Group disability insurance can coordinate with individual policies 

By Chris Noffke, GBDS, CSFS, Vice President of Employee Benefits

Chris Noffke

Planning for the unexpected is the only way to protect yourself, your family, your business and your finances. Unfortunately, the death of a loved one or becoming disabled are often unexpected. If you no longer had an income, how would you and your family fare?

In 2023, the social security disability income payment is $914 monthly for individuals and $1,371 monthly for couples. Be aware that these benefits have a five month waiting period and processing times can be slow! Could your family manage for six months without income, or after the six months, would $1,371 even be enough? How long can you and your family live at these low income rates? 

Many physicians are good at making sure to buy an individual disability policy before finishing residency. This is a fantastic time to get a $5,000 disability benefit because you’re the youngest and most likely the healthiest you may ever be. But, when your income surges to more than $10,000 a month you would still be missing more than 50% of your standard income if you became disabled. Group policies can coordinate and offer additional reassurance that your income is protected. Plus, there are ways to make these disability income dollars tax free!

We have a variety of products exclusive to WisMed Assure that other agents don’t know about. Plus, we have experience protecting physicians. You would be surprised how often I find policies sold to physician groups that don’t protect you as a specialist or insure you for your exact physician role.

Please contact me at or call 608.442.3734 if you would like to learn more. 

WisMed Assure can assist you with your Medicare decisions

By Mary Krueger, Medicare Specialist

Many Medicare eligible participants are familiar with Medicare, but the process is confusing to them so we’re here to assist you with those issues. Here are the answers to some common questions.

Do I need to sign up for both Part A and B or just Part A? 

Whether you choose Part A, B or both depends on the plan you’re on, the benefits you’re looking for and if you have any spend down accounts that can be used. Checking all your options will save you money and find the coverage that suits your needs.

Is it really necessary to get a prescription drug program or can I skip it because I don’t use any prescriptions?

Great question! Even if you do not use any prescriptions, you are required to obtain credible coverage for prescription coverage. Without it, you will acquire a lifetime penalty.

I am already on a Medicare program. Is there any help you can give me?

Yes! We compare your coverages and costs. Perhaps you’ve moved and your new address has a favorable discount or you have increased needs for prescriptions; these issues and others are addressed either during your open enrollment period each fall or at your renewal. We do the shopping for you!

Click here to learn about income related monthly adjustment amount (IRMAA).

For help with your Medicare questions, contact Mary Krueger at 715.760.1350 or

Why purchase individual disability protection during residency

By Tom Strangstalien, Insurance Advisor

As a resident or fellow, your biggest asset is quickly becoming your ability to earn an income. Until you become independently wealthy and can sustain a loss of earning power without consequence, it is imperative that you have disability protection. But why do this as a resident or fellow, before the dramatic income increase of becoming an attending physician? Can you wait, get on your employer’s group plan if applicable and purchase supplemental personal disability insurance when you can better afford it? There are several reasons why this may not be the best choice as you build your overall financial plan.

During your medical residency or fellowship, you are entitled to a base amount of coverage without being required to provide proof of financial qualification. Additionally, WisMed Assure works with several insurers that provide discounts to many of the residency programs. Furthermore, Wisconsin Medical Society Members are eligible for even more discounts. Throughout your career, these savings can add up to a monumental amount of money.

Disability insurance protection increases in cost as we age – it will be more expensive every year. By getting a policy early in your career, you lock in the price while it’s the most affordable. Additionally, you can purchase a future increase option at this time, allowing you to increase your protection as your future income increases, without the imposition of any more medical underwriting.

Group disability insurance coverage is a wonderful benefit, and I almost always advise physicians to enroll for the maximum group benefits that they’re eligible for, however it often has limitations. It may be capped at an amount that is insufficient to replace your total income if disabled. Portability is also a concern – if you change employers or career paths, the coverage will be lost. Almost always, group coverage contains offsets where any benefits attained from other sources will decrease the benefits paid out by group coverage. A solid personal disability policy, specially designed for physicians and medical professionals, addresses these inherent risks.

Where should you obtain this vitally important coverage at the most affordable price? Only purchase personal disability insurance coverage through an independent agent who can offer plans from multiple companies. Never allow yourself to be sold a policy by a representative who offers only one plan, and thereby has an innate conflict of interest. The plan should be designed for you, not just a standard policy.

WisMed Assure exists for your benefit and offers plans from the big five insurance companies, with plans specifically designed for physicians. Reach out to us and let us design a plan that fits your needs. James Dahle, MD, of The White Coat Investor states, “Early in residency, buy as large of a high-quality, specialty-specific, own occupation, individual disability insurance policy as an agent is willing to sell you.” Take care of this urgent financial chore today.

Reach out to me and my team at WisMed Assure at, complete this quick online form or call 608.442.3810.

What’s in a financial plan?

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

Mark Ziety

A financial plan is like a roadmap that helps you navigate through the twists and turns of life, whether you’re saving up for a new car or preparing for retirement. Think of it as your secret weapon to achieving your financial goals and living your best life.

Now, let’s break it down into the three scenarios we all share: a long healthy life, getting sick along the way or passing away early. We need to be prepared for all of them, and that’s where financial planning comes in handy.

Cash Flow

You might call it a budget, but we like to call it the “4 Fs.” It’s like a secret formula to financial success! You just need to know your:

  • Fixed expenses (the boring stuff like housing and utilities)
  • Future expenses (like saving for retirement or your next vacation)
  • “F”ilanthropy expenses (how much you want to give back to your community)  
  • Fun expenses (the things that make life worth living!)

Once you have these figures down, you can put your cash flow to work and watch your bank account grow.

Eliminating Debt

We all know it’s easy to fall into the trap of overspending. But a good financial plan will help you avoid that and pay off any debt you already have quickly.


We might not like to think about it, but getting sick or passing away early is a possibility for all of us. That’s why having the right insurance and right amount is crucial. Health insurance, disability insurance and life insurance are all important components of a good financial plan.


A well-diversified portfolio with the right asset allocation and asset selection can help you achieve your financial goals. And don’t forget about asset location, putting the right investments in the right account, which can make a big difference in your after-tax returns. Bonus: check out the 7 proven ways to improve performance.


Retirement is often the biggest topic that financial planning covers. How much do you need to save for retirement? When should you start withdrawing your money? Which account should you use first? And when should you start taking Social Security? These are all important questions that a good financial plan can help answer.


If you have children, college planning is often important. Saving for college is just the beginning – picking the right school that offers grants and scholarships can help cover the costs.


Taxes can be a huge expense for most people, which is why tax planning is a crucial part of a financial plan. By creating a strategy to manage your taxes, you can keep more money in your pocket.

Estate Plan

Finally, estate planning is something everyone should consider. Who will take care of your finances and health care if you become incapacitated? Who will take care of your children if something happens to you? A good financial plan should include a will, health care and financial power of attorney documents, beneficiary designations and possibly a trust.

Phew! That’s a lot to consider, but don’t worry – you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. A financial planner can help guide you through the process and create a personalized plan to help you achieve your financial goals. Are you ready to take control of your finances and start living the life you deserve?

For personalized help eliminating debt, investing smart and securing retirement, please contact Mark Ziety, CFP®, AIF® 608.442.3750.

Mark Ziety, CFP®, AIF®

WisMed Financial, Inc. part of the Wisconsin Medical Society

Long-term care insurance – but what if I don’t need it?

Tom Strangstalien

By Tom Strangstalien, Insurance Advisor

We all know the risks of a long-term care event devastating our family’s finances as well as our mental and personal well-being. Roughly half of those who reach the age of 65 will require some form of long-term care assistance during their lifetime. What this means for a married couple is likely one of them will incur costs for long-term care. Because of the astronomical odds, the cost of long-term care insurance is certainly not inexpensive.

Despite the odds, the biggest objection that I receive when formulating a plan for one of our members when it comes to long-term protection is, “If I don’t use it all the money that I spent will be wasted.” Plus, we’re all invincible superheroes anyway, right? “It will never happen to me, so I’ll just save and invest the money and take my chances.” Thankfully, with the evolution of long-term care planning over the past few years, there is another alternative that makes a great deal of sense!

The life insurance industry has existed much longer than long-term care insurance. Actuaries, as it pertains to life insurance, have these statistics down to microscopic precision in calculating how long on average a person will live and what sums of monies will be paid out and when. When it comes to long-term care, this really isn’t the case, and is in part why the costs of protection are high. As consumers of life insurance, we also know that without a doubt the benefits will be paid out, and what we have paid for the benefits. In addition, we have the added benefit that the proceeds will likely be income tax free.

Are you aware that there are now policies where some or all of the life insurance benefits can now be utilized for costs incurred for long-term care while you are alive? And on a tax advantaged basis? All proceeds of the policy will be paid either in the form of long-term care protection or a life insurance benefit to named beneficiaries. If the policy is in force, the money is guaranteed to never be wasted!

These policies can also involve some dual planning, such as a charitable gift or estate planning scenarios if the proceeds are paid out in the form of a life insurance benefit. Lastly, these plans are priced attractively, as actuaries know exactly what benefits will be paid out and on average when.

I am a big advocate of this relatively new concept in planning for long-term care. If you haven’t addressed long-term care as part of your overall financial portrait, I would encourage you to promptly do so. You may be very pleasantly surprised by the cost to benefits ratio! At WisMed Assure, we are always here to help!

Reach out to me and my team at WisMed Assure at, complete this quick online form or call 608.442.3810.

Medicare questions to ask

By Mary Krueger, Medicare Specialist

Before enrolling in Medicare, there are several decisions Medicare recipients need to make regarding their existing coverages or changes in their health insurance needs.

Typically, six months prior to becoming eligible (eligibility for Medicare may be because of disability or turning 65), it is a good idea to speak with a Medicare Specialist to establish an open dialog about what you want in your benefits and how much of your budget to designate for it.

Here are a few questions:

  • Will I be in a network or have the freedom to choose where I go?
  • What are the benefits of choosing a Medicare Advantage or a Medicare Supplement?
  • Who will help me if I have a claim and don’t understand the billing?
  • Will I need to get preauthorization for my surgery?

These are a few of the concerns that are voiced regularly. Medicare has been providing coverage since 1965. Plans have changed over the years and so have the benefits, which is why it makes sense to have someone who can walk you through these and many other issues with Medicare.

I have enjoyed helping in those decisions for more than 40 years, and it is my pleasure to assist in the decisions Medicare recipients make. Contact me at 715.760.1350 or

Rising health insurance premiums

By Chris Noffke, GBDS, CSFS, Vice President of Employee Benefits

Chris Noffke

Health insurance premiums are constantly on the rise. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, “U.S. health care spending grew 2.7 percent in 2021, reaching $4.3 trillion or $12,914 per person.” Everyone from employees to employers are feeling the squeeze of high-cost premiums. As rising premiums keep employers frustrated, benefits-users are also enduring less and less being paid by insurance. Business owners are having to make decisions like sacrificing benefits to save money on premiums to afford higher wages. Many employers are asking if they should self-fund. 

Having a really big company with lots of the employees covered by the health plan means these employers have more money being paid into the premium pools – the basic rule of large numbers. In Wisconsin, any group with more than 50 employees is considered a large group and is not qualified for the Affordable Care Act marketplace plans. While companies with as few employees as 50 may qualify for a self-funded benefit, it could also be a liability that causes a business bankruptcy. An employer can hedge their premium dollars against only having a few high-cost health care claims per year. These same strategies don’t work for smaller companies, because they may not have many employees enrolled in the health plan (especially if the employer contributions are too low) which means they have even fewer premium dollars to cover when their work family does have a high-cost claimant(s).

For example, if a smaller group (50 employees for this scenario) has a high-cost claimant who costs $50,000 a year, that means a lot of your collected premiums are needed just to cover this one claimant. Assuming an average employee premium of $1,000 a month per employee (averaging employee and family), your employer premiums are $50,000 a month ($600,000 a year). That means one employee used one-twelfth of your premium funds.

In our example we have only covered $50,000 in claims and we still have 49 remaining insureds who may each spend the $12,914 average. The math, 49 persons at $12,000 means $588,000 potential you may have to pay. This is not yet taking into account that there are multiple people in your employee’s families who may have claims.

It is not just claims you pay for when you are self-funded, you are also responsible to pay for a selected insurance company or third party administer (TPA) to process your groups’ claims, your use of a network for discounts, a pharmacy benefit manager, stop loss insurance, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), terminal liabilities, aggregate accommodations and other administrative costs just to name a few.  This all may not make sense yet or it might sound like another language. Just let me know and we can talk. Give me a call at 608.442.3734. While true self-funding may not be the best answer for your company, utilizing strategies, other funding arrangements and even our association health plan may be a solution.

Graded premium disability? Yes, you can!

Tom Strangstalien

By Tom Strangstalien, Insurance Advisor

I recently worked with a young physician to set him up with personal disability protection to provide some financial security if life throws him and his family a curve ball. Prompting our planning was that one of his peers in the general surgery specialty sustained a serious hand injury, ending his ability to perform hands-on surgery.

He didn’t have personal disability protection, and although his group benefits offered some benefits, it fell well short of what he envisioned for himself and his family of four. Though he had looked into coverage in the past, he thought that it was too expensive at this point in his career. Why not wait until his income was more substantial and coverage was more affordable? Unfortunately, waiting changed his financial world forever.

Perhaps if our physician member had explored graded premium disability insurance, he would have elected to purchase the protection at a very affordable price, thereby protecting his income throughout his lifetime.

So, what is graded premium disability insurance? The premise is that as your income increases, your premium increases. Premiums start out at a much lower price early in your career, compared to traditional level premium coverage. Each year, premiums will increase slightly. When you’re on a tighter budget, it enables you to put the amount of coverage needed in place, and it can never be taken away. Making graded premium disability coverage more beneficial is that you can elect to lock in your premiums at any time you choose! In other words, you can convert to a level premium policy when your income and budget allows you to do so.

When I work with our residents, fellows and young physicians, we always look at graded premium plans as an option. We almost always package this with a future insurability option, so you are guaranteed to increase your benefits in the future, with no medical underwriting, as your income increases. You are able to put disability protection in place by using a graded premium plan, where you otherwise wouldn’t be able to do so. You always want to acquire the most coverage you can, and as early in your career as possible!

As a young member in the medical profession, don’t make the mistake of assuming your budget does not allow you to purchase disability protection. Yes, you can! Life happens and it truly throws us curveballs. Reach out to me and my team at WisMed Assure at, complete this quick online form or call 608.442.3810, and let’s determine if a graded premium disability plan can protect your financial world!

Don’t forget to call your mom, and your insurance agent

By WisMed Assure Service Team

With the intention of easing administrative burden for WisMed Assure client physicians, several of our Medical Professional Liability (MPL) carriers have significantly reduced or suspended asking for renewal applications over the past few years. While this does save time, renewal applications were an opportunity to touch base, review and discuss any changes to your practice that could impact your premium or coverage.

Please contact WisMed Assure if any of the following changes have occurred or are anticipated in your practice:

  • Have any health care professionals changed practice procedures, such as added or reduced surgical procedures?
  • Have you contracted with any independent health care professionals to provide services?
  • Are any physicians changing their practice hours? How many hours per week are they working now? 
  • Have you added or changed your use of telemedicine? 
  • If you are a Wisconsin Medical Society Member with Medical Professional Liability coverage through ProAssurance, you can earn premium credit on your renewal by completing their online risk management coursework. If you are not a member and would like to become one, please let us know.

Contact your agent or 608.442.3810 with any questions or changes to your practice.

WisMed Assure is the Wisconsin Medical Society’s insurance agency – profits earned support the mission of the Medical Society.

Affordability Testing

By Chris Noffke, GBDS, CSFS, Vice President of Employee Benefits

Chris Noffke

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) brought a lot of extra work to employers and insurance companies. Whether you are pro-health care reform or against it, per the Health Affairs article, the ACA has not made insurance more affordable. Many health insurance carriers have stated the ACA, Summaries of Benefits and Coverage, machine readable files and other changes imposed added costs to insurance companies, which simply passed these costs on to employers and employees in premiums.

Insurance premium affordability is very important because it allows for more money to employers and employees and is a requirement for groups with 50 or more employees. As you may know, health care reform requires employers with 50 or more employees to offer a group health insurance option that is affordable and meets the minimal essential coverages or the employer can face a potential monetary fine (the 2022 fine was $4,120 annually per subsidized employee). Additionally, the employer should be testing to confirm the affordability requirement is being met for their employees’ premium charges. Based on health care reform’s 2023 rules, to be considered affordable in 2023, an employee cannot be charged more than 9.12% of the employee’s household income.

Do you need to test your affordability? Are you offering a plan similar to other health care companies in your areas? WisMed Assure is the only insurance agency in Wisconsin focused on health care clients and we would love to tell you more about what we can do! Please call me at 608.442.3734 or email