United Benefit Advisors Insight and Analysis Blog

Survey: Enrollment in Consumer-Directed Health Plans Jumps 22 Percent Despite Increase in Plan Costs

Posted by: Jason Reeves    Oct 20, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Our 2016 Health Plan Survey results are in and as our preliminary findings indicated, while employer costs remained steady, employees continue to take on more cost for coverage. With PPO deductibles rising 50 percent, UBA finds that consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) continue to increase in popularity even though they are offering less savings than a year ago. Our newly released 2016 Health Plan Survey Executive Summary finds 26.4 percent of all U.S. employees are now enrolled in CDHP plans, an increase of 21.7 percent from last year and nearly 70 percent from five years ago.

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Topics: health plan benchmarking, CDHPs, Les McPhearson, UBA Health Plan Survey, health plan costs, Jason Reeves, consumer-directed health plan

Controlled Groups and Affiliated Service Groups: How They Apply to the ACA

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Oct 18, 2016 10:30:00 AM

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) imposes a penalty on “large” employers that either do not offer “minimum essential” (basic medical) coverage, or who offer coverage that is not affordable (the employee’s cost for single coverage is greater than 9.5 percent of income) or it does not provide minimum value (the plan is not designed to pay at least 60 percent of claims costs). A large employer is one that employed at least 50 full-time or full-time equivalent employees during the prior calendar year. To discourage employers from breaking into small entities to avoid the penalty, the ACA provides that, for purposes of the employee threshold, the controlled group and affiliated service group aggregation rules will apply to health plans. Essentially, this means that the employees of a business with common owners or that perform services for each other may need to be combined when determining if the employer is “large.”

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Topics: ACA, PPACA, minimum essential coverage, Danielle Capilla, Large Employers, controlled group, affiliated service group

Nondiscrimination Rules for Cafeteria Plans

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Oct 13, 2016 10:30:00 AM

A cafeteria plan is an employer-provided written plan that offers employees the opportunity to choose between at least one permitted taxable benefit and at least one qualified employee benefit. There is no federal law that requires employers to establish cafeteria plans; however, some states require employers to have cafeteria plans for employees to pay for health insurance on a pre-tax basis.

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Topics: Danielle Capilla, cafeteria plan, nondiscrimination rules, benefits compliance, Section 125 plan

Employment Eligibility: How to Handle Questions about Worker Identity

Posted by: Nancy Bourque    Oct 11, 2016 11:49:35 AM

Reports submitted to the U.S. government that include both names and Social Security numbers (SSNs), such as 1095 and W-2 forms, are filtered through U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In some cases, employers will receive a No-Match Letter or an Employer Correction Request from the Social Security Administration (SSA) for certain employees. ICE will send a similar letter (the Notice of Suspect Documents) after inspection of files during an I-9 audit when discrepancies are noted.

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Topics: Nancy Bourque, employment eligibility, worker identity, no-match letter

Reporting Minimum Essential Coverage

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Oct 6, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Minimum essential coverage (MEC) is the type of coverage that an individual must have under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Employers that are subject to the ACA’s shared responsibility provisions (often called “play or pay”) must offer MEC coverage that is affordable and provides minimum value.

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Topics: ACA, minimum essential coverage, employer shared responsibility, Danielle Capilla, Affordable Care Act, MEC

HIPAA Phase 2 Audits

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Oct 4, 2016 10:30:00 AM

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) began a pilot program in 2012 to assess the procedures implemented by covered entities to ensure compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). OCR evaluated the effectiveness of the pilot program and then announced Phase 2 of the program on March 21, 2016. Phase 2 Audits focus on the policies and procedures adopted by both covered entities and business associates to ensure they meet selected standards and implementation specifications of the Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules. Covered entities include health plans, health care clearinghouses, and health care providers; whereas, business associates include anyone handling health information on behalf of a covered entity.

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Topics: HIPAA, covered entities, HIPAA audit, business associates, HIPAA privacy

Engagement Key to the Future of Private Exchanges

Posted by: Michael A. Fleck    Sep 29, 2016 10:30:00 AM

In this final blog of a three-part series (you can read Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed them), I’d like to look to the future – not only the future of private exchanges, but the future of benefits and health in the United States.

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Topics: employee engagement, private exchanges, Hanna Global, health care innovation, Michael Fleck, employee benefits technology

Why Care About Diabetes and What You Can Do as an Employer

Posted by: Mary Delaney, MSPT, CWP    Sep 27, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Diabetes is an expensive disease: $322 billon in America! Costs are compounded because diabetes is the leading cause of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, lower limb amputation, and blindness, and also has connections with some cancers, arthritis, gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease. To add some perspective, consider these facts: Today, 3,835 Americans will be diagnosed with diabetes. Today, diabetes will cause 200 Americans to undergo an amputation, 136 to enter end-stage kidney disease treatment, and 1,795 to develop severe retinopathy that can lead to vision loss and blindness.

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Topics: wellness, Vital Incite, type 2 diabetes, disease management, Mary Delaney, diabetes, American Diabetes Association, type 1 diabetes

Top Wellness Program Components

Posted by: Jennifer Jones    Sep 22, 2016 10:30:00 AM

While wellness programs and offerings continue to evolve among new trends and regulations, there are seven key components that tend to drive the most successful and effective programs we have seen with our clients.

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Topics: employee wellness, wellness incentives, wellness programs, LHD Benefit Advisors, Jennifer Jones, disease management

Educating Employees on Wellness Program Options

Posted by: Kathy Ellis    Sep 20, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Adopting best practices for wellness program designs are important in successfully investing in a workplace environment focused on well-being. Finding the right partners, tools, and interventions, and creating an incentive design that hits the sweet spot to motivate employees to participate are all essential. Many organizations fall short and wellness programs often stall when employees do not understand the program. Whether they question an organization’s intent in offering a wellness program, the program components are too overwhelming or not communicated well, or employees simply do not understand how programs affect them, educating employees on wellness program options is crucial to a program’s success.

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Topics: wellness incentives, employee benefits, wellness programs, health care cost containment, Kathy Ellis, Granite Group Benefits