Category Archive: News

VISICOR Has Been Acquired By Marsh & McLennan Agency

All of VISICOR’s leadership and employees will join MMA’s Southwest region and merge into MMA’s existing Houston office.

“I’m delighted to welcome VISICOR’s talented and experienced employee benefit specialists to MMA,” said Anthony Gruppo, CEO for MMA’s Southwest region, based in Houston. “The addition enables us to offer greater resources and a broader platform to serve the employee benefit needs of our clients throughout Texas and the Southwest.”

“Becoming a part of Marsh & McLennan Agency is the next step in the evolution of VISICOR,” said Ed Oravetz, president of VISICOR. “Our clients will continue to enjoy the same high-quality service they’ve come to expect from VISICOR while benefiting from a broader array of capabilities and resources through MMA.”

Read the full article here:

Ed Oravetz Wins Broker of the Year

BOYEd Oravetz was named Broker of the Year Wednesday at the Benefits Selling Expo. Here is a link to the article:

Ed Oravetz named a finalist for Benefits Selling Magazine’s 2014 Broker of the Year

In search of the 2014 Broker of the Year, Benefits Selling Magazine searched across the nation for brokers who are propelling the brokerage industry into a new era. And this year, among the top five finalists, is none other than VISICOR’s President/Senior Benefits Consultant Ed Oravetz. Oravetz has built VISICOR on a philosophy based not on numbers, but rather on client relationships, communication and trust, and it is this uncharacteristic philosophy that has garnered him the honor of being named a finalist for Benefits Selling Magazine’s 2014 Broker of the Year. The full story of how Oravetz’s groundbreaking strategy came to be is published in Benefits Selling Magazine’s March 2014 issue.

VISICOR is a full service employee benefits brokerage and consulting firm headquartered in the Houston area representing both public and private employer organizations throughout the State of Texas. Read more in Benefits Selling Magazine’s March 2014 issue.

The Cigna Level-Funding Solution

The Cigna Level-Funding℠ Solution…
Innovative Funding + Proven Wellness Programs = Immediate Savings and Sustainable Cost Control.

As a Platinum Preferred Agency with Cigna, VISICOR is pleased to introduce an innovative self-funding solution – Cigna Level Funding℠- designed for companies with fewer than 250 employees.¹ This unique product offers the predictability and protection of fixed monthly payments and the detailed reports, plan design flexibility and sense of control available through self-funding.  At the end of the plan year, if actual claims are lower than predicted, companies receive a credit that may be used to pay future health plan costs.

The Cigna Level-Funding℠ solution lets companies:

  • Receive specific claims reports that show exactly how health plan money is being spent
  • Stop-loss policy limits that provide immediate reimbursement with no “gaps” in protection
  • Tailor a health plan to the coverage needs of your employees
  • Offer the same plan to all employees, even when they work in different states
  • Find fewer surprises at renewal because you see exactly how your health plan is performing
  • Receive onsite biometric screenings and one-on-one health coaching
  • Targeted chronic condition and disease management programs

Companies today are looking for long term solutions for their employees’ benefits.  By combining an innovative self-funding product with detailed reporting and client tailored plan design with personalized wellness programs, Cigna Level Funding℠ can deliver sustainable cost control.

For more information on this innovative solution and to see if it can help your organization achieve its health benefit objectives, contact us today!


Ed Oravetz


VISICOR – President / Senior Benefits Consultant
O:  281.824.3123     F:  281.824.3123


1. Cigna offers group insurance coverage to employers with 51–250 employees, as well as administrative services for self insured plans. In most states, Cigna administers self-insured plans for employers with as few as 25 employees. InNew Hampshire,New York,North Carolina,OregonandUtah, Cigna offers self-insured plans only for employers with more than 50 employees.

All health plans and group insurance policies have exclusions and limitations. A complete list of both covered and non-covered services, including state-mandated benefits, are set forth in the applicable insurance certificate, group service agreement or group insurance policy.  “Cigna,” and the “Tree of Life” logo, are service marks, of Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc., licensed for use by Cigna Corporation and its operating subsidiaries. All products and services are provided exclusively by such operating subsidiaries and not by Cigna Corporation.  InTexas, Open Access Plus plans are considered Preferred Provider plans with certain managed care features; Health Savings Plans are considered Preferred Provider plans with certain managed care features with an attached Health Savings Account.

Group health plans are offered by the following Cigna companies:
Connecticut General Life Insurance Company
Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company

Supreme Court Decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)

Last week, by a narrow 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) on the grounds that the individual mandate penalty is a tax. While the individual mandate was deemed by a majority of the Court to violate the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause of the Constitution, it was ruled constitutional because Congress has the authority to impose a tax on individuals who go without insurance.

In writing for the majority in the National Federation of Independent Business vs. Sebelius decision, Chief Justice John Roberts stated that, “The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax. Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.” Chief Justice Roberts was joined in the majority decision by Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. The entire 193-page Supreme Court decision can be found here just in case you are having trouble sleeping and would like a non-medicated solution.

What HR Professionals and Business Owners Should Do

This ruling sends a powerful message ─ organizations need to review their plans and seize this opportunity to create better strategies around their health plans, both in design and employee communication.

For HR professionals and business owners, the message here is very clear ─ move forward with implementing and complying with PPACA, since major portions of it take effect in 2014 (a mere 18 months away) and other provisions take effect later this year and in 2013. Employers who were waiting to begin planning on how to comply need to begin performing quantitative and qualitative analyses on their plans. More importantly, they need to begin looking at their health plans as part of an overall HR strategy for their organizations.

Key steps employers need to take NOW to plan for 2014:

  1. Determine the strategic implications of whether or not to offer a plan. Health benefits are just one part of an overall total rewards strategy. How does an organization’s having (or not having) health benefits impact other talent acquisition and talent management strategies?
  2. Review the Supreme Court decision as to its impact on your organization.
  3. If your current medical plan is grandfathered, perform a qualitative analysis on whether it makes sense to remain a grandfathered plan or become non-grandfathered by examining the seven PPACA provisions that apply only to non-grandfathered plans.
  4. Perform a qualitative analysis to determine if your existing plan meets qualifying eligibility and affordability standards. In order for employers to avoid potential penalties, ensure that any health plans offered meet both standards.
  5. Determine the true organizational costs of either offering or not offering health coverage after 2013. For many organizations, this is not the “no-brainer” that it may first appear.

Starting July 15th, VISICOR will be offering a complimentary health care analysis and report. This report will provide a full quantitative and qualitative analysis and will be customized for each company/organization that requests this service. At the conclusion of this report, you will know exactly where you stand, what the risk factors are, potential exposure areas, and potential tax liabilities (employer mandate). If you are a current client of VISICOR, we will automatically provide this report to you. If you are not yet a client of VISICOR and would like us to provide this report for you, please contact us. There is no cost and no obligation for this service.

VISICOR Connect — New Online Tool for Clients

HOUSTON, TEXAS (June 25, 2012) – VISICOR, an employee benefits brokerage and consulting firm serving the Houston area, adds VISICOR Connect, a revolutionary new online support tool for clients.

VISICOR Connect offers clients tools for managing their benefits accounts, and an extensive library of resources to support their businesses. This online portal gives businesses instant access to their benefits plans, and allows them to participate in a community forum where they can post questions and receive feedback from other businesses.

VISICOR Connect will help clients stay up to date on all aspects of HR compliance: Health Care Reform, Section 125, COBRA, FMLA, HIPAA, HIPAA Privacy, and Medicare Part D. Clients can find news, compliance forms, Q & A forums, and quick links for all topics related to HR compliance.

VISICOR Connect contains an extensive library of articles, documents, brochures, forms, benefit plans reports, employee newsletters, information on wellness programs, and a link library for additional online resources.

VISICOR is a full-service employee benefits brokerage and consulting firm located in Houston, serving mid-size to large public and private organizations throughout Texas. VISICOR considers itself a partner with its clients, offering customized solutions for each one, based on clients’ goals, needs, objectives, budget, and staff. VISICOR understands no two organizations are the same, so they implement progressive new ideas to find the right solution for each individual client. With more than 50 years to combined experience, the VISICOR team delivers the expertise and specialization essential to navigate today’s increasingly complex and challenging employee benefits marketplace.


Small Businesses and Self-Funded Medical Insurance – Myth vs. Reality

Many small to medium-sized companies avoid self-funded medical insurance, believing it is too risky and only appropriate for larger businesses. However separating the myth from reality shows that self-funding can be a wise choice for companies with as few as 25 employees.

How Self-funding Works

With a self-funded plan, the employer pays all medical claims directly, and uses a third party administrator to manage the claims, issue ID cards, assist employees with the filing of claims, and answer employees’ questions.

Separating Myth from Reality

Myth: One serious health claim can wipe out a company.

Reality: Companies can protect themselves from the financial risk of an expensive medical claim by purchasing stop-loss insurance. This coverage allows an employer to establish an annual liability limit per employee. For example, if an employer has individual stop-loss insurance of $20,000, and an individual has $50,000 in claims, the stop-loss insurance will reimburse the employer’s health plan $30,000, and any additional claims for that individual for the remainder of the coverage period will be covered by the stop-loss insurance. Individual and aggregate stop-loss insurance is available.

Myth: Self-funding is too much to manage.

Reality: A benefits administrator will process all health care claims, and will manage the day-to-day details of the self-funded plan. In some cases, an employer will contract a benefits administrator, then secure a separate provider for the stop-loss insurance. The integrated solution provides the best coverage, because it eliminates gaps that can occur due to conflicting interpretations of contracts, eligibility rules, and disclosure requirements. An integrated solution makes transactions faster, more efficient, more secure, and protects companies from surprise fees that can arise.

Benefits of Self-Funding

The data benefit. Unlike the fully funded option, self-funding allows companies to access data reports which help them know exactly where and how their health care dollars are being spent and make informed decisions when considering benefits changes. This data can include things like number and length of hospitalizations, frequency of emergency room visits, outpatient visits, and pharmacy information.

No surprises at renewal. With a fully funded plan, an employer typically receives a renewal 60 days prior to the effective date. Up to this point, an employer knows nothing about current and future costs, or claims, which can affect the cost of the renewal premiums. Smaller companies typically don’t receive any data to explain or justify renewal increases. With a self-funded option, the employer has access to all data, so there are no surprises at renewal.

Greater control. Armed with good data, self-funding allows companies to adopt strategies that can reduce claims expense. This may include offering wellness programs, preventive care, and helping employees make smart choices about health care. Fewer claims result in less health care expense, and lower premiums for the company. The data benefit also helps companies track the effectiveness of wellness programs and preventive care. Employers can also negotiate rates with doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers, resulting in discounted health care options. Self- funding gives employers the opportunity for immediate savings and sustainable cost control.

Lower taxes. Premiums for self-funded plans are taxed at 25 percent of the premium, versus 100 percent with a fully funded plan.

Considering self-funding?

If a company is exploring the self-funding option, there are some things to consider.

Know your company. Understand the underlying claims cost, and the employee population – the age and general health state of the population. Is the business a high risk or low risk business?

Know how it will affect rates. If a company has lower than expected claims, they will see immediate savings with a self-funded plan. But, if claims are higher than expected, costs can increase, even up to the stop loss limit.

Be aware of terminal liability. If a company ends its agreement with a benefits administrator, any costs incurred during the health plan year but filed after the date of termination with the administrator will still have to be paid by employer.

Be aware of claims litigation liability. In a self-funded, the benefits administrator handles the day-to-day decisions, but may not make decisions about claims appeals, depending on the agreement with the administrator. A key difference in self-funded and fully funded plans is that with a self-funded plan, the sponsoring employer is solely responsible for defending any lawsuits based on claim payments decisions. If a claim denial gets overturned in court, the employer could face paying the claim and associated legal fees. Experts say this occurrence is rare, but employers should still be informed of the potential liability.

Smaller companies that have been reluctant to consider self-funded medical plans should be aware of the benefits and the safety measures in place to minimize the risk. Eliminating the myths about self-funded programs may demonstrate that it is a good cost-saving option for many businesses.


Health Care Reform and Small Business

There has been a great deal of coverage in the media regarding health care reform and how it will affect businesses, particularly small businesses. Sorting out the requirements and implications has left many business owners scratching their heads trying to understand how health care reform affects their businesses.

In an effort to clarify the confusion, here are five things small employers must know about employee health benefits in the new health care environment:

1. You don’t have to provide benefits now. Most employers are not required by law to offer health-related benefits to their employees. This has been a point of confusion for many small business owners.

2. You may not have to provide benefits ever. In 2014, businesses with fifty or more full-time employees will be required to provide health insurance coverage for their workers or pay a penalty. This is will be the law unless the Supreme Court determines the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. Regardless, you do not have to provide employee health benefits by 2014 if you employ fewer than 50 employees.

3. You do need to claim your tax credit. Your business is eligible for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit if you have fewer than 25 full-time employees, cover at least 50% of the cost of their coverage, and your employees have average wages of less than $50,000 a year. To determine the amount of your credit, talk to your accountant and complete IRS form 8941.

4. You don’t have to report benefits on your W-2’s. PPACA requires employers to report the cost of coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan on employees’ Form W-2s. However, this requirement was optional for all employers for the 2011 tax year. And the reporting requirement is still optional for businesses filing fewer than 250 W-2 forms for 2012. Reporting will remain optional for smaller employers until further guidance is issued.

5. You must provide proper notice. Under COBRA, employers with 20 or more employees that provide health benefits must continue to provide coverage to an employee when he or she leaves. You can require the employee to pay the full cost of the coverage and a 2% administrative charge. However, you must notify your plan administrator within 30 days of the employee leaving so your administrator can provide the proper employee notice.

Health care reform is confusing, but VISICOR can help you sort out.  Our team is available to help you navigate the new health care benefits environment. Call us today at 281-824-3124, or use our convenient contact form to send us your question.


John Moore Services Signs with VISICOR for HR Support

VISICOR, an employee benefits brokerage and consulting firm serving the Houston area, has just added highly respected John Moore Services to its client list.

VISICOR will be providing human resources services to John Moore through their newly implemented HR Connect service offering. This expanded service will offer a wide range of benefits administration and consulting services, such as new employee processing, employee benefits change processing, employee termination benefits processing, COBRA and Section 125 administration, HIPAA and healthcare reform notices, employee claims, and employee customer services. In addition to benefits administration, VISICOR will provide a full range of human resources services to John Moore and its staff.

John Moore Services began in 1965 as a local plumbing company in Houston, Texas and has now grown to the largest family owned and operated home services company in Texas. In addition to plumbing services, John Moore now offers air conditioning and heating services, electrical services, home security systems, pest control, and renovation services.

VISICOR is a full-service employee benefits brokerage and consulting firm located in Houston, serving mid-size to large public and private organizations throughout Texas. VISICOR considers itself a partner with its clients, offering customized solutions for each one, based on clients’ goals, needs, objectives, budget, and staff. VISICOR understands no two organizations are the same, so they implement progressive new ideas to find the right solution for each individual client. With more than 50 years to combined experience, the VISICOR team delivers the expertise and specialization essential to navigate today’s increasingly complex and challenging employee benefits marketplace.

LegalShield – A Must See Benefit!

Legal Shield Benefits

The VISICOR team is excited to introduce you to what we feel is the most dynamic employee benefit option in the market.The VISICOR staff is passionate about this new benefit offering and based on feedback from our clients as well as employees, we are making the introduction of this benefit a top priority.  Why are we so passionate about this benefit?  It all started with some personal experiences from the VISICOR team.

After providing our employees with this service, we immediately decided to put the plan to a test and the results can be summed up in a single word.  Amazing!  For less than $1 per day, this plan provides the following benefits:

  • Legal advice – unlimited issues
  • Letters/calls made on our behalf
  • Contracts & documents reviewed up to 10 pages
  • Will, Living Will, and Healthcare Power of Attorney preparation
  • Assistance with traffic-related issues
  • Trial defense (pre-trial and representation at trial)
  • IRS audit assistance
  • 24/7 emergency access for covered situations
  • Online legal forms

In addition to these valuable services, the plan includes Identity Theft Shield providing continuous monitoring with activity alerts and if required, full identity theft restoration services.

There is no other benefit on the market that provides this much value for such a low price.

Get The Facts!
Do not miss out on the opportunity to provide your employees access to this benefit either on a voluntary basis or as a fringe benefit.  This is a service your employees will truly appreciate!

If you are an employer in the Houston area, get ready…we will be calling you very soon to make sure you have the facts and information on this valuable plan.


VISICOR eServices – Launching December 1, 2010

Starting in 2008 the VISICOR team began looking for an online enrollment and employee benefits administration system for our clients. Unfortunately, all of the platforms located were either too expensive for the client or they were just too complicated for the employee population. After more than two years of searching…problem solved!

Effective December 1, 2010, the VISICOR team will be introducing our new online enrollment and benefits administration system called VISICOR eServices. This new web based platform is affordable and provides powerful solutions for employer organizations with more than 50 employees. There are many unique features with this system that you will have to see to believe! Features such as your own personalized employee benefits website, electronic carrier/provider feeds (no more invoicing issues), 24-hour/365 day employee and employer access, robust reporting, and much more! This system will change the way you look at employee benefits enrollment and plan administration.

For more information, please visit or simply call us at 281.824.3124 to schedule a demonstration.

The VISICOR Technology Team

Healthcare Reform – Employer Action

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) otherwise known as “healthcare reform” is upon us.  As we approach the end of 2010 and move into 2011, there are healthcare reform changes that, as the employer, you need to be aware of.

  • January 1, 2011: Regardless of your plan year, if you offer FSAs, HSAs, or HRAs, over-the-counter medications can no longer be purchased through these plans without a prescription.  There are some exceptions so please contact VISICOR for more information.
  • Grandfathering: For all plan year renewals after September 23, 2010, special consideration and plan analysis must be done in order to determine your Grandfathered status.  Although there are mandated changes being implemented for all plans, a Grandfathered plan will receive certain allowances.  However, maintaining Grandfathered status has strict compliance requirements so careful consideration must be given as to the value of maintaining a Grandfathered plan.
  • Healthcare Reform – Mandated Plan Changes: The PPACA requires ALL plans effective September 23, 2010 and beyond to meet the following requirements (including those plans that are Grandfathered):
    • Adult Children Coverage: Group health plans that provide dependent child coverage will be required to cover adult children until the age of 26. Grandfathered plans may exclude adult children who are eligible for coverage under another employer-based health plan (other than one of a parent) until 2014.
    • Restrictions on Lifetime and Annual Limits: Group health plans may no longer set lifetime limits on “essential health benefits.”  It is possible that “restricted annual limits” on essential health benefits will be permitted until 2014, if the Secretary of HHS defines which such limits are permitted.  Starting in 2014, annual limits on essential benefits are prohibited.
    • Pre-existing Condition Prohibitions: All group health plans are prohibited from applying pre-existing condition limits for children under 19.
    • Policy Rescissions: All group health plans and insurers are prohibited from rescinding coverage (except in limited acts of fraud or intentional misleading representation of facts).
  • In addition to the regulations listed above, if your plan is NOT Grandfathered, you will need to meet additional requirements which include the following:
    • Preventive Care Coverage: All group health plans are required to provide coverage for preventive services as defined in the new law and are prohibited from imposing cost sharing requirements on such items or services.
    • Internal/External Appeals: Group health plans must have an “effective” internal and external appeals process for coverage determinations and claims and must continue coverage until appeals process is resolved.
    • Non-discrimination for Fully-Insured Plans: Insured group health plans may not discriminate in favor of highly compensated individuals under Internal Revenue Code Section 105(h). This provision previously applied to self funded plans only, which is why most executive medical plans were funded on a fully insured basis.
    • Emergency Services: Must be covered without prior authorization and treated as in-network.
    • Choice of Providers: Must allow the plan member to designate a child’s pediatrician as the primary care provider and must not require authorization or referral for a participating OB-GYN.

For more information on anything outlined above, please contact VISICOR at or call us at 281.824.3124 so that we can be of assistance.

The VISICOR Compliance Team

Online Services

For existing clients needing assistance, just click on the link below for our online service options:

Online Service

Click on the link below for access to
VISICOR Connect.

Online Service


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The VISICOR team is a phenomenal resource for our organization. Their expertise and responsiveness to both individual inquiries and our school’s needs is simply first rate.” ─ B.M.; Head of School

We strongly recommend Visicor. Nowhere else will you find the professionalism and menu of unique and customized services provided by the Visicor team. With Visicor, you’re getting the best.” ─ S. B.; City Secretary

I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with Ed Oravetz and the VISICOR team for over five years now. In addition to helping us offer excellent benefits at a reasonable cost, the VISICOR staff has educated our employees so they fully understand their benefits and know how to use them effectively. They are always willing to assist employees with a difficult claim or any other problem. We have had tremendous positive feedback from our employees regarding VISICORs prompt, friendly and […]

The employee benefits consulting and analysis services provided by the VISICOR team provided the clarity and results needed by our benefits committee to make our 2011 benefits decisions. After months of confusion with a previous consultant, the VISICOR team delivered the results we were looking for and did so under very difficult timeline restrictions. I appreciate the professional and honest approach delivered by the VISICOR staff.” ─ H. W.; Human Resources / Risk Manager

Visicor offers services that we have not seen from previous brokers. The services they offer cuts the time we spend assisting our employees by more than half and provides added value directly to our employees.” ─ T. S.; Human Resources

I have worked with the VISICOR team through two open enrollment periods and a change in providers. Thanks to VISICOR and the information they provided to us and our employees we were able to make a smooth transition. Additionally, Ed and his team have always been available to answer questions regarding employee health insurance and to resolve any issues with our health insurance bills and claims quickly and efficiently.” ─ C. L.; Benefits Administrator

Visicor has been a tremendous help to us as we continually work to improve employee benefits. Our employees find the custom benefits booklets provided by Visicor as well as the open enrollment meetings very informative! Visicor has also been very helpful as the liaison between the insurance companies and employees throughout the plan year when issues arise.” ─ C. P.; HR Specialist

As Chief Financial Officer of Awty International School, my primary responsibility has been to balance the School’s operating budget in a time of deep economic distress in the United States and our parent constituency in Houston. That challenge has meant balancing reasonable tuition increases with certain operating cost categories where more than inflationary increases have occurred. Our health premiums are roughly 10% of our total operating costs, excluding depreciation and interest. Ed and Visicor have kept the increases to the […]

Employee benefits were so confusing for our employees before we teamed up with VISICOR and implemented their customized benefits booklets. Employees never understood their benefits, much less knowing what questions to ask. The Benefits booklets have streamlined our orientation process as well as our open enrollment process. They have empowered our current employees to learn about their benefits and how to use the benefits to their advantage.” ─ N. W.; Benefits Specialist

Early in September 2009, we found ourselves in a bind with our previous insurance broker/consultant. Our employee benefits renewal was October 1st so needless to say, we were in a panic. We advertised and held an open meeting giving several brokers the opportunity to speak and present their views to our committee members on what they could offer us. One consultant stood out the most. A vote was taken at the conclusion of the meeting and it was unanimous that […]

We have been a Visicor client for many years. The Visicor team is always so knowledgeable and willing to help my staff better understand and maximize their benefits. From benefits consulting to administration, they allow me to offer high-quality products to my employees that are affordable for everyone. We are Visicor customers for life!” ─ B. B.; Human Resources


VISICOR Has Been Acquired By Marsh & McLennan Agency

All of VISICOR’s leadership and employees will join MMA’s Southwest region and[...]

Ed Oravetz Wins Broker of the Year

Ed Oravetz was named Broker of the Year Wednesday at the Benefits[...]