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Jeff Griffin

Jeff Griffin

Founder & President

Jeff is a 25-year veteran of the employee benefits industry and is the Founder and President of the JP Griffin Group.  Jeff established the JP Griffin Group six years ago to fuse together the art and science of benefits management – the analytical rigor required to make well-informed decisions, married with the behavioral sciences required to affect positive change.

Jeff also established the JP Griffin Group to address aspects of the field of employee benefits which he felt were being tremendously underserved by the brokerage community. These neglected areas included the failure of fellow brokers to; put employer interests before their own, provide compliance support commensurate with the growing complexity of the U.S. healthcare system, and approach cost containment as a continuous and sustainable effort to “bend the cost curve” vs. simply an annual opportunity to negotiate for lower rates.

As President of the JP Griffin Group, Jeff is responsible for overall client satisfaction, vendor management and renewal processes. Jeff has extensive experience working with all types of medical benefit programs and his experience includes extensive involvement with fully insured and self-funded programs. He currently holds insurance licenses in 47 states.

His focus these days is on helping our clients take advantage of opportunities brought about by the Affordable Care Act, as well as the rapid and disruptive advances in benefits enrollment, hr administration, and wellness technologies.

Jeff is often invited to speak at regional and national business forums on the financial impact and compliance risks of healthcare reform to small and mid-market businesses.

Prior to the JP Griffin Group, Jeff spent nearly a decade on the carrier side, at UNUM, before becoming an independent broker. Jeff was also a partner at DBG Benefit Solutions.

Jeff holds a degree in finance from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. When he’s not in the office, you might find Jeff playing guitar, enjoying a round of golf, or hunting and fishing up north.

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Author's Posts

2022 IRS Contribution Limits For Tax-Advantaged Employee Benefit Programs (Consolidated)

Jeff Griffin

The IRS has finally announced adjustments to 2022 contribution limits on various tax-advantaged health and dependent care spending accounts, retirement plans, and other employee benefits such as adoption assistance and transportation benefits. Many of these contribution limits, though not all, are indexed to cost-of-living adjustments.

Together, these combined announcements by the IRS detail 2022 adjusted limits to the amounts employees can tuck away pretax into Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), transportation benefits, and retirement plans such as 401(k)s.

While IRS limits for HSAs and HDHPs are required, by law, to be announced by June 1st, limits for these other pretax savings vehicles always seem to come so late in the year that many employers have already completed their employee benefits open enrollments.

Employers who have already completed open enrollment for 2022 have two choices when it comes to communicating these updates; 1) they can do nothing, since there isn't an obligation to make the maximum election amounts available to employees, or 2) they can reopen the enrollment process and let employees who want to increase their elections do so before December 31st, for calendar year plans.

What follows is a summary of the new IRS limits;

Read More
Topics: Compliance, Employee Communications, HSAs, Retirement Planning, HDHPs, FSAs

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[Employer Survey Results] COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates, Testing Plans, and Premium Surcharges

Jeff Griffin

From Texas to Florida to Montana, state Governors and legislators are trying to get ahead of the federal government's final drafting of vaccine mandates for large employers.

Through executive orders banning these mandates and pleas to state legislatures to pass more enduring laws, several states are staged for a showdown with the federal government. Nevertheless, while this face-off is headed to the courts for resolution, several large employers are already weighing in.

Both Southwest Airlines and American Airlines have already stated they will proceed with the vaccination mandates. The two Texas-based carriers believe the federal mandate supersedes Republican Governor Greg Abbott's barring of COVID-19 vaccine mandates by any entity, including private employers.

So how will Arizona employers respond? We posed that question to over 250 Arizona employers. Here are the results.

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White House Announces Vaccination Requirements for Large and Mid-Size Employers

Jeff Griffin

Nearly 100 million workers, or two-thirds of the U.S. workforce, will be impacted by new vaccine requirements announced by President Biden yesterday. 

Prompted by a surge in COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths - most especially among the unvaccinated - the requirement stipulates that employers with 100 or more employees require their workforces to be vaccinated or undergo weekly Covid-19 testing.

While it’s expected to be challenged in the courts, this new requirement is part of a six-point initiative the White House laid out yesterday to boost vaccinations, increase access to testing, and broaden the availability of Covid-19 treatments.

Final details of the plan will come by way of an "emergency temporary standard" issued in the next few weeks by the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Businesses that don’t comply may face fines of up to $14,000 per violation. 

Per yesterday’s announcement, workers will be considered vaccinated if they receive a single Johnson & Johnson dose or two doses of the vaccines from Moderna or Pfizer. It’s unclear how a booster shot might play into things if/when approved by federal regulators.

Here are additional details of the plan.

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Topics: COVID-19

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Employer Vaccination Mandates and Medical Premium Surcharges

Jeff Griffin

Many employers are struggling to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates among their workforce, concerned not only about the safety of the workforce but also the costs of COVID-19 treatment that could be avoided through vaccination.

Some, like Delta Airlines, are turning to higher premium costs, or a surcharge, for any group health plan participants who remain unvaccinated. This decision by Delta, taken once an FDA-approved vaccine came on the market, should by no means be interpreted as a full-throated endorsement of this action. In fact, it’s quite likely that Delta’s decision will be tested in the courts.

Challenges are likely to come in three areas: wellness positioning, surcharge amounts, and possible discrimination. Nevertheless, Delta’s decision has prompted some employers to consider doing something similar.

Here are issues employers need to consider if they decide to take similar action.

Read More
Topics: Compliance, Cost Containment, wellness, COVID-19

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Shopping for Healthcare Services - 8 More Ways to Save Through Pricing Transparency

Jeff Griffin

As employee benefits consultants, we take our responsibility seriously to educate employers and employees on resources available to help reduce employee benefits program costs and out-of-pocket healthcare expenses.

This is especially true for those enrolled in High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs), but even for those who aren’t. For without any effort, as a collective, to become more price-conscious consumers, healthcare providers will have no reason to reign things in.

In a recent blog, we discussed how consumers can save on prescription medications, including comparison shopping, manufacturer rebates and discounts, drug substitution, pill splitting, bulk buying, mail-order, and more.

As a complement to that blog post, today we’ll discuss various ways consumers can save on healthcare services and procedures. After all, when combined, hospitals and physician/clinical services account for 48% of healthcare expenses.

With nearly half of medical expenses centered around these areas, it makes sense for healthcare consumers to focus on these cost centers as target-rich environments for possible savings.

Read More
Topics: Cost Containment, Consumer Driven Healthcare

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8 Ways Employers and Employees Can Save On Prescription Medications

Jeff Griffin

With over half of today's workforce enrolled in high-deductible health plans (51%), a majority of insured individuals are now on the hook for deductibles of at least $1,400. In addition, those with family coverage are responsible for at least $2,800.

While these higher deductibles are offset by cheaper monthly medical premiums and often by employer contributions to Health Savings Accounts (HSA), HDHP plans are nevertheless structured in such a way as to promote heightened "healthcare consumerism."

Judging by the sticker shock most consumers experience the first time they pay for medical services or prescription drugs without a copay, this heightened awareness of the "true cost of care" seems to be making an impact. As a result, consumers are indeed becoming more proactive about shopping for services and comparing prices, just as they would for any other consumer good.

Many employers, especially those that are self-funded, encourage this type of behavior since it can help them control costs and ultimately save significant dollars for both the company and its employees. (Employers with fully funded medical plans also have plenty of reasons to control their medical claims, though the potential savings often aren't recognized as immediately.)

And while consumers seem to have a love/hate relationship with HDHPs, many of those who take the time to fully calculate the total out-of-pocket cost of medical coverage and care realize that HDHPs, even with higher deductibles, can often save them money.

This isn't to say that HDHPs are for everyone, and if a company isn't helping its workforce adequately prepare for this change in consumer behavior, they are setting themselves up for failure.

Since we wouldn't want that to happen, here are eight suggestions to offer your workforce to help them save money on prescription drugs. In a future post, we'll offer tips on how to save money on common medical procedures.

Please share this information with your workforce. In doing so, you'll be helping them to become better consumers of healthcare and more satisfied enrollees in high deductible health plans.

Read More
Topics: Cost Containment, Prescription Drugs

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Vendor Contracts – Beware of These Five Pitfalls in Employee Benefits Agreements

Jeff Griffin

Anyone who has ever signed up for cellular phone service with a mobile phone carrier knows what a burdensome service agreement looks like. It's pages and pages of terms and conditions, often delivered by an anxious salesperson consumed with an expectation that the customer desiring service will sign the carrier agreement on the spot.

While consumer law often provides protections to the little guy when big corporations require the signing of contacts like this, the courts aren't nearly as understanding when it comes to agreements between business parties. In many of these cases, the courts expect business-to-business agreements to be fully enforced.

This is particularly unfortunate given what's occurred over the last decade in the employer-sponsored group benefits space. These agreements have morphed from straightforward, comprehendible documents to verbose and cryptic agreements that shift virtually all risk to the plan sponsor (e.g., the employer) while relieving the vendor from almost all meaningful liability.

Plan sponsors have seen some of this behavior abate in recent years, fueled by their successful push back against commercially unreasonable contract provisions. Furthermore, the DOL's Fiduciary Rule, which went into effect July 1, 2019, has also helped neutralize some of these more unreasonable provisions.

Nevertheless, employers should resist the temptation to view the provisions of their employee benefits vendor contracts as minor details. The wrong provisions could easily bankrupt a small to medium-size business or cripple the growth of a larger one.

Although every single word of every vendor contract needs to be reviewed carefully by not only you and your employee benefits broker, but also qualified legal counsel, here is a list of five common provisions that require special attention.

Read More
Topics: Compliance, Legal Review

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Attracting Top Remote Talent Post-Pandemic

Jeff Griffin

By 2025, almost 23% of the U.S. workforce is expected to work fully remote, according to Upwork. That’s nearly double the percentage of people who were working remotely (full time) prior to the pandemic. 

While this prediction might be lower than some employers are expecting, (and some employees may be hoping for), any shift of this magnitude, or greater, will fundamentally change the way employers attract and retain talent.

With remote work quickly becoming one of the most desirable benefits an employer can offer in today’s tight labor market, employers are already discovering that they are competing for top candidates not only locally, but globally. 

For some highly desirable employers, this can be seen as a huge boon to their recruiting efforts. For other employers, especially those in less desirable industries, or those with poor reputations and/or employee benefit plans, this should be viewed as a tremendous concern.

Here are some unique qualities of strong remote workers and best practices for attracting and recruiting them. 

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Topics: Company Culture, Recruiting, Retention

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Preventing Post-Pandemic Employee Turnover

Jeff Griffin

The COVID-19 pandemic is finally getting under control. As more Americans get vaccinated, states are gradually lifting restrictions, and life is returning to pre-pandemic normalcy. Finally, individuals can get to the tasks they’ve been postponing for more than a year.

Unfortunately for employers looking to retain employees, some employees are now ready to find new jobs.

Turnover is a common occurrence throughout any given year. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, year-over-year turnover trends drastically reduced. Workers instead clung to their jobs as a way to maintain financial security, having seen countless others get furloughed or laid off.

Now, as the economy opens back up, employers are pushing for employees to return to the workplace. But, a significant number of employees are unwilling to return to the status quo that was established pre-pandemic.

Read More
Topics: Company Culture, Employee Retention, COVID-19

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Post-Pandemic Baby Boom or Bust?

Jeff Griffin

Employers bracing for a post-pandemic baby boom can rest easy. A spike in post-pandemic pre- and postnatal healthcare costs, as well as an influx of maternity and paternity leaves, aren’t likely to come to fruition. 

While nationwide data on birth numbers isn’t expected to come until later this year, an Associated Press analysis of data from 25 states indicates that the anticipated baby boom looks more like a bust. Recently released data by the CDC and the U.S. Census Bureau also supports much of the same. 

The data indicates that births have fallen dramatically in many states during the coronavirus outbreak. Births for all of 2020 were down 4.3% from 2019. Still, more tellingly, births in December 2020 and in January and February 2021 (nine months or more after the spring 2020 lockdowns) were down 6.5%, 9.3%, and 10%, respectively, when compared with the same periods a year earlier.

Together these declines account for an 8% decline versus a year ago, making this period the lowest the birthrate has dropped in over 40 years. This is good news for employers since childbirth and newborn care are oftentimes the most expensive medical conditions billed to employer-based insurers.

That said, falling birthrates present a host of other challenges that dwarf high claims costs.  

Read More
Topics: FMLA, COVID-19

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