Positive Vibes: Company Culture Musts

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Positive Vibes: Company Culture Musts

By Steph Breunig, HR Practice Leader Fine Point Consulting

Summer is here and if you are like me, you’d like to coast a bit these short few months to relax a little more, worry a little less.

I like that at Fine Point Consulting, I can allow myself a little more of this down time when it suits me and my clients. It helps me recharge and ultimately makes me a better employee. Make no mistake, this is possible because we’ve cultivated a culture in our organization to not just accommodate flexibility but CELEBRATE flexibility.

Flexibility was always important to Fine Point’s founder, Luella Schmidt and she built it into our culture. When you are thinking about how you can improve your company culture, ask yourself, “What kind of a company would I want to spend 20 years working for?

Here are some tips on finding the best possible answer.

Define what’s important to you
You have to establish what is at the heart of your company… what your core values are. You can’t just say you value curiosity as a company. You have to have a plan to back that up. Do you invest in learning opportunities? Do you provide educational stipends or sabbaticals?

Loop in the whole team
The tricky thing about company culture is that it is hard to measure and track effectiveness of your culture initiatives. That’s why it is a good practice to always involve your employees in the conversation and the process. Stay in constant communication with your staff and ask for their opinions.

Make room to grow
As you bring on new employees, make sure you are giving them room to grow. Many employees will only stay in a job long enough for them to learn everything there is to learn before moving on and taking their skills elsewhere. Mentoring programs, tuition reimbursement, lunch and learn opportunities all work to provide space for growth.

Use the right software
There are many employee engagement tools to help you on your journey. Technology makes gathering employee opinions and suggestions quick and easy.

Positive culture. Positive vibes.
Building strong company culture is easier said than done. But the work is so worth it. When employees and employers share similar values, employees are happier and more productive. And that’s good for business.

WisMed Assure Adds New Employee Benefits Services

By Chris Noffke, GBDS, Vice President of Employee Benefits

Half a decade, it is not a ton of time, but it has been 5 years since I accepted the opportunity to work for the insurance agency of the Wisconsin Medical Society.

My role here has always been to create and continue to offer the best employee benefits insurance solutions and services to the healthcare companies of Wisconsin. Since I began, we have added multiple services and solutions that many of our clients have embraced. 

It is with joy I get announce we have made two new additions to our growing toolbox of services and solutions that we offer at no cost to our employee benefits clients.

HR OnDemand – Fine Point Consulting

This service allows employer leaders to receive consultations from a certified HR professional. It’s an easy-to-use email service; you send in your questions about recruitment processes, benefits administration, maintaining already existing processes, checklists and more… and the HR professionals at Fine Point send you the answers you need.

You also receive a 15% discount on higher levels of consultation as needed. FinePoint HR regularly provides consultative services related to:

  • Recruitment strategy and process optimization
  • Applicant Tracking System (ATS) integration
  • Strategic benefits solutions
  • Human Resource Information System (HRIS) integration
  • Addressing specific employee relations issues including discrimination complaints, labor relations charges, and wage and hour complaints
  • Investigating sensitive workplace misconduct
  • Aiding an organization’s effort to remain union-free
  • Compensation analysis
  • Handbook development
  • Policy development

COBRA Administrative Services Tool – Employee Benefits Company (EBC)

We have secured a contract with EBC to deliver a COBRA admin tool you can use for processing and staying compliant with your COBRA requirements. And, with the impact of American Rescue Plan Act, this service couldn’t have come about at a better time!

I am very proud that WisMed Assure continues to offer more to our clients! 

I hope you find these services useful and please keep me informed if you have a need you do not know how to solve.  I have many professional contacts and I am always looking for more new and better ways to help those I serve. 

Jim Davis Joins WisMed Assure Team

Jim Davis

We are pleased to announce that a veteran insurance professional, Jim Davis, will be joining WisMed Assure as of Monday, July 12th as Vice President Medical Professional. 

Jim has an incredible amount of Property & Casualty (P&C) insurance, Medical Professional, Work Comp, Management and Cyber Liability experience. Jim has also been in direct sales most of his career and has many contacts in the Wisconsin market, especially with hospitals. Jim’s primary focus will be developing new business relationships and opportunities with hospitals, clinics, physician groups and other medical service providers. 

While Jim’s focus is on the P&C lines of insurance, he also looks forward to partnering with Chris, Tom and Mark to make Employee Benefits, Individual Income Protection and Financial Advisory referrals.

Here’s what Jim says about the opportunities ahead.

“I am truly excited because it is such a unique opportunity. I believe everything I’ve done to date in the insurance industry has led me to this. Here’s why I think this opportunity is so special:

  • I firmly believe the backing of the Wisconsin Medical Society is an enormous differentiator and clearly separates us from competing agents and agencies.
  • Likewise, being the only Wisconsin based Insurance Agency, Financial Services Firm that exclusively serves the healthcare community brings great value to our clients. In other words, everyone in our organization is in healthcare. Most, if not all other agencies, work in manufacturing, transportation, contractors, etc. By focusing on healthcare, we are able to continuously develop unequalled expertise.
  • I like the “Your financial partner for life” tag line because it is true. Not only are we committed to serving our clients for life, we are also committed to helping them protect and enhance the lives of the patients and people they serve.
  • Offering a complete array of financial services helps us to not only round out accounts, but also helps to cement our relationships.
  • Relationships are the key, and that has always been the foundation of my success. People do business with people they like and trust because after all, what we offer is a promise, and they count on us to deliver by providing the financial services and appropriate solutions they need. 

I Should Have Listened

Tom Strangstalien

By Tom Strangstalien, Insurance Advisor

I received from a call from a physician this week in the mid-stages of his career. The call began with, “I should have listened to you years ago about purchasing personal disability insurance. I realize that it will now be very expensive, but I also realize that I need it. Can you please get some quotes for me?”. 

As our member residents graduate, we make great effort to educate them on the importance of having personal disability insurance in place prior to embarking on the next step of their career journey. At no other time will coverage be more affordable and easier to obtain. Our resident physicians are automatically entitled to a base amount of benefits, and substantial discounts are offered by each of the “Big 5” personal disability insurers for physicians. Once coverage is in place, the cost for these base benefits cannot be changed for life.

It makes a world of sense to get this coverage while you are young and healthy, as premiums are based on age and medical health history. We encourage our physicians to add options like the Future Increase Option, which will allow them to increase their coverage to keep up with their rising income, without any additional medical underwriting. We also advise implementing the Cost of Living Adjustment rider on the policy, which will ensure that benefits received keep pace with rates of inflation. 

The physician who called me was making a career change and had lost his employer group disability benefits. This is another common occurrence we see on a regular basis. In addition, most employer group benefits coverage have limits, which can be much lower than one’s true current income.

Our resident physicians have worked extremely hard to earn their biggest asset… their income!  With all of our other valuable assets, we do not think twice about protecting them. If student loans were incurred for this achievement, we can even design coverage to make these payments in the event of a disability!

We express a heartfelt “CONGRATULATIONS” to our resident graduates! During this time of celebration, take a moment to look back on times when we should have listened to our parents, teachers, or mentors. Pay particular attention to what fellow member physicians communicate to us on a far too common basis.  “I should have listened.”

Uncle Sam; Part of Your Family, Like It or Not

Mark Ziety

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

Uncle Sam is part of your family, even if you are single. From time to time, you may have wondered if there are ways to reduce your tax payments to him. There are ways, so let’s have a quick tax lesson and then explore a couple options.

We have a progressive income tax structure in the US. As you earn income through the year, your first dollars are taxed at the lower tax rates. As you earn more and more, the last few dollars are taxed at higher tax rates. The highest rate is called your marginal tax bracket. Most people think every dollar is taxed at their marginal tax bracket, but it is only the last few dollars earned. Here is a short video that provides a bit more detail.

During your working years 

If you are just starting out, have modest income, and are still in a lower tax bracket, then paying taxes now is generally preferred. One way to do this is to make Roth contributions to your 401(k) or 403(b). In contrast, if you are in your peak earning years and need a tax deduction, traditional/pretax contributions to your 401(k) or 403(b) is preferred. This reduces your taxable income today and kicks the tax can into the future when you may be able to pay it at a lower tax rate.

Between retirement and age 72. 

Quite often, there is dip in taxable income (and therefore tax bracket) after retirement. However, taxable income may climb right back up again at age 72 when required minimum distributions start. The years between retirement and age 72 are the key tax planning years to reduce lifetime taxes. By accelerating income into these low tax years, typically using Roth conversions, you can reduce your lifetime taxes. Please see Chart 1.

Chart 1. Ordinary income tax brackets at various ages

Income brackets Chart

Green = taxable income
Lines = income tax brackets

In addition to these strategies, taxes can be reduced by using tax efficient funds, making timely charitable gifts, locating investments in the right types of accounts, and more.

For personalized help with your tax planning, please contact me.

Mark Ziety, CFP®, AIF® 608.442.3750.
WisMed Financial, Inc. part of the Wisconsin Medical Society

OnRamp Interview by Shawna Bertalot

“It was life changing… business changing for sure!”

By Shawna Bertalot, CIC, ACI – WisMed Assure President

When I sat down – virtually – with Jennifer Schwartz, RN, to talk about OnRamp Healthcare, I quickly realized this wasn’t going to be a ho hum conversation.

She had just launched Conduct RM, her remote CIED monitoring business, when she went to the first OnRamp conference at Lambeau Field in 2019.

Here’s what she told me, “I went to OnRamp as a guest after starting my company and it was life changing… business changing for sure!

Seeing other companies using technology that was already available and repackaging it for a purpose – to meet a need that has been unmet or poorly met – confirmed I was on the right track. The people I met were brilliant at putting all these pieces together to make a difference.

During one of the breakout sessions, I made a connection with a Madison company (Redocs) that was instrumental in helping me learn about and then negotiate with a software company (Insight Connections Group). They helped my business get the technology it needed… we didn’t have to start from scratch.”

“…the opposite of normal events.”

As we ramp up for OnRamp Healthcare on August 19th, 2021, I asked Jennifer what she would say to any physician who was wondering if they should attend.

“Attending OnRamp is completely the opposite of normal events. Going to a traditional medical conference, you know most of the speakers, you’ve read their papers, books, journals… you know more or less what is on the agenda and what you will learn.

OnRamp is a dynamic conference and nothing is the same from vendor to vendor, start up to start up. Everyone has their own area of expertise that is outside the expertise of physicians.

You would never come across these people and these ideas. No one is pitching you, they’re informing and educating. Just listening to all this tech lingo is a great informal way to hear what is cutting edge.

For any physician, it is an awesome way to get ready to deliver in the future. It gives you an overview of the many options you can use to incrementally keep pace, a smorgasbord of ideas you can pick from and bring back to your practice.”

“It is hard to change when you are nose to the grind stone…”

During our conversation, Jennifer and I agreed that even before the pandemic, the good people delivering healthcare were being challenged as never before. OnRamp is an opportunity to find new ways to meet today’s challenges and to be prepared for the inevitable new challenges we will see in the future.

“It is hard to change when you are nose to the grind stone… it even feels guilty to go away from your practice. But, you do not know what you are missing if you don’t know it exists. At OnRamp, you learn that there is a whole group of people out there trying to deliver care better – more easily, more economically and better for everyone.”

It’s clear that attending OnRamp changed one business’s future, and that business has since been changing people’s lives for the better.

Summer 2021 Issue

“It was life changing… business changing for sure!”

By Shawna Bertalot, CIC, ACI – WisMed Assure President

When I sat down – virtually – with Jennifer Schwartz, RN, to talk about OnRamp Healthcare, I quickly realized this wasn’t going to be a ho hum conversation.

She had just launched Conduct RM, her remote CIED monitoring business, when she went to the first OnRamp conference at Lambeau Field in 2019.

Here’s what she told me, “I went to OnRamp as a guest after starting my company and it was life changing… business changing for sure!

Read more…


WisMed Assure Adds New Employee Benefits Services

By Chris Noffke, GBDS, Vice President of Employee Benefits

Half a decade, it is not a ton of time, but it has been 5 years since I accepted the opportunity to work for the insurance agency of the Wisconsin Medical Society.

My role here has always been to create and continue to offer the best employee benefits insurance solutions and services to the healthcare companies of Wisconsin. Since I began, we have added multiple services and solutions that many of our clients have embraced. 

It is with joy I get announce we have made two new additions to our growing toolbox of services and solutions that we offer at no cost to our employee benefits clients.

Read More…


Positive Vibes: Company Culture Musts

By Steph Breunig, HR Practice Leader Fine Point Consulting

Summer is here and if you are like me, you’d like to coast a bit these short few months to relax a little more, worry a little less.

I like that at Fine Point Consulting, I can allow myself a little more of this down time when it suits me and my clients. It helps me recharge and ultimately makes me a better employee. Make no mistake, this is possible because we’ve cultivated a culture in our organization to not just accommodate flexibility but CELEBRATE flexibility.

Flexibility was always important to Fine Point’s founder, Luella Schmidt and she built it into our culture. When you are thinking about how you can improve your company culture, ask yourself, “What kind of a company would I want to spend 20 years working for?

Read More…


I Should Have Listened

By Tom Strangstalien, Insurance Advisor

I received from a call from a physician this week in the mid-stages of his career. The call began with, “I should have listened to you years ago about purchasing personal disability insurance. I realize that it will now be very expensive, but I also realize that I need it. Can you please get some quotes for me?”

Read more…


Uncle Sam; Part of Your Family, Like It or Not

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

Uncle Sam is part of your family, even if you are single. From time to time, you may have wondered if there are ways to reduce your tax payments to him. There are ways, so let’s have a quick tax lesson and then explore a couple options.

Read More…


Jim Davis Joins WisMed Assure Team

We are pleased to announce that a veteran insurance professional, Jim Davis, will be joining WisMed Assure as of Monday, July 12th as Vice President Medical Professional. 

Read more…


Spring 2021 Issue

Data Interoperability is Here: Threat or Opportunity? It’s Your Choice!

Physicians and health plans will soon be sharing data electronically with patients and each other

By Shawna Bertalot, CIC, ACI – WisMed Assure President

During a webinar presented by OnRamp Healthcare and Onyx Health titled “CMS Blue Button: Physician scoring – kick start your awareness”, Mark Scrimshire, Onyx Chief Interoperability Officer, said, “Consumers will have control of their data and therefor their healthcare – there is nothing to stop them from giving their data to an organization that has the goal of determining the actual cost of care.”

He also said, “If you don’t get in the game, you won’t be in the business.”

That’s one point of view. Here’s another; as value-based care plays an ever-larger role in how you are paid, interoperability will allow you to query health plans quick and easily for patient coverage data and the information you need to provide best care possible.

One thing is for sure; the more you know about Blue Button 2.0 and the impact it will have on your ability to succeed in your career, the better off you will be. To get the jump on this, to “get in the game”, make sure you plan to attend this year’s OnRamp Healthcare virtual conference on August 19th. See the article below for more information and to register.

Read more…


Term Life Insurance Is All the Same… Or Is It?

By Tom Strangstalien, Insurance Advisor

Kelly had just suffered a life- threatening stroke at 57 years old. Her prognosis was uncertain, and at the very least she was looking at months of recovery. She took comfort in the fact that she had purchased a one-million-dollar term life insurance policy when she was 37 years old to protect her family and to leave a lasting legacy.

Read More…


Tax Season is the Best Season to Take Care of Your Finances

By Mark Ziety, CFP®, AIF®, senior advisor, WisMed Financial

If you want to get ahead and stay ahead when it comes to taking full advantage of all your financial opportunities, consider these tips:

Read more…


Be Aware – COBRA and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

By:  Chris Noffke, GBDS, VP of Employee Benefits

I have been keeping my finger on the pulse of all thing’s related to employee benefits and this is one I find very important for you all to know, especially for employers who qualify for COBRA coverage (have 20 or more employees).

Read More…


Ins and Outs of Property Insurance

By: Laura Heil Kinart – Account Director

Have you ever wondered…

  • What your retroactive date actually is?
  • What’s the difference between Claims Made and Occurrence? 
  • What Directors and Officers Insurance is… and if your practice needs it?

Read more…


How to Get Super Quick Life Insurance

By David Serena, Insurance Advisor

If you’re one of those busy Residents who wants to purchase life insurance but just can’t find the time, there is a new program just for you.

The program is called “Bestow”, a word similar in meaning to “awarding” or “honoring” someone with something. In this case, you are honoring someone you love by insuring your life.

Read More…


The Leading Conference for Healthcare Innovation

August 19, 2021| Virtual

The OnRamp Healthcare Conference brings together corporations, investors, startups and members of the health care team. The conference highlights innovations disrupting health care and the future of medicine, the health care leaders making such innovations possible and how new technologies and business models will reinvent the industry. Determined to lower cost, increase access and improve outcomes, OnRamp Healthcare is for anyone striving to change healthcare for the better.

Read more


New Faces

Here at WisMed Assure we pride ourselves on creating a sense of family for all of our team. And, what better way to celebrate family than adding new members!

Read More…

Data Interoperability is Here: Threat or Opportunity? It’s Your Choice!

Physicians and health plans will soon be sharing data electronically with patients and each other

By Shawna Bertalot, CIC, ACI – WisMed Assure President

They say point of view is everything. Especially when it comes to your success as a physician in an environment of rapid, relentless and disruptive technological change.

In the past decade, the implementation of EHR in most hospitals and medical systems has changed how you do your job. From one point of view, the administrative burden has been crushing, from another, realizing the promise of immediate access to accurate patient records has been well worth the struggle.

You could say healthcare as a whole, thanks to EHR and other data sources, no longer has a patient data problem. Now, again depending on your point of view, you might say healthcare has a data interoperability problem. That is certainly the view taken by CMS as it prepares to take its Blue Button 2.0 to the next phase; health plans and providers will soon be required by federal law to share data electronically with each other and with patients.

But, what is your point of view? Think about the implications for you, your practice, and/or the healthcare provider you work for as Blue Button 2.0 provides “… a developer-friendly, standards-based data Application Programming Interface (API) that enables beneficiaries to connect their Medicare claims data to the applications, services, and research programs they trust.”

From my point of view, the one word that stands out in this quote from the CMS website is “trust”. I believe, and I am certain the vast majority of physicians and other healthcare providers and leaders also believe, that trust is the essential ingredient in the provider/patient relationship.

Will that essential bond of trust be strengthened or weakened when patients have access to all their medical data on their smart phones? What will happen to that trust when developers create apps that enable patients to compare costs and care outcomes across the entire spectrum of options available to them? Who will patients trust well enough to give permission to access their data?

During a webinar presented by OnRamp Healthcare and Onyx Health titled “CMS Blue Button: Physician scoring – kick start your awareness”, Mark Scrimshire, Onyx Chief Interoperability Officer, said, “Consumers will have control of their data and therefor their healthcare – there is nothing to stop them from giving their data to an organization that has the goal of determining the actual cost of care.”

He also said, “If you don’t get in the game, you won’t be in the business.”

That’s one point of view. Here’s another; as value-based care plays an ever-larger role in how you are paid, interoperability will allow you to query health plans quickly and easily for patient coverage data and the information you need to provide the best care possible.

One thing is for sure; the more you know about Blue Button 2.0 and the impact it will have on your ability to succeed in your career, the better off you will be. To get the jump on this, to “get in the game”, make sure you plan to attend this year’s OnRamp Healthcare virtual conference on August 19th. See the article below for more information and to register.

Other information sources for you to explore include:
CMS Blue Button 2.0
U.S. Digital Service
Patient Info on Medicare.gov
Onyx Health – Blue Button developer

New Faces

Here at WisMed Assure we pride ourselves on creating a sense of family for all of our team. And, what better way to celebrate family than adding new members!

Tom Strangstalien

Meet Tom Strangstalien, Insurance Advisor. Growing up on a family farm in Southwest Wisconsin, Tom learned the value of hard work. Beginning his career marketing individual health insurance plans, Tom developed a passion for individual finance and the role insurance plays in a well-designed financial plan. Bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience, Tom joined WisMed Assure in June of 2020 and has since been an asset and advocate for our members.


And, say hello to Janet Marszalek, RPLU, Senior Account Manager. Janet has over 35 years of experience in the insurance industry. She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management from Upper Iowa University and is licensed in Wisconsin for Property and Casualty. Janet holds the RPLU designation (Registered Property Liability Underwriter) and has been a member of the Professional Liability Underwriting Society. Janet joined the WisMed Assure family in January 2021 and has already put her stamp on things here.

Our family is growing as we continue to be your financial partner for life.