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

Why Your Cost Saving Strategies On Employee Benefits Are Failing

Jeff Griffin

As the third or fourth largest line item on most business’ profit and loss statements, employee benefits have been under pressure for years. Rising costs have impacted both employers and employees, but cutting benefits or pushing more of the financial burden onto employees will only exacerbate hiring and retention struggles. And as employers have figured out by now, relying on a once a year negotiation with their medical carrier is by no means an effective or sustainable way to curb costs.

While putting all your eggs in one basket by attempting to contain employee benefits cost via an annual renewal negotiation is still more mainstream than the exception, employers would realize far more sustainable savings if they sat down with an employee benefits broker who is dedicated to year-round cost saving strategies. Additionally, renewal negotiations, which are still very much a part of cost containment, should not only be focused on price, but also on the multitude of contractual issues which, when thoroughly reviewed, can yield substantial cost savings.

The three areas we consider of greatest importance to sustainable employee benefits cost savings are 1) wellness through the identification and management of chronic conditions within an overall health plan, 2) high-dollar claims intervention, and 3) the effective purchasing of healthcare in the open market.

Wellness Through the Identification and Management of Chronic Conditions

When designed effectively, with targeted population health data to guide the way, wellness programs can be very effective in bringing down the overall cost of your employee benefits program. But wellness programs should not be solely focused on modifying behavioral health patterns such as smoking, lack of exercise, and poor eating habits. In fact, by promoting age appropriate screenings, preventative care participation, and medication adherence for chronic conditions, wellness plans can really pay off in the long run.

Chronic conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, depression, back pain, and heart disease represent a significant risk for an overall health program. These conditions present challenges in direct medical expenses as well as indirect costs such as lost productivity and absenteeism. In our experience, members with chronic conditions typically make up 25 percent of the overall population, but are responsible for 75 percent of overall healthcare spending. Programs geared towards disease management, medication/standard of care adherence, and unidentified conditions present the greatest opportunity for cost containment and large claim mitigation in employee benefits programs.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Cost Containment, Education

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How to Improve Employee Medication Adherence & Why It’s Critical To Your Benefits' Budget

Jeff Griffin

When working on cost containment solutions, many employers completely overlook a critical component that could secretly be costing them tens of thousands of dollars: medication adherence. Medication nonadherence is associated with a higher rate of hospitalization (and at a higher cost) than those compliant with their medication regimen.

It seems simple enough — people are prescribed medications and they take the necessary doses, right? Well no, not necessarily. Medication adherence is a complicated topic with multiple, unrelated causes that are difficult to pinpoint and treat. And unfortunately, this problem doesn’t actually have a simple solution. But nonetheless, it’s important for employers to understand what it is so they know how they can help — and how it affects their budgets.

What Is Medication Adherence?

Simply put, medication adherence is when patients properly follow directions for taking medications as written by a doctor or pharmaceutical company on the label. For example, many over the counter pain medications allow for one or two pills to be taken every four to six hours, but never more than so many in a 24-hour period. Some asthma medications require once daily doses, while others require two (morning and night), and others require four (two in the morning and two at night). In addition, many blood pressure and cholesterol medications are taken once daily.

Some medication requires a change in diet (such as avoiding certain foods, like grapefruit, which can counteract the drug) or have strict instructions on how to take the medicine, like not eating for a certain period of time after consumption. Many times, these food restrictions have to do with a body’s inability to absorb the medication or vitamins if certain foods are present in the patient’s system.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) there are three different forms of medication nonadherence:

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Cost Containment, Education, Behavioral Psychology, employee health, Pharmacy

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Sample Policies for Arizona's New Paid Sick Leave Law

Jeff Griffin

In the November 2016 general election, Arizona voters passed Proposition 206, which instituted an incremental increase in the state’s minimum wage, as well as mandated paid sick leave for all employees — not just full-time, but part-time, temporary, and seasonal workers as well. All HR professionals and business owners should be apprised to the changes this law will bring and what it means for themselves and their employees.

To assist with complying with the new law, we're providing you with sample paid sick leave policies, not only for employers with over 15 employees, but also for employers with under 15 employees. Feel fee to use these new sample policies in posters, updated employee handbooks, and wherever else you post your HR policies. Of course as always, you should consult with your legal council and benefits advisor to ensure accuracy and applicability to your business,*

Here's a recap of the new law:

Proposition 206: Paid Sick Leave

According to the new law, the paid sick leave portion of this policy will go into effect on July 1, 2017 (the increase in minimum wage began on January 1). Prop 206 requires that employers with 15 or more employees provide at least 40 hours of paid sick leave per year to every employee. This amounts to one week of paid sick leave per year, per employee, assuming an eight-hour work day.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Paid Time Off (PTO), Legislation, Arizona

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Senate's ObamaCare Replacement Bill Would End Employer Mandate

Jeff Griffin

Determined to pass health care legislation before the July 4th break, the Senate on Thursday night released a draft ACA replacement bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). As of this morning, at least five Republican Senators have said they won’t vote for the bill. GOP Senate leaders can only afford to lose two members of their 52-senator caucus in order for the bill to pass. (The loss of two would require Vice President Pence to cast the tie breaking vote, assuming not a single Democrat supports the bill.)

While passage as the bill stands now seems dubious, Republicans and the White House see this as one of the last chances they have to pass healthcare legislation before they can move on to tax reform, so amendments are likely to win back some of these Senators. That process, however, could push the vote to after the July 4 break. Still, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is a seasoned politician, and many pundits doubt he’d call for a vote before the recess if he didn’t have a few aces up his sleeve.

Let's look at several elements of the bill which are particularly pertinent to employers:

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Affordable Care Act, ACA, Legislation, PPACA

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If the Employer Mandate is Repealed, Should Companies Drop Employer-Sponsored Healthcare?

Jeff Griffin

President Trump promised to repeal ObamaCare on “day one”. While it’s going to take a little longer than he had planned, it does look inevitable that an overhaul to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will eventually pass both houses of Congress, even despite recent legislative setbacks.

One of the least popular provisions of the law, at least for employers, is the “employer mandate”, which requires certain employers with 50 or more “full-time equivalent” employees (FTEs) to provide an affordable healthcare plan. With the proposed law as it stands today, now in jeopardy, a pressing question is now looming over employers: if the employer mandate really is repealed, should they drop their health coverage?

The issue certainly isn’t cut and dry, with some believing that no matter what happens in Washington, employer-sponsored healthcare is dying and others predicting it will never really go away. Assuming the ACA’s employer mandate is repealed, every company will have an important decision to make, weighing the benefits and pitfalls of dropping coverage.

Repealing the Employer Mandate

Republican lawmakers have spoken on countless occasions about wanting to repeal the employer mandate. The Trump administration even ran on a platform of getting rid of it. In theory, this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but in practice, it’s more difficult than it seems. The employer mandate, after all, is the primary mechanism by which healthier people are brought into the overall risk pool, which is the only way a healthy insurance market works (healthy people subsidize the unhealthy, essentially). Without it, most experts predict that insurers would pull out of the healthcare exchanges and the entire program will collapse.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Affordable Care Act, ACA, Employer Mandate, Employee Retention

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The Pros and Cons of Telemedicine

Jeff Griffin

Cultivating a truly competitive employee benefits package can sometimes seem like an insurmoutable task. Most employers work in earnest to put in place the very best benefits they can afford, without compromising coverage. This is especially true when it comes to the medical portion of their program. Telemedicine, rapidly growing in popularity, is an excellent way to supplement a medical plan without driving up costs - but it does have some drawbacks as well. So what exactly is telemedicine, and is it a good fit for your company? 

What is Telemedicine?

Originally intended to reach people in remote locations, telemedicine has grown in popularity over the past decade. Telemedicine allows patients to speak to a doctor on the phone (and preferably, with video, as doctors can visually observe the patient). The doctor can diagnose minor health issues and even write prescriptions. If the doctor fears the issue at hand requires immediate medical attention, he or she can recommend the person go the nearest emergency room or urgent care.

Telemedicine is perfect for people who have a hard time getting an appointment with their primary care physician (PCP), people with newborns (who are likely to have a million questions), or those who are disabled and struggle to get to their PCP’s office. Simple medical devices in the home can even be used to help provide vitals and diagnostic information to the doctors so a more accurate diagnosis is possible.

Telemedicine is typically far cheaper than an office visit — for both the patient and the insurance company. In fact, there’s no copay for telemedicine, making it an attractive option for those with copays on the higher end of the spectrum (especially for specialists) or for those who might be tight on cash.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Telemedicine, HSAs

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Is Your High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) HSA Qualified?

Jeff Griffin

As healthcare costs rapidly started to rise in the 2000s, insurance companies started to push high deductible health plans, which came with lower monthly premiums, but higher than average deductibles. That trend has continued to the present day, where HDHPs (high deductible health plans) are as popular as ever among employers.

According to the
Kaiser Family Foundation, employers offering HDHPs with some kind of savings option has increased 25 percent over the past decade. In fact, 29 percent of workers covered by employer-sponsored health plans are now enrolled in a high deductible health plan.

One of the major perks of being enrolled in an HDHP is the ability for employees to open and contribute to an HSA (health savings account) — but what many employers (and employees) don’t realize is that not all health plans with high deductibles are eligible for this benefit. So how do you know if your high deductible health plan is HSA qualified?

What is an HSA?

An HSA is a tax-advantaged savings account designated for qualifying health expenditures. This means that funds which employees, employers (or both) contribute to an HSA are not subject to tax, thereby lowering the participant's taxable income for the year. While participants can contribute any amount they like, the government caps tax-advantaged funds at $3,400 for individuals and $6,750 for families. 

For people who have experience with FSAs (flexible spending accounts), the concept is very similar. FSAs, designed to offset health and dependent care expenses, are sometimes made available through employer-sponsored benefit programs. The main difference is that funds contributed to an FSA  “expire” at the end of year in what’s called the “use it or lose it” rule. Net, if FSA participants don’t use their entire contribution, they forfeit whatever is left over.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, employee benefits broker, HSAs

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How to Get the Best Work Out of Your Employee Benefits Broker

Jeff Griffin

Some companies regrettably try to "go it alone" when it comes to crafting healthcare and employee benefits programs for their workforce. Perhaps because of a previous broker relationship which they feel didn't bear much fruit, some companies discount the impact a talented employee benefits broker can have on their business. Others fear that the services of a broker will be too expensive, or that it will be difficult to find one they can trust. Despite these objections, most HR professionals will concede that any decent employee benefits adviser knows far more about healthcare and the field of employee benefits than they ever could.

It's true that some employee benefits brokers are essentially "order takers" — simply taking instruction from employers who think they know best and/or are looking to get their benefit selections done as quickly as possible. The really good ones, however, will help companies approach their benefits programs in a highly strategic fashion, thereby driving impactful investment decisions while at the same time identifying critical savings opportunities.

Developing this symbiotic relationship with your benefits broker is a two-way street; these consultants and advisors can’t do all the work alone. To maximize impact, they need your assistance and cooperation. In that regard, here are a few things you can do to ensure you’re getting the best work out of your employee benefits broker — not just during open enrollment, but all year round.

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Topics: Employee Benefits

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Possible Healthcare Legislation Changes and How They Could Affect Employers

Jeff Griffin

Since the inauguration of a new president in January, healthcare legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been a hot topic of conversation, not only among employers and healthcare providers, but many American citizens as well. Multiple rumors have been making their way down from Capitol Hill, but it appears as though we finally have some concrete ideas from House Republicans — even if they aren’t fully fleshed out in terms of finances

Regardless of what healthcare legislation is passed, it is largely expected that the employer mandate will be repealed, which will have some sort of effect on many American employers. Let’s take a look at the proposed healthcare legislation and other documents from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to determine what employers might be able to expect from lawmakers in the coming months.

The New GOP Healthcare Bill

On Monday, March 6, 2017, House Republicans released what is being collectively referred to as the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which is intended to partially repeal, but also replace the ACA. As anyone might expect in a heated political climate, the proposed healthcare legislation has been met with mixed reviews.

The proposed bill would keep some of the popular components of the ACA, such as the provisions that prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions or capping the amount of benefits received in one year (or a lifetime). In addition, people would be allowed to remain on their parents’ health insurance plans up to age 26.

While pre-existing conditions would no longer be a reason insurance companies could deny coverage, they would be allowed to charge up to 30 percent more for enrollees who let their coverage lapse. Coverage lapses are common among those suffering from chronic illnesses or serious medical conditions because they are likely to miss work for an extended period of time. Since the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) only protects workers for 12 weeks, those receiving extensive treatments (such as chemotherapy) are some of the most commonly affected by lapses.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Employer Mandate, Legislation

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The History of Healthcare in America

Jeff Griffin

America’s history of healthcare is a bit different than most first world nations. Our staunch belief in capitalism has prevented us from developing the kind of national healthcare the United Kingdom, France, and Canada have used for decades. As a result, we have our own system of sorts that has evolved drastically over the past century and is both loved and hated.

Whichever end of the spectrum you lean toward, there’s no doubt about it: the history of healthcare in America is a long and winding road. How we got to where we are in 2017 is quite a story, so let’s dive in.

The History of Healthcare: From the Late 1800’s to Now

The Late 1800’s

The earliest formalized records in America’s history of healthcare are dated toward the end of the 19th century. The industrial revolution brought steel mill jobs to many U.S. cities, but the dangerous nature of the work led to more and more workplace injuries.

As these manufacturing jobs became increasingly prevalent, their unions grew stronger. In order to shield their union members from catastrophic financial losses due to injury or illness, they began to offer various forms of sickness protections. At the time, there was very little organized structure and most decisions were made on a trial and error basis.

The 1900’s

With the turn of the century came a push for organized medicine, led in part by the American Medical Association (AMA), which was growing stronger and gained 62,000 physicians during the coming decade. But because the working class wasn’t supportive of the idea of compulsory healthcare, the U.S. didn’t see the kind of groundswell that leading European nations would see soon after.

The 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909), believed health insurance was important because “no country could be strong whose people were sick and poor.” Even so, he didn’t lead the charge for stronger healthcare in America. Most of the initiative in the early 1900’s was led by organizations outside the government.

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Topics: Employee Benefits

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