Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Describe Benefit Development Group's history.

Benefit Development Group (BDG) was founded February 24, 1986, by Holland Powell. BDG has grown organically rather than through acquisition as many other firms have. Our firm while smaller (7 Full time employees) than most, has held national status for many years. BDG has been a leader with PruCare, United HealthCare, the Blue Cross Blue Shield system and all leading ancillary providers. BDG currently serves customers in over 35 states ranging from Alaska to North Carolina and Wyoming to Arizona along with many points in between. The vast majority of our employer groups are multi- site/state and depend on BDG to monitor service and supply benefit services where ever needed.

We have been strictly a fee based firm for over 10 years; far longer than most. BDG believes in full transparency, never sells products and only offers advice that is to the benefit of the employer and employee.

Question: From which office will my account be serviced and what services does Benefit Development Group offer?

Service will be provided from our headquarters in Selma, Alabama, where we have full voice and video conference ability. We provide all services including:

  • Full Consultative
  • Healthcare Analytics
  • Audit Services
  • Benchmarking
  • Network Evaluation
  • Actuarial Consulting
  • Alternative Modeling
  • Full Reporting
  • Medical Management
  • Health Plan Management Reporting
  • Prescription Drug Reporting
  • OLAP Drill Down of Claims Data
  • Large Claim Disease Profiling
  • Annual Open Enrollment Meetings
  • Full Employee benefits online Portal
  • Online onboarding – off boarding
  • EDI connections to Carriers
  • Monthly consolidated billing service for all insured benefits.
  • Split by location
    • Single remittance
  • Collections by location, if desired
  • Carrier monthly reconciliations and remittance completed
  • In House HRA/FSA/HAS administration, card fee
  • Online administrative tools
  • Complete COBRA Service
  • New Employee Communication
    • Terminated Employee Communication
  • Monthly collections
  • HR and Legal Compliance Assistance

Question: Describe Benefit Development Group's history.

Being a small shop with limited customers, BDG does not assign a single representative but rather trains all staff on each customer. While each staff member delivers unique talents to the service of all our customers, we believe that having the depth of the entire officestaffbetter serves our employer groups. Your team will be:

Holland Powell

Founder & CEO

David Cothran


David has been an employee of BDG for 18 years and was made partner two years ago. As COO He has great knowledge of compliance, PPACA and billing issues. David was instrumental in building our consolidated billing system and COBRA program.

Duncan Hope


Duncan has been a partner in BDG for 2 years and has been associated with the firm for 6 years. Educated as an engineer, he maintains our online programs and computer network. Duncan builds the framework of our online benefits portal and then customizes the web site and produces reports required by employer.

Deborah Averette

Claims Manager

After working as an insurance clerk in a physician's office for 9 years, Deborah joined BDG 14 years ago. She can quote CPT codes chapter and verse. Deborah is an advocate for each member and takes time to explain complex issues in a simple manner. Her 100% resolution rate is a point of pride. She maintains excellent relationships with all credible insurance carriers and is loved by every HR department.

Paul Garner


Paul started his career as a banker and joined BDG to operate Beneflex Solutions. We realized that this is a banking function rather than claims and he has flawlessly managed thousands of employees for 7 years. BDG brought this service in house as we could not find a properly priced vendor that provided the level of service we demand for our customer.

Jessica Hope

Office Manager

Jessica (Duncan's Spouse) is responsible for general office function and daily mail. She assists as needed with data input.

BDG is not a general agency with a benefits division; it is all we do. It also explains why we have 100% customer retention; we build relationships with depth of knowledge about your culture and your employees,simply something a large national firm cannot provide.

Question: What is Benefit Development Group's target size employer?

BDG has a target market of the following:

  • Privately held
  • 100 – 5,000 employees (current average group size is 315 FTE)
  • Multi-site/state

Question: What is BDG's service philosophy and how do you measure service quality?

BDG does not accept every customer. We look for a culture fit from the "C" suite and the HR department; once found we form a personal relationship. The best measurement of service quality is our 100% client retention rate over the past 4 years.

Question: Describe approach to managing the annual renewal process.

BDG starts the renewal process 120 days prior to renewal. Process is completed no later than 60 daysprior to renewal. With every renewal, insurance products are taken to market even if under a rate guarantee. We do not usually recommend a plan change with less than 10% savings unless service issues have been experienced during the most recent policy period.

BDG maintains the online benefit system for all of its employer groups so required data is consistently up to date and insurance products can be taken to market with minimal effort from HR staff. Utilizing direction from HR and the "C" suite we deliver benefit levels that are competitive on a local, state and national level as employee recruitment often takes a national scope.

The online system is often utilized by employers for open enrollment and upon request is supplemented by onsite employee group meetings. More often than not, the online system is preferred by employees as videos and brain shark presentations can explain all of the benefits and can be viewed by other family members at home. This removes the pressure of an immediate decision and gives every option, including the new exchange, to employees.

BDG makes a practice of only working with highly rated insurance providers. We believe that service and network availability are more important than the lowest pricing. An unhappy employee changes a benefit to a burden in the HR department. BDG has relationships on the national level with insurance providers in multiple states. While currently all of your employees are located in a single state this is critically important should you acquire an out of state location.

Question: What is BDG's ability to provide expertise and experience in the areas of health benefit plan analysis and design, including benchmarking?

As a United Benefit Advisor Partner Firm (UBA,www.ubabenefits.com) we utilize the largest employee benchmarking tool in the country. Industry, state and national benchmarks are used for employers in the size category of each customer. This data is supplied by the benefit advisor rather than the insurance provider creating a far more accurate analysis for employer.

Further, we utilize actuarial and claims analysis software to help choose the best path for each customer. Currently the two most utilized programs are the PPACA calculator which utilizes each employer's census and plan data to discover best solution to alternatives surrounding recent legislation. With this data we can better recommend actuarial value of the plan(s) that should be offered and predict future cost with alternative plans. It is also a useful tool in deciding how best to manage employee hours to avoid penalties that are charged post period. Our goal is to avoid all penalties.

As the health care industry continues to change, Benefit Development Group approaches employer groups who are interested in obtaining meaningful information to evaluate the cost drivers, trends, and savings opportunities associated with their medical and prescription drug benefits. In addition, we work to evaluate the impact of various plan management initiatives and to forecast the impact of future plan changes.

Benefit Development Group provides employer groups with tools that will provide consistent year-to-year data, reporting formats and comparative benchmarks. We will also provide meaningful information without tremendous expense or complexity, and together we can work with your data in a continuous, interactive manner as plan management issues arise.

Question: How does BDG help with administrative/technical issues with vendors?

BDG will handle all issues with insurance providers. We are an advocate for our customers and ask that any issue be brought to us. HR departments have far more functions than just solving insurance issues. BDG has great depth of knowledge in administrative tasks and can resolve an issue far more quickly.

However, our online system which utilizes electronic data interface with insurance providers eliminates the vast majority of administrative issues. Avoiding all of the paper and losing nothing in transmission/translations reduces error rates to the bare minimum. BDG can interface with payroll systems to further insure best compliance and perform audits of payroll deductions to enrollment.

BDG also provides consolidated billing services for fully insured plans eliminating the need for HR or accounting to reconcile multiple billings. A single remittance to BDG settles all billings and is far more accurate.

Question: Does BDG publish newsletters and other informative publications that are routinely provided to customers?

BDG provides multiple monthly publications to employers keeping them up to date on not only PPACA regulations but HR and legal issues as well.BDG utilizes multiple sources for these publications and sends them via email.

Question: Describe BDG's capabilities with regards to employee communications.

BDG has moved to a paperless system with an employee benefits web portal that is unique to each customer.

This system makes each employee benefits available 24/7/365 and is unique to each employee. During Open Enrollment, a new window is available during the OE period allowing OE changes to be made. Avatars and videos can be included to enhance the OE process. We have found this system better explains the benefits as an employee can move at their own pace and take the information home should another family member be the decision maker for the household. In the portal, a calculator includes not only the payroll deductions, but also the employer portion. This shows the real value of the benefits.

Full reporting capability and email reminders to those who have not completed the OE process are sent on a regular basis.Once OE is closed, the portal is available and includes a full benefit statement. And should the employee have a qualifying event, the changes are made in the system by the employee.This avoids the stacks of paper and the errors that occur in translation to insurance carries and payroll deduction as all systems are connected and work with electronic data interchange. Of course, all employee changes must be approved by the HR department prior to implementation.

Should the employer desire, a BDG representative will make on-site visits for group meetings and instruction on the system.

Question: Describe the issues and challenges facing employers in the coming year.

As with all employers planning for the 2014 benefit year, each will have a plethora of challenges due to the full implication of PPACA. It will be a difficult task for any small staffed HR department of a sub 1,000 employee employer to tackle the requirements along with other duties without increasing staff, purchasing expensive analytical software and online enrollment to prepare for automatic enrollment. Issues and challenges are:

  • Has the actuarial value of offered plans been properly calculated
    • Does it meet standards of minimal essential benefits
      • Which compliance method will be used
    • Has pre-existing language been modified
  • Do you combine the groups
    • If combined, should the larger group self-insure
    • Does current MLR justify risk
    • With group size, can fixed costs remain under 15% FI guideline
  • Has dual option plan been considered
    • Has a bronze level plan been discussed to meet affordability issues
    • Does it meet cost sharing requirements
    • Have actuarial values been verified
    • Has it been verified against state benchmark plan
    • Have plans been modified for additional required pediatric coverage
  • Need to review wellness plans
    • Does tobacco rating meet guidelines
    • If fully insured, what is ROI when carrier pooling levels are included
  • In planning for next year, have new fees and taxes been calculated
    • Reinsurance fee of $63 per Member Per Year
    • Insurer Tax (which is passed on in fully insured) of 2.2%
    • Comparative Effectiveness Fee (PMPY $1 2013 / $2 2014)
    • Has best method of member count been determined
      • Actual Count method
      • Snapshot method
      • Member Months Method
      • Have waiting periods been adjusted to meet guidelines
      • What method will be used to enroll and inform employees
        • Is a system in place to automatically enroll employees
        • Does system have an opt out form
        • Does system assist in offering exchange coverage as an option
      • Has a cost analysis of payroll deductions been completed to test for affordability issues
        • If self-insured, do FIE meet guidelines
        • Has employee work hours study been completed
          • Has subsidy impact study on low wage earners been completed
          • Has handbook been updated to reflect new FTE standards
        • Which 4980H(b) safe harbor method will be used

      Benefit Development Group manages benefits for privately held employer groups nationwide - both fully insured and self-insured plans. BDG will exceed expectations.

Question: Should an employer choose to work with BDG, what assistance is given in transition?

As BDG works net of all commissions, we would request a broker of record on all current benefits on the current plan. The corresponding rate reductions would be immediate if commissions are included in current offering. We need the ability to request claims data from current carriers so that it may be properly analyzed. Of course, any contractual obligations for fee based work would be continued by the incumbent until contract period was completed.

Decisions to combine the groups would take some time. Combining different business units is often a good idea and with common ownership provisions in PPACA is certainly necessary to insure both are in compliance.

Question: Describe BDG's analytic capabilities/tools used to assist with plan management.

In 2013, to properly prepare for the onslaught of regulation in 2014, a complete health care reform analysis must be performed. Our actuarial tool uses standard employer and global assumptions along with detailed census data to create a complete report outlining enrollment and financial summaries, employee cost and migration, and plan value along with predictions on the "Cadillac" tax. Our program uses a national data base of plan cost and trends rather than simply local data.

Once PPACA compliance and plan has been established, we use claims reporting and analysis service that breaks down claims data into a useable format to help predict future cost and trends. Using Kaiser Family Foundation for plan cast and Truven Health Analytics for claims, we can drill down into claims cost against national and regional benchmarks, uncover root causes if rising cost, complete "what if" analyses to determine the effectiveness and magnitude of plan design changes. BDG will take complex information and deliver easy to use and easy to understand data to help you make faster and more effective decisions.

With claims data in a more usable format, BDG will then review current rates and renewals with our Plan Advisor and Renewal Estimator program. This actuarial tool produced and reviewed by master actuaries utilizes regional and national trend data, reasonable administrative cost and other expenses to determine fully insured rates which can be used to verify renewals or set fully insured equivalents in self-insured plans. While pooling points and reserves can be adjusted this tool keeps plans on the best path to savings success. This calculation is completed twice per year to keep the plan advised of developing trends from claim and census data

Question: Describe BDG's resources and process for monitoring regulatory and legislative developments at both the state and federal level and how this information is communicated to customers.

BDG employs several different methods of gathering detailed information. Delivery methods vary from email newsletters, internet self-service and daily live support. Below are a few examples:

PPACA Advisor – A list of changes along with a complete updated guide to these ever-changing regulations are sent via email within days of new information. This insures that the "C" suite and HR department are as up to date as possible on health care reform.

HR Elements Newsletter – This publication shared by all United Benefit Advisors delivers up to date information on trends within the HR community including state and federal regulation changes.

Employer Webinars – These webinars are available to all customers of BDG and are sponsored on a regular basis. Often they are hosted by law firms specializing in labor and ERISA. While most are national in scope, there are state specific forums when significant new regulation is passed.

THINK HR – This valuable live and online tool offers complete support for state and federal regulations along with all other HR needs. Services include:

  • Live Support 8am – 7pm every business day
  • Full library of state and federal guidelines, employment law, compliance guides and checklist are available at any time along with over 200 courses to hone skills.
  • This service can be utilized by HR, "C" suite, managers and supervisors with no charge.

Question: Does BDG assist clients in filing their form 5500s?

Yes, we make a practice of assembling all required data and will complete the 5500 online as a qualified preparer when requested for health and welfare plans. Employers will still be required to electronically sign off the completed form.

Question: What resources does BDG use for benchmarking? Does BDG maintain a national database of employers across all major sectors and employee populations?

YES… BDG is a United Benefit Advisors Partner Firm. We have access to the largest benchmarking tool in the country; only UBA member firms have this tool. Using data from nearly 18,000 employer plans nationwide, it compares your group to national, regional size and industry. This tool is compiled of data input from consultants, not health plans, making it far more accurate when comparing your benefits to that of others. See website below for more details: http://www.ubabenefits.com/Wisdom/UBASurveys/tabid/230/Default.aspx

Question: How does BDG approach wellness plans?

Wellness is not effective with a one size fits all approach. BDG listens to the HR department who best knows the needs of the employees. Our recommendations will vary depending on budget and expected ROI. An in-depth analysis of the claims trends, use/abuse is the best indicator of wellness direction and can change each year making a dynamic approach to wellness the most effective.

Rather than a single source for wellness, we outsource this service to best fit the culture of the employer. Local vendors are best for onsite approach such as biometrics and health screenings with national vendors offering health coaching and telemedicine, to name a few.

Question: Does BDG offer any continuing education opportunities for customers?

Yes, we have CE opportunities for clients on a quarterly basis. BDG provides a complimentary HRCI webinar for anyone seeking PHR/SPHR credits (or just for general interest.)

Anytime – BDG's ThinkHR training library has 200+ courses for staff/managers/employees. CE credits are not available with these courses because the courses are designed for staff, and not HR professionals. The web courses are diverse, ranging in subject matter from business ethics to harassment prevention and safety/wellness topics.

UBA Webinars are also available on a regular basis. See web site below for more details http://www.ubabenefits.com/Wisdom/HRWebinarSeries/tabid/245/Default.aspx?hsCtaTracking=98d67ab1-b934-4c5b-bb12-4e96f27127de%7Cb50c9f94-693e-483e-a689-2740c73dd0aa

Question: Describe services available to assist with administration.

BDG does not outsource these services and includes them in our value offering. BDG will not quote a low fee only to start adding options and driving up the price. All of our services are included at no additional charge.

Our online enrollment system is built in house and can quickly be changed by Duncan Hope, IT engineer. Unique websites are on secure cloud servers with redundant backup insuring they are available 24/7/365.

Our proprietary consolidated billing system isbuilt around the needs of multi -site/state employers and available in several different forms that best suit the needs of HR and accounting.

All COBRA compliance for new and terminated employees is done by our systems.

Our wholly owned subsidiary Beneflex Solutions manages the FSA/HRA/HSA offerings in house.

Question: What HR consulting services does BDG offer outside of benefits?

BDG includes the use of Think HR with its services. There is no additional charge for this service. The Think HR platform offers expert HR advice and answers to complex HR questions.

Our customers have access to:

  • HR Hotline – You can speak directly to SPHR/PHR certified consultants, and get immediate guidance.
  • HR Library – This tool provides access to thousands of online tools, forms, templates and guides.
  • HR Training – Over 200 courses in employment, safety, harassment, environmental, customer service and wellness. Quarterly classes are available that offer CE credit.

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