Extending a helping hand to employees

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Naama O. Pozniak practices what she preaches. Other benefit advisers may jabber on about the healthy impact of wellness and mindfulness on the lives of clients and their employees, but the CEO of A+ Insurance and Paz Holding, Inc. is such an avid proponent of yoga and meditation that she isn’t afraid to urge her clients to join her for a session or two on the mats.

“I am not a yoga teacher, but I had training and have been practicing for 20 years and I really believe in the healing process,” she says. Pozniak has an insurance office in Valley Village, a suburb north of Los Angeles, and she recently co-founded a yoga center in Santa Monica.

She likes to introduce the idea of using yoga and meditation every time she visits her clients that range from three employees up to hundreds. “People have my cell phone number and text me. They want to take me up on my offer, saying, ‘I want to go to yoga with you,’” she says.

This hands-on dedication to clients is just one reason why Pozniak is one of EBA’s 2017 Most Influential Women in Benefit Advising.

To select this year’s honorees, EBA editors asked readers to submit the names of thought leaders who are making their mark on the benefit business through their unique approaches to client relations, benefits technology and/or mentoring other women. From the dozens of submissions received, the editors chose 30 benefit advisers to recognize for their outstanding achievements.

Overall, it’s more than just poses and clearing her clients’ minds. Pozniak is a firm believer in healthy eating, probiotics and staying active. She’s a fierce proponent of health savings accounts, too. She admires how HSAs help employers and their employees.

Employees are looking at their medical costs, whereas they used to be blind to the details, she says. “They are actually engaged in their own healthcare now. It helps the employer control” their health insurance expenses, she says.

“HSAs came out in 2004 and I have been one of the biggest supporters of the HSA. Now it’s the conversation on the streets, but my clients are already on these plans. They’re utilizing the tools and the ideas.”

HSAs have allowed her clients’ employees to visit their doctors without a copay. “Getting people to the doctor’s office is so hard, and this is what I am teaching my clients as well. At every open enrollment [I tell employees] to see the doctor, make an appointment, get your annual physical,” she says.

Spreading the word
To further her campaign to promote health, Pozniak lectures on the benefits of yoga at benefit industry conferences. She presented a talk entitled "Reducing Healthcare Cost with Yoga & Meditation" at the California Association of Health Underwriters last September and is working on another presentation that has been approved by the California Department of Insurance entitled "Managing Healthcare Cost with Meditation."

"The second CE class was approved by the California Department of Insurance last month and I will be teaching the second class, called 'Meditation as a New Way for Wellness,'" she says.

"In addition to offering one-on-one consultation for employees and their families, I am helping to construct classes for employers. These classes will offer yoga and meditation leaders to lead group sessions that will be applicable to specific industries like insurance, sales, HRs, and physicians, " she says. "I am currently helping healthcare insurance leaders to transform their practices by writing a five-day, online meditation course specifically tailored to open enrollment. These online programs will hopefully help them reduce their stress during the upcoming enrollment."

Pozniak serves on the NAHU Soaring Eagle Committee and is the LPRT Chair for NAHU Region 8. She’s a HUPAC Chair for the Los Angeles Association of Health Underwriters board of directors. She serves on the advisory board for Anthem BC, Kaiser Permanente, Blue Shield and HealthNet.

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Throughout two decades of practicing yoga, Pozniak discovered that she had to do more to get herself moving. Three years ago she bought Fitbits for herself and her team and she found that her assumption that she walked throughout her day was wrong.

“I realized that I don’t do much walking. They say sitting is the next smoking, and unless I leave the house and walk for an hour a day I don't make the 10,000 steps,” she says.

Pozniak clearly loves her mission for educating people about staying active, achieving serenity and living well. And she boasts about her clients as well.

“I live for that education and this is why I think my clients are so unique. My clients are healthier for sure. Not all of them, but the average clients of mine are healthier than other advisers’, I do believe that."

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Advisor strategies Practice management Workforce management Wellness Health and wellness HSAs Healthcare costs Top Women in Benefit Advising