Members are taking advantage of the Bar’s health insurance exchange More than 2,000 Florida Bar members have completed the initial registration process to participate in the Bar private health insurance exchange that was launched October 1.The exchange is designed to assist individual members and employer groups in securing health insurance coverage, as part of the Bar’s Member Benefits package.Member Benefits, Inc., the administrator of The Florida Bar Member Insurance Programs, has introduced key enhancements to its existing health insurance program. Decision support tools and live customer support are available to help Florida lawyers determine their best course of action.Of the 2,057 lawyers who have completed the registration process, 1,546 have created exchange accounts. The number differs from registrations, due to some registrations being employers that have yet to create accounts. Other registrants that are subsidy eligible are working with benefits counselors to shop for subsidized coverage on the public exchange rather than access the private exchange, according to a report from Member Benefits, Inc.“Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to assist the subsidy-eligible members like we planned due to the technical issues that the federal exchange website has had. However, we have invited them to shop for unsubsidized plans on the private exchange and will be able to assist them on the public exchange when it’s functioning correctly,” the report said.So far, there have been 85 medical enrollments.“Enrollment to accounts ratio may seem low, but this is expected, as it’s still early in the open enrollment period,” according to the report. “Members are primarily still shopping (i.e., browsing) at this point.”The earliest exchange coverage can be effective is January 1, with the deadline to apply being December 15.“There is also the majority of the membership that is either currently insured by their employer plan or through an individual plan that is being continued into 2014 before being canceled due to ACA,” the report said.Member Benefits, Inc., anticipates the enrollment to accounts ratio to pick up significantly moving into 2014, and then even more so during the 2015 open enrollment.These numbers also do not include enrollments from employer group accounts, which when launched will be a big part of the exchange that launched after this News went to press.Member Benefits, Inc., staff will initially assist members and their staffs in estimating whether they qualify for a premium tax credit through the federal government. Afterwards, the individuals are directed to the least costly source to purchase a health plan. If directed to the private exchange, individuals create an online account and shop for benefits for themselves and their families, choosing from a wide variety of health plans that compete for enrollment within the exchange. Decision support tools guide consumers to the best health plan for their needs. Members can also purchase dental, vision, life, and disability insurance at special pricing.Employers can create an account on the exchange, set a budget, and provide employees with a fixed amount of money (a “defined contribution”). Employees use the contribution to purchase the coverage and options of their choosing. If employees choose plans or mixes of benefits that cost more than the employer-defined contribution provided, they pay the difference. A series of webinars are available to introduce the exchange and educate lawyers on how to participate. Members may call 800-282-8626 to learn more or register for an upcoming complimentary webinar online at www.memberbenefits.com/floridabar. Members are taking advantage of the Bar’s health insurance exchange December 1, 2013 Regular News
Romeo Parkes, Jamaica international player, has been banned for the rest of this season as ruled by the United States Soccer League (USSL) for his attack on defender Karl Ouimette.Parkes, former Pittsburg Riverhounds player, kicked a New York Red Bulls player in the back as he walked off the field, this came after both players were given a red card for an incident towards the end of the match.Ouimette fell to the floor and had to be carried from the field on a stretcher. After testing and exams, it was released recently that the player did not suffer a significant injury.The incident, which has gone viral, shows Parkes, who is a part of the country’s provisional Copa Centenario squad, the subject of strong criticism in several quarters. The Riverhounds have terminated the player’s contract, but USL president Jake Edwards has still spoken up about what has happened, not condoning this action for other players at any time.“There is no place in our game for this type of unprofessional conduct and our decision reinforces the USL’s commitment to preserving the integrity and reputation of the game,” said Edwards. “Player safety is paramount and any type of behavior that is detrimental to the well-being of our players will not be tolerated.”
Do your homework. Check references, try to visit organizations that are using the software and ask lots of questions. Look for comparable organizations with similar fundraising operations. The questions to ask include: How long did it take them to ‘go live’ on the software? Were they happy with the vendor’s support during the conversion? What would they do differently if they had it to do over? This is where you test whether your impressions of each product match reality.On the other hand, it is important to distinguish software and vendor problems from problems caused by the client. The organization might have implemented the software incorrectly, failed to offer adequate training or support or have purchased the wrong software to begin with.Remember, there is no perfect database. But there might be one that is perfect for you. There is no perfect donor database. Every donor database on the market has strengths and weaknesses. The challenge is to find a database with strengths that meet your needs and weaknesses that will not get in your way. Next, decide what matters most. Now that you have documented your requirements, you need to decide which are mandatory. If a vendor cannot meet your mandatory requirements, you should not look at their system – even if it is free. Next, prioritize the ‘nice to have’ features. Since every system you look at will have to meet your mandatory requirements, the nice-to-haves might be the deciding factors. Involve stakeholders in the decision. If you get buy-in during the selection process, staff members will be likely to support you during the implementation. This will be critical when the conversion encounters the snags that are inevitable in such a complex project. This is not to say that software selection is a consensus decision. But stakeholders need to understand how the system was selected and that their interests were taken into account. If you do not get buy-in from the start, all subsequent decisions are likely to be questioned. Robert Weiner, President of Robert L. Weiner Consulting, is an independent technology consultant based in San Francisco. He specializes in helping nonprofits make informed, strategic decisions about the selection, use, and management of information technology. He has consulted for a wide variety of organizations including the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Earthjustice, EMILY’s List, the California Hospice Foundation, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Trust for Public Land, UC Berkeley, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Pomona College, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Reed College, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the American Red Cross of the Bay Area, and the San Francisco Ballet. Contact him at [email protected] First, decide what you are looking for. It is hard to comparison shop until you know what you are looking for. Start by identifying the key features that you are seeking in a new database. Include both what is missing from your current system as well as what it does well. For instance, is the new database primarily going to support any particular type of fundraising, such as membership, major gifts, special events or capital campaign management? Does it need to support special events, prospect research or moves management?You also need to be specific about any special features or interfaces you need, such as a Web front end, support for Macintoshes or the ability to record gifts in multiple currencies. The sophistication of the software should support the sophistication of your fundraising operations, but must also fit within your budget and staff resources. Set up software demonstrations so you can compare ‘apples to apples.‘ In a ‘scripted demo,’ all vendors are asked to demonstrate the same scenarios in addition to providing an overview of the system. For instance, they might show you how to enter a variety of gifts that match different situations you encounter (hard and soft credits, matching gifts, multi-year pledges, crediting gifts toward campaign priorities, and so on).Vendors will need to show that they can meet your mandatory requirements as well as the top nice-to-haves. One caveat: your ability to get this level of detail will depend upon which vendors are bidding. Some vendors will do extended on-site demos; others only do web-based demos. Make sure you understand all the costs. The price of the software is just one piece, and often the smallest part, of the ‘total cost of ownership.’ You might need to upgrade your server, desktop computers or network. You might need consulting help to implement the software, develop special interfaces or write custom reports. You might need to invest in additional training or add technical support personnel. Some of these will be one-time capital expenses, but many will become ongoing operating costs.