United Benefit Advisors Insight and Analysis Blog

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

Top Five Compliance Assessment Surprises

Posted by: Bob Bentley    Feb 23, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Our Firm is making a big push to provide compliance assessments for our clients and using them as a marketing tool with prospects. Since the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) began its Health Benefits Security Project in October 2012, there has been increased scrutiny. While none of our clients have been audited yet, we expect it is only a matter of time and we want to make sure they are prepared.

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Topics: compliance, ACA, COBRA, Affordable Care Act, Albers & Company, benefits compliance, Department of Labor audit, USERRA, life insurance, compliance assessment, Bob Bentley, benefits notices

IRS Q&A About Employer Information Reporting on Form 1094-C and Form 1095-C

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Feb 22, 2017 9:30:00 AM

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently updated its longstanding Questions and Answers about Information Reporting by Employers on Form 1094-C and Form 1095-C that provides information on:

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Topics: ACA, Danielle Capilla, Affordable Care Act, COBRA continuation coverage, Form 1094-C, IRS reporting, Form 1095-C, offer of coverage

Strategic Benefits Communication: How Do You Measure Success?

Posted by: Kevin D. Seeker, GBA    Feb 21, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Last fall I had the pleasure of hosting a UBA WisdomWorkplace webinar called “Success in Voluntary through Strategic Benefits Communication.” I discussed recent Sun Life survey data regarding employee engagement and understanding of the value of voluntary benefits.

In the world of voluntary insurance carriers, success in voluntary benefits can be measured in various ways. A key metric is employee participation. For carriers, this is important because the greater the employee participation in a voluntary product, the better the spread of risk, which leads to appropriate margins and sustainable pricing.

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Topics: employee engagement, voluntary benefits, Sun Life Financial, benefits communication, Kevin D. Seeker, employee participation

Keeping Pace with the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act

Posted by: Vicki Randall    Feb 16, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Last fall, President Barack Obama signed the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act (PACE), which preserved the historical definition of small employer to mean an employer that employs 1 to 50 employees. Prior to this newly signed legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was set to expand the definition of a small employer to include companies with 51 to 100 employees (mid-size segment) beginning January 1, 2016.

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Topics: health care costs, ACA, essential health benefits, minimum essential coverage, Affordable Care Act, PACE Act, Compliancedashboard, Vicki Randall, Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act, small employer

Best and Worst States for Group Health Care Costs

Posted by: Matt Weimer    Feb 15, 2017 11:57:47 AM

Employer-sponsored health insurance is greatly affected by geographic region, industry, and employer size. While some cost trends have been fairly consistent since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was put in place, UBA finds several surprises in its latest Health Plan Survey. Based on responses from more than 11,000 employers, UBA recently announced the top five best and worst states for group health care monthly premiums.

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Topics: health plan benchmarking, UBA Health Plan Survey, consumer-directed health plan, employer-sponsored health insurance, group health care cost, CDHP

Stemming the Tide of Opioid Abuse: A Brief Guide for Employers

Posted by: Corey Belken, PharmD    Feb 14, 2017 9:30:00 AM

In January 2017, an NBC news investigation found that an “epidemic” of opioid abuse had helped turn the once-prosperous city of Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, into “the most unhappy place in America.” Working in the epicenter of the “scourge” that had resulted in 137 fatal overdoses in a county of only 318,000 people in 2016, the coroner reported that opioid addiction was “eating away at the core of society.”1 Although an extreme example, Wilkes Barre’s unhappy experience is being repeated in communities throughout the United States, resulting in problems that you probably recognize—and a few that you may not be aware of.

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Topics: health care cost containment, drug abuse, EpiphanyRx, opioid abuse, prescription drugs

Benchmarking Your Cost-Shifting Strategy

Posted by: RJ Nelson    Feb 9, 2017 4:04:45 PM

We recently shared healthcare cost benchmarking best practices and reported on the best and worst industries/states for group healthcare. But how much are you contributing toward healthcare costs vs. your employees? That’s a key benchmark, especially when “cost-shifting” is the main strategy for mitigating risk for employers. You may have the most affordable plan, but if you are passing most of that cost on to your employees, you may not be a competitive employer.

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Topics: health plan benchmarking, UBA Health Plan Survey, health care cost containment, health care benchmarking, out-of-pocket costs, RJ Nelson

FAQ on HIPAA Special Enrollment; QSE HRAs Released

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Feb 8, 2017 9:53:35 AM

Recently, the Department of Labor (DOL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Treasury (collectively, the Departments) issued FAQs About Affordable Care Act Implementation Part 35. The FAQ covers a new HIPAA special enrollment period, an update on women's preventive services that must be covered, and clarifying information on qualifying small employer health reimbursement arrangements (QSE HRAs).

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Topics: HIPAA, group health insurance, health reimbursement arrangements, HRA, Danielle Capilla, 21st Century Cures Act, Qualified Small Employer HRA, benefits enrollment, women's preventive services

Cafeteria Plans: Qualifying Events and Changing Employee Elections

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

Cafeteria plans, or plans governed by IRS Code Section 125, allow employers to help employees pay for expenses such as health insurance with pre-tax dollars. Employees are given a choice between a taxable benefit (cash) and two or more specified pre-tax qualified benefits, for example, health insurance. Employees are given the opportunity to select the benefits they want, just like an individual standing in the cafeteria line at lunch.

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Topics: ERISA, group health insurance, Danielle Capilla, change in status event, cafeteria plan, Section 125 plan, pre-tax benefits, taxable benefits