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R&R Insurance Blog

Final Rule on Hospital Price Transparency Released

Posted by the knowledge brokers

hospitalOn Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, the Trump administration released its final rule regarding hospital price transparency. This final rule will take effect January 1, 2021, a year later than originally proposed.

Hospitals will now be required to provide easily accessible billing information to patients. This means having all standard charges available online and in one single data file that can be “read by other computer systems,” according to a CMS press release.

Learn more here about the final rule released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding hospital price transparency.

Topics: Employee Benefits

Health Care Flexible Spending Account Limits for 2020

Posted by the knowledge brokers

fsaMany employee benefits are subject to annual dollar limits that are periodically updated for inflation, such as HSAs, health FSAs, and transportation fringe benefit plans. The IRS recently released Revenue Procedure 2019-44 revising the Health Care FSA and Limited Purpose FSA maximum for 2020. For tax year 2020:

  • The dollar limitation for employee salary reductions for contributions to health flexible spending arrangements is $2,750, up $50 from the limit for 2019.
  • The monthly limitation for the qualified transportation fringe benefit is $270, as is the monthly limitation for qualified parking, up from $265 for tax year 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. Check out our convenient chart with all of the major IRS benefits limits for 2020!

Contact a Knowledge Broker for more information.

Topics: Employee Benefits, Compliance

Mental Health Awareness | End the Stigma

Posted by the knowledge brokers

mental health awarenessAn employee’s mental health encompasses how they think, feel and act. It also includes their emotions and social well-being. While mental health does include mental illness, these two are not interchangeable.

1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness annually;

a recent study by Deloitte revealed that less than half receive treatment.


It has also been found that mental illness is the leading cause of disability for adults in the U.S. between the ages of 15 to 44—making more work days lost to mental health-related absenteeism than any other injury or illness.

The discussion of mental health has been more popular in recent years with the tagline of “end the stigma,” this discussion will only keep growing as society realizes that not all illness are visible ones.

So what does this mean for employers?

It is important that organizations create a culture that supports its employees and their mental health. This process is easier than one might think. Below are five easy ways to implement support at your organization:

  1. Promote Mental Health Awareness in the Office
    • This is the first step in supporting employees and their mental health. There must be awareness and de-stigmatizing of mental health or illness. Provide resources / information to employees and those seeking support.
  2. Offer Flexible Scheduling
    • Help employees better balance their work and personal lives by embracing workplace flexibility. This will look different at every company but provide employees with job satisfaction, better health, increased work-life balance and less stress.
  3. Address Workplace Stress
    • Chronic workplace stress can cause fatigue, irritability and health problems. While it’s probably not possible to eliminate job stress in its entirety for employees, you can help them manage it more effectively.
  4. Evaluate Your Benefit Offerings
    • Review the benefits you offer and make sure they support mental well-being. Also evaluate your current health plan to see if it covers mental health services.
  5. Provide Mental Health Training for Managers
    • It’s important to properly train management in recognizing the signs of mental illness, excessive workplace stress, workplace bullying and fatigue. Furthermore, managers should be trained to handle potentially difficult conversations with employees surrounding mental health.
podcastFor more information, you can listen to this short podcast: Mental Health Awareness and Employer Strategies or read 5 Ways HR Can Support Employees’ Mental Health.

Topics: Employee Benefits

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