Insurance Term: Underwriter

When a person applies for a policy, it is an underwriter who determines whether that person is worth the risk of insuring. By assessing how much risk a person represents, underwriters ensure that all policyholders fit the company’s requirements. In addition, underwriters often help determine policy pricing.

Insurance Term: Loss Control Specialist

Loss control specialists work in the field inspecting job sites, shops, warehouses and other business areas looking for hazardous conditions and ways to fix them. Their primary responsibility is to limit injury, loss, and accident. Specialists in healthcare focus on preventative medicine as well as improving work environments. Those interested in this career should be familiar with engineering, or safety management. Ideally, candidates should prepare by getting a degree that emphasized both technical expertise and business skills.

Insurance Term: Service Representatives

Because of their function as a go between insurance companies and insurance agents, service representatives must have excellent communication skills and a detailed understanding of insurance products. A successful representative is good at building relationships with agents and company representatives. A general liberal arts education provides a solid foundation for a career as a service representative.

Jonathan Ams Achieves Distinguished CIC Designation

jon amsWe are pleased to announce that Jonathan Ams has recently earned the designation of Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC). A CIC designation is a mark of distinction that represents a commitment to professional excellence and leadership within the insurance industry.

The formal training required to become a CIC includes 100 classroom hours and the successful completion of five comprehensive exams, with an annual update required in order to maintain the designation. The five CIC institutes and comprehensive written examinations focus on all major fields of insurance, insurance management, and agency operations. The designated CICs across the country are recognized as among the best and most knowledgeable insurance practitioners in the nation.

Jonathan Ams is a 2002 graduate of Burr & Burton Academy, and a 2006 Graduate of the University of New Hampshire. He joined Finn and Stone in 2008.

Insurance Term: Claims Adjuster

When a customer has had an accident, been injured, or been through a loss, adjusters help determine a fair settlement between all involved. A successful claims adjuster must have excellent communication and negotiation skills and should be able to arbitrate with grace and empathy. Adjusters spend time in the field, as well as behind a desk.

Insurance Term: Agent and Broker

Brokers and agents sell insurance policies to individuals and companies that want to guard their assets against liability. In the event of a fire, injury, or accident, customers call their agents; therefore agents must have a detailed knowledge of policies and their limitations. Those who are familiar with business practices and comfortable talking with all types of customers can make a good living working an adjustable schedule in the insurance industry.

Insurance Term: Actuary

Actuaries are responsible for determining the risk involved in insuring a person’s life, their property, their health, or their business. If you’re 23, you probably pay more for auto insurance than your friend who is 27. That’s because an actuary determined that age has a dramatic effect on the risk of insuring a driver. Because their analysis is used to establish coverage risk, actuaries are one of the most important elements of the insurance industry. A successful actuary understands government legislation and social tendencies that effect risk. They often work with government entities, insurance agencies, pension management firms, and other advisors.

BCBS Report: Health Care Bill Approved

For the Week Ending February 24, 2012 

The Democratic majority in the Vermont House flexed its muscles last week and easily powered through a health care bill establishing state-specific characteristics for the federally-mandated health insurance exchange required in all states beginning in 2014. H.559 was approved and sent to the Senate on an 88-38 vote.

The majority easily defeated minority amendments to modify the House Health Care Committee’s recommended version of the bill during a two-day debate. The House concurred with its committee’s recommendations that all individual and small group insurance plans be offered through the exchange, thus eliminating any benefit choices outside the exchange. The Governor and Democratic leaders had earlier made concessions on the size of employers in the exchange and added a lower cost option to the selection of products offered on the exchange.

As passed by the House, individuals and employer-sponsored groups with less than 50 employees will be required to purchase their benefits through the exchange beginning January 1, 2014. The bill (H.559) also clarifies the role of the new Green Mountain Care board for hospital budget reviews, certificate of need applications, and insurance rate reviews. The bill establishes a limit on prescription drug out-of-pocket costs in benefit plans, and other provisions unrelated to the exchange.

Friday’s Senate debate on a bill addressing the loss of the state hospital in Waterbury due to flooding from Tropical Storm Irene did not go as smoothly as the House passage of H.559, however. Already passed by the House and on the floor of the Senate with a favorable recommendation from its Health and Welfare Committee, the final vote on the bill was postponed until Wednesday of this week as senators reacted to an unexpected administration announcement that up to 80 state hospital employees could be lose their state jobs due to the transfer of services to other facilities.

H.630 would construct a new, smaller state mental health hospital in Central Vermont and utilize private facilities around the state to provide services for the remaining patients. The state employees union raised concerns and many legislators expressed concern over the fate of those employees and whether they might be hired by the private facilities.

Also last week, the Agency of Administration Secretary Doug Racine presented the Senate Health and Welfare Committee with a substitute proposal for an enhanced autism mandate bill (S.223). Racine recommended limiting the age group covered from any age

to 21 years and also recommended the mandate cover all early developmental disorders rather than just those on the autism spectrum. The bill as introduced would cover a person of any age for treatment for any autism spectrum disorder. The committee will take additional testimony this week.

This week, the House Health and Welfare Committee will return to a discussion on how health insurance broker fees should be billed. The House committee declined to include an amendment to H.559 in committee but promised to consider it separately from H.559. A House member proposed an amendment during the full House debate on H.559 but withdrew it before it could be considered.

Also this week, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee will hear from BISHCA Commissioner Steve Kimble on expanded health insurer reporting (S.200), a controversial bill regarding immunizations (S.199), and an expanded autism mandate (S.223).

If you are interested in this week’s Legislative Committee Meeting schedules, agendas, and a listing of other meetings and activities, please visit the Vermont Legislature’s website at http://www.leg.state.vt.us/Committee01.cfm Committee meetings are normally updated daily, and are subject to change without notice. If you plan on attending, you may want to call ahead to verify the agenda.

For more information on legislative proposals, visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont website at www.bcbsvt.com or call Leigh Tofferi at (802) 223-6131 or Kathy Parry at (802) 371-3205. If you wish to discontinue receiving these updates or know of anyone else who would like to receive it, please call Kathy Parry or send an e-mail to parryk@bcbsvt.com

BCBS Legislative Report

For the Week Ending February 10, 2012 

The House Health Care Committee last week made two key decisions on the design of a health insurance exchange but deferred a third decision on an “off-exchange” market to this week as committee members continue to seek answers to their unanswered questions about benefit options and prices within the exchange when it becomes operational in 2014.

The committee agreed to limit the exchange to individuals and employers with less than 50 employees on a preliminary vote of 10-0-1 rather than including employers up to 100 employees as allowed by federal law and proposed in H.559. The federal Affordable Care Act requires exchanges to include employers with up to 100 employees in 2016 but allows states to opt for the less than 50 employee standard as a temporary transition period. The committee’s preliminary vote followed a high profile news conference led by Governor Peter Shumlin and backed by House and Senate leadership that endorsed the less than 50 employee small group definition and also called for including a “bronze” plan among the benefit options to be offered on the exchange. Many employers attending a public hearing argued for a lower-cost bronze option to ensure that popular HSA (health savings account) plans will continue to be available to them. The committee endorsed the bronze plans on an 8-2-1 preliminary vote, reversing a decision the committee made last year in Act 48 that called for benefits options of at least a “silver” level or above.

Whether the exchange will be the only source of coverage options for individuals and small employers or whether they will be able to purchase coverage through an “off-exchange” market will be decided this week. Key business groups went before the committee last week to ask why employers should be required to purchase on an unproven exchange and not be allowed to purchase coverage in an off-exchange market. Committee members openly expressed concern that their own questions have not been answered sufficiently and they are finding it hard to give clear responses when pressed for answers from their constituents and local businesses.

The exchange is the linchpin in the governor’s long-term health care reform plan. The administration hopes to use federal funding to design an exchange that consolidates risk pools, standardizes administrative functions, and begins to decouple health benefits from employment. The exchange then could be the foundation to launch the Green Mountain Care universal coverage single-payer plan in 2017.

The House committee is also considering additional amendments to H.559, including the feasibility of requiring employers to offer Section 125 “cafeteria” plans — even if they

don’t offer health benefits — to enable their employees to use pre-tax dollars to purchase benefits as an individual through the exchange. And other provisions in the bill need committee resolution, including a proposal to limit prescription drug out-of-pocket costs.

Meanwhile, a Senate bill that would remove a loophole in the state’s requirement for children to be vaccinated before enrolling in school is under consideration in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. The bill would preserve an exemption for religious reasons but remove an exemption for “philosophical” reasons. The proposal has sparked a huge response from parents and others opposed to mandatory vaccinations who are peppering lawmakers in both chambers with emails and calls.

Also this week, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee is continuing its review of H.630, the House-passed community mental health reform proposal that includes replacement of the state mental health hospital with regional solutions and a new facility in Central Vermont.

If you are interested in this week’s Legislative Committee Meeting schedules, agendas, and a listing of other meetings and activities, please visit the Vermont Legislature’s website at http://www.leg.state.vt.us/Committee01.cfm Committee meetings are normally updated daily, and are subject to change without notice. If you plan on attending, you may want to call ahead to verify the agenda.

For more information on legislative proposals, visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont website at www.bcbsvt.com or call Leigh Tofferi at (802) 223-6131 or Kathy Parry at (802) 371-3205. If you wish to discontinue receiving these updates or know of anyone else who would like to receive it, please call Kathy Parry or send an e-mail to parryk@bcbsvt.com

A Finn & Stone Christmas

Springfield, Vermont Staff
Springfield, Vermont Staff
Dining at the Reluctant Panther Restaurant
Good food and conversation!
Dining at the Reluctant Panther Restaurant
Enjoying the meal.

Last Friday, Finn & Stone held a Christmas luncheon for all employees at the beautiful Reluctant Panther Inn and Restaurant here in Manchester, Vermont. A fire destroyed this property a few years ago and it has been rebuilt and restored to perfection. Visit their website for more information & lovely photos.

We were fortunate that every employee from every office was able to attend. It was a great opportunity for coworkers to meet and visit. We had a delicious meal and a very relaxing afternoon. Chip Ams, President of F&S, spoke to the staff about 2011 being our 50th anniversary and everything we have accomplished this year. To celebrate, we have a new look, a new logo and a new website. We are also now on Facebook and LinkedIn.

We wish our staff, our clients and all our friends a very Merry Christmas, a happy holiday season and a prosperous and healthy new year.

Angela Arbolino & Chip Ams
Angela Arbolino & Chip Ams
Angela Arbolino & Jon Ams
Angela Arbolino & Jon Ams - Check out Jon's festive Christmas pants! These were the hit of the party.