November 2, 2022 at 11:40 a.m.

Editor’s note: The following is the transcript of a live interview with Cheryl Ambrose and Ted Ryan of NRCA. You can read the interview below or listen to the podcast. 

Speaker 1:

Welcome to Roofing Road Trips with Heidi. Explore the roofing industry through the eyes of a long term professional within the trade. Listen for insights, interviews and exciting news in the roofing industry today.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Hello. And welcome to another Roofing Road Trips from RoofersCoffeeShop. This is Heidi Ellsworth, and I am here today to talk about something that everybody needs, and that’s healthcare. We have so much going on, especially as small business owners, trying to figure out how to navigate healthcare. So we have asked experts from NRCA, National Roofing Contractors Association to sit down with us, and help us make a little bit sense about what we should be doing this time of year to get ready for 2023, and what they’re doing to help all their members in the industry overall around health insurance. So I’d like to introduce Cheryl Ambrose with NRCA. Welcome to the show, Cheryl.

Cheryl Ambrose:

Thanks, Heidi. It’s great to be back with you, and great to be here today with Ted as well. You hit the nail right on the head as far as, there’s so many things that roofing contractors are dealing with on a daily basis as business owners navigating everything that’s going on in that construction, contracting climate, and then healthcare benefits for their employees or just employee benefits, in general, are always a big thing, and so it’s very important. And I’m just thrilled to be here, so as you know my position at NRCA is director of Enterprise Risk Management, and recently I have become much more involved in the insurance aspects of that part of the risk department as Tom Shanahan is passing a few things off.

Heidi Ellsworth:

As he retires.

Cheryl Ambrose:

And Tom has been very entrenched in this, and so such a wealth of information when I get back to get that organizational institutional knowledge. And then just of course, working with Ted who, as you mentioned earlier, is an expert. So it’s great to be here with Ted because I learn something new on the insurance front every time Ted and I talk, so appreciate that.

Heidi Ellsworth:

I love it. And so let’s introduce Ted Ryan with Vault Health Strategy. We’ll come back to the show, Ted. Maybe like Cheryl, can you introduce yourself and talk a little bit about Vault Health Strategy?

Ted Ryan:

Yeah. Well, thank you. I’m delighted to be here, Heidi. And thank you, Cheryl. So my name is Ted Ryan, and I’m the executive vice president to Vault Health Strategies which is our consulting company and Vault Health Captive. And we have been partnered with the NRCA, we’re going on three years now, and we are the program manager over health benefits. So we are a resource for the members to call as they are considering their healthcare options going into 2023. So as you know, this is the time of year where about 70 to 75% of companies renew their benefits for the next calendar year. So many of your members have probably already, now just beginning to get their renewals in, and this is a great timing for this podcast today because there are new things to the program, new benefit coverage packages, and there’s really something for everybody. So I would just encourage everyone as they look at their benefits for this year, don’t forget the resource that’s available to you.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Yeah. I mean, it’s such a great program through NRCA and something that the contractors need. Cheryl, let’s maybe start off and just talk a little bit, level set on what are you hearing from NRCA members about the state of their health insurance and their companies?

Cheryl Ambrose:

Well, as you know, we get inquiries on a regular basis, and I would say right now on the insurance front, this is the most inquired about part of the insurance programs that NRCA is endorsing. Part of it, to Ted’s point, I think is some of it is the time of year, but they’re all looking for ways to manage those rising costs. And I think probably, and Ted can speak to this even better than I can, even across my career… So first of all, I think contractors look at all of their benefits, and they’re looking at this and seeing it’s not just, “Hey, we see the rising cost,” we want to be able to take care of our employees. We want to do something that really works for our employees, but works for the company as well, and it’s a very personal thing. I mean, when you get down to-

Heidi Ellsworth:

It is.

Cheryl Ambrose:

… employee benefits for the employee themselves, it’s very personal. And most of these employers and the majority, a large portion of our members are smaller companies. And having worked in those smaller companies myself, they become your extended family. So it’s like this is something that is important to the employer to take care of their member, to take care of their employees. And so we’re definitely seeing continued, I wouldn’t even say beginning, but I would say continued concern over the rising costs, looking for ways to manage that, and still provide the best benefit to the employee, and so that’s a real big balancing act that all of our members, I think, are challenged with right now.

Heidi Ellsworth:

As a small business, I totally understand it. It’s really difficult, and there’s so many laws and regulations that you don’t always know exactly what to do. So Ted, maybe let’s talk a little bit about what is happening on the health insurance market and what should contractors be aware of? What are some of the things that are out there that could cause problems for them?

Ted Ryan:

Yeah, sure. So obviously coming out of COVID, we’re seeing a lot of the major carriers correct themselves with rate increases. So right now, we’re seeing the early trickles of new renewals that are beginning to come in, and we’re seeing that rates across the board are rising, and that is above the national trend from last year. So we’re seeing rates on average trend about 10% in terms of increased premiums over the prior year, and we think that that is mostly attributable to COVID and the correction that everybody expected in the marketplace from the large insurance companies. So I would just be proactive if I was an employer, and look outside of what you traditionally may have done in the past. There are quite a few new players to the marketplace, and I think that if employers are looking to combat what is anticipated in terms of increases, they really need to contact the program, make sure that they’re going through all of their available options.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Yeah. And there is so much out there, and it’s changing. And I know when I talk to my own employees, some of them already have programs that they really like, and then you have to be careful what you offer because it might mess up them. There’s just all these different things to be aware of. That’s why you really need experts like Ted, yourself and Cheryl. Cheryl, let’s talk a little bit about why NRCA is so committed to helping their members with the health insurance, and how to contractor members because it needs to be NRCA, you need to be a member of NRCA. And then how do they get started?

Cheryl Ambrose:

Well, and that’s a great question. So I mean, let’s start with the first part, the commitment. This has really just been an extension of where NRCA has always been very good at, I think, looking to see what areas that they can help the members with where there may be some gaps, and this has been since… Well, this particular program, as Ted had mentioned, it’s been about three years. And of course, it all got started really prior to me joining NRCA, and as I said, Tom has a lot of the institutional knowledge, but it was something that again, was identified as a need and how could we then begin to build a program within NRCA that could benefit all the members through that economies of scale, if you will. But also, and I’m going to steal one of Ted’s lines a little bit, but meeting the member where they are.

And so that’s what’s been really great about the relationship with Vault, and I’m going to give Ted some real kudos here, is because that’s something that they’ve been very good at about not just saying, “Okay, here’s the program. Do you fit it to it or don’t you?” But always looking for ways to, again, try to find something that will, in terms of offerings, help either meet a gap that might be existing or bring something completely brand new to that particular member in terms of their healthcare that they can provide. So as far as how it got started, that was really this particular program, NRCA had gone down that healthcare route I think a number of years before. And so this one has been really great, and just in the time I’ve been involved, I have seen how this is evolving into new offerings which I’m excited for Ted to get into a little bit more here today with everyone.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Well, let’s do that. Ted, tell us about these new offerings and what’s happening.

Ted Ryan:

Yes, so that’s great. So one of the things we’ve learned over the years with the NRCA membership is that… Again, going back to what Cheryl said, we really do make an effort to meet each member where we find the. A company of 10 employees is different than a company of 50 employees, and of course, you have some regulatory requirements once you get over 50, and having to offer a compliant ACA health plan, but all employers really value benefits. They value their employees, they see them as a retention tool, they see them as a recruiting tool, so it’s an important facet to any organization. What we’ve discovered though also is that not all members, as I said, are basically created equal. They all have very specific needs, and some of them may not have the data available to them to get underwritten, and that is why we have programs, that we’ve added programs this year to help deal with those situations where a member may not have the data to get underwritten.

We’ve added products to our program that allow for us to issue insurance coverage to those members that don’t have that data. So we have a whole slew of different guaranteed issue products. These are products that don’t need to be underwritten in order to get a rate. There are no participation requirements so that if you had two employees that wanted to enroll out of 10, you don’t need to hit those 50% enrollment participation numbers. So these types of products and programs underneath the program really help us extend an offering to meet each member where we find them.

Heidi Ellsworth:

That’s awesome. I love that because you’re right, I mean, when you look at the NRCA members or the roofing industry contractors overall, they’re all different shapes and sizes, and all different things that are coming through there, and that’s not just with contractors, that’s also with distributors, manufacturers, media companies. I mean, we’re just a lot of different folks. So walk us through, Ted, how this works. So as a contractor or whoever, it may be a member of NRCA, obviously if you’re listening to this and you’re not a member of NRCA, as always, I totally encourage you, please become a member of NRCA. It is the best investment you will make for your company ever, and we’re not talking about just healthcare, we’re talking about advocacy and training and certification and all the great things that NRCA does, but healthcare is a big one. So once they become a member, Ted, just walk through that experience of talking to you and your team and really figuring out what a good fit is for them.

Ted Ryan:

Yeah. So the easiest place to start is simply by going to www.nrcahealth.com, and I’ll repeat that again, www.nrcahealth.com, and that is the website. And on the website there’s a landing page and a place for a member to go if they’re interested in learning more about the program. There are obviously tabs and things that they can touch on to read and to learn a little bit, but we encourage each member to leave just enough information behind for one of our special program inside sales team members to give you a call so that we can talk with you about whether you’re offering benefits today, if you are, what you like about your plan, what you don’t like about your plan, and just get a real feel for what you’ve been doing in the past or what direction you want to go in, and that helps us to really narrow down the solutions that might be available to you.

We understand that the insurance market can be overwhelming to the layperson, and that when you have hundreds of carriers in the marketplace with hundreds of different products, all with different bells and whistles, that’s an overwhelming thing for the layperson to really sift through. Our trained inside sales team is very adept at quickly identifying what your needs are, and can very quickly move through the process to get some options to you that would meet your needs. So that’s really the best place to start, is by going to the website. You can also call the 800 number which is 866-431-8721, and that’s 866-431-8721, and someone will be happy to have a conversation with you about your benefits and walk you through what I just talked about.

Heidi Ellsworth:

[inaudible 00:14:50]. And that was NRCAHealth, as in H-E-A-L-T-H.com, right?

Ted Ryan:

That is correct

Heidi Ellsworth:

Good. My ears were a little plug from the airplane last night, Ted, so I just wanted to make sure it was health and not help. But everybody, you can find all this information on RoofersCoffeeShop too in the NRCA directory. We make sure we have all that information there that make it easy for you to find it. What are some of the deadlines, Ted, that contractors should be aware of?

Ted Ryan:

Well, we like early engagement because any time an employer is looking at changing their coverage from one carrier to the next, they’re going to want to make sure that they’re making an informed and educated decision. So if there’s any nuances or any changes that they would be experiencing from one plan to the next, they’re going to want to make sure that they understand them in advance to minimize any surprises, but that’s really, really it, so I would say early engagement. I’ll speak to the 1-1 renewals, we have folks right now that are getting their renewal rates now for their 1-1s, but even if you’re an 11-1, it’s very important that you engage immediately so that you leave yourself enough time to get through the education piece as well as plan selection and ultimately enrollment so you don’t experience any gaps in coverage.

Heidi Ellsworth:

And so are the contractors able to bring their current policies if they have one, and have you walked through or have your specialists, your team walk through that policy with them and compare it so they get that comparison and understanding?

Ted Ryan:

Yes. So as part of the engagement with us, we do ask for a copy if you’re currently offering benefits to your employees. We do ask that you share your plans so that we can make sure out of the hundreds of plans that we have to choose from that we’re comparing an apple and an apple, and we’re able to distinguish when we’re not, to take employers through their benefit coverage. So most employers are not looking to go down on the benefits that they’re offering, they’re usually looking to stay at the same or to improve their benefits for their employees. So we do ask that they fill out a current census and they provide us with a copy of their plan, and that starts the quoting process.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Excellent. And for contractors who maybe have not done insurance yet, and this is brand new for them, and they’re looking to do that. And you made a note earlier in our conversation about, there are some plans where there’s no data because there may not be any data for their employees if they’ve never done it before. How does that work, and what should they be doing to start capturing some of that data?

Ted Ryan:

Well, so on plans it’s all different based on what state you live in. So when you’re in the fully insured marketplace, the insurance companies don’t share that data. So when you’re talking about data, data is typically available to companies that are self-insured, and that’s typically a company that’s over a hundred employees, that is going to get data. Whereas on some of the groups that are under a hundred, they could still be self-funded, and therefore would have access to data, but by and large, the majority of groups will not have access to data. So having some of those alternative plan options available that don’t require data for underwriting are necessary for the program because we realize that there’s going to be quite a few employers that don’t have that data available, so that’s why we’ve added some new options to the program this year.

Heidi Ellsworth:

And through those programs, will they be able to start capturing that data or is that still out there?

Ted Ryan:

No. You can only actually capture your data if you’re on a self-funded program, so that data is only available through a self-funding [inaudible 00:19:15].

Heidi Ellsworth:

Self-funding. Excellent. Well, Cheryl, what are you hearing from the members who have done this, who have done NRCA health insurance? Or ted, both of you, what’s some of the feedback you’re hearing from them through this experience and how it’s helped their businesses?

Ted Ryan:

Cheryl, do you want to take that or I’m happy to [inaudible 00:19:38]?

Cheryl Ambrose:

No, go ahead, Ted. I can chime in after you [inaudible 00:19:40].

Ted Ryan:

So it’s been positive, so we realize that not every member is a candidate for self-funding, but we try to, as I said earlier, meet each member where they are. And sometimes when a member engages with us, the feedback is simply that you’ve got a great plan where you’re at, and just knowing that gives them comfort that they’ve checked all the boxes, that they’ve turned over all the stones, and while they may still think that their health insurance is more costly than they would like it to be, we can provide assurances that is the most competitive solution in their marketplace today, and that’s really the approach we take. We want to make sure that the members look at us as a resource, and we want to be a resource whether it’s even confirming that they’re already on a very competitive plan or show them options that can help them improve their costs when it comes to health benefits.

Heidi Ellsworth:

And Cheryl-

Cheryl Ambrose:

Just to tag team on that, I mean, I know they’re just anecdotally, and we know this from them sharing with us whether they’re actually on the program, currently looking at it, many of them have had some fairly substantial success stories in terms of savings, particularly with some of the newer offerings. So we had one particular company who… And Ted, I don’t want to misquote the numbers, but it was a substantial amount of savings.

Ted Ryan:

Yeah. They were actually experiencing, this is a roofing company out of Colorado that really got their insurance renewal late, and found out that they had an 89% increase in plan coverage.

Heidi Ellsworth:

… wow.

Ted Ryan:

And it was an 11 employee company, and they called us literally on a Friday, and by Tuesday the following week, we had them enrolled in full major medical coverage with $60,000 worth of savings over what they paid last year, so it is pretty significant success story. They’re not all going to be that way, but you would never know unless you tried, and so for that member, it worked out very, very well.

Heidi Ellsworth:

To me, right there, that says it. And you’d never know, and you’re right, you could do this and not see a whole lot of savings, but maybe you will. So unless you ask and find out, you’re never going to know, but that’s a huge success story. I’m so happy for that company out of Colorado that they called.

Cheryl Ambrose:

Yeah. No, and I appreciate them. They let us share their story, but also I think this just goes back to reiterating, I think regardless of the size of the company or where you start early, you owe it to yourself to kick the tires on this, if you will, to go out and take a look. And it’s literally clicking on the website or making a phone call away from just being able to connect with someone at Vault who can then help walk you through the process as Ted had mentioned, and we have a couple of other folks out there, they’re not completed in terms of where they’re going.

They haven’t made a final decision, but they certainly are looking at it back to one of Ted’s points earlier, from a retention standpoint and recruitment, not just how do they remain competitive as an employer by offering the best benefits that they can. And because it is hard enough, and this is probably an understatement for all of our members, to find employees much less. You don’t want to lose them once you have them, so this might be one of those things that they might not be thinking about as a retention tool, but we know that there are people doing that specifically and coming to Ted and saying, “Yeah, how do I do this to make this even better than what I’m doing now?”

Heidi Ellsworth:

Wow. That is great. So once again, Ted, you did such a great job last time. Can you share the website and the phone number just so that everybody has it so they can get started?

Ted Ryan:

Yeah, sure. So the website again is www.nrcahealth.com. Again, that’s www.nrcahealth.com, and the 800 number is 866-431-8721. Again, the 800 number is 866-431-8721.

Heidi Ellsworth:

And all of that can also be found on RoofersCoffeeShop in the NRCA directory, so be sure to check that out. We also have some great articles and additional information that as you’re doing your research, this can all come together. What a great benefit NRCA is offering. Cheryl, Ted, thank you so much for sharing all this. This is just great.

Ted Ryan:

Thank you.

Cheryl Ambrose:

Thank you for having us, Heidi. It’s always great to be with you.

Heidi Ellsworth:

It’s always great. And I really encourage everyone to check out this program and all of their membership benefits with NRCA. Like I said, you can find all of that in the NRCA directory on RoofersCoffeeShop.com. Please also listen to all of our podcasts that are out there. You can find them under the re-listen watch navigation under Roofing Road Trips, so don’t miss a single episode. Cheryl, Ted, one last time, thank you so much for being on.

Ted Ryan:

Thank you.

Cheryl Ambrose:

Thank you.

Heidi Ellsworth:

And thank you all. We’ll see you next time on Roofing Road Trips.

Speaker 1:

Make sure to subscribe to our channel and leave a review. Thanks for listening. This has been Roofing Road Trips with Heidi from the RoofersCoffeeShop.com.





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