Winter 2021 Issue

News

Winter 2021 Issue

2021: New Year New Goals

If you hate setting annual goals, relax, you’re not alone!

By Shawna Bertalot, CIC, ACI – WisMed Assure President


In an article titled “10 Top New Year’s Resolutions for Success and Happiness”, INC. Media added this subtitle: “Studies show that about 60 percent of us make New Year’s resolutions each year—sadly, only about 8 percent of us achieve them.”

If your employer requires you to set annual goals, but it feels tedious, overwhelming, and not very meaningful to you, relax, you’re not alone!

Because we’re on a mission to protect and accelerate your success, we asked our team to share their secrets for successfully achieving the goals they set. And, we’ve kept it simple by selecting the Top Three:

Read more…


Group 1a Vaccinations

The Wisconsin Medical Society knows how important it is for group 1a physicians and staff to have access to COVID-19 vaccinations and has prioritized working with local public health departments and multiple state agencies to get access for independent physicians who are not employed by or affiliated with a large health care system. The Society is working to ensure all Wisconsin physicians and their teams can access the vaccine.

The Society proactively contacted local health agencies and received a variety of information, with different county and municipal health departments falling into a wide spectrum of preparedness to help match physicians and their group 1a staffs with registered COVID-19 vaccinators. We created a Society webpage for this important information and will update it as we receive updates.

Contact information for all county public health counties can be found here – click your county on the Wisconsin map to find contact information.

Society Achieves Extension of IPFCF Premium Holiday

Wisconsin Medical Society CEO Bud Chumbley, MD, MBA, has successfully advocated for an extension of the Injured Patients and Families Compensation (IPFCF) premium holiday through mid-2022.

This will be the second straight year physicians, CRNAs, and hospitals enrolled in the IPFCF will realize significant savings. The action was taken at the December 16th meeting of the IPFCF Board of Governors, including Dr. Chumbley.

Read more…


Long-Term Care As part of Retirement Planning

By Kathy Mueller, CLU, ChFC, FIC, LUTCF – WisMed Assure Insurance Advisor

We all know the importance of figuring out how much we will need to live on in retirement and being able to save enough money to generate what we need.

Many people think Medicare pays for long term care… bad news; it doesn’t. While a few wealthier people can pay for long term care out of pocket, but most of us will not be able to do so.  

What is the solution? Click here to read more…


You Can Give Employees More at NO COST with Voluntary Benefits

By Chris Noffke, GBDS – VP of Employee Benefits

The good news is you can offer voluntary benefits at no cost or you can choose to pay for a portion of the premiums (e.g.: 10, 25, or even 50%). You can also make a flat dollar contribution and your employees can determine which benefits to apply it towards.

And, the timing may be advantageous as employees are experiencing a heightened state of concern because of COVID-19. A growing number are asking for additional benefits like life, disability, and dental insurance, along with wellness options.

If you are interested in looking into these options, the first thing to do is survey your employees.

Read more…


Taking Care of your Finances

New Year’s resolutions plus tax season; the perfect time to take care of your finances

By Mark Ziety, CFP®, AIF® – Senior Advisor, WisMed Financial  

If you are resolved to take the best possible care of your personal finances, there’s no better time than right now.

Here are some simple steps you can take to get started…


The Long-Term Care Time Bomb

By Tom Strangstalien – WisMed Assure Insurance Advisor

We all probably know someone whose estate has been wiped out by the exorbitant cost of long term care. During my years of serving the financial services industry, I have witnessed many of these unfortunate events, many times at the “crisis management” stage. To arrive at this stage, it is quite apparent the family’s long-term care plan was to do nothing to address the potential catastrophic financial issue. 

When creating your life’s financial goals and plan, don’t overlook this piece of the puzzle; it can potentially devastate everything you have worked for your entire life. Today, there are several innovative solutions you can use to build a bomb-proof bunker for your financial world.

Read more

The Long-Term Care Time Bomb

By Tom Strangstalien – WisMed Assure Insurance Advisor

We all probably know someone whose estate has been wiped out by the exorbitant cost of long term care. During my years of serving the financial services industry, I have witnessed many of these unfortunate events, many times at the “crisis management” stage. To arrive at this stage, it is quite apparent the family’s long-term care plan was to do nothing to address the potential catastrophic financial issue. 

When creating your life’s financial goals and plan, don’t overlook this piece of the puzzle; it can potentially devastate everything you have worked for your entire life. Today, there are several innovative solutions you can use to build a bomb-proof bunker for your financial world.

According to Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey, 69% of people turning age 65, approximately 7 out of 10, will need some form of long term care during their lifetime. This includes nursing home care, assisted living, home health care, or a combination thereof. In the State of Wisconsin, as illustrated by the Administration for Community Living, the cost of semi-private care in a nursing home is $8334 per month and private care is $9346 per month. (You can see these figures at longtermcare.acl.gov)

You are looking at potentially $100,000 per year! The average length of stay for men in a facility is 2.2 years, while women average 3.7 years. And, 20% of those who are age 65 or older, stay longer than five years. At the least, this can severely erode a family’s estate and, at worst, it can completely blow it up.

Times have changed… for the better!

In years past, the only solutions to protect one’s estate from this life event was to self-insure, purchase long term care insurance protection, or to roll the dice and gamble. It can be very intelligent to purchase long term care insurance, particularly when younger, to bomb proof your future financial well-being. The argument contrary to this type of planning has always been that you could end up spending the premium dollars over your lifetime and never need the policy protection (use it or lose it). Today, there are several additional options available, negating the risk of spending substantial dollars, and never using them.

Exponentially gaining in popularity are “Hybrid LTC Policies”; combining the benefits of a life insurance policy and long-term care protection. Simply stated, some or all of the life insurance benefit can be paid out for qualifying long term care costs. If the policy is not used, generally speaking, the life insurance value is paid out as a tax-free benefit to the beneficiaries upon death. Regardless, this planning offers protection to the estate, and keeps the dollars in the estate in a tax efficient manner.

Another alternative to the traditional long-term care insurance policy is “Asset-Based LTC”.  This planning involves setting dollars aside in an annuity contract. The contract provides two “buckets” of money; one on deposit accumulating growth, and the other providing protection for long term care. Only one bucket of money can be used. Should you desire or need to use the assets for income, the funds will be available per the structure of the contract. However, if a form of long term care is needed, the long-term care bucket will provide a respectfully larger pool of funds that can be tapped. For the money you set aside as the “last” money to be used in your life, this can offer an attractive way to leverage your assets.

The last strategy I will outline is purchasing a fixed or indexed annuity contract with an optional LTC rider. Thanks to the media, annuities have been incurring a bad reputation. However, in my experience many of the cases involving annuities are simply a case of someone using the wrong tool in the proverbial tool box. Each financial tool has its purpose and its place. By using an annuity with a long-term care rider to provide a stream of income, you will receive consistent guaranteed payments over a period of time. Should you qualify for long term care, these payments will be increased; many times doubled to cover the increased costs to the family budget. In addition, this type of planning involves minimal medical underwriting.

In my opinion as an advisor with many years of experience, your long-term care plan should never be not to plan. Even if you do nothing and roll the dice, you have the comfort that you did indeed explore the options available to address the risk. As your Financial Partner for Life, we are here to help you navigate through all of the protection options available to you. We are here to help you make the very best choices to bomb-proof your financial shelter. You will sleep at night, knowing you have a fortified plan, and will not fall victim to “crisis management”.

tom.strangstalien@wismedassure.org

608.442.3730

Taking Care of your Finances

New Year’s resolutions plus tax season; the perfect time to take care of your finances

By Mark Ziety, CFP®, AIF® – Senior Advisor, WisMed Financial  

If you are resolved to take the best possible care of your personal finances, there’s no better time than right now.

Here are some simple steps you can take to get started.

  1. Get organized Whether you create a formal net worth statement or jot down a summary for yourself, now is the time to figure out what you own and what you owe. Not only will this give you a starting point, it also helps with tax preparation since you will have a list of accounts to quickly identify if you are missing a tax form.
  2. Focus Based on where you are and where you want to go, determine where to focus in 2021.  Are you striving to pay off debt? Do you need to beef up your emergency fund, retirement accounts, or kids’ college savings? Have you been putting off purchasing insurance or drafting your will? By focusing on one item at a time, you won’t be overwhelmed and you’ll see progress faster than trying to do everything at once.
  3. Never go it alone Check in with your advisors; an annual checkup is worthwhile and may be required in some cases. For instance, annually recertifying your income with your student loan servicer is required for income driven repayment plans. It is a good idea to meet with your financial planner and insurance advisor especially if you had a change in income, family size, or finances.
  4. Make tax adjustments If you have a big refund or big tax bill, adjust your withholding. If you will be in a higher tax bracket in 2021, make pretax 401(k)/403(b) contributions otherwise make Roth 401(k)/403(b) contributions.

Remember, WisMed Financial is part of the Wisconsin Medical Society. We are here to help members save and invest for their future, eliminate debt, manage taxes, obtain and update legal documents, utilize charitable strategies, and other personal financial matters. 

For more information, please contact me at

Mark.Ziety@WisMedFinancial.org

608-442-3750.

You can give employees MORE at NO COST with voluntary benefits

If you’re wondering if it’s possible to give more to your employees at no cost… the answer is yes!

By Chris Noffke, GBDS – Vice President of Employee Benefits

The good news is you can offer voluntary benefits at no cost or you can choose to pay for a portion of the premiums (e.g.: 10, 25, or even 50%). You can also make a flat dollar contribution and your employees can determine which benefits to apply it towards.

And, the timing may be advantageous as employees are experiencing a heightened state of concern because of COVID-19. A growing number are asking for additional benefits like life, disability, and dental insurance, along with wellness options.

If you are interested in looking into these options, the first thing to do is survey your employees. WisMed Assure is here to help. We have survey templates that make it easier to determine the best possible selection of voluntary benefits to offer. Once we find out what benefits your employees want, and how many are interested, we then go to work finding the best insurance for the lowest price. 

While many carriers offer voluntary benefits, the key is finding one that provides all the different types of voluntary benefits you wish to offer. Finding the right carrier, with the right mix of benefits, makes it simpler to administer and cost effective as most carriers provide a discount for multiple plans. 

Once we finalize carrier and plans, the only thing left to do is make these premium deductions in your payroll. There are a few different ways to set this up, but in most cases, we recommend a pre-tax strategy to lower the taxable income for your employees and your company.

Voluntary benefits are not difficult to setup and manage when you work with an insurance partner you can trust and who is willing to serve your employees. That’s where we come in.

Please contact me if you wish to explore these opportunities for giving your employees more at no cost.

chris.noffke@wismedassure.org

608.442.3734

Society achieves extension of IPFCF premium holiday

Wisconsin Medical Society CEO Bud Chumbley, MD, MBA, has successfully advocated for an extension of the Injured Patients and Families Compensation (IPFCF) premium holiday through mid-2022.

This will be the second straight year physicians, CRNAs, and hospitals enrolled in the IPFCF will realize significant savings. The action was taken at the December 16th meeting of the IPFCF Board of Governors, including Dr. Chumbley.

“Because the IPFCF is run prudently and is in a stable financial position, we are fortunate the fund can provide some fiscal relief for physicians exactly when they need it most,” Dr. Chumbley said. “The pandemic has taken a dramatic toll on smaller clinics even as physicians have stepped up to take care of patients and this announcement certainly comes at a perfect time.”

The previous IPFCF holiday was announced on June 17, 2020.

Full-time physicians will save between $382 and $2,521 depending on specialty, with residents saving $229, and part-time or retired physicians saving $95. The premium holiday will be in effect from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022.

Please contact Society Chief Policy and Advocacy Officer, Mark Grapentine, JD, for additional information.

mark.grapentine@wismed.org

608-442-3795

2021: New Year New Goals

If you hate setting annual goals, relax, you’re not alone!

By Shawna Bertalot, CIC, ACI – WisMed Assure President

In an article titled “10 Top New Year’s Resolutions for Success and Happiness”, INC. Media added this subtitle: “Studies show that about 60 percent of us make New Year’s resolutions each year—sadly, only about 8 percent of us achieve them.”

If your employer requires you to set annual goals, but it feels tedious, overwhelming, and not very meaningful to you, relax, you’re not alone!

Because we’re on a mission to protect and accelerate your success, we asked our team to share their secrets for successfully achieving the goals they set. And, we’ve kept it simple by selecting the Top Three:

  1. Make your goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound).  Here’s the best part; if you are required to set work goals you can actually make them personally meaningful by making them specific and relevant. And, by defining how you will measure results and setting a time deadline, you set yourself up for success.
  2. Write it down! A Google search reveals many studies that conclude you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals when you write them down. And, success is increased when you share your goals with others… some of whom may actually hold you accountable.
  3. Don’t set more than three major goals. Big goals always have sub-parts, objectives and tactics; business and life coaches agree, more than three is too many.

While you are at it, why not set use these three rules when you set personal goals? 

We have two members on our team who are truly Goal-Achieving Champions and they have agreed to share their personal goals.

Kathy Mueller just celebrated 25 years as an insurance advisor with WisMed Assure. She credits her success in large part to setting and achieving professional and personal goals every year. Kathy’s 2020 Personal Goals were:

  1. Annual wellness physical plus two dental check ups
  2. Walk 10,000 steps a day measured and tracked by a Fitbit
  3. Do three additional workouts (cardio, Pilates, etc.) each week

Laura Jacobs is the Director of Communications and Marketing for Wisconsin Medical Society.  She excels at project management and, no surprise, at goal setting. Laura’s 2020 Personal Goals were:

  1. Read one book per month
  2. Win 5 Fitbit “workweek hustle” challenges
  3. Connect Kindle to our digital public library system

Good luck achieving your goals in 2021!

shawna.bertalot@wismedassure.org

608-442-3738

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Long Term Care: What You Need to Know

By Kathy Mueller, CLU, ChFC, FIC, LUTCF – WisMed Assure Insurance Advisor

We all know the importance of figuring out how much we will need to live on in retirement and being able to save enough money to generate what we need.

However, one thing most Americans don’t even think about is the cost of long term care.  Even though 70% of people 65 and older will need some form of long term care in their lifetime, less than 15% of adults age 50 and over have a long term care policy in place. 

Today’s cost of an assisted living facility average about $45,000 per year… and you can double that for nursing home care! 

Why is there such a coverage gap? Mostly, it comes down to a genuine lack of awareness and understanding of what long term care insurance is, how it works, and what it costs. Many people think Medicare pays for long term care… bad news; it doesn’t. While a few wealthier people can pay for long term care out of pocket, but most of us will not be able to do so.  

What is the solution? It’s long term care planning. And, one of the key components of a sound plan is a long term care policy to cover some of the costs. There’s good news, today’s long term care insurance looks quite different than it did 20 years ago. Many of today’s modern contracts pay out a life insurance benefit to your beneficiaries if you die without using all of your long term care benefits. 

Here’s the bottom line: to be most effective, your retirement and financial planning has to include long term care. We can help you discover if and how long term care fits in your future. For more information, please click here.

Cyber Security in 2020

Our partner insurance carrier Tokio Marine HCC published a 2020 Cyber Digest: Analysis of 2019 Cyber Claims Data.  The following excerpts are particularly relevant to physician’s offices, and other healthcare-related facilities:

If there was a theme for 2019 cyber claims, it would be the growth of phishing attacks * on small to mid-size businesses. Ransomware and financial fraud claims were up across the board vs 2018 and, largely, initiated through phishing attacks. Though the larger cyber incidents at Facebook, Citrix, and Capital One grab the headlines, the rampant attacks on small and mid-sized businesses are devastating as most SMBs don’t have sufficient resources to prepare nor defend themselves. A recent Fundera study reports that “3 out of 4 small businesses don’t have the personnel to address IT security.”

* ”phishing” is a technique used to gain access to your company email so criminals can impersonate a co-worker, manager or other trusted business partner to steal sensitive data and money.

While the cybercriminals continue to increase the frequency and sophistication of their attacks, business owners are also becoming more knowledgeable and prepared to defend themselves and their organizations. While cyber insurance is one effective means of mitigating risk, there are new tools, processes and technologies that small businesses can employ to protect themselves.

For best practices to fight cybercrime, download the Tokio Marine HCC Ransomware & BEC Fact Sheet.

For more information about Cyber Liability Insurance solutions, please click here

For more information about this 2019 Cyber Claims Digest please visit our partners online at tmhcc.com/cyber

BE AWARE AND CHANGE LIVES

By Tom Strangstalien

Insurance Advisor with WisMed Assure

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month. All month long, as I sat sipping my morning coffee, I reflected on how many times I’ve experienced the life changing impact of life insurance.

Even though I’ve been a life insurance agent for more than two decades, there are times when even I take for granted this life changing tool within our financial tool box. There are dozens of stories I can tell about how life insurance has truly been a difference maker in the lives of so many. Four of these stories stand out in particular because they had a direct personal impact on me.

Rene’s Home

Rene designed a plan, utilizing universal life insurance to potentially pay off the mortgage on her home early. The policy insured the lives of her and her husband jointly, and we funded the policy in such a way to grow the cash value quickly, yet be friendly to the family budget. 

One day, John mentioned to Rene that he had a lump on the back of his tongue which was bothering him. Being a nurse, Rene advised John, that he probably should get it checked out by their Doctor.  John battled cancer for the next four months. The family took care of him at home, until the day came when John passed away in his sleep.

 I received a call from Rene months later. Choking back tears, she told me because of the plan that was intended to pay the mortgage off early, the life insurance allowed her to remain in the home with her two daughters. She went on to tell me that she was going back to college to advance her status to a Registered Nurse. After much expression of gratitude and profuse thanks, she ended by telling me I helped the family change their life. Speechless at first, I finally said, “Yes, life insurance is a game changer.” 

Rene is debt free, cherishing her career as a registered nurse, while her two daughters attend college in Eau Claire.

Don’s Hockey Legacy

My son is a hockey player. Our small-town hockey rink was actually a make shift park shelter. I cherish the times that we set up the chiller to make the ice for the season, construct the walls, bring in the bleachers, and keep the rink maintained throughout the winter season. Our rink was viewed as a joke, and with a little bit of disdain by our fellow competitors throughout the state. 

However, we were really good. In fact, we took home many tournament trophies, state youth championship titles, and as a high school advanced to the state tournament on multiple occasions. How amazing would it be if we had a real rink? In discussing ideas with the parent committee on how to pursue such an aggressive endeavor, I suggested we approach community benefactors. 

I proposed an idea to Don, a very successful businessman in the community, that we fund a $5 million life insurance policy to someday create a community hockey arena and event center, bearing his family’s name. After deliberation with his tax accountant, he learned the charitable pursuit would provide a large benefit to him “tax wise”. His family stands proud of their patriarch, as they regularly witness the use of the family named facility. Don made a difference, and his legacy lives on.

Life Can Go On

Wayne would do anything for me, and pretty much for everyone. 

He helped me put up my tree stands for deer hunting every season. He taught me the ropes to hunt for ginseng in the fall and morel mushrooms in the spring. When the Brewers would play during the summer, I would frequently see Wayne and Carla’s truck pulling into our driveway, with their daughter Carlie in tow, to have a cold one, watch the Brewers, and do our best to discover the meaning of life. 

As with all of my friends, I encouraged Wayne to purchase a term life insurance policy. Their budget was tight, but we were able to formulate a significant amount of coverage with an affordable price. 

On a really soggy rainy day in the spring of 2016, Wayne, Carla, and Carlie ventured out to Carla’s mother’s land, located in Iowa. They would frequently take these trips, and while Carla visited with her mother, Wayne would maintain the family farm.

Shortly after crossing the bridge into Minnesota, and initiating the trip south to the Iowa border, Carla saw a tree give way on the bluff above. There was no time to react. The tree landed on the roof of the truck, killing Wayne instantly, breaking Carla’s neck, and leaving Carlie with head trauma and face lacerations. 

Carla was now a single parent, in a neck brace for months. Carlie recovered, cherishing the moments with her father and hero. I stood silent at the funeral, as the military salute and folding of the flag took place. Doing their best to emulate Wayne, the family stood tall, confident, and proud. Life would go on, and they would be “ok”. 

My Friend Randy

Randy was my best friend. We went to high school together, were college roommates for four years, and his brother married my sister. I recruited Randy to join our team in the “insurance business”. After some hesitation, Randy joined the team, and we spent many nights together learning the business. His on the job training involved writing a policy on himself (encouraged by me). 

I’ll never forget the call I received from my mother one beautiful April spring morning. She uttered, “Are you sitting down?” As I sipped my morning coffee at my kitchen table, I replied an affirmative yes. “I have some news. Your friend Randy woke up yesterday, and was going to read the morning paper, but he couldn’t. He was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, and has about 6 months to live.” The words shook me to my core.

I took Randy shopping for his groceries one day. That was the last time I saw him. Six months from the date of the initial diagnosis, Randy was gone. He left behind two children, ages 5 and 7, and his wife Michelle who was a nurse. Michelle cried when she got the check for the life insurance. She was able to purchase a home for the family, continue her career in the medical field, and eventually put both boys through college.

Are You Aware?

Heaven forbid anything happens to you or your loved ones. But, wishing is not a plan. If you would like to explore and discover the very best possible options to fit your needs, I am always available. Please contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.

Tom Strangstalien

Insurance Advisor

WisMed Assure

Direct:  608-442-3730

Cell:  608-304-1579

tom.strangstalien@wismedassure.org