United Benefit Advisors Insight and Analysis Blog

Keeping Pace with the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act

Posted by: Vicki Randall    Feb 16, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Last fall, President Barack Obama signed the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act (PACE), which preserved the historical definition of small employer to mean an employer that employs 1 to 50 employees. Prior to this newly signed legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was set to expand the definition of a small employer to include companies with 51 to 100 employees (mid-size segment) beginning January 1, 2016.

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Topics: health care costs, ACA, essential health benefits, minimum essential coverage, Affordable Care Act, PACE Act, Compliancedashboard, Vicki Randall, Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act, small employer

Best and Worst States for Group Health Care Costs

Posted by: Matt Weimer    Feb 15, 2017 11:57:47 AM

Employer-sponsored health insurance is greatly affected by geographic region, industry, and employer size. While some cost trends have been fairly consistent since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was put in place, UBA finds several surprises in its latest Health Plan Survey. Based on responses from more than 11,000 employers, UBA recently announced the top five best and worst states for group health care monthly premiums.

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Topics: health plan benchmarking, UBA Health Plan Survey, consumer-directed health plan, employer-sponsored health insurance, group health care cost, CDHP

Stemming the Tide of Opioid Abuse: A Brief Guide for Employers

Posted by: Corey Belken, PharmD    Feb 14, 2017 9:30:00 AM

In January 2017, an NBC news investigation found that an “epidemic” of opioid abuse had helped turn the once-prosperous city of Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, into “the most unhappy place in America.” Working in the epicenter of the “scourge” that had resulted in 137 fatal overdoses in a county of only 318,000 people in 2016, the coroner reported that opioid addiction was “eating away at the core of society.”1 Although an extreme example, Wilkes Barre’s unhappy experience is being repeated in communities throughout the United States, resulting in problems that you probably recognize—and a few that you may not be aware of.

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Topics: health care cost containment, drug abuse, EpiphanyRx, opioid abuse, prescription drugs

Benchmarking Your Cost-Shifting Strategy

Posted by: RJ Nelson    Feb 9, 2017 4:04:45 PM

We recently shared healthcare cost benchmarking best practices and reported on the best and worst industries/states for group healthcare. But how much are you contributing toward healthcare costs vs. your employees? That’s a key benchmark, especially when “cost-shifting” is the main strategy for mitigating risk for employers. You may have the most affordable plan, but if you are passing most of that cost on to your employees, you may not be a competitive employer.

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Topics: health plan benchmarking, UBA Health Plan Survey, health care cost containment, health care benchmarking, out-of-pocket costs, RJ Nelson

FAQ on HIPAA Special Enrollment; QSE HRAs Released

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Feb 8, 2017 9:53:35 AM

Recently, the Department of Labor (DOL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Treasury (collectively, the Departments) issued FAQs About Affordable Care Act Implementation Part 35. The FAQ covers a new HIPAA special enrollment period, an update on women's preventive services that must be covered, and clarifying information on qualifying small employer health reimbursement arrangements (QSE HRAs).

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Topics: HIPAA, group health insurance, health reimbursement arrangements, HRA, Danielle Capilla, 21st Century Cures Act, Qualified Small Employer HRA, benefits enrollment, women's preventive services

Cafeteria Plans: Qualifying Events and Changing Employee Elections

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Feb 7, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Cafeteria plans, or plans governed by IRS Code Section 125, allow employers to help employees pay for expenses such as health insurance with pre-tax dollars. Employees are given a choice between a taxable benefit (cash) and two or more specified pre-tax qualified benefits, for example, health insurance. Employees are given the opportunity to select the benefits they want, just like an individual standing in the cafeteria line at lunch.

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Topics: ERISA, group health insurance, Danielle Capilla, change in status event, cafeteria plan, Section 125 plan, pre-tax benefits, taxable benefits

Good Sense Guide to Minimum Essential Coverage Forms 1094-C and 1095-C

Posted by: Vicki Randall    Feb 2, 2017 9:30:00 AM

If you are an Applicable Large Employer (ALE), you may still be catching your breath from 2015 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) reporting. However, in a couple of weeks the process starts all over again as you prepare for the 2016 reporting cycle. As with all new requirements, the first filing cycle had some bumps as there was little guidance for some of the questions and issues that arose. In preparation for 2017, let’s take a look at the “C” forms and discuss areas of the forms that may have been confusing.

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Topics: ACA, Affordable Care Act, applicable large employers, Compliancedashboard, Vicki Randall, Form 1094-C, IRS reporting, Form 1095-C, offer of coverage

Implications of the 21st Century Cures Act

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Feb 1, 2017 9:30:00 PM

On December 13, 2016, former President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act into law. The Cures Act has numerous components, but employers should be aware of the impact the Act will have on the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, as well as provisions that will impact how small employers can use health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs). There will also be new guidance for permitted uses and disclosures of protected health information (PHI) under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). We review the implications with HRAs below; for a discussion of all the implications, view UBA’s Compliance Advisor, “21st Century Cares Act”.

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Topics: ACA, premium subsidies, health reimbursement arrangements, HRA, Affordable Care Act, health care cost, 21st Century Cures Act, Qualified Small Employer HRA, insurance premium reimbursement

EEOC Guidance on National Origin Discrimination

Posted by: Nancy Bourque    Jan 31, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Recently, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued new guidance on national origin discrimination. National origin discrimination is discrimination because an individual is, or the individual's ancestors are, from a certain place or has the physical, cultural, or linguistic characteristics of a particular national origin group, including Native American tribes. A member of one national origin group can discriminate against a member of the same group. While many of the previous rules and regulations remain intact, new protections have been added.

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Topics: discrimination, HR compliance, human resources, Title VII, workplace discrimination, national origin

Who Are You Benchmarking Your Health Plan Against?

Posted by: RJ Nelson    Jan 27, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Many employers benchmark their health plan against carrier provided national data. While that is a good place to start, regional cost averages vary, making it essential to benchmark both nationally and regionally—as well as state by state. For example, a significant difference exists between the cost to insure an employee in the Northeast versus the Central U.S.—plans in the Northeast continue to cost the most since they typically have lower deductibles, contain more state-mandated benefits, and feature higher in-network coinsurance, among other factors.

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Topics: health plan benchmarking, UBA Health Plan Survey, health plan costs