United Benefit Advisors Insight and Analysis Blog

Long-Term Care Insurance: Employee Education Makes the Difference

Posted by: Megan Ellis    Dec 1, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Most Partners of United Benefit Advisors (UBA) and their clients have benefits enrollment down pat. They know what to communicate to employees, and when. Employees, too, are usually familiar with the process. For example, they know what to expect when they start comparing their medical plan options to their 401(k) contributions. But not all benefits are created equally. Some require more communication, understanding, and detail. Long-term care insurance (LTCi) is one of those products. More than any other benefit, it calls for well-thought-out employee education.

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Topics: LTCi, retirement benefit, long-term care insurance, employee education, health care plans, Megan Ellis, LTC Solutions, Inc.

The Shift Away from Health Risk Assessments

Posted by: Sierra Sullivan    Nov 29, 2016 11:02:48 AM

Historically, employers have utilized health risk assessments (HRAs) as one measurement tool in wellness program design. The main goals of an HRA are to assess individual health status and risk and provide feedback to participants on how to manage risk. Employers have traditionally relied on this type of assessment to evaluate the overall health risk of their population in order to develop appropriate wellness strategies.

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Topics: wellness, health risk assessment, LHD Benefit Advisors, UBA Health Plan Survey, biometric screening, population health strategy, outcome-based wellness programs, Sierra Sullivan

State Guide to COBRA Supplemental Requirements

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Nov 22, 2016 10:30:00 AM

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) is a federal requirement of group health plans to provide COBRA continuation coverage to participants who lose coverage due to a qualifying event, when the employer had 20 or more full time employees. Over the years, many states enacted additional requirements similar to COBRA, either for small employers, or in addition to the federal COBRA requirements. UBA has created a chart to outline each state’s specific continuation laws. For a sampling of the types of laws employers need to be aware of, consider these seven states (and view our full Compliance Advisor with the detail on all 50 states)

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Topics: compliance, COBRA, Danielle Capilla, COBRA continuation coverage, group benefit plans

Employers and Employees Teeter on Healthcare Cost and Coverage Tightrope

Posted by: Elizabeth Kay    Nov 21, 2016 12:08:52 PM

Over the past few years, we have seen the cost of health care steadily increase – a trend supported by the latest data from the 2016 UBA Health Plan Survey. During the recession, employers implemented health plans with higher copays, higher deductibles, or offered multiple plans with a variety of deductibles and pushed the cost of the lower deductible plans onto employees in an attempt to keep their costs for offering coverage at the same rate or less.

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Topics: consumer-driven health plan, Elizabeth Kay, UBA Health Plan Survey, health care cost, benefits cost control, group medical benefits

UBA Special Report: 2016 Trends in Employer Wellness Programs

Posted by: Jason Reeves    Nov 18, 2016 10:30:00 AM

The latest round of regulations in the area of wellness (what employers can and can’t do) is proving to be a hotly contested topic. Employers are eager to offer incentives as a way to both encourage wellness and also lower health care costs. However, employee privacy is on the line, and some argue, at risk. Even though many employers may never see the data collected, there is a philosophical debate brewing about what should – or should not – be permitted.

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Topics: wellness, wellness incentives, Group health plans, UBA Health Plan Survey, health care trends, Jason Reeves

Frequently Asked Questions about the Transitional Reinsurance Fee (TRF)

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Nov 16, 2016 10:30:00 AM

The transitional reinsurance fee (TRF) applies to fully insured and self-funded major medical plans for 2014, 2015, and 2016. The purpose of the fee is to provide funds to help stabilize premiums in the individual insurance market in view of uncertainty about how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) would affect claims experience. While insurers are responsible for reporting and paying the fee on the policies they issue, the fee will generally be passed on to the employer. Plan sponsors of self-funded plans (or their representatives) must report and pay the fee to the federal government at www.pay.gov. Below are the answers to the top five most common questions about the TRF.

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Topics: ACA, PPACA, TRF, Transitional Reinsurance Fee, Danielle Capilla, ACA fees, group medical benefits

Final Marital Status Definitions and Spouse/Partner Coverage Trends

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Nov 15, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Recently, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued final regulations that define terms used in the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) describing the marital status of taxpayers for federal tax purposes. In general, for federal tax purposes, the terms "spouse," "husband," and "wife" mean an individual lawfully married to another individual. The term "husband and wife" means two individuals lawfully married to each other. A marriage of two individuals is recognized for federal tax purposes if the marriage is recognized by the state, possession, or territory of the United States in which the marriage is entered into, regardless of domicile.

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Topics: group health insurance, UBA Health Plan Survey, Danielle Capilla, nondiscrimination rules, spousal coverage, partner coverage, marital status

2016 Election Results: The Potential Impact on Health and Welfare Benefits

Posted by: Les McPhearson    Nov 14, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Following the November 2016 election, Donald Trump (R) will be sworn in as the next President of the United States on January 20, 2017. The Republicans will also have the majority in the Senate (51 Republican, 47 Democrat) and in the House of Representatives (238 Republicans, 191 Democrat). As a result, the political atmosphere is favorable for the Trump Administration to begin implementing its healthcare policy objectives. Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will likely remain the Speaker of the House. Known as an individual who is experienced in policy, it is expected that the Republican House will work to pass legislation that follows the health care policies in Speaker Ryan's "A Better Way" proposals. The success of any of these proposals remains to be seen.

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Topics: ACA, PPACA, Les McPhearson, Affordable Care Act, 2016 election, healthcare policy, Speaker Paul Ryan, President-elect Trump

UBA Survey: Grandmothering Protects Many Small Employers from Rate Increases

Posted by: Mary Drueke-Collins, FSA    Nov 10, 2016 10:30:00 AM

One goal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was to develop uniformity in coverage to ensure that all medical coverage included certain services. However, two interim regulations were passed, essentially allowing individuals and employers to keep their plans that were not completely ACA-compliant. Those regulations were termed “grandfathering” and “grandmothering.” Grandfathering was available to all employers that wanted to keep the plans they had in place prior to the passage of the ACA. For a plan to maintain grandfathered status, there were significant restrictions to plan design modifications and changes to employee contributions. The reality was that very few employers were able to maintain grandfathered status. In the 2016 UBA Health Plan Survey, only 5.9 percent of plans were still grandfathered.

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Topics: ACA, PPACA, UBA Health Plan Survey, transition relief, Affordable Care Act, health insurance cost, Mary Drueke-Collins, grandmothering

Employer FYI: Individual Mandate Requirements and Proposed Regulations

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Nov 9, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Though employers are not required to educate employees about their individual responsibilities under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), it is helpful to know about the individual mandate.

The individual responsibility requirement (also known as the individual mandate) became effective for most people as of January 1, 2014. Under the individual mandate, most people residing in the U.S. are required to have minimum essential coverage or they must pay a penalty. Many individuals will be eligible for financial assistance through premium tax credits (also known as premium subsidies) to help them purchase coverage if they buy coverage through the health insurance Marketplace (also known as the Exchange).

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Topics: ACA, PPACA, Individual mandate, minimum essential coverage, Danielle Capilla, Affordable Care Act