United Benefit Advisors Insight and Analysis Blog

Discovery for Health and Welfare Benefit Plans: Required ERISA Reporting—Form 5500

Posted by: Anne B. Vandeveer    Apr 18, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Most companies are fully aware of Form 5500 reporting requirements related to their 401(k) plans, but are less familiar with the Form 5500 reporting requirements for their health and welfare benefit plans.

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An Employer’s Guide to Navigating the ACA’s Strong Headwinds

Posted by: Michael Weiskirch    Apr 13, 2017 9:30:00 AM

One might describe the series of events leading to the death of the American Health Care Act (Congress’s bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act) as something like a ballistic missile exploding at launch. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal debate began nearly a decade ago with former President Barack Obama’s first day in office and reemerged as a serious topic during the 2016 presidential election. Even following the retraction of the House bill, repeal of the ACA remains a possibility as the politicians consider alternatives to the recent bill. The possibility of pending legislation has caused some clients to question the need to complete their obligation for ACA reporting on a timely basis this year. The legislative process has produced a great deal of uncertainty which is one thing employers do not like, especially during the busy year end.

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Topics: ACA, employer shared responsibility, Affordable Care Act, ACA reporting, independent employee benefits advisors

The Future of Corporate Wellness – Where will we go from here?

Posted by: Valeria S. Tivnan, MPH, M.Ed.    Apr 11, 2017 9:30:00 AM

I am proud to say that I have been involved in corporate wellness since the mid-1980s. Helping employees live healthier and happier lives, as well as supporting employers with best-in-class tools to improve their cultures, have been my passion and purpose. I have witnessed and worked on corporate wellness since the time when physical health was the most important aspect of workers’ health. I cannot say I have worked with wellness since its inception, though. Corporate wellness has been around longer than many people think. To predict the future of wellness, we must understand its past.

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Topics: wellness, employee wellness, health risk assessment, UBA Health Plan Survey, return on investment

Getting the Most Out of an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Posted by: Nancy Cannon, LCSW, LMHP, CEAP    Apr 6, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Many employers understand the value of having an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) since the heart and soul of organizations are employees. Employees who are physically and mentally healthy, highly productive, engaged in their work, and loyal to their employer contribute positively to their employer’s bottom line. Fortunately, most employees are positive contributors, yet even the best of employees can occasionally have issues or circumstances arise that may inadvertently impact their jobs in a negative way. Having an EAP in place that can address these issues early may mitigate any negative impact to the workplace. This is a win-win for both employees and employers.

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Topics: voluntary benefits, Employee Assistance Programs, EAP

The Best Ways to Minimize Your Risk When Selecting a Stop Loss Carrier – Part 2

Posted by: Steven Goethel    Apr 4, 2017 9:30:00 AM

In the first part of this two-part blog, I recommended a number of important items to keep in mind as you select a stop loss carrier. Additionally, here are a few other things you will want to look for, or ask about, when selecting a stop loss carrier. While this is not an exhaustive list, these are some of the most frequent items I have seen that cause issues or gaps in coverage.

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Topics: health care claims, insurance cost control, stop loss coverage, insurance risk management, medical necessity

Self-Funding Dental: Leave No Stone Unturned

Posted by: Gary R. Goodhile, CLU    Mar 30, 2017 9:29:00 AM

With all of the focus that is put into managing and controlling health care costs today, it amazes me how many organizations still look past one of the most effective and least disruptive cost-saving strategies available to employers with 150 or more covered employees – self-funding your dental plan. There is a reason why dental insurers are not quick to suggest making a switch to a self-funded arrangement … it is called profit!

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Topics: self-funding, dental insurance, benefits cost control, health care cost containment

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

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