United Benefit Advisors Insight and Analysis Blog

HSAs and Employer Responsibilities

Posted by: Vicki Randall    May 25, 2017 9:30:00 AM

It’s no secret that one of the primary agenda items of the new Republican administration is to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and to sign into law a plan that they feel will be more effective in managing health care costs. Their initial attempt at a new plan, called the American Health Care Act (AHCA), included an increased focus on leveraging health savings accounts (HSAs) to accomplish this goal. As the plan gets debated and modified in Congress, we do not know whether the role of HSAs will be expanded or not, but they will continue to be a part of the landscape in some shape or form.

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Topics: health savings accounts, High Deductible Health Plans, HSA funding, HSAs, benefit plan design

Factor Emerging Trends, Generational Needs Into Wellness Programs

Posted by: Jennifer Jones    May 23, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Your wellness program seems to have it all – biometric screenings, lunch and learns, and weight loss challenges. So, why do you struggle with engagement, or to see any real results? While traditional wellness components are still a large part of plans today, emerging trends, coupled with generational differences, make for challenges when designing an impactful program.

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Topics: employee engagement, employee wellness, wellness programs, workplace culture

Why some companies offer an HRA

Posted by: Elizabeth Kay    May 18, 2017 9:30:00 AM

In a world of insurance and acronyms, the term “HRA” is thrown around a lot, but it has a variety of meanings.

HRA can mean health reimbursement account, heath reimbursement arrangement, or health risk assessment, and all of those mean something different. I want to be clear that in the following article I am going to be discussing the use of health reimbursement accounts with fully-insured health plans. We can leave the other meanings of HRA for another time.

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Topics: health reimbursement account, HRA, UBA Health Plan Survey, employee benefit trends

Strategic Benefits Communication: Integrating Voluntary Products Into Benefit Planning – Part Three of a Five-Part Series

Posted by: Kevin D. Seeker, GBA    May 16, 2017 9:30:00 AM

So far in our blog series we have discussed measuring success in communicating benefits as well as personalizing communications to employees and their needs. This month, we will look at how voluntary products have evolved to complement your overall benefit plan design.

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Topics: voluntary benefits, benefit plan design, total rewards package, employee benefit communication

HSAs vs. HRAs: Things Employers Should Consider

Posted by: Bob Bentley    May 12, 2017 4:00:52 PM

With health care costs and insurance premiums continuing to rise, employers are looking for ways to reduce their insurance expenses. That usually means increasing medical plan deductibles. According to the latest UBA Health Plan Survey, the average in-network single medical plan deductible increased from $2,031 in 2015 to $2,127 in 2016. But shifting costs to employees can be detrimental to an employer’s efforts to attract and retain top talent. Employers are looking for solutions that reduce their costs while minimizing the impact on employees.

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Topics: health reimbursement arrangements, health savings accounts, HRA, HSA, UBA Health Plan Survey, health care benchmarking

Is Your Wellness Program Compliant with the ACA, GINA and EEOC?

Posted by: Valeria S. Tivnan, MPH, M.Ed.    May 9, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Workplace wellness programs have increased popularity through the years. According to the most recent UBA Health Plan Survey, 49 percent of firms with 200+ employees offering health benefits in 2016 offered wellness programs. Workplace wellness programs’ popularity also brought controversy and hefty discussions about what works to improve population health and which programs comply with the complex legal standards of multiple institutions that have not really “talked” to each other in the past. To “add wood to the fire,” the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) made public some legal actions that shook the core of the wellness industry, such as EEOC vs. Honeywell International, and EEOC vs. Orion Energy Systems.

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Topics: wellness, ACA, employee benefits, workplace wellness, GINA

House Passes AHCA Bill in First Step to Repeal and Replace the ACA

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    May 5, 2017 10:27:15 PM

On May 4, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution 1628, a reconciliation bill aimed at "repealing and replacing" the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The bill, titled the "American Health Care Act of 2017" or "AHCA," will now be sent to the Senate for debate, where amendments can be made, prior to the Senate voting on the bill.

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Topics: ACA, Affordable Care Act, American Health Care Act

Man-in-the-Middle Attacks on ePHI, HIPAA Enforcement in the News

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    May 4, 2017 12:57:07 PM

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued its Man-in-the Middle Attacks and "HTTPS Inspection Products" guidance. The OCR warns organizations that have implemented end-to-end connection security on their internet connections using Secure Hypertext Transport Protocol (HTTPS) about using HTTPS interception products to detect malware over an HTTPS connection because the HTTPS interception products may leave the organization vulnerable to man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. In an MITM attack, a third party intercepts internet communications between two parties; in some instances, the third party may modify the information or alter the communication by injecting malicious code.

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Topics: HIPAA, protected health information, internet security, ePHI

The Pitfalls of Online Enrollment Systems

Posted by: Elizabeth Kay    May 2, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Online enrollment platforms are great, but communication and understanding are terribly important for the end-user.

I always say, "technology is great, when it works." Online enrollment platforms have been around for years, and the technology that powers them has grown and advanced at an exponential rate. Who would have guessed that we would be enrolling in our employee benefits directly from our own phones and tablets, without being given the huge enrollment packets from HR?

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Topics: employee benefits, benefit communication, independent employee benefits advisors, online enrollment, benefit plan enrollment

ACA Market Stabilization Final Rule

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Apr 27, 2017 9:30:00 AM

On April 18, 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published its final rule regarding Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) market stabilization.

The rule amends standards relating to special enrollment periods, guaranteed availability, and the timing of the annual open enrollment period in the individual market for the 2018 plan year, standards related to network adequacy and essential community providers for qualified health plans, and the rules around actuarial value requirements.

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Topics: Affordable Care Act, benefits enrollment, guaranteed availability policy, continuous coverage, open enrollment periods