Drug Costs Starting to Drive Group Plan Inflation

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

Under the Affordable Care Act, group health insurance costs have been rising at a much slower rate than they had during the decade preceding its passage. In fact, the rate of annual premium growth in the group market has hovered around 5% – more than half of what it was between 2001 and 2010. Also, health care’s share of the national economy actually fell from 17.4% in 2010 to 17.2% by 2013. However, that trend hasn’t lasted and in 2016 the share was 17.9%. There has been a lot of debate about why rates have been increasing and some pundits…
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Senate Works to Save CSR Payments, but Too Late for 2018

| posted in Blog

The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to reduce cost sharing (deductibles and copays) in silver-level plans for marketplace enrollees with incomes below 250% of the federal poverty line. Until now, insurers have relied on offsetting payments from the federal government to provide this feature. These payments amounted to $7 billion for fiscal year 2017, $10 billion for 2018 and will reach $16 billion by 2027. However, the Trump administration in August moved to end the controversial set of payments to the insurance industry designed to encourage carriers to remain in the ACA exchanges. These payments – known as “cost-sharing reduction…
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Bill Would Reverse Ban on Using FSAs, HSAs for Over-the-counter Meds

| posted in Blog

Legislation in Congress would reverse a controversial portion of the Affordable Care Act that bars employees from tapping their flexible spending accounts, health savings accounts and health reimbursement arrangements to pay for over-the-counter medications. The ACA barred the practice of spending funds that had been set aside using pre-tax dollars to spend on medications that can be purchased without a prescription. HR 1270 was introduced last year to remedy what bill sponsor Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kansas) says has resulted in patients having to spend more money than necessary. That ban is resulting in “families spending more money to see their…
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Open Enrollment is Coming to a Close

| posted in Blog, Uncategorized

With the tax penalty larger than it has ever been, now is the time to sign up for health coverage if you are not covered. The “shared responsibility” penalty for going without coverage in 2016 is $695 per person and $347.50 per child, or 2.5% of household income – whichever is higher. The open enrollment deadline is January 31st, 2016. Anyone who has not signed up by that deadline will not be able to enroll until next year’s open enrollment, unless they have a qualifying life event. If you wish to have coverage that is effective February 1st, your deadline to submit…
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2016 ACA Compliance Checklist

| posted in Blog

This is the year that the rubber really hits the road for employers with 50 or more full-time workers. The Affordable Care Act employer mandate for organizations with 50 to 99 employees takes effect this year, meaning that if you haven’t been offering your staff coverage before, you are now required to do so. There are also new reporting requirements for employers both in terms of submitting documents to the Internal Revenue Service as well as to your employees. As the New Year gets underway, read this refresher so you don’t miss a beat and expose your business to penalties….
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Federal Agencies Stepping up Audits. Here’s What They Are Looking at

| posted in Blog

As the Affordable Care Act takes hold further, government agencies are stepping up their audits of health plans across the country. With many employers still unclear over exactly what they need to do to fully comply with all of the sections of the ACA – from providing affordable insurance to reporting on their plans – the risk is great that you may be found not in compliance at least in some area. There are a number of government entities that are responsible for auditing employer health plans, and they all have different areas of responsibility: Department of Labor (DOL) •…
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ACA Spurs Benefits Rethink among Employers

| posted in Blog

Expected cost increases stemming from the Affordable Care Act are spurring employers to consider new approaches to benefits funding and administration. The increasingly complex benefits environment is also making employers rethink their benefits strategies, which may allow them to take advantage of new opportunities for benefits communication, funding and administration, according to the “Guardian Workplace Benefits Study,” released in August. Although many employers in the study emphasized the need for cost control, they also expressed a growing interest in raising their employees’ financial security and satisfaction with provided benefits. Only three in 10 workers surveyed said they felt financially secure….
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Five Tips for a Successful Open Enrollment

| posted in Blog

In light of today’s diverse and continuously evolving workforce, it’s more critical than ever that you have a targeted strategy for your open enrollment. You should not just consider open enrollment as the period that your staff chooses benefits. The way you execute and your success in boosting participation can help attract, engage and retain top talent. This makes open enrollment season – and all of your year-round benefits communications – an essential part of your overall human resources strategy. Open enrollment is your ticket to a more benefits-engaged workforce. Open enrollment’s function is to get employees signed up for…
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Want to Reimburse Your Staff for Health Premiums? A $36,500 per-employee Fine Lurks

| posted in Blog

By now, most business owners know about the yearly $2,000 per-employee fine they would face for not securing health coverage for their employees under the Affordable Care Act. But there is even a larger fine that threatens under recent regulations issued by the IRS – and it’s not for failing to secure coverage. It’s for helping them secure coverage from a public exchange or open private market. And it applies to ALL employers, even those that are small enough to not be required to provide insurance for their full-time employees under the ACA’s employer mandate. The fine? Up to $36,500…
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Same-sex Marriage Ruling and Your Employee Benefits

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

In June, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriages are valid and should be performed throughout the United States. While the ruling in the case of Obergefell vs.Hodges is about personal liberties, it also will have an effect on employers’ employee benefit plans – and you need to know how to respond. First, in its ruling the court did not touch on sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace. As a result, the decision does not require employers to treat the same-sex spouses of their employees the same as opposite-sex spouses with respect to the provision of health and welfare benefits….
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