United Benefit Advisors Insight and Analysis Blog

Strategic Benefits Communication: The Power of Knowing your Audience—Part Two of a Five-Part Series

Posted by: Kevin D. Seeker, GBA    Mar 23, 2017 9:30:00 AM

In my last post, I discussed using employee engagement as a measurement of benefits communication success. We know employees have concerns about their financial well-being, and look to their employers for education about new and existing benefit options. This, of course, can present challenges at open enrollment, as well as year-round communication efforts.

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Topics: Open Enrollment, Sun Life Financial, group benefit plans, employee benefits advisors, benefits communication, Kevin D. Seeker, employee demographics

CMS Allows States to Extend Life of "Grandmothered" or Transitional Health Insurance Policies

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Mar 21, 2017 9:30:00 AM

On February 23, 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released its Insurance Standards Bulletin Series, in which it re-extended its transitional policy for non-grandfathered coverage in the small group and individual health insurance markets.

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Topics: ACA, health plan benchmarking, UBA Health Plan Survey, Danielle Capilla, Affordable Care Act, grandmothering, transitional relief, transitional health insurance policy

The Best Ways to Minimize Your Risk When Selecting a Stop Loss Carrier – Part 1

Posted by: Steven Goethel    Mar 16, 2017 9:30:00 AM

The age-old adage, "you get what you pay for," certainly holds true in the stop loss industry. I cannot stress enough how important it is to look at more than just the premium rates on a spreadsheet.

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Topics: employee benefits, independent employee benefits advisors, group benefit plans, UMR, stop loss coverage, coverage gaps, Steven Goethel

Workplace Cybersecurity Begins with Employees

Posted by: Tara Marshall    Mar 14, 2017 9:30:00 AM

I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all

-- Joni Mitchell, "Both Sides, Now"

And like that song from 1969, it appears that most employees really don’t know cloud computing at all.

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Topics: cloud computing, data breach, cybersecurity, information security, password security, Tara Marshall

Tax Treatment of Fixed Indemnity Health Plans

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Mar 9, 2017 9:30:00 AM

A fixed indemnity health plan pays a specific amount of cash for certain health-related events (for example, $40 per office visit or $100 per hospital day). The amount paid is neither related to the medical expense incurred, nor coordinated with other health coverage. Further, a fixed indemnity health plan is considered an "excepted benefit."

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Topics: ACA, HIPAA, excepted benefits, Danielle Capilla, Affordable Care Act, fixed indemnity health plan, fixed dollar indemnity plans, taxation of health benefits

Emails Never Sleep: Employers Consider Email Expectations

Posted by: Robert Black    Mar 8, 2017 9:30:00 AM

For some employees, when they leave work, they don’t even think about it until they return the next morning.  For others, while they may leave their place of employment, they’re never truly disconnected. That’s because there’s a workplace culture where some employees feel they must check and respond to their work emails 24/7/365. While this may be the new normal, there’s research that shows it may also be harmful to employees.

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Topics: office culture, Robert Black, work-life balance, email, office productivity, employee burnout

Medicare Part D: Creditable Coverage Disclosures

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

Entities such as employers with group health plans that provide prescription drug coverage to individuals that are eligible for Medicare Part D have two major disclosure requirements that they must meet at least annually:

  • Provide annual written notice to all Medicare eligible individuals (employees, spouses, dependents, retirees, COBRA participants, etc.) who are covered under the prescription drug plan.
  • Disclose to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) whether the coverage is "creditable prescription drug coverage."
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Topics: Medicare Part D, Danielle Capilla, health care cost, annual disclosures, prescription drug coverage, creditable coverage notice

The Changing Landscape of Employee Benefits

Posted by: Pat McClelland    Mar 2, 2017 9:30:00 AM

There is no denying our industry is changing rapidly, and it’s not about to slow down. Combined with disruptive advances in technology and evolving consumer expectations, we’re seeing consumer-driven health care emerge. Take, for example, the fact that employees now spend more than nine hours a day on digital devices.

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Topics: voluntary benefits, employee benefits, VSP Vision Care, preventive screening, vision care, digital eye strain, Patrick McClelland

The “Line 22” Question: Which Box(es) Do I Check?

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Mar 1, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), individuals are required to have health insurance while applicable large employers (ALEs) are required to offer health benefits to their full-time employees.

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Topics: ACA, employer shared responsibility, Danielle Capilla, Affordable Care Act, play or pay requirements, applicable large employers, IRS Form 1094-C

Are you about to run aground in calm waters?

Posted by: Michael A. Fleck    Feb 28, 2017 11:00:55 AM

An employer's guide to navigating the perils and possibilities of the Employee Benefit Advisor-Client Relationship LIfe Cycle

In the first part of this three-part blog, I introduced three concepts you can apply to create highly successful client relationships:

  1. AvoidingThe Magpie Effect”! Sometimes (too often, actually), what advisors offer and what employers find attractive are not things upon which highly successful relationships can be built.
  2. All employer/advisor relationships go through a life cycle.
  3. An outcomes-based relationship is essential for the successful navigation of the life cycle and optimal return on investment (ROI) for every dollar spent on employee benefits
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Topics: independent employee benefits advisors, Hanna Global Services, Michael Fleck, The Magpie Effect, essential advisor, client relationship life cycle