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Winter 2024 Insight Employer Newsletter

man using a phone

Encourage your employees to register for an online member account

In order to ensure your employees get the most out of their Independent Health coverage, please encourage them to create a MyIH member account at or through the MyIH mobile app, which is available for free for smartphone users.

Having their own private and secure account allows your employees to have all their plan information in one convenient place. Among the things your employees can do through their MyIH account – at anytime from anywhere – include:

  • Check their plan benefits
  • View recent medical and pharmacy claims
  • Access their member ID card as well as request additional cards
  • Change their primary care physician
  • Update their contact information
  • Activate the RedShirt Rewards program so that they can earn up to $30 in gift card rewards by taking positive steps toward a healthier lifestyle
  • Check their Nutrition Benefit reward status and Health Extras balance*
  • Track their deductible and out-of-pocket costs (if applicable)
  • Manage their Health Savings Account (HSA) through HealthEquity (if applicable)
  • Opt-in to receive their Explanation of Benefit (EOB) statements electronically
  • Receive reminders about important health action items and preventive care services through their personal action plan.

As part of the member account registration process, your employees will also provide us with an email address, giving us a direct way to communicate with them. When we reach your employees in a more personal, member-specific manner, it enhances our ability to effectively help them manage their own health. And that means a healthier, more productive workforce you can depend on. Plus, it’s just one of the many reasons why Independent Health is a national leader when it comes to clinical quality, prevention and member satisfaction.

*Not included with all plans. Check your summary of benefits to see if your plan includes these options and benefits. Some plans offer a choice in benefits that require annual activation and selection of benefit by member.

RedShirt woman with long hair

Special Report: The positive impact locally-based customer service has on our members and community

In recent years, we’ve seen individuals from all backgrounds struggle as their cost of living —and, specifically, living while ill — has risen dramatically. Unfortunately, this trend shows no sign of letting up.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), annual growth in national health spending is expected to average 5.1% over 2023–2030 and reach nearly $6.8 trillion by 2030. While this will be driven by factors outside the control of the typical health care customer, it will impact individuals and families already weary from growing price tags on everything from nutritious food to essential medical procedures.

More than ever, health care organizations must connect customers with services that provide value, while understanding their concerns on a local level. Thankfully, Independent Health recognizes this need in a recent special report titled “Local Presence, Local Impact: How In-Community Customer Service Helps Independent Health Members, Neighborhoods Thrive.”

The report explains how our customer service has positioned Independent Health to better meet the needs of our members from a common geographical and social perspective by understanding the nuances of local communities. The report also demonstrates the economic benefits Independent Health provides to the community by being based and headquartered in Western New York.

Independent Health has long been committed to ensuring our members receive outstanding service, because the easier we make it for them, the easier we make it for their employers. We invite you to learn more about the value of our customer service by reading our report.

Download and read our special report.

HSA blocks

Employers can also save money by offering a Health Savings Account

As a way to help their employees pay for qualified medical expenses, employers that offer a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) may be able to combine it with a Health Savings Account (HSA). Approximately 36 million Americans have an HSA, and balances of these accounts total more than $116 billion, according to the 2023 Midyear Devenir HSA Research Report.

HSAs provide many benefits to employees and can be a great way for them to save money on taxes* and save for the future. However, you as an employer can also benefit from HSAs, and the savings can really add up. Here are three main benefits you can realize with HSAs:

  1. Drive down monthly premiums
    Anyone who wants to open an HSA must enroll in a qualifying high deductible health plan. One of the benefits of a high deductible health plan is that monthly premiums lower than traditional health plans. This is true for both employees and employers. As an employer, the money you save in premiums can be put back in the business or can be used to contribute to your employees’ HSAs. Why could it be a good idea to contribute money to your employees’ HSAs? Let’s move on to benefit number two.

  2. Reduce FICA obligations
    When your employees contribute to their HSAs through payroll deductions, the contribution is made pre-tax, which saves you their portion of FICA taxes (7.65 percent). Add that up across every employee account and you could have a healthy boost to your bottom line.

  3. Make tax-deductible contributions
    When employers contribute money to their employees’ HSAs, 100 percent of those contributions are tax deductible. HSA tax savings are exclusive to employees and employers. Others can contribute to someone’s HSA but cannot realize tax savings. Employee contributions can be taken pre-tax through payroll deductions, although any contributions they make after taxes can be tax deductible. However, when employees contribute to their HSA through payroll deductions, employers, you included, can receive a third benefit.

If you currently offer a HDHP, check with your account manager to see if you’re eligible to add an HSA, too. It’s something you can do at any time during your plan year. In addition to your employees, you can also benefit personally from the many lifelong benefits an HSA can offer. 

We make managing an HSA easy!
Independent Health is proud to partner with HealthEquity, the leading administrator of HSAs in the nation. Through this collaboration, Independent Health is the only health plan in Western New York that offers an integrated HSA product with complete automated enrollment and claims payment solutions as well as no monthly maintenance fees. Visit our website to learn more.

*HSAs are never taxed at a federal income tax level when used appropriately for qualified medical expenses. Also, most states recognize HSA funds as tax-free with very few exceptions. Independent Health does not provide legal, tax, financial or medical advice. Therefore, please consult a tax advisor regarding your state’s specific rules.

Girl ice skating

We’re helping Western New Yorkers stay healthy and active this winter

Independent Health is proud to team up with a variety of community partners to offer programs and activities that are helping Western New Yorkers take charge of their health and remain active this winter, including:

  • Lace up your skates for curling and ice skating on the Independent Health Ice Rinks at Buffalo RiverWorks. Discounts on skate rentals are available to Independent Health members. In addition, make sure you save the date for “Winter Recess at RiverWorks.” From February 19-22, you will be able to enjoy free ice skating and roller skating as well as other family-friendly activities and free giveaways (while supplies last).

  • The Tifft Nature Preserve hosts “Wellness Walks presented by Independent Health” every Thursday morning. It’s a great way to way to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature while also getting your steps in. All ages are encouraged to attend these free weekly walks, which are guided by a knowledgeable volunteer. Plus, participants receive a free giveaway (while supplies last), courtesy of Independent Health. Please call (716) 825-6397 for times and to confirm that the walk will take place.

  • You can also take a crisp walk or run along the Independent Health Wellness Trail at Outer Harbor Buffalo. This 3-mile trail begins at Wilkeson Pointe and stretches just past Bell Slip. Independent Health is proud to be the official health and wellness partner of Outer Harbor Buffalo.

  • If you prefer the warmth and comfort of the indoors, you can head to the Buffalo Museum of Science and check out Explore YOU presented by Independent Health. This Health Sciences-themed studio offers visitors a hands-on experience to explore all there is to know about the human body, ways to stay healthy and advances in life-changing medical technology.

An added bonus – exclusive member discounts!
Buffalo RiverWorks and the Buffalo Museum of Science are just two of the hundreds of community partners, organizations and businesses that currently participate in Independent Health’s Wellness Discounts program. From “Freebies” and “Buy One, Get One Free” offers to savings of up to 30% off, our exclusive member discounts make it easier for your employees to achieve their health and wellness goals. All they need to do is present their Independent Health member ID card at the time of purchase to receive a discount.

Learn more about all the community-wide programs and activities Independent Health is offering this winter and throughout the year by visiting our website.

Reminder about new member ID cards

Independent Health has begun to issue new member ID cards to commercial plan members. The cards include a new ID number that begins with a "W" instead of a "9". All existing commercial plan members will receive their new ID cards as part of their group’s 2024 plan renewal process. As always, if your employees misplace their new ID card or need to order additional ID cards for their spouse and/or dependents, they can submit a request through their online member account either at our website or via the MyIH mobile app. It's fast and simple!

Updated group admin manual now available

Independent Health’s Group Administration Manual was recently updated. This important resource was developed to be used by those who have the responsibility of administering group health benefits for employees within their company. It outlines our company policies and procedures related to administering group benefits, including key guidelines surrounding our enrollment and disenrollment policies. The manual can be accessed through our website.