Friday, August 30, 2013

"But That's Not Fair"

As the first deadline of the new health care law comes into effect October 1, 2013, I am working diligently to be sure that any group or business with employee knows what will be expected of them starting then and moving forward regarding expectations with the law. What I am finding is kind of shocking and almost a painful sort of way.

The example I am sharing here comes on the tail of a call to a client to be sure they had their pieces all in a row for full compliance on getting the exchange notices delivered to all their employees. These notices inform the person what the exchange is and a process they will follow to see what may be available to them for health insurance under the new law. That sounds pretty simple...right? Of the 20 or more employers I contacted via email and/or called, those who responded or took my call had little to no idea what I was even talking about. Please keep in mind that these were people and places that I have been discussing this stuff to through things like email blasts, direct messages and even face-to-face meetings for months. Once I am finished shaking my head and wondering what the wait was all about, I did come to realize tow things:

1 - It doesn't fit within the list of important things to-do in their daily business processes. To those who AMEN that, my warning is very simple...that will cost you. Delaying, putting it off, pleading ignorance, etc. will not stop the Department of Labor and/or the IRS from expecting you to have complied with the law. PERIOD! Also, if you feel you can just wait and last minute this stuff, good luck. The biggest reason I have been so diligent in communicating is so that there is some groundwork already being put out there so you can get it handled in a timely and proficient manner. This is just the FIRST part. As the months pass, more will be expected and everyone needs to be on the train going the same direction ready to make the appropriate and timely stops along the way so you and your company and your people don't pay a hefty price (figuratively and literally).

2 - I didn't know that. Let's forget the fact that my weekly email blasts focusing on one point about health care reform have been read by hundreds of people every week. Let's forget the countless articles and webinars and seminars being offered to help people to be ready and compliant. Let's even throw out all the media coverage that has been so prevalent in the last year on health care reform and the changes it will make and cause (and have already caused). I still get people who say "I didn't know". I feel like I know why and it boils down to the "It doesn't apply to me" or "It's not that big of a deal" or something along the lines of dismissal and complacency.
My most recent conversation was with a benefits administrator, They had already gotten the exchange notice out and were in total compliance there (a first in all my conversations...YEA!) but then we started to talk about the notices and the affordability of their plan they current have. I calculated their plan based on the lowest paid full-time employee and it came out to 11% for the premiums the employee would have to pay versus their annual gross salary. The mandate for affordability is 9.5%. They asked me what that meant and I basically said that if their plan did not meet the mandated guidelines on coverage and/or affordability, then a large fine per person would be in their future. They had no idea and what they said next made me laugh. They basically said, "That's not fair". How many mouths have had to utter that phrase about health care reform since the day it was signed? How many, once they say it now, suddenly get what this entire process is and will potentially do to businesses and their employees.

THAT is why I do what I do. My process and procedure in the last few months has been to do very little except get people informed and remind them that this is the law and that it's here. I also want to help everyone come up with solutions. Health care reform does not have to be like a pair of least not if you want to explore good and affordable options. I am happy to talk about those options with anyone who reaches out to me after reading this. Contact me.

I try to always be a phone call, text (205-370-8453) or an email ( away.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Where's Gene?

Just like the fun books of "Where's Waldo", I feel like I have been lost in a sea of others when it comes to blogging. The good news is that I have been VERY busy doing many different things and I'll try to get you caught up here in a brief fashion so we can start August fresh.

GENE'S BIZ: In my business, I have been honored with receiving many opportunities to get the message out about health care reform through the Birmingham Business Journal. I found an editor there who was all about keeping as many people as possible on top of the changes going on in health care reform. The articles I have been able to have published have reached a good-sized readership in Birmingham, Alabama and I am pleased to say that I am still writing for them even now.
If you want to see some of those pieces, go here.
I was also recently honored to be asked to be on a panel for health care reform hosted by the Birmingham Business Journal. The panel had the head of the legal department for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, 2 attorneys, and myself. It was a great turnout for this early breakfast offering of information and I hope to get to be involved with more of these as time goes by.
Since April of 2013 I have started to build my own District General Agency for Colonial Life in North Jefferson County. This involves building a team of professionals and getting the word out about voluntary benefits that will help people and their families no matter what the health care reform does. Colonial Life is the market and broker leader in voluntary benefits among professionals and businesses. Their offerings and services have been paramount in my business over the last 7 years and the time had come for me to build something special for myself and others. If you want to look at an opportunity to join me in my endeavors, contact me at 205-370-8453 or email me at
I am now entering my 2nd term as the President of the Birmingham Association of Health Underwriters. My first year was amazing with an incredible board of professionals who helped drive our group to the top of the recruiting and retention column. Our Alabama group received a wonderful award for our efforts at the National Association Conference. I was able to keep most of my board in tact for the next year due to our success and I am looking forward to gaining even more momentum through 2013.
I was also fortunate enough to go to NAHU's Capitol Conference in Washington, DC. I was able to go with a group of my professional colleagues to talk with our elected officials about health care reform and how we can all be an asset to assist them as things begin to happen in the very near future. We feel these officials will need our help in helping others and we had to be sure they knew were there for them. In that process I was able to visit the memorials in the cold of February. I had a plan to take my trumpet and play "Taps" at the WWII Memorial (my favorite memorial) and to play the "National Anthem" for the last day of the Conference for room full of my professional friends in the industry (If I find the videos of both of these, I will post in my next blog).
Within all that I was awarded the 2013 Leading Producers Round Table Soaring Eagle Award. This is the top honor awarded by NAHU (National Association of Health Underwriters) for lives touched and advised. I am humbled to know that I qualified for this award and I hope to build on that in 2013 and to qualify each and every year.
I will say that my efforts in social media have grown as well. I know I have been slow on the blogging front, but the communications and collaborations and well as connections on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook have all grown over the last few months and I am connecting with even more people to work with to help more clients just like you and those who will consider me their benefits advisor.
Lastly, I am working on a company name for all I am doing with benefits advising. While my main thrust will be Colonial Life and the help I can be to so many people, I have to also build this into a business for many different purposes (professional, tax, etc.). I will reveal more of the later but the initial impact and marketing for it looks amazing and I am looking forward to incorporating it into my blog here as well as a totally revamped website in the next few months. More on that later so stay tuned.

GENE'S BUGLING: You didn't think I wasn't bugling, did you? It's been crazy busy on this front as well. As Alabama Director for Bugles Across America, I have the duty of keeping track of 100+ buglers throughout the state and doing all I can to try and get as many live buglers to gravesides all over Alabama. It's no easy task and one I take very seriously. In fact, since Memorial Day (May, 2013) I have personally played Taps at gravesides over a dozen times. Our US Veterans and their families deserve this honor and I am so thankful that I have the training and talent to do so with honor and respect.
The most meaningful and personal one for me has been my Uncle Leon's funeral. It's a very long story of how I was able to play at his graveside, but I was there and proud to honor him that day. He was a Marine helicopter pilot in Vietnam. I don't think I need to say much more than that.

Speaking of Memorial Day, I was also asked to do a piece on "Taps" and it's meaning for CBS42 here in Birmingham, Alabama. The day was a nice one and I took the camera crew through my usual preparations for "Taps" and then I took them to the Gardendale, Alabama Veterans Memorial Park near my home. I got in my uniform and provided "Taps" for them and then they asked me a series of questions of which I did my best to answer. If you'd like to see the piece, you can check out the entire piece with lead in here or a shortened version when you click on the video/photo. It was a great day and many have been so kind to approach me and thank me for my service and to tell me what a great story it was. A big "THANK YOU" to all who support me in these endeavors.
I was also asked to serve as the National Bugle Coordinator for Spirit of '45 Day for our across the nation "Taps" we work toward each year. Spirit of '45 Day is celebrated every 2nd weekend in August to remember the final day of WWII and to celebrate our GREATEST GENERATION for our Nation. I was "voted" into this when I was able to attend the National Convention for the Spirit of '45 Day in San Diego, California. I have been an active member for the Spirit of '45 Day in Alabama since it started 3 years ago. I, along with the HUGE assistance of the Support Committee for the Alabama a National Cemetery, have an annual program at the Alabama National Cemetery every year. This year it will be on Saturday evening, August 10, 2013 and I hope you can be there. Contact me if you would like more information.

Like I said, it's been extremely busy for me. I have not meant to neglect my blog or those who read it. I just haven't taken the extra time to do it. I feel I may be back on a good schedule now with August approaching and getting a handle on the new things going on and the responsibilities I have before me.

It shouldn't be months before you hear from me again, but if you want to stay more in touch I am on LinkedIn and Twitter daily. You can follow me on LinkedIn here or Twitter here.