Medicare Part D: Creditable Coverage Disclosures

Great article from our partner, United Benefit Advisors (UBA) by Danielle Capilla

Entities such as employers with group health plans that provide prescription drug coverage to individuals that are eligible for Medicare Part D have two major disclosure requirements that they must meet at least annually:

  • Provide annual written notice to all Medicare eligible individuals (employees, spouses, dependents, retirees, COBRA participants, etc.) who are covered under the prescription drug plan.
  • Disclose to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) whether the coverage is “creditable prescription drug coverage.”

Because there is often ambiguity regarding who in a covered population is Medicare eligible, it is best practice for employers to provide the notice to all plan participants.

CMS provides guidance for disclosure of creditable coverage for both individuals and employers.

Who Must Disclose?

These disclosure requirements apply regardless of whether the plan is large or small, is self-funded or fully insured, or whether the group health plan pays primary or secondary to Medicare. Entities that provide prescription drug coverage through a group health plan must provide the disclosures. Group health plans include:

  • Group health plans under ERISA, including health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), dental and vision plans, certain cancer policies, and employee assistance plans (EAPs) if they provide medical care
  • Group health plans sponsored for employees or retirees by a multiple employer welfare arrangement (MEWA)
  • Qualified prescription drug plans

Health flexible spending accounts (FSAs), Archer medical savings accounts, and health savings accounts (HSAs) do not have disclosure requirements. In contrast, the high deductible health plan (HDHP) offered in conjunction with the HSA would have disclosure requirements.

There are no exceptions for church plans or government plans.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Capilla D. (2017 March 01). Medicare part D: creditable coverage disclosures [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://blog.ubabenefits.com/medicare-part-d-creditable-coverage-disclosures-1


What Employers Need to Know About Communication

What’s the key communication platform for employee benefits communication?

It is not a one size fits all approach, each group needs to take a look at their population and decide what is best for them.”  -Tonya Bahr, Hierl Employee Benefit Advisor.

  • Emails are efficient for targeting professional staff, especially companies that have companywide email addresses.
  • Letters or texts are the best way to communicate with field or labor employees.
  • A popular way to communicate is by meeting, whether it be a webinar or seminar. Often, companies will mandate that their employees attend informational sessions discussing benefits offered. This allows our clients to efficiently communicate a consistent message out to employees to help understand their benefits.

 

Ding ding ding, round 1! Paper VS Digital communications

Okay, not really because it’s not a competition!

An online approach works really well for employees but it is also very important for the spouses to be engaged as well. We typically follow up the meetings with a deliverable the employee can bring home to their spouse. This not only allows the spouse to learn more about the benefits available to them, but it also reinforces what was covered in the meeting for the employee.” -Tonya Bahr

tonya bahr 

To download the full article click Here.


The benefits of financial wellness counseling

Are your employees being properly educated on the benefits on their financial well-being? If not take a look at this article from Benefits Pro about the value of educating your employees in financial wellness by Jack Craver

Money Management International, a nonprofit credit counseling organization, is touting the results of a recent survey it conducted as evidence that employers can significantly reduce stress among their employees by offering them financial counseling resources.

MMI announced recently 86 percent of the 150 employees it provided financial counseling to at an Oregon-based nonprofit health agency say they have less stress related to money as a result of the counseling.

In addition, most of the employees at Samaritan Health Services say the counseling led to them achieving certain financial goals, such as reducing debt (60 percent), setting aside more money for retirement (38 percent), boosting their credit score (30 percent) or buying a home (8 percent).

“At MMI, we know that financial coaching, counseling, and education work, but seeing the incredible, positive impact this program has made on the financial outlook of these clients is simply amazing,” says Julie Griffith, Mapping Your Future account manager, in a statement accompanying the study’s release.

Other research has shown employers are increasingly viewing financial counseling as a key component of wellness initiatives due to the significant psychological and emotional toll money-related anxiety takes on employees.

In addition to causing depression, sleep deprivation and all sorts of health problems that reduce an employee’s productivity, financial stress often distracts employees from their work. A survey last year showed that 37 percent of U.S. employees report spending time on the job thinking about or dealing with personal finances.

The awakening to the importance of financial wellness coincides with a number of studies which shed light on young Americans’ lack of savings. One study found a solid majority of Americans have less than $500 in savings. Another found that the U.S. personal savings rate was just 5.7 percent, roughly half of what it was 50 years ago.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Craver J. (2017 March 08). The benefits of financial wellness counseling [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitspro.com/2017/03/08/the-benefits-of-financial-wellness-counseling


Caregiving Benefits Can Sharpen Your Competitive Edge

Interesting article from the Society of Human Resources about the benefits of leveraging caregiving benefits in your employee benefits program by Hank Jackson

Whether caring for an aging parent, welcoming a newborn child or handling family medical situations, life events can create some of the most stressful and demanding challenges in our personal and work lives. For those without employer-provided paid leave, the burden is even heavier. People often need extended periods of time off to cover responsibilities at home, but many are forced to rely on the federal floor of unpaid leave guaranteed by the Family and Medical Leave Act.

High costs are cited as the biggest barrier to paid leave, but now, more than ever, companies risk losing great talent to rivals with more robust policies—here and abroad. In addition, employers struggle with a growing patchwork of state and local leave laws that hinder innovation and add compliance costs. This is why SHRM is advocating for public policies that would provide relief to employers while guaranteeing paid leave and expanded flexibility options for full-time and part-time employees. The issue of paid leave is a hot one—featured during the presidential campaign and poised to be a focus of congressional consideration in 2017.

Last year, more than two dozen large U.S. employers—including American Express, Deloitte, Ernst and Young, Campbell’s, First Data and Etsy—announced they would significantly strengthen paid family leave benefits. Their approaches vary, ranging from extending the time employees can take paid leave to broadening categories of eligible individuals and covered situations. But in all instances, a powerful business case was behind the decision. They believe it is a winning strategy and are promoting it widely to stakeholders and shareholders.

A carefully analyzed and applied family leave benefit can be a differentiator in today’s hyper-competitive talent marketplace. Even medium-sized and small enterprises can offer budget- and family-friendly policies, such as flexible schedules. The important thing is to develop a workplace where an employee’s work-life needs are valued and supported, balanced with the right benefits, rewards and adaptability across an employee’s life cycle.

Paid parental leave and other work-flexible programs are not only about competing or compliance. They are about doing the right thing for the organization and the employee. As HR professionals, it’s up to us to help our organizations grow a culture where both employees and employers win. This is part of the compact to create the 21st Century workplace employees of all ages want—innovative, fair and competitive with other businesses.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Jackson H. (2017 March 09). Caregiving benefits can sharpen your competitive edge [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://blog.shrm.org/blog/caregiving-benefits-can-sharpen-your-competitive-edge


Why employers should rethink their benefits strategies

Has your employee benefits program grown old and stale? Take a look at the great article from Employee Benefits Advisors about the benefits of upgrading your employee benefits to match your employees needs by Chris Bruce

Historically, employee benefits have been viewed as a routine piece of the HR process. However, the mentality of employees today has shifted, especially among the growing population of millennial employees. Today’s workforce expects more from their employers than the traditional healthcare and retirement options, in terms of both specific benefit offerings and communications about those offerings.

For companies, it’s critical they address the evolving needs of their workforce. With unemployment rates plunging to their lowest levels since before the financial crisis, the search for talent is heating up, and organizations need to work harder than ever to retain top talent in a competitive job market. To do this, I see three steps that organizations need to take when rethinking their benefits strategy and engaging with employees: embrace a proactive rather than reactive benefits strategy, think digital when it comes to employee communications and consider the next generation of employee benefits as a way to differentiate from the competition.

1. Reconsider your benefits evaluation process

The benefits process at most companies is reactive — executives and HR only look to evaluate current offerings when insurance contracts expire or a problem emerges. When the evaluation does happen, the two factors that often concern employers the most are product and price. Employers often gravitate toward well-known insurers that offer the schemes that appear familiar. However, this can often lead companies to choose providers who fall short on innovation and overall customer experience for employees.

This approach needs to be flipped on its head. Companies should be proactive in determining which benefit schemes best meet the needs of their workforce. The first step is going straight to the source: talk to employees. Employers can’t know what benefits would be most appealing to their employee base unless they ask. By turning the evaluation process to employees first, companies can better tailor new benefits to meet the needs of their workers, and also identify existing benefits that might be outdated or irrelevant, therefore saving resources on wasted offerings.

Data and analytics also are playing an increasing role across the HR function, and benefits is no exception. By leveraging technology solutions that allow HR to track benefits usage and engagement, teams can better determine what is resonating with employees and where benefits can be cut back or where they should be ramped up.

2. Put down the brochure and think digital engagement

Employee education is another area of benefits that can often perplex companies. According to a recent survey from Aflac, half of employees only spend 30 minutes or less making benefit selections during the open enrollment period each year. This means employers have a short window of time to educate employees and make sure they are armed with the right information to feel confident in their benefits selection.

To do this effectively, HR needs to move past flat communication like brochures, handouts and lengthy employee packets and look for ways to meet employees where they live — online. By testing out innovations that create a rich experience, while still being simple and intuitive, employers can grab the attention of their workforce and make sure key information is communicated. For example, exploring opportunities to create cross-device experiences for employees so they can interact on-the-go, including augmented reality applications or digital interactive magazines. Additionally, for large corporations, hosting a virtual benefits fair can provide a forum for employees to ask questions in a dynamic setting.

3. Embrace the next-generation of benefits

As organizations become more savvy and nimble, personalization will have a huge impact in encouraging employee engagement and driving satisfaction among today’s increasingly diverse workforce. We have already started to see some companies embrace this new approach to benefits, adding out-of-the-box items to normal offerings — from debt consolidation services and wearable health tracking technology to genome testing and wedding concierge services.

The fact is, the days of “status-quo” benefits are gone, and employees today want benefit options that match their current life circumstances. To best engage employees, organizations need to be proactive in evaluating benefits regularly and using analytics to track usage, identify opportunities to implement digital communication elements and look for ways to introduce new benefits to meet the needs of their employee base. By following these steps, organizations can gain a competitive edge when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Bruce C. (2017 March 10). Why employers should rethink their benefits strategies [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/opinion/3-steps-employers-can-take-to-rethink-benefits-strategy?feed=00000152-1377-d1cc-a5fa-7fff0c920000


5 reasons why auto accidents are on the rise

Have you noticed more auto accidents lately? Then check out this interesting article from Property Casualty 360 about the reasons why auto accidents are on the rise by Denny Jacob

According to the National Safety Council, traffic deaths increased 6 percent to 40,200 — the first time since 2007 that more than 40,000 have died in motor vehicle crashes in a single year.

The 2016 total follows a 7 percent rise in 2015. Much of this is attributed to continued lower gasoline prices and an improving economy which has increased motor-vehicle mileage.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s early estimates show the motor vehicle traffic fatalities for the first nine months of 2016 increased about 8 percent as compared to the motor vehicle traffic fatalities for the first nine months of 2015. Preliminary data reported by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) shows that vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the first nine months of 2016 increased about 3 percent.

All 10 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regions experienced increases during the first nine months of 2016. In particular, the South, Southeast and Northeast saw motor vehicle traffic fatalities spike between 11 and 20 percent alone.

Here are 5 factors contributing to the increase in auto accident rates:

More cars on the road and miles driven today

Cheap gas and diesel, plus a stronger economy, has caused high road density with more cars on the road. The Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration shows that driving jumped 3.5 percent over 2015, the largest uptick in more than a decade. Americans drove more than 3.15 trillion miles, equivalent to around 337 round trips from Earth to Pluto. The previous record, around 3 trillion miles, was set in 2007.

More distractions

Beyond texting and driving, from Bluetooth to Snapchat, approximately 660,000 drivers are attempting to use their phones while behind the wheel of an automobile. On top of that, we now have sensors and technologies that respond to our every move in vehicles. We have apps that connect to center consoles and more touch-screen technology in vehicles than ever before

Younger, more inexperienced drivers

A new study from AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety show that millennial drivers (more 19- to 39-year-old drivers) are texting, speeding and running red lights. They also think it’s OK to speed in school zones. While the statistics improve for older drivers, it’s not by much. From a commercial driver standpoint, the experience (or inexperience) of drivers can lead to more auto accidents overall.

Cost of car repair more expensive

Think about your grandfather’s car. If the engine blew, you went to a mechanic who fixed the problem. Now, everything in a car is connected by a computer. If one fuse blows, it will likely have an impact on other parts of the vehicle. Yes, computers make it easier and quicker to fix, but overall costs tend to be higher, especially because cars on the road are much newer.

Ultimately, we pay for the technology (computers, advancements in bodywork, HVAC, etc.). To diagnose many computer issues and the dozens of sensors requires a scan tool that is capable of accessing the thousands of manufacturer-specific trouble codes and data streams. A good one can cost $7,000 alone.

Injury costs from accidents on the rise

No surprise, the cost of medical care has increased, most of which are spinal and soft tissue injuries. According to the Mayo Clinic, more than 35 percent of spinal cord injuries are caused by vehicle accidents (truck, automobile, or motorcycle). Think about this — medical spending for spinal care per patient increased by 95 percent from $487 to $950 between 1999 to 2008, accounting for inflation.

But think about the full picture, which compounds the issue. You get whiplash (direct medical cost), have to stay home for a few weeks (loss of income) and get physical therapy (cost of post-injury medical care — according to one estimate, about 25 percent of whiplash injury patients end up suffering chronic pain). The costs can triple from an economic and quality-of-life perspective, costing the U.S. $2.7 billion per year.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Jacob Denny (2017 March 02). 5 reason why auto accidents are on the rise [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.propertycasualty360.com/2017/03/02/5-reasons-why-auto-accidents-are-on-the-rise?page_all=1


5 trends and factors that continue to impact cybersecurity in 2017

Great article from Property Casualty 360 about 5 trends that will impact cybersecurity in 2017 by Gary S. Miliefsky

It’s not unexpected any more: We awaken to learn that yet another national retailer has been hacked, and once again credit-card information for millions of customers is at risk.

Yet, despite all the publicity these security breaches receive and all the warnings consumers hear, cyber criminals still achieve success — and they’re becoming more brazen than ever.

Sometimes it can feel like the cyber criminals are working harder than the people who are supposed to be protecting our information, but when consumers and businesses are vigilant, they can foil those cyber criminals despite all their scheming.

We should be asking ourselves: Why not prevent breaches instead of reacting to them? Corporate America and consumers don’t need to sit around waiting to become cybercrime victims.

To that end, here are some cyber security trends and factors worth knowing about for the rest of 2017 and beyond:

Serious breaches still take too long to discover

As unsettling as it is to think about, the truth is there’s generally a long lag time between when a breach happens and when it’s discovered. The average is 280 days, which means if cyber criminals hack your system today, it could be about nine months before anyone realizes there’s a problem.

 

Employees will continue to be critical to protection

For just about any organization, employees are the first line of defense — and the weakest link. Typically, when a breach happens behind a firewall it’s because someone was tricked into clicking on a link they shouldn’t have. Employees need to be educated to prevent these kinds of attacks.

 

Cyber insurance is hot and growing hotter

A breach can prove costly to companies, which is why cyber insurance is a growing field. Just as homeowner’s insurance doesn’t keep your house from catching fire, though, cyber insurance doesn’t guard against a breach. However, it is important for businesses to adopt a policy that can help the company that’s hit by a breach regain its financial footing.

 

The importance of managing company intranet

Most breaches happen behind firewalls. You’ll need more than antivirus to stop the bad guys. This includes anti-phishing tools, network access control (NAC), zero-day malware quarantining and other next-generation approaches focusing on the root cause of how you get breached.

Without a NAC solution, you won’t be able to tell who is on your network, including if the cleaners are plugging in a laptop at midnight or if a consultant is on the wrong VLAN, like human resources or payroll where you don’t want them to have access.

In addition, you should find and fix all your common vulnerabilities and exposures. You can learn more about them at the National Vulnerability Database at nvd.nist.gov or cve.mitre.org. By finding and fixing your holes, you’ll have a stronger, less exploitable infrastructure.

Consumers’ best protection is still self-protection

Consumers can’t always count on how well their bank or their favorite retailer handles cyber security. Anyone can take steps to be safer. Change passwords frequently. Put a sticker over your laptop’s webcam when you’re not using it. Protect your smartphone by turning off WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC and GPS except when you need them. Delete cookies and your browsing history regularly. When consumers learn the importance of mobile-device “hygiene,” both they and the places they work are at less risk of suffering a data breach or los

See the original article Here.

Source:

Miliefsky (2017 March 03). 5 trends and factors that continue to impact cybersecurity in 2017 [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address  http://www.propertycasualty360.com/2017/03/03/5-trends-and-factors-that-continue-to-impact-cyber?slreturn=1488916705&page_all=1


The Changing Landscape of Employee Benefits

Great article from our partner, United Benefit Advisors (UBA) about the changes coming to employee benefits by Pat McClelland

There is no denying our industry is changing rapidly, and it’s not about to slow down. Combined with disruptive advances in technology and evolving consumer expectations, we’re seeing consumer-driven health care emerge. Take, for example, the fact that employees now spend more than nine hours a day on digital devices.

There’s no doubt that all this screen time takes a toll.

  • Device screens expose users to blue light. It’s the light of the day and helps us wake up and regulate our sleep/wake cycle.
  • Research suggests blue light may lead to eye strain and fatigue. Digital eye strain is the physical eye discomfort felt by many individuals after two or more hours in front of a digital screen.
  • In fact, digital eye strain has surpassed carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis as the leading computer-related workplace injury in America1.

Employees are demanding visibility into health care costs and transparency in the options available so they can take control of their own health. Consumers are more knowledgeable and sensitive to cost, and as a result becoming very selective about their care.

Lack of preventive care

Preventive screenings are a crucial piece of overall health and wellness. In fact, the largest investment companies make to detect illnesses and manage medical costs is in their health plan. But if employees don’t take advantage of preventive care, this investment will not pay off. Only one out of 10 employees get the preventive screenings you’d expect during an annual medical visit2.

It’s a big lost opportunity for organizations that are looking for a low-cost, high-engagement option to drive employee wellness.

How a vision plan can help

The good news is that the right vision plan can help your employees build a bigger safety net to catch chronic conditions early. It all starts with education on the importance of an eye exam.

Eye exams are preventive screenings that most people seek out as a noninvasive, inexpensive way to check in on their health; it’s a win-win for employers and employees.

  • A comprehensive eye exam can reveal health conditions even if the person being examined doesn’t have symptoms.
  • The eyes are the only unobtrusive place in a person’s body with a clear view of their blood vessels.
  • And, an eye exam provides an opportunity to learn about the many options available to take control of their health and how to protect their vision.

By screening for conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol during eye exams, optometrists are often the ones to detect early signs of these conditions and put the patient on a quicker path to managing the condition. In a study conducted in partnership with Human Capital Management Services (HCMS), VSP doctors were the first to detect signs of3:

  • Diabetes – 34 percent of the time
  • Hypertension – 39 percent of the time
  • High cholesterol – 62 percent of the time

See the original article Here.

Source:

McClelland P. (2017 March 02). The changing Landscape of Employee Benefits [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://blog.ubabenefits.com/the-changing-landscape-of-employee-benefits


Progressive benefits are the lure for new talent

There are many different ways to attracted new talent to your workplace. Take a peek at this freat article from Employee Benefits Advisors about which benefits are best for attracting new talent by Paula Aven Glagych

Live trees indoors, pets at work and an in-office happy hour. Underground Elephant is very forward-thinking when it comes to how it treats its employees and the benefits it offers.

From its fun headquarters space in the east village of San Diego to its outside-the-box thinking on workplace benefits, the digital marketing company “wants to really create an environment where employees want to come to work every day and feel like they are being rewarded,” says Amy Zebrowski, HR business partner at Underground Elephant. “It is a very challenging and fast-paced environment.”

Underground Elephant, which was founded in 2008, provides marketing and technology services to financial service and insurance companies. It offers staffers healthcare and retirement benefits but wanted to show them that it is invested in their education and their family’s education by offering a choice between three non-traditional benefits. People who have worked for the company for one year can choose between a student loan repayment program through Student Loan Genius; a 529 college savings plan through Gradvisor; or $2,000 in company stock options.

If they choose the student loan or college savings plan options, Underground Elephant will contribute $1,500 a year to the program.

Gradvisor founder and CEO Marcos Cordero had wanted to offer a student loan reimbursement program for a couple of years. The company hires many entry-level employees straight out of college, trains them and helps them build their careers at the company.

“We know a lot of employees with student loan debt. We wanted to help them address that and support their financial wellbeing. We didn’t want to exclude employees who don’t have student loans. Our goal was to create a more inclusive program,” Zebrowski says.

Student Loan Genius’ platform allows employees to explore different loan repayment options and to find the one that best fits their situation. Employees can also have their student loan payments taken directly out of their paycheck each month.

The Gradvisor 529 college savings plan helps parents and grandparents save money for future educational expenses.

The cost of college

Cordero says that his 529 platform is popular because recent Gallup data shows that “for employees with children under 18, this is their number one financial concern. It supersedes retirement and unexpected medical bills.”

He added that the cost of college is rising faster than any other expense in the home and millennials, in particular, are feeling the pinch. Many of them left college with huge student loans and they want to make sure their children don’t fall into the same trap. Baby Boomers are also intrigued by the 529 plan because they have “more disposable income to help grandchildren save for college,” Cordero says.

He believes that this benefit will continue to grow over the next decade, but currently “more employers offer pet insurance than college savings.” That is in large part due to the state-by-state complexity of the programs. Each state offers a different 529 plan.

The Gradvisor platform takes into consideration an employee’s risk tolerance, financial situation and household tax filing when determining the best 529 plan for them. The company serves as a fiduciary so it takes “all of those inputs and recommends the most suitable and best fit investment option and asset allocation for the client. We don’t get any commissions or sales charges from the 529 plan. Our advice is 100% objective,” he says. Companies pay to offer the program on a per user per month basis.

“If you look at our stats, our customers tend to save earlier. We’re rolling out this really intuitive step-by-step platform that takes a lot of that fear or intimidation away,” Cordero says.

The average parent who takes advantage of Gradvisor starts saving when their child is five years old, compared to seven in the general population, which adds a couple more years of compounded growth. They also save twice as much as the average person.

Both the student debt repayment and college savings benefits programs were introduced to the company’s employees in January for implementation in March.

“The response has been great. All of our employees are excited about it. It can be a huge help with financial expenses if you are paying toward a student loan it is reducing the overall interest of the life of the loan. Overall it is very positive,” Zebrowski says.

The company’s primary goal in offering these three benefits was to retain good employees and to “show we are invested in their education and their family’s education and financial wellness,” she says.

Based on the company’s younger employee base, there are more participants in the student loan program, but there’s also a lot of interest in the 529 plans.

“I think a lot of people are conscious of the future and saving for families down the line. We’ve had a good response to both,” Zebrowski says.

The company offers a 1% employer match on all employee contributions to its 401(k) plan. The company employs 55 people currently and has been listed as one of the fastest-growing companies in its industry.

The benefit of perks

Underground Elephant wants to be innovative with its benefits because California’s tech industry is very competitive. Many people want to live in San Diego, so “attracting talent, in addition to that retention piece, that certainly factors in,” she says.

The company’s new headquarters building is unique in that it has live trees in the middle of the work space.

“The idea is to make it more open to give people the feeling of being connected to the outdoors,” she says. It has pool, ping pong and is setting up a new game room so employees can get together and have fun. It also has an onsite bar where the company offers regular happy hours.

Employees can bring pets to the office and it has a snack area where the company provides breakfast or lunch once a week.

For the past couple of years, the company has participated in a forum program where the company is divided into groups of eight to 10 employees and these groups participate in challenges throughout the year, including cultural challenges, scavenger hunts, community and charitable events.

“Each year we reevaluate our cultural programs to see what is working and what isn’t working; what people enjoy. The goal is to create as much engagement as possible,” she says.

Underground Elephant offers a full suite of health benefits, including full medical, dental and vision, long and short term disability and voluntary life insurance.

“We want to prepare people for success here or outside the company. Ultimately, the goal is to give people the skills and experience to promote within Underground Elephant or to transfer to other jobs as well,” she says. “Our people tend to be very successful.”

See the original article Here.

Source:

Glagych P. (2017 February 28). Progressive benefits are the lure for new talent [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/progressive-benefits-are-the-lure-for-new-talent?feed=00000152-1377-d1cc-a5fa-7fff0c920000


CBO estimate of AHCA impact on employer-sponsored benefits is off the mark

Does the implementation of the AHCA have you worried about your employee benefits? Take a look at this great article from Employee Benefit News about what the implementaion of the AHCA will mean for employers by Joel Wood.

In breaking down the Congressional Budget Office’s assessment of the proposed American Health Care Act, let’s look at the impact of the AHCA on employer-sponsored plans. The CBO estimates that 2 million fewer Americans will have employer-sponsored coverage in 2020, growing to seven million by 2027. Here’s CBO’s rationale:

  • The mandate penalties are eliminated, and thus many will drop.
  • The tax credits are available to people with a broader range of incomes than the Obamacare credits/subsidies
  • Some employers will drop coverage and increase compensation in the belief that non-group insurance is a close substitute.

These are valid points. The CBO experts are basing their estimates on sound economics and inside the constraints of their authority, and so of course we worry about any proposal that devolves employer-sponsored care. But, we also have to note that the CBO said much the same about the Affordable Care Act, which largely didn’t happen. And CBO notwithstanding, we at the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers, too, feared something of a death spiral after the ACA was enacted.

The ACA’s employer penalties were very small in comparison to premiums, and it made sense that many would dump their plans, give their employees cash, and send them to the subsidized exchanges. Also, the subsidies were pretty rich — graduating out at 400% of the poverty line. That’s more than $90,000 for a family of four.

What we didn’t take into account in reference to the ACA were a number of things:

  • A core assumption of the ACA was that states would all be forced to expand Medicaid to 138% of the poverty line, and the exchange subsidies would kick in above that amount. The courts struck that down and 19 (all-red) states never adopted the expansion, creating a massive donut hole.
  • We underestimated how chaotic would be the rollout of Healthcare.gov.
  • We knew the exchanges would be a model of adverse selection, but a “bailout” of insurance carriers through the “risk corridor” program was supposed to keep them in the game. Republicans balked, sued, and the reinsurance payments have been so lacking that most of the exchanges are currently in a “death spiral” (as described by Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna).

So employer-sponsored health insurance has, well, thrived since the enactment of the ACA — perhaps in spite of it, not because of it.

If the CBO is correct and seven million people lose ESI over the next decade, that’s problematic. But it ignores other opportunities that are being created through the proposed GOP bill and Trump Administration executive actions.

Employers-sponsored opportunities
Republicans propose significant expansion of HSAs that will compliment higher-deductible ESI plans. They want work-arounds for state mandates on essential health benefits, even though their goal of “buying across state lines” can’t be realized through the tricky budget reconciliation process. And, ultimately, Republicans want to realize the potential for the ACA wellness provisions that have been eviscerated through years of EEOC/ADA/GINA conflicts. That would be a big win for employers.

The most important tradeoff between the “discussion draft” of a few weeks ago and the AHCA is that GOP House leaders junked their plan to tax 10% of employee contributions for ESI plans, in favor of pushing the Cadillac tax out five more years, to 2025.

Personally, I figure I’ve got another decade left in me to lobby for this industry, and that would get me eight years along the way. That’s a terrific tradeoff in my book, especially as Ways & Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) emphasized he never intends for that tax to go into effect — it’s purely a budgetary gimmick. And, it’s a ridiculous “score” from CBO anyway. Everybody knows that no employer is going to pay that tax; they’ll work their plan design to get under the numbers.

President Trump’s stance on 10 key benefit issues

Where does Donald J. Trump stand on parental leave, minimum wage and other important workplace issues? Here’s what employers need to know.

My conclusions at this moment in time, thus, are:

  • Have we won the war among GOP leaders with respect to “hands off” of ESI while trying to solve the death-spiral problems in the individual/exchange marketplace? Not yet. We won a battle, not a war. Sadly and frustratingly, too many Republican leaders have bought into the elite conservative/libertarian economic intelligentsia that pure consumerism should drive healthcare, and that ESI is an “historic accident.” As our friend Ed Fensholt at Lockton always says, “Penicillin was an historic accident, too, but look how that turned out.”
  • Was former Speaker John Boehner right recently when he said that there’s no way you can get to the requisite 51 votes in the Senate right now with this current AHCA construct? You bet he was right. If you do the House plan and defund Planned Parenthood, you lose votes of pro-choice Republicans in the Senate. If Ryan and Trump relent to the Freedom Caucus on hacking the Medicaid expansion in 2018 instead of 2020, they’ll lose votes of Republicans in Medicaid-expanded states. In any event, they probably lose the votes of Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and a number of other Republicans who view the AHCA as “Obamacare Lite” and demand a more straightforward repeal.
  • Was Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) right when he said this on Face the Nation recently? “Look,” he said, “the most important thing for a person like myself who runs for office and tells the people we’re asking to hire us, ‘This is what I’ll do if I get elected.’ And then if you don’t do that, you’re breaking your word.” You bet he’s right. Republicans ran on this. They voted 60 times in the House to repeal the ACA. If they can’t do this, they can’t do tax reform, they can’t do 12 appropriations bills. Their margins for error (21 votes in the House; two in the Senate) are almost impossibly narrow, and the press hates this bill. But I wouldn’t pronounce this effort dead, by a long stretch.

Sometimes, when lobbying blank-faced Republican leaders on the importance of ESI, I feel like the old BB King lyric: “Nobody loves me but my mother, and she could be jivin’, too.”
But because of, or in spite of, current legislative efforts that are dominating the headlines, I feel relatively well-poised for ESI to continue to be the means through which a majority of Americans receive the health insurance they like and they want to keep. Our job is for them to keep it. Notwithstanding lots of obstacles, we will.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Wood J. (2017 March 21). CBO estimate of AHCA impact on employer-sponsored benefits is off the mark [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/cbo-estimate-of-ahca-impact-on-employer-sponsored-benefits-is-off-the-mark