May 29, 2024
A survey by ASE in Troy shows median <a href=health insurance premiums increased 4 percent in 2021. // Stock Photo ” width=”800″ height=”534″ srcset=” 800w,×200.jpg 300w,×513.jpg 768w,×465.jpg 696w,×420.jpg 629w,×401.jpg 600w” sizes=”(max-width: 800px) 100vw, 800px”/>
A survey by ASE in Troy shows median health insurance premiums increased 4 percent in 2021. // Stock Photo

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies, including updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

Survey: Health Insurance Premiums Up 4% in 2021

Median health insurance premiums increased 4 percent in 2021, according to ASE in Troy’s 2022 Health Care Insurance Benefits Survey.

The annual survey, covering Michigan employers, examines the premiums, deductibles, and co-pays of employer-sponsored health plans as well as wellness benefits and cost control strategies.

According to this year’s sample, median premium increases were 4 percent in 2021. Increases for the 2022 plan year were 5 percent. The median increases for 2023 are projected to be 6 percent.

A majority of the participants (63 percent) reported offering two to three types of health plans. The most-utilized plan type continues to be Preferred Provider Organization Plans (PPO) with 87 percent of companies offering this option.

Thirty-seven percent of the sample of participants report self-funding their health plan, down slightly from a year ago. However, 69 percent of large companies (those with 500 or more employees) reported being self-funded.

New to the survey this year, employers were polled on the prevalence of opt-out incentives for those employees who choose not to elect coverage under the employer-sponsored health plan. Just a third of employers surveyed offer that benefit. Annual opt-out incentives averaged $1,824.

The three-tiered price structure (generic, preferred brand, non-preferred brand) for prescription drug plans were the most popular among traditional PPOs with 49 percent of non-unionized organizations reporting this structure, down slightly from a year ago. Five-tiered structures followed as the second most prevalent option at 31 percent. This was an increase of nine percentage points from a year ago.

The median annual employer contributions to Health Savings Accounts (HSA) remained unchanged from the last four years with an employee only contribution totaling $500 and an employee + family contribution totaling $1,000 for both union and non-unionized organizations.

The number-one strategy that employers planned to implement continues to be increasing education regarding health plan features and costs (14 percent). Implementing or expanding wellness programs (6 percent), changing providers (4 percent), and increasing the employees cost share (5 percent) top the list of strategies that companies are considering but have yet to set a timeline for.

“With employee retention top of mind for most employers, they are hesitant to make changes to their health care plans,” says Mary E. Corrado, president of ASE. “Instead, employers continue to meet their cost challenges by educating employees on their health care plan features and being good consumers of health benefits.”

To purchase the full survey report, visit here.

Black-led Business Bootcamp to Offer Assistance to Detroit-based Black Entrepreneurs

Greater Detroit-area Black entrepreneurs can now enroll in the new business bootcamp called B3 Elevation: Branding and Building Black, organized by DP Marketing Strategies, Inc. a Black woman-owned advertising agency founded in Detroit, in collaboration with JPMorgan Chase’s Advancing Black Pathways. The application period ends Aug. 22.

The 10-week program will include small business training, education on branding tools, and revenue-generating marketing services, as well as a $5,000 grant award to help local small business owners on a long-term scale. In addition, cohort members will be able to strengthen their knowledge and skills in these four areas:

  • Creditworthiness
  • Digital presence (web, social media, and public relations).
  • Business certifications.
  • Protection from a legal fallout.

The cohort will include 25 select Black entrepreneurs based in the greater Detroit area who have operated for a minimum of three years and generate $100,000 in annual gross revenue or more. Each participant will join 10 training and coaching sessions from Sept. 7 to Nov. 9. Upon completion of the program, each participant will receive up to $5,000 in grant funding to invest in their business.

“B3 Elevation is truly a passion project for me, that I know helps to enable Black-owned businesses to build capacity, operate efficiently and compete effectively in the marketplace,” says Diane Palmer, CEO of DP Marketing Strategies and founder of B3 Elevation. “JPMorgan Chase’s commitment to accelerating financial outcomes for Black entrepreneurs through Advancing Black Pathways made the firm an ideal partner for this bootcamp.”

JPMorgan Chase launched Advancing Black Pathways in 2019 to help the Black community chart stronger paths toward economic success and empowerment.

“As a firm, we are committed to growing local Black-owned small businesses,” says Bre Mills, vice president and Chase senior business consultant based in Detroit. “We are so proud to share and support the mission of the B3 Elevation program. Our goal is to help more Detroit entrepreneurs take their business from where it is to where it deserves to be – because our city depends on them.”

Local community partners helping to build awareness and support for the B3 Elevation opportunity in the Greater Detroit area include:

  • First Independence Bank.
  • Michigan Small Business Development Center – Southeast Region
  • Detroit Urban League
  • Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council
  • SCORE of Southeast Michigan
  • Detroit Development Fund
  • Black United Fund of Michigan

To apply for the program, visit

Husband of Better Made CEO Cathy Gusmano Passes Away

Better Made Snack Foods last week announced the death of James “Jim” Gusmano, husband of Chairwoman and CEO Cathy Gusmano.

Gusmano was 80 years old and lived in Grosse Pointe Shores. He had a long struggle with spinal issues and in lieu of flowers the family has asked that all donations be made in his name to the National Spinal Health Foundation.

“He was a wonderfully kind man, and a great dad,” says Phillip Gusmano, his son and a Better Made associate. “He left us all with many great memories that will be treasured as long as we live. We will all miss him and his infectious smile.”

Van Andel Institute Rolls Out Curiosity on Wheels to Metro Detroit Schools

The Van Andel Institute for Education (VAI) in Grand Rapids is introducing an expanded catalog of in-person science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs available to host at K-12 schools in metro Detroit and across the entire state for the 2022-23 school year.

The following programs are now available in VAI’s expanded catalog:

Curiosity on Wheels: Curiosity on Wheels takes inquiry-based science to new heights as participants think — and act — like scientists by conducting hands-on, fun-filled STEM investigations in a full-on event setting. Whether it be addressing science standards, enhancing thematic units.VAI can create and deliver an event to meet a school’s content, time, and budgetary needs.

Classroom Field Trips: VAI’s Field Trips immerse classrooms of students — and their teachers — in learning science through inquiry. Students will conduct unique, grade-specific investigations and participate in hands-on discovery. In addition, when schools come to VAI— either in person or virtually — participants will speak with VAI scientists and watch them in action at the Institute’s demonstration lab. All topics are aligned to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

VAI says it never wants cost to be an obstacle to great learning. To learn more about VAI’s Field Trips and Curiosity on Wheels, call 616-234-5528.

For more information, visit

Marygrove Conservancy Hosts Summer Block Party

The Marygrove Conservancy hosted a Summer Block Party Aug. 13 on the Marygrove campus (8425 W. McNichols Road) in Detroit.

The Block Party featured local live entertainment, campus tours, free food for the first 500 guests, activities for the whole family, community resources, and more.

Highlights include laptop giveaways from Human IT, a performance from the Detroit Youth Choir, the Michigan Humane Society’s pop-up vaccination clinic, and more than 40 Marygrove tenants and community-based businesses and organizations.

This was the first major public event on Marygrove’s campus in more than two years.

The Block Party is also served as a final external enrollment push as The School at Marygrove welcomes its inaugural classes of kindergarten through second-grade students for the 2022-2023 school year.

Visit here for more information.