Wednesday, April 29, 2009

2009 Mid Market Employee Benefits Survey

2009 Mid Market Employee Benefits Survey

Have you asked yourself the following questions?

  • How do my employee benefits compare to other companies in the area?
  • Are my premiums on par with similar size companies relative to my plan designs?
  • What is the prevalence of high-deductible health plans in my area?
  • What kinds of cost control strategies have other employers been using?

At Herbruck Alder, we are continually hearing these types of questions from our employee benefits clients. Although some information is available from national sources, most of it is too general to answer an employer's most important questions.

Clearly, employers need customized benchmarking - a comparison of their unique plan(s) to others of similar geographic area, industry, and size. As a participant in the survey, a customized benchmarking report is provided to you at no cost.
The survey is being offered to companies in Northern Ohio and was designed with your needs in mind:

  • Quick - it only takes an average of 30-60 minutes to complete.
  • Easy - in a user-friendly, web-based format. You can complete it at any time and even save results for later completion or editing.
  • Comprehensive - all of your benefit plans are covered.
  • Thorough interpretation - your individual results will be provided in a clear, easy-to-understand format by a qualified and knowledgeable consultant.

Click here to complete the 2009 Mid Market Employee Benefits Survey.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Author Lays Out Nutrition Tips for the CDC

Author Michael Pollan was recently invited to speak to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding U.S. food policies and the Western Diet. Among his suggestions were his 7 Rules for Eating. Normally, I’m skeptical of anything that tries to simplify a person’s diet to such a degree; and I do have some issues with Pollan’s list, like accounting for those who require more protein. However, most of it makes sense.

Some of Pollan’s rules are funny and also point out what we should already know -- things like, “Don’t buy food where you buy your gasoline.” That one is pretty obvious, I would think, but worth remembering.

Other rules seem to throw down the gauntlet to those of us who don’t eat very well and likely know it. “Don’t eat anything with more than 5 ingredients.” Have you seen the ingredient lists on the stuff you buy at the supermarket? The ingredients in bread alone (even the “healthy” wheat bread!) is enough to make a normal person check out a chemistry book at the library. We don’t even know what’s in bread anymore!

That said, in today’s society it is very challenging to avoid consuming massive quantities of chemicals, preservatives, and other junk that’s shoved into seemingly innocuous food. Pollan is essentially advocating the “whole food” approach. It’s probably the gold standard for the American diet, but not easily obtained. I would suggest starting off on the path to a whole food diet by identifying the easiest changes you can make today.

Do you like coffee? Certainly avoid the big specialty coffees at Starbucks, strictly because they are calorie bombs. Go ahead and have a cup of joe at work, but watch what you put into it. There are at least 8 ingredients listed on the container of powdered
creamer in my office. I don’t have a clue what the last 4 or 5 of them are, but they don’t sound good. So, drink it black or add actual milk to it.

Go through that sort of process for everything you eat in a given day and pick off the items that are easiest to change. Then, make it an ongoing process to push yourself towards healthier “whole food” choices and ditch the processed foods most of us grew up on.

Kevin Hignett,