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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

Employee Benefits Built With Employee Retention In Mind

Jeff Griffin

Maintaining a competitive edge often comes down to retaining a talented workforce. The growing popularity of so-called “portable” employee benefits, such as Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), certainly hasn't made this any easier. Employers trying to entice workers to remain loyal may want to focus their efforts on providing benefits which are simply too good to surrender. Offering benefits that accrue significant value over time, or improve with tenure, will help keep employees from abandoning that progress for greener pastures, lest they have to start over someplace else.

How the ACA Impacted Employee Retention

Prior to the passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) there was considerably less job mobility for many Americans with pre-existing health conditions. The moment insurance carriers were barred from discriminating based on pre-existing conditions, the need for individuals to stay with a company for insurance reasons essentially vanished. Many employees who were previously stuck in their jobs for fear of losing benefits were now free to explore other opportunities.

Similarly, many budding entrepreneurs set off to start their own businesses while acquiring individual health insurance via the ObamaCare exchange or through other means. One could argue that this new freedom was a benefit to both employers and employees  after all, who really wants an employee who is sticking around just because of benefits? Nevertheless, this new found “employee mobility” has made the search for "sticky" benefits all the more important.

Read More
Topics: Cost Containment, Retention

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Employee Benefits Automation; Optimizing Online Enrollment Systems

Jeff Griffin

There are countless online employee benefits enrollment systems out there today. While each is designed to make our lives easier (employees, employers, insurance carriers, payroll providers and benefits advisors), some don't quite live up to the hype.

While the initial transition from paper enrollment to any one of these online enrollment systems typically yields tremendous upside from an efficiency, speed and data integrity perspective, it's highly unusual for an enrollment system to be fully optimized for peak performance at first launch.

Tweaking and perfecting the system in the quest to maximize performance and outcomes should be an ongoing activity within your organization. Most agree that the goal of optimizing these systems is to make them as easy and intuitive as possible for your employees to use, while also guiding educated, informed and appropriate employee benefit decisions for your workforce.

Much of what’s considered “best practice” in online benefits enrollment has been adopted from best practices in eCommerce. After all, enrolling in benefits these days isn't that far off from purchasing something off Amazon, comparing cars at AutoTrader, or configuring a laptop at Dell.

While this list is by no means complete, here are some best practices you should consider adopting to optimize the configuration of your online benefits enrollment system for peak performance.

Read More
Topics: Employee Benefits, Automation, open enrollment, Strategy, Decision Tools

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What Is Value-Based Insurance Design and Does It Lead To More Effective Employee Benefit Programs?

Jeff Griffin

In an effort to mitigate rising health insurance premiums and increase overall efficiency within the healthcare industry, an increasing number of insurers and employers are integrating value-based insurance design into their group health plans. 

For everyone involved -- including insurers, providers, employers and employees -- insurance plans integrating value-based design help to spotlight and migrate healthcare to services that have been proven to yield better results vs. those which are less effective.

Value-Based Insurance Design Recognizes Value

Value-based insurance design recognizes that not all healthcare services provide patients with the same level of value. Simply put, some health services are more effective than others.

These insurance plans seek to encourage employees to use services that have proven to be more effective and beneficial. Decisions on which services to encourage aren’t made on conjecture, but rather are based on research that shows which services have the best positive impact on patient health given the resources invested. In most cases, encouragement is created in the form of financial incentive (e.g. lower copays).

Some of the highest value services are outpatient treatments offered at clinics, and most value-based designs focus on promoting clinical services. There is a particular surgical example, however, that illustrates how these plan designs work.

Read More
Topics: Cost Containment, Education, Plan Design

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HSA Contribution Limits; What To Watch-out For When Families Have Multiple Accounts

Jeff Griffin

An increasing number of married employees are obtaining health insurance coverage through their own plans rather than their working spouses’.

Regardless of whether this reflects sound economic strategy (depending on employer contributions), personal preference, or is the result of spousal carve-outs instituted by employers as a cost-mitigation strategy, having two working spouses each go on their own individual high-deductible health plans (HDHP) increases the chance of overfunding health savings accounts (HSAs). This is not unlike the situation some married couples find themselves in when they accidentally overfund their Dependent Care FSA by each accidentally maxing out their contributions through their individual employers.

HSA Contribution Limits for 2019

Unlike last year when the IRS adjusted HSA contribution limits multiple times during the year, the 2019 HSA contribution limits are set and fairly straightforward. They are as follows:

  • $3,500 self-only contribution limit
  • $7,000 family contribution limit
  • $1,000 catch-up limit for people age 55 and over

These represent a $50 increase for individuals and a $100 increase for families compared to last year’s numbers. The catch-up limit has remained unchanged. (All of these figures include both employer and employee contributions.)

When just one person is contributing to an HSA, these limits are easy to apply. A bank representative can explain the account to them and help them make contributions that don't exceed the applicable limit.

In situations that involve two spouses, however, staying within the contribution limit becomes a little more involved. 

Read More
Topics: Compliance, HSAs, HDHPs

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How Does Your Employee Benefits Package Stack-up? Our 2018 Employee Benefits Benchmarking Study Is Now Available

Jeff Griffin

It’s considered conventional wisdom that the fiercest competitors can be found in the world of professional sports. After almost 30 years working in employee benefits, I beg to differ.

Greatly exacerbated by today’s low unemployment rate, the competition for talent in the business world today is as fierce as I’ve ever seen it, most especially in the fields of construction, dining, cybersecurity, nursing, and finance, just to name a few. Bryce Harper and Tom Brady have nothing on today’s business professionals in charge of talent acquisition.

As if competing for customers wasn’t enough, companies often compete against each other for the same pool of talent, whether that be within specialized industries or simply within an overlapping geographic region.

In the quest to attract the best talent, employee benefits benchmarking is crucial. This practice allows employers to gauge their organization's position in terms of benefits versus the competition. Some companies regularly conduct benchmarking as part of a strategy of good governance, while others perform benchmarking in response to something specific, such as an acquisition, the need to fill a specific role, or the launch of a new division.

Introducing Our New Partnership & Benchmarking Study

This year the JP Griffin Group joined with United Benefits Advisors to produce the nation’s largest independent health plan benchmarking survey. In doing so, we’ve created the most comprehensive source of reliable benchmarking data for employers of all sizes.

Read More
Topics: Employee Benefits, Benchmarking, Recruitment

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Self-Funding For Small Business; A Way to Manage Healthcare Costs and Expand Options

Jeff Griffin

The popularity of self-funded group healthcare plans continues to rise. Already immensely popular with large employers, small businesses continue to embrace self-funding as a remarkably effective way to manage costs, navigate changing regulations, and expand medical plan options.

The genesis of self-funding’s popularity amongst smaller employers can be traced back to the Affordable Care Act. When the ACA was enacted back in March of 2010, its requirements prompted many small to mid-size companies to re-examine how they were offering - and funding - employee benefits.

Self-funding used to be considered an alternative funding method that was ONLY feasible for large companies who could take on greater risks and handle cash flow fluctuations in exchange for upside savings potential. Self-funding, after all, is a mechanism by which companies are essentially insuring themselves.

With the advent of the ACA, the benefits of self-funding expanded beyond just those of potential financial upside. The benefits of the transition are now far more reaching, and now benefit employers and employees alike.

Because of this, small and mid-size employers have been taking the plunge into self-funded group medical plans in large numbers. And as the industry has continued to evolve, self-funding among small groups has become quite common.

Here’s why:

Read More
Topics: self-funding, healthcare costs, small businesses, stop-loss insurance

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Rollovers, Grace Periods and Run-Outs: Important FSA Terms for Early in the Calendar Year

Jeff Griffin

There are three key FSA-related terms that every company which offers flexible spending accounts to their employees should review around this time of year.

While human resources professionals likely are well-aware of what FSA rollovers, grace periods and run-out periods are, employees frequently don’t know the difference between these (and sometimes don’t know they exist at all).

Rollovers: Letting Employees Use Some Previous Funds This Year

Rollovers are an optional feature that the IRS made available starting in plan year 2013 (plan year 2014 for plans with grace periods). Despite being strictly an optional feature that employers can elect or not elect to offer, rollovers have been widely adopted since they were first made available. Only 8 percent of employers who had FSA plans offered the option early on, but by 2015 it was adopted by 60 percent of employers with plans.

Read More
Topics: FSAs

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The State of the Union Address and What It Means For Employee Benefits

Jeff Griffin

Last week, President Donald Trump delivered the 2019 State of the Union Address (SOTU). The SOTU is an annual message delivered by the president to a joint session of Congress at the beginning of each year.

At this year’s SOTU, President Trump discussed issues that have the potential to impact the employee benefits industry, as well as employers offering healthcare and benefits to their employees. The issues he discussed included pre-existing conditions, lower prescription drug prices, and nationwide paid family leave.

While the SOTU is just a speech, often times packed with lofty aspirations, it does sometimes lead to policy. Here is a recap of what was addressed:

Pre-existing Condition Protection

In a departure from 2018 Department of Justice actions, President Trump announced in the address that people who have pre-existing conditions should receive protections. If the administration holds true to this goal, they will likely find cross-aisle support, as pre-existing condition patient protection was a key campaign issue in the midterm elections.

Read More
Topics: Paid Time Off (PTO), Legislation, Prescription Drugs, Pre-Existing Conditions

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Arizona’s New Mini-COBRA Requirements for Small Businesses (with Sample Notice & Side-by-Side Comparison Table)

Jeff Griffin

At the start of this calendar year, Arizona became the latest state to adopt a mini-COBRA law, which impacts small employers. The new law specifically applies to employer-sponsored medical plans issued or renewed on or after January 1, 2019. (Employers with plans that were issued or renewed prior to this date have a little more time to comply with the law.)

The law requires small employers – those that offer group health plans, including medical, dental and vision - to offer continuation coverage to eligible employees and qualified dependents who experience Qualifying Events that would typically result in a loss of coverage.

These events include such things as loss of employment (for reasons other than gross misconduct), divorce or separation from the covered employee, or death of the covered employee.

Employers impacted by this new legislation are those that have fewer than 20 employees for more than fifty percent of its typical business days during the prior calendar year.

Although the new mini-COBRA continuation coverage requirements are very similar to the Federal COBRA requirements that apply to larger employers, there are some key differences. We invite you to download our side-by-side comparison of COBRA and Arizona’s Mini-COBRA of how these requirements compare with one another.

Read More
Topics: Compliance, COBRA, Arizona Regulations

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Leaves of Absence - Do Employers Need to Provide Health Insurance During These Times?

Jeff Griffin

Employees who take qualifying leaves of absence are provided multiple protections by way of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act (USERRA), and many state laws.

The most well-known protection is the guarantee of the same or an equivalent job when employees return to work, but there are also other protections. For example, many of these laws stipulate employers’ obligations regarding health insurance during employees’ qualifying leaves of absence.

The following is a breakdown of FMLA, USERRA, and some general state laws with regards to employer-provided health insurance coverage.

FMLA and Health Insurance

In order to meet the requirements for an FMLA-qualifying leave of absence, employees must meet four criteria:

  • Have completed 12 months of work for the employer (not necessarily consecutively)
  • Have completed 1,250 hours of work in those 12 months
  • Work at a location where there are at least 50 employees present or within 75 miles
  • Have a qualifying event

There are many qualifying events, ranging from the birth or adoption of a child, to serious health conditions, to providing for family members who have serious health conditions. Having a family member called to active military duty also qualifies (and extends FMLA benefits from 12 to 26 weeks).

Read More
Topics: Compliance, Qualifying Life Events, FMLA, USERRA

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