses in contracts. Nothing in this blog is intended to create an attorney-client relationship or to provide legal advice on which you should rely without talking to your own retained attorney first.  If you have questions about your particular legal situation, you should contact a legal professional.

    Max Julian is an attorney at The Gertsburg Law Firm. Julian’s practice is focused on commercial litigation. He can be reached at mj@gertsburglaw.com or by phone at (440) 571-7541.


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  • Next up: Affordable Wellbeing for a Healthy, Engaged Workplace
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  • Affordable Wellbeing for a Healthy, Engaged Workplace

    A recent study found that 69% of employees are unengaged at work. This means in your business, it’s possible that more than two out of three of your employees are unengaged, unmotivated, and, likely, unhappy.

    A recent study found that 69% of employees are unengaged at work. This means in your business, it’s possible that more than two out of three of your employees are unengaged, unmotivated, and, likely, unhappy.

    You’re probably asking yourself, “Why?” Chances are, a big reason behind this dissatisfaction at work could be because your business does not have a workplace wellness program in place. It’s been shown that companies with a healthy work culture support programs that help minimize pressure on employees—be it emotional, economic, or otherwise.

    So, now you’re probably asking yourself another question: “How do I go about setting up a workplace wellness program?” Well, the good news is it’s affordable and easier than you might imagine. Allow me to walk you through some of the basics.

    Survey your employees

    The first place you should start is to take an honest look at your workplace culture. Do you think people are engaged and productive? Or could engagement and productivity be strengthened? If you think it might be time to discuss new cultural strategies to reenergize employees and help them thrive, you might want to consider doing a quick survey of your staff with a brief employee engagement survey. A few questions you should ask include:

    • Question 1: At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
    • Question 2: In the last week, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
    • Question 3: At work, do my opinions seem to count?

    Simple steps

    Instituting a workplace wellness program at your business does not have to be complicated. It might be as simple as providing an office treadmill desk with 15- to 30-minute time slots for employees to use during conference calls or creative brainstorming. Or using stand up desks or ergonomic ball chairs to reduce back pain and improve posture. Some other wellness-related practices you might want to institute include:

    • Chair Massage Thursdays with a masseuse in the office for 15-minute sessions per employee to reboot and reduce stress.
    • Stay fit while you sit with stretch and exercise tips to stay limber.
    • Increase use of personal strengths on the job with a program to raise awareness of strengths and talents to enhance occupational wellness.

    Ask your employees for ideas as well. Regardless of what you end up doing, the important thing is that you are providing healthy and easy lifestyle changes in your office. Changing the routine also helps reduce burn out and turnover, which brings me to my final point …

    Wellness is appealing to employees

    By making your business wellness-friendly, you’re also making it appealing to potential employees. Not only will it be easier for you to recruit job candidates, you’ll also likely retain current employees for longer. The new generation of workplace health emphasizes wellbeing of the total person—mind and body. Top talent today expects to work in a healthy environment. And with an estimated 50 million millennials in the workforce who jump jobs more quickly than generations that came before, any edge you can give your own workplace culture is one you should take.

    Sunny Lurie, PhD. Is CEO of Advanced Performance, Inc., a firm that helps organizations maximize employee engagement, motivation and performance by promoting organizational wellbeing. She is also a member of COSE’s Expert Network.

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  • Next up: After the Disaster: 5 Things You Need to Know
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  • After the Disaster: 5 Things You Need to Know

    Bad things happen. Regardless of how well your employees are trained, how often you inspect your equipment, or how well safeguarded you might believe your organization is, disasters can still occur. As you’ll learn in other blogs that will be posted this month in recognition of National Preparedness Month, prevention should be a company’s top priority. But what do you do after disaster strikes? Here are five things to keep in mind.

    Bad things happen. Regardless of how well your employees are trained, how often you inspect your equipment, or how well safeguarded you might believe your organization is, disasters can still occur.

    As you’ll learn in other blogs that will be posted this month in recognition of National Preparedness Month, prevention should be a company’s top priority. But what do you do after disaster strikes? Here are five things to keep in mind.

    1. Safety first

    In the event that your store or building is damaged, there is going to be a temptation to re-enter the building to survey the damage and try to save as much of your expensive equipment or sensitive data as possible.

    Don’t do that. Damaged buildings can be unsafe to enter, so it’s important to wait for emergency personnel to give you the all clear before you re-enter your building.

    2. Communicate

    Strong communication is the hallmark of any successful company, and that adage holds true during an emergency. Ensure key groups are informed of what’s happening, including company officials, vendors and media, if necessary.

    3. Document the damage

    When you are able to safely approach the property, take photos and video of the damage for future reference. Don’t forget to bring along other items you might need when visiting the site, including flashlights and anti-bacterial wipes.

    4. Put security in place

    Looting is a real concern following a natural or man-made disaster. If you’re able to do so, try to repair your building so potential looters aren’t able to get inside. You might also want to consider hiring professional security to watch over your store or business until things get back to normal.

    5. Stop!

    In the aftermath of a tragedy, things are going to seem like they’re coming at you at a million miles per hour. Take some time to stop and review all of the details that you have collected. This will help you understand what steps you might need to take next to get your business back up and running as quickly as possible.

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  • Next up: All Your Group Insurance Needs in One Place
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  • All Your Group Insurance Needs in One Place

     

    Medical Mutual is known for our comprehensive employee health plans. But what you may not know is, we also offer dental, vision and life & disability coverage for companies just like yours. With an all-inclusive benefits package, you can attract and retain talent, while keeping your employees and bottom line healthy. 

    Here are some of the benefits of our various product offerings that you can enjoy as a COSE member:

    Dental

    • Access to one of Ohio’s largest dental networks – Our SuperDental network has grown by more than 60 percent, granting you access to the general practitioners, periodontists, prosthodontists, orthodontists and oral surgeons that you and your employees want and need. 

    • Benefits starting right away – Forget about unforgiving waiting periods. With our dental plans, you and your employees’ benefits start as soon as your group is eligible. Once you sign with us, you’re covered.

    • No “missing tooth” clause – This means that even if your employees have missing or damaged teeth before coverage starts, the procedure to fix them will still be covered under our plan when they become a member. This is a benefit not seen with most other carriers. 

    • Adult orthodontia offered on a standard basis – Most dental plans only offer child orthodontia on a standard basis. With Medical Mutual dental plans, children and adults get standard coverage for procedure like braces, Invisalign and more.

    Vision

    • Access to one of the largest eye care provider networks – Medical Mutual partners with VSP® Vision Care to offer vision plans to groups of all sizes. The VSP network includes retail providers, private optometrists and ophthalmologists, even in your local Costco or neighborhood Pearle Vision and more.  

    • Discount for COSE members – If you are a Medical Mutual/COSE enrollee and choose not to elect an insured vision benefit, you will still receive savings in the form of a VSP Vision Savings Pass. Save on out-of-pocket costs like eye care, glasses, contacts or more. 

    Life & Disability 

    • Benefits offered on both a group-sponsored or voluntary basis – Through Medical Mutual’s subsidiary, MedMutual Life, you and your employees loved one’s can have peace of mind and financial protection in the event of unforeseen circumstances. Here are your plan options as a COSE member:

    a. Group-sponsored plan - If you choose a group-sponsored plan for your employees, you pay at least 25 percent of the cost of the insurance and meet a minimum enrollment based on the number of people you employ. The benefits that are offered with this plan are life and accidental death and dismemberment insurance (AD&D), dependent life insurance and both short- and long-term disability insurance. 

    b. Voluntary plan – If you choose to elect a voluntary plan, it is fully paid for by your employees and does not have a minimum enrollment requirement. This plan offers life insurance and short-term disability insurance only. 

    As with our health plans, all our other products grant you access to our Ohio-based Sales and Customer Care teams to offer you personalized and efficient service. Contact your broker or your Medical Mutual Sales representative to learn more about offering an all-inclusive benefits package to your employees. 

     

     

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