FAQ

Employer Health Insurance FAQ – Have your questions answered by the health insurance and benefits experts at Foundation Strategies

Our knowledgeable staff will answer questions to help you understand how Foundation Strategies meets the benefits needs of small to large companies, government agencies and service organizations. Ask a question and you might see your answer featured on this page.

 
  • Are FSI employees licensed insurance brokers and/or consultants?

    Yes. All of the FSI team members are licensed brokers in the state of Texas. FSI holds corporate licenses in 23 additional states.

  • How would you describe Foundation Strategies' organization, philosophy, management and history?

    Foundation Strategies Inc. was established in 1996, doing business as Associated Benefit Services.  We were incorporated as Foundation Strategies Inc. in 2001.  In the beginning, FSI was a source for highly technical benefits overflow for global consulting for firms like Towers Perrin and Watson Wyatt, where we did work branded under their name.  As our reputation for service and technical expertise grew, so did our business.  Today, we are a firm of 10, with clients in a variety of industries.  We have expertise in all forms of U.S. benefits, from traditional benefits such as healthcare, life and disability to non-traditional worksite benefits such as group legal and critical illness benefits.

    FSI is privately held..  We are a partner firm with United Benefits Advisors.  UBA provides global access to employer resources.  We have strategic partnerships for data analytics, risk management, global medical travel, online HR and benefits administration, and partnerships with an ERISA law firm, and two actuarial retirement consulting firms.  We can, however, work with any vendor Your Firm currently has or would like to work with in the future; as Health and Welfare consulting is our primary business we have no conflicts of interest and there is no pressure to cross sell other services to you.

  • How would you describe Foundation Strategies' philosophy for servicing an account and commitment to customer service and quality assurance?

    Our commitment to customer service and quality was the driving force behind the development of a defined and thorough Plan Management Process.  A proactive approach is the only way to successfully accomplish the plan management process.  Our process begins early at the fourth quarter of the year to start discussions of short-term and long-term strategies for the following years.  An early start allows time to perform critical analysis, avoid making last minute rash decisions, and communicate and implement the plan effectively.

  • What is Foundation Strategies' Plan Management Process?

    Fourth Quarter

    • Assess the effectiveness of the current program and create “wish list”
    • Establish short-term and long-term strategic objectives

    First Quarter

    • Review current benefit plan performance relative to stated objectives and identify areas of improvement
    • Benchmark current programs against industry and market
    • Develop initial program blueprint
    • Assess vendor performance versus metrics and objectives
    • Review administrative procedures and documents for legislative compliance

    Second Quarter

    • Present proposed program to appropriate committee
    • Review options and alternatives with regards to plan designs, contribution strategy, and funding mechanism
    • Assess impact to employees and company
    • Develop short-term and long-term cost estimates/budget
    • Analyze potential risks and develop contingent plans
    • Conduct competitive bidding, if necessary

    Third Quarter

    • Finalize plan designs, budget projections, and contribution strategy
    • Select vendor, if competitive bidding is conducted
    • Get final approval from appropriate committee
    • Develop communication strategy
    • Establish implementation requirements
    • Communicate and implement

    Fourth Quarter

    • Establish ongoing measurement criteria and monitoring process
    • Review contracts and confirm performance guarantees
    • Conduct debriefing meeting of our services and identify areas of satisfaction and areas of improvement

    In addition to these steps, we also believe in conducting regular monthly financial monitoring meetings and quarterly carrier performance reviews, filing any required government forms such as Form 5500, and assisting to resolve any issues.

    We believe in functioning as an extension of our client’s benefit team.  We do not just wait for our client to contact us when problems occur, but attempt to uncover and resolve problems to maximize our client’s limited resources.

  • What is Foundation Strategies' target client?

    FSI is very experienced in working with clients of all sizes and funding arrangements.   Approximately 60% of our combined clients are in 400 – 2500 size range.  Our services are aimed towards clients of this size and larger, because we understand that clients in this size range faces complex benefits issues, but have less internal resources to address the issues.  We provide comprehensive benefits consulting services to our clients in order to ease the client’s burdens, without having to “nickel and dime” our clients for every request.

  • What markets does Foundation Strategies have access to?

    FSI works with all carriers locally and nationwide for all traditional and non-traditional health and welfare benefits.  We constantly research and review carriers for their services and capabilities since our clients have such a wide range of needs. We do not have any preferred carriers.

  • What size clients does your practice generally support?

    FSI services clients ranging from 2 to 15,000 employees.    The majority of our clients are in the mid to large size range, primarily from 400 to 2,500 employees.  We are able to leverage our expertise and experience for these larger clients to our smaller clients; thereby, providing the same level of service to all of our clients, regardless of size.

  • How would you outline Foundation Strategies' consultative approach in the areas of health benefit plan analysis and design? What types of analyses has FSI conducted?

    Our approach to the plan design and strategy process is based on a five-step process.

    employer health insurance FAQ - Plan Design Process

    When we collaborate with our clients on strategy and plan designs, we always take into consideration the following factors:

    • Our client’s goals and priorities
    • What employees value
    • Advantages and disadvantages for both the employer and employees
    • Effect on competitive status
    • Resources and capabilities required for a successful implementation

    We believe that the client knows best what strategy or design is appropriate for their company, so we do not presume to dictate what a client should do.  Our role is to provide our clients with innovative options and alternatives, keep them informed of implications and issues, and assist in anyway necessary to meet their objectives.

    Our consultants have worked on a broad range of strategies and plan designs in their benefits consulting careers from small local clients to large national conglomerates.  We have actual practical experience in the following areas and much more:

    • Credit-based flexible benefit programs, including “mega-flex” plans
    • Mergers and acquisition program realignments, along with plan divestitures
    • Consumer-driven health care, including Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs)
    • Holistic care management strategies
    • Defined dollar benefit and/or defined contribution strategies
    • Prescription drug management strategies
    • Efficiency-based pricing
    • National and global plan consolidation and centralization
    • Retiree health care strategies

    Our experience will help you to avoid the “pitfalls” in developing and implementing any new plan strategies.

  • What does Foundation Strategies do to assure continued education and ongoing training for your personnel?

    FSI believes in investing in our people, because it is critical to the success of our business.  Our training program is organized into four segments:

    • Required licensing continuing education
    • Legislative and regulatory compliance training
    • Carrier and product seminars
    • Personal skills training (ie. project management skills, facilitation skills, etc.)

    Our consultants and associates are required to and have access to these training resources as needed, either through internal or external sources.  Each consultant’s and associate’s annual performance review includes completing at least 2 training courses.

  • How would you describe Foundation Strategies' ability to compile and analyze benchmarking data for the purpose of annual plan review and management?

    We subscribe to many of the major national and local benefit surveys that can be used to benchmark client data.  Our best survey tool is the UBA Health Plan Survey.  This survey is the nation’s largest with more than 18,000 health plans covering more than 5 million lives.  We also have the ability to conduct customize surveys for clients, if a client wants competitive data for a specific industry or set of competitors.  We would collaborate with the client on the survey format and content, then distribute, collect, and compile the results into an easy to disseminate report.  Due to competitive regulations, the results, of course, will be presented without company names for confidentiality.

  • What is Foundation Strategies' typical involvement in assisting and conducting employee enrollment and communication meetings?

    Our comprehensive proposal assumes that we will assist your firm with all aspects of the group enrollment process, such as coordination with carriers, quality review of enrollment materials, conduct train-the-trainer meetings, and assist with enrollment meetings.  If Your Firm chooses, we can conduct the presentations and answer employee questions.  We can draft employee communications including, but not limited to, enrollment brochures, presentations, and web-based communication.  We can assist in the drafting and reviewing of board presentations or any specific benefit communication needs.

    We do not print or produce communication materials, but can assist clients to have the materials printed and distributed.

  • What are Foundation Strategies' client reporting capabilities?

    We expect each customer to have specific data needs and will customize these reports to meet your requirements.  We provide detailed monthly enrollment and financial reports compared to budget, along with quarterly claims utilization reporting and review.  Data aggregation and analysis is one of our areas of expertise.  There is usually not a report that we have not been able to provide to our clients to meet their individual needs.

  • Will you act as an advocate on behalf of our firm to resolve administrative problems and/or claim disputes with insurance carriers or the third-party administrator?

    Yes.  We will be responsible for vendor management and servicing.  We will make ourselves available to both the employer and employee when issues arise.  We understand that when a benefit package is presented, multiple insurers and administrators can be confusing to employees.  When an employee has a claim, it may need some extra care to insure that the claim goes to the appropriate place and that the employee understands the process for that claim.  We will be available to the employee to handle the claim or explain benefit or market trends when issues arise.

  • How would you describe Foundation Strategies' capability and resources that are available for actuarial analysis of funding needs?

    As previously mentioned, some of our consultants are trained underwriters and come from global actuarial firms.  It is our standard process to calculate cost impact of plan design changes and project costs for funding purposes for our clients.  In today’s environment, companies cannot afford to exceed their budget by 3% to 5%.  None of our clients have ever been adversely affected by our budget rate setting process.  We are certainly not perfect and predicting future trends is a guess at best, but we do pride ourselves in taking into consideration every possible factor that can affect the cost and utilization of the plan.

    Having access to the data is meaningless, unless one knows what to do with it.  The value that FSI brings to our clients is the translation of data into actionable terms.  We use the data to:

    • evaluate and manage risk
    • identify areas for plan improvement
    • improve underwriting predictability and financial forecasting
    • assess quality and costs of health benefit programs
    • target, evaluate and improve care and disease management programs
    • design benefits tailored to the specific needs of your population
    • optimize the allocation of health benefits dollars
  • How would you explain Foundation Strategies' ability to monitor regulatory and legislative developments and disseminate related information to clients in such areas as compliance, PPACA FLMA, Section 125, COBRA, HIPAA and other benefit issues including statutes, rules and regulations on the federal and state level that may impact the benefits provided?

    We partner with Jackson Lewis, recognized by US News as one of the top labor law firms in the nation.  Through Jackson Lewis we provide timely and topical alerts, quarterly newsletters and monthly webinars.  In addition to Jackson Lewis we partner through the International Foundation for a constant source of regulatory and legislative information.

  • What involvement does Foundation Strategies have with the completion of Form 5500s and compliance testing?

    We assist clients in filing Form 5500.  We will gather the 5500 Schedules from the carriers, complete the necessary forms, and review the forms with our clients to provide a set of “ready-to-sign” 5500 Forms.  We also produce a draft of the SAR.

  • What is Foundation Strategies philosophy on accepting contingency/override compensation from insurers relative to the placement of our programs?

    Full disclosure has been and continues to be a committed policy at FSI.  Each year, in late February or early March, we release a letter specific to each client detailing any and all compensation received on their behalf.  This includes clients for whom we are paid on a retainer directly from the client.  Honesty builds trust and trust is the cornerstone of any relationship.  

  • Why should our firm select Foundation Strategies?

    What differentiates us from our competitors is our proven proactive Plan Management approach.  We continuously communicate and collaborate with our clients to prepare for the future and to prevent any unwelcome surprises.  Our processes are comprehensive, well-established, and fully-integrated into our day-to-day activities.

    We meet with our clients at least monthly to review financials and provide updates on our issues log.  Our continuous financial monitoring and issues log prevent minor issues from escalating into major issues.  We conduct quarterly meetings with the client and vendors to review plan performances.

    We believe in functioning as an extension of our client’s benefit team.  We do not just wait for our client to contact us when problems occur, but attempt to uncover and resolve problems to maximize our client’s limited resources.

    We are also well-advanced compared to our competitors with regards to our financial technical capabilities.  Our staff members are highly skilled in the areas of underwriting and data analytics.  This analytical skill set is critical in ensuring that our clients get the best value for the services provided.  We have been commended not only by our clients, but also noted by many vendors for our ability to negotiate and resolve issues based on our analytical competencies.  We have also been contracted by major consulting firms and brokers to perform financial and analytical reviews of some of their projects.