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R&R Insurance Blog

ACA Affordability Percentages Will Decrease For 2020

Posted by the knowledge brokers

affordability percentages decreaseOn July 23, 2019, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Revenue Procedure 2019-29 to index the contribution percentages in 2020 for purposes of determining affordability of an employer’s plan under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA’s employer shared responsibility or play or pay rules require ALEs (Applicable Large Employers) to offer affordable, minimum value health coverage to their full-time employees (and dependents) or pay a penalty. ALEs are those employers with an average of 50 or more full-time and full-time equivalent employees during the preceding calendar year.

For plan years beginning in 2020, employer-sponsored coverage will be considered affordable if the employee’s required contribution for self-only coverage does not exceed 9.78% of the employee’s household income for the year, for purposes of both the pay or play rules and premium tax credit eligibility.

For more details, read more here. If you have any questions, please contact a KnowledgeBroker today!

Topics: Employee Benefits

IRS Expands List of Preventive Care for HSA Participants

Posted by the knowledge brokers

Preventive CareOn Wednesday, July 17th, the Internal Revenue Service added care for a range of chronic conditions to the list of preventive care benefits that may be provided by a high deductible health plan (HDHP). The new list is optional for a plan sponsor of HSA qualified HDHP plan to offer without impacting the member’s opportunity to fund their HSA account.

Individuals covered by an HDHP generally may establish and deduct contributions to a Health Savings Account (HSA) as long as they have no disqualifying health coverage. To qualify as a high deductible health plan, an HDHP generally may not provide benefits for any year until the minimum deductible for that year is satisfied. However, an HDHP is not required to have a deductible for preventive care (as defined for purposes of the HDHP/HSA rules).

The IRS and the Department of Health and Human Services have determined that certain medical care services received and items purchased, including prescription drugs, for certain chronic conditions should be classified as preventive care for someone with that chronic condition as specified in Notice 2019-45. Any medical care previously recognized as preventive care for these rules is still treated as preventive care.

For more details, learn more here. If you have any questions, please contact a KnowledgeBroker today!

Topics: Employee Benefits

Hospital and Insurer Price Transparency Rule

Posted by the knowledge brokers

hospital signOn June 24th, 2019, President Trump signed an executive order on hospital and insurer price transparency. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will decide through rulemaking whether hospitals and insurers will need to publish individual rates or whether they can keep their pricing information more general and publish only aggregate rates. Administration officials did not confirm when the rulemaking will take place, saying only they will use “any and all regulatory vehicles” that can carry out its directives.

The language of the executive order is not public yet, but Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar laid out the five policies the order is set to address:

  1. HHS will need to issue the rule on hospital price disclosures, mandating that they disclose in an easy-to-read format the prices to reflect what insurers and patients actually pay.
  2. HHS will also, through rulemaking, require providers and insurers to disclose to patients their out-of-pocket cost before they go in for care.
  3. HHS will need to propose a way to consolidate quality measurers across all healthcare programs.
  4. HHS will look into how to store de-identified healthcare claims data so researchers can analyze it to make improvements to the system.
  5. The Treasury Department is tasked with expanding uses for health savings accounts.

For more details, learn more here. If you have any questions, please contact a KnowledgeBroker today!

Topics: Employee Benefits

Offering Student Loan Repayment Benefits

Posted by the knowledge brokers

Dollar Sign GradCombined with rising tuition costs, more people are attending college than ever before. Sixty-one percent of millennials have attended college compared to forty-six percent of baby boomers. The class of 2017 graduated with an average of $39,500 in student debt! In recent years, some employers have begun offering student loan repayment help.

Millennials entered the job market after the recession which has resulted in fewer job opportunities. Of those job opportunities, many have had to accept jobs at lower starting salaries. With millennials making up the majority of the workforce, businesses must alter their tactics in order to stay ahead as many new graduates are seeking companies that offer non-traditional benefits like student loan repayment assistance.


According to a study by Iontuition, 80% of individuals would like to work for a company that offers student loan repayment assistance with a matching opportunity.

Right now, only 3% of employers offer student loan aid according to the Society for Human Resources Management. But the interest in this millennial benefit is definitely growing among employers.

While it can seem like all of the benefit is for the employee, there are benefits the employer can reap as well. By offering a non-traditional benefit, such as student loan repayment, you will have something that can boost your recruitment and retention strategies.

To learn more about the future of offering a student loan repayment program and the benefits to both employees and employers, click here.

If you have further questions, please contact a KnowledgeBroker today!

Topics: Employee Benefits

Employee Benefits: Attract, Retain, and Secure Employees

Posted by the knowledge brokers

employee-retentionA consistent challenge for majority of businesses is how to effectively attract and retain employees. With millennials making up the majority of the workforce, businesses must alter their tactics in order to stay ahead.

Like years before it, 2018 was no exception to the rising increases of health insurance coverage.  Since 2017, single coverage insurance premiums have increased by 3% while family coverage has increased by 5%. Nowadays, employees get their pick of affordable health care coverage options that best suit their lifestyle. That being said, employers must be able to differentiate themselves if they want to attract and secure talented employees.

A successful tactic for retaining employees is taking a look at the needs of the employee and stacking them against financial realities. The outcome of this is to offer meaningful benefits and cover majority of their costs.

Meaningful Benefits: Benefits employees actually want and will use.

Securing Talent

Turnover is a reality that all businesses have to cope with. But poor retention is something you can change. To do this you have to know and have these three things:

  • Know the reasons behind why employees have decided to part from your company
  • Data: have analytics and information for why people leave as well as why people are staying
  • Analyze: be able to put all of the information gathered so you can implement effective tactics and change the future outcome

Amongst the information gathered, you want to design strategies that will better your goal of securing talent. Look for patterns and brainstorm ways that you can break that particular trend (ex. Why people are leaving?).

Understanding the Millennial Mindset

As mentioned earlier, millennials are flooding today’s workforce. This makes them the prime target for your attracting efforts. Medical, dental and vision insurance alone are not going to have millennials flocking to your company. So how do you start from here? You need to understand the mindset of a millennial. They put choice and affordability at the top of their list. The main goal in all of this is to enhance lives by reducing financial burdens.

To learn more about how to effectively attract and retain employees, click here or contact a KnowledgeBroker for more information.

Topics: Employee Benefits

Employee Benefit Plan Limits for 2019

Posted by the knowledge brokers

ComplianceMany employee benefits are subject to annual dollar limits that are periodically updated for inflation, such as HSAs, health FSAs, and transportation fringe benefit plans. This Compliance Overview includes a chart of the inflation-adjusted limits for 2019. Although some of the limits will remain the same, many of the limits increase for 2019.

The IRS typically announces the dollar limits that will apply for the next calendar year well in advance of the beginning of that year to give employers time to update their plan designs and make sure their plan administration will be consistent with the new limits.

Contact a Knowledge Broker for more information.

Topics: Employee Benefits, Compliance

What You Need to Know About Premium Refund Checks

Posted by Pete Frittitta

erisa advisoryYou have the opportunity to earn a premium refund on your level-funded plan but do you know what to do with it once you get it? Or maybe you’ve already received one - did you know that there are compliance rules to follow to disburse any employee share of that refund within 90 days?

In most simple terms, if employees pay a portion of health care premiums, then they are entitled to a prorated share of the premium refund. Additionally, you must distribute the appropriate funds within 90 days of receiving the refund check.

There are some interpretations being expressed in the consulting community that would suggest a very simple option exists such as “give every employee the same amount.” We strongly discourage this as it relies on comments from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that contradict other guidance by the DOL. It clearly is not supported.

An employer can apply the entire refund check amount toward reducing employee contributions. However, this only eliminates the need to calculate the “split” between the employees and the employer. Unless the employer has paid 100% of the premiums, employers will still need to calculate the appropriate share of the refund for each employee prorated according to the amount they contributed.

There are basically three compliance options available to employers. If you are not familiar with the compliance options that are available to you, contact an R&R Benefits Knowledge Broker to learn more.

Topics: Employee Benefits, Compliance

Generic vs. Brand Name Drugs

Posted by the knowledge brokers

prescriptionChoosing generic drugs over the brand name is generally less expensive. However, many people question whether generic drugs are as good, effective or safe as their brand name counterparts. The perception is that since many generic items found in grocery stores tend to be of lesser quality, the same must be true for medications. Fortunately, in the case of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications, generic substitutes are the equivalent of brand name drugs. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the chemical equivalency of generic drugs to ensure they are just as safe and effective as the brand name drugs they mimic.

Employees who understand their benefit plans make more informed choices about the medical services they receive, and that benefits everyone.

 

Talk to Your Doctor

The best way to ensure that you know all you can about a drug you have been prescribed, and its generic equivalents, is to talk openly with your doctor. Below are some suggested questions that you may want to ask.

  • Is there a generic substitute for this drug available?
  • Are there any drug interactions that I should be aware of?
  • Does this medication cause any side effects?
  • If I forget to take a dose, what should I do?

Also, make sure your doctor knows about any previous reactions you have had to medications. In addition, be sure to call your doctor immediately if you have any problems or adverse side effects from a new prescription. Choosing generic drugs when available, following your doctor’s and pharmacist’s instructions fully, and talking openly with your doctor will help you make the most of our prescription drug plan. These strategies can help you not only save money on the prescription itself, but also avoid future health problems that could be costly.

To know more about generic and brand name drugs, read here.

Source: Zywave

Topics: Employee Benefits

Benefits Communication with Social Media

Posted by Michelle Froehlke

Social Media Icons.pngWhether it is promoting open enrollment, explaining plan changes or educating on how to use benefits, communicating benefits information to employees is a perennial challenge for employers. A fast-growing trend among leading companies is to include social media in their benefits communication strategy to extend their reach. Millennials will make us 1:3 employees by 2020 and 75% of workforce by 2025—social media is part of their daily routine/ how they function and needs to be a key marketing tool for businesses. Furthermore, statistically it’s estimated that 61% of workers use their smartphones at work and are using them for social media purposes.

Benefits information can be overwhelming and complex, making some employees more likely to skim over or ignore it. Using social media, such as posting videos to Facebook or tweeting reminders, makes benefits information more relatable and personable—and employees are more likely to pay attention and understand.
Benefits communication must encompass many topics. Employers need to promote open enrollment, educate employees about plan changes, explain how to use the plan, promote consumerism and more. Social media helps break down this overload of information into easy-to-digest posts and reminders—in a place employees’ are already spending time. Posting updates year-round can provide valuable reminders to employees about using their benefits wisely. Therefore, not using social media is more than likely a missed opportunity. Granted, it’s not for every employer or employee, but the amount of people it can reach is growing. Millennials are digital and fast-paced and a major contributor in today’s growing workforce.

Getting Started
To get started, think about how you want to use social media for this purpose. Facebook and Twitter are good places to start, as they are likely the most popular among your employee population.
Whichever platforms you choose, create separate accounts from your external company accounts. Consider using employee-facing accounts not only for benefits communication, but also for wellness and other internal communications. Remember that social media is the perfect outlet for the K-I-S-S philosophy of communication and education—“Keep It Short and Sweet.”

Social media provides potential solutions to some of employers’ toughest benefits communication challenges. Twitter and Instagram require you to be succinct. In promoting a benefit, a meeting, or a wellness challenge, they need to be creative, short and sweet—funny or odd can help too.

Again, effective communication needs to be more often and happen on social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) the ones we have listed in this blog are a great outlet for that. It is better than once a year employee meetings on benefits—it’s an easy avenue to continually remind employees what’s out there.

It’s important to note that an employee that plans to use social media has responsibility:
It needs to be monitored and updated consistently and often if they want engagement and buy in—not a one and done like an EE mtg. Some people think there should be updates daily to keep it visible.

How can this happen:

  • Ask employees to like company page on FB, follow on Twitter and Instagram RIGHT DURING A STAFF MEETING. Take time to allow them to log in and do it.
  • Get employees involved to promote the social media outlet—this might even include a competition/incentive to get started.
Don’t forget to interact! Encourage employees to ask questions, and ask them to share their own experiences or tips for better plan use. And as with any social media initiative, be sure to reply if an employee contacts you or asks a question—engagement is a vital component of social sites.

Source: Zywave

Topics: Employee Benefits

Reduce Insurance Costs & Increase Employee Productivity

Posted by Shay Sherfinski

Workplace_Wellnessjpg.jpgAccording to a study, 81% of large employers and 49% of small employers offer wellness programs to their employees. Aimed to improve employees’ overall well-being, these programs are often centered around weight loss, smoking cessation, and walking.

Why is it important to promote wellness in the workplace?

Wellness affects your company’s bottom line in many ways—in particular, it can lower health care costs, increase productivity, decrease absenteeism and raise employee morale.

Employees with health risk factors, such as being overweight or smoking, can directly impact insurance costs.  In turn, those employees will pay more for health care than employees with fewer risk factors. Wellness can help employees with high risk factors make the lifestyle changes to improve their quality of life and reduce their health care costs, while also helping employees with fewer risk factors stay healthy. 

What are the benefits of a wellness program?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) promotes the formation of workplace wellness programs because, according to one of its studies, employees in companies with “a strong culture of health” are three times more likely to actively strive to improve their health.

In addition, wellness programs have shown to directly:

  • Control health insurance costs
  • Reduce Workers’ Compensation and disability costs
  • Increase employee productivity and absenteeism
  • Enhance morale and improve recruiting

Read more about the value a wellness program can provide on your organization and how to lower your insurance costs, or contact Shay Sherfinski.

Topics: Wellness Program, Employee Benefits, Wellness, lower insurance costs, corporate wellness