United Benefit Advisors Insight and Analysis Blog

Bill Olson

VP, Marketing & Communications at United Benefit Advisors

Recent Posts

Automatic for the People

Posted by: Bill Olson    Mar 28, 2017 9:30:00 AM

With apologies to the band R.E.M., this article is not about their music, nor their album, but about how automatic enrollment has significantly helped people. Think of all the payments you currently have automated. You probably have automatic deposit of your paycheck, automatic bill pay for your utilities and other monthly bills, and maybe even a recurring automatic payment and delivery of pet food from Amazon. Now, think of something that’s important that you wish you could automate. This is not the time to mention your daily fix of Starbucks, but about saving enough money for retirement.

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Topics: retirement savings, automatic deposit, retirement planning

Initial 2016 Health Plan Survey Results Are Out: PPO Deductibles Increase Fifty Percent, Employer Costs Remain Steady

Posted by: Bill Olson    Aug 24, 2016 10:30:00 AM

The 2016 UBA Health Plan Survey contains the validated responses of 19,557 health plans and 11,524 employers, who cumulatively employ over two and a half million employees and insure more than five million total lives. Of the preliminary findings, we see that employees continue to take on more cost for coverage. The median in-network deductible on an employer-sponsored PPO health plan (which nearly half of all employees enroll in) increased 50 percent, from $1,000 to $1,500 in 2016, yet employer costs remain steady.

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Topics: health care costs, PPO, UBA Health Plan Survey, health care deductibles

Prescription Drug Copay Trends: Five-Tier Plan Benchmarks Emerge, Large Employers Hike Rates in Three-Tier Plans

Posted by: Bill Olson    Aug 16, 2016 10:30:00 AM

UBA’s Special Report – Trends in Prescription Drug Benefits explores our Health Plan Survey findings in more detail, particularly examining what’s happening with prescription drug plan design among different group sizes, regions and industries. When it comes to copay amounts, median retail prescription drug copays are $10/$30 for two-tier plans, $10/$35/$55 for three-tier plans, and $10/$35/$60/$100 for four-tier plans. These amounts have remained largely flat from 2014.

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Topics: UBA Health Plan Survey, multi-tier prescription drug plans, prescription drug cost, prescription drug trends, prescription drug copays

Which Employers Are Incentivizing Generic Drugs Over Brand Name?

Posted by: Bill Olson    Aug 4, 2016 10:30:00 AM

According to UBA’s new Special Report – Trends in Prescription Drug Benefits, 61.8% of plans required employees to pay more when they elect brand-name drugs over an available generic drug (a 5.5% increase from 2014); 37.9% of those plans require the added cost even if the physician notes “dispense as written.” On the other hand, only 1% of plans offer no coverage for brand-name drugs if generics are available and 37.2% offer no added cost coverage. So while most employers aren’t completely penalizing those who choose brand-name drugs, more and more plans are requiring employees to pay higher copays when they elect brand-name drugs.

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Topics: UBA Health Plan Survey, prescription drug cost, Scott Deru, prescription drug trends, brand-name vs generic drugs

See Which Employers Are Aggressively Increasing Rx Tiers for Cost Savings

Posted by: Bill Olson    Jul 21, 2016 10:30:00 AM

The Latest UBA Survey data shows employers are flocking to two strategies to control rising prescription drug costs: moving to blended copay/coinsurance models vs. copay only, and adding tiers to the prescription drug plans. Almost half (48.9%) of prescription drug plans utilize three tiers (generic, formulary brand, and non-formulary brand), 4.3% retain a two-tier plan, and 44.1% offer four tiers or more. The number of employers offering drug plans with four tiers or more increased 34% from 2014 to 2015. The fourth tier (and additional tiers) pays for biotech drugs, which are the most expensive. By segmenting these drugs into another category with significantly higher copays, employers are able to pass along a little more of the cost of these drugs to employees. Over the last two years, the number of plans with four or more tiers grew 58.1%, making this a rapidly growing strategy to control costs.

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Topics: UBA Health Plan Survey, prescription drug plans, prescription drug cost, benefits cost control, Rx

Employers Split on Whether to Self-Fund Prescription Drug Plans

Posted by: Bill Olson    Jun 30, 2016 10:30:00 AM

On average, 11.9% of prescription plans are self-funded, with the vast majority (88.1%) of employers choosing to fully insure their prescription plans, according to UBA’s new Special Report: Trends in Prescription Drug Benefits, based on data from the latest UBA Health Plan Survey of more than 10,000 employer-sponsored health plans. Although self-funding has increased 9% from the past survey year, the move to self-funding is slow but positive among small groups (10 to 199 employees), while large groups are actually moving away from this model.

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Topics: self-funding, UBA Health Plan Survey, prescription drug plans, prescription drug cost, Scott Deru

Don’t Let Terrorism Strike Your Disaster and Business Continuity Plans

Posted by: Bill Olson    May 12, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Corporate disaster plans used to be just weather-related, but in today’s world these plans should include acts of terrorism. The recent bomb explosions in the Brussels, Belgium, airport caused more than just death and destruction. It caused fear, travel delays, and a general feeling of helplessness.

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Topics: disaster preparedness, terrorism, business continuity, employee safety, disaster planning

What the DOL Wants During an Audit

Posted by: Bill Olson    Apr 21, 2016 10:00:00 AM

UBA Department of Labor Audit white paperNo two Department of Labor (DOL) audits are the same, yet there are typical questions asked and documents requested. See our recent blog on the Seven Common Mistakes That Could Trigger a DOL Audit. If you are audited, it’s recommended that questions received be sorted and color-coded based on what the question references (for example, third-party administrator, client answered, etc.). In addition, keep a log of each request and the document(s) provided in response to that request. A separate file folder for each request will help organize that task. Luckily, the DOL seems to be very receptive to an organization’s preparedness. It certainly makes the auditor’s job easier when a company has everything already in place and doesn’t require time to gather it all.

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Topics: Department of Labor, health plan compliance, Don't Roll the Dice on Department of Labor Audits, compliance documents, DOL audit

Seven Common Mistakes That Could Trigger a DOL Audit

Posted by: Bill Olson    Apr 19, 2016 10:00:00 AM

UBA Department of Labor Audit white paperNot many things incite more fear than receiving a notice that you’re about to have an audit, especially from the Department of Labor (DOL). The DOL is a cabinet-level department of the U.S. federal government responsible for occupational safety, wage and hour standards, unemployment insurance benefits, re-employment services, and some economic statistics. It is headed by the U.S. Secretary of Labor.

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Topics: Department of Labor, Don't Roll the Dice on Department of Labor Audits, DOL audit, UBA white paper

Group Healthcare Premiums by State: How does your plan stack up?

Posted by: Bill Olson    Apr 11, 2016 12:00:00 PM

We recently highlighted the top five best and worst states for group health plan costs. See below for your state's average monthly premiums and read our breaking news release with the cost findings by industry.

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Topics: health plan benchmarking, group health insurance, health plan cost trends, UBA Health Plan Survey, group healthcare premiums