United Benefit Advisors Insight and Analysis Blog

Small Businesses Healthcare Competitive, But Faces Two Big Challenges

Posted by: Bill Olson    Aug 31, 2017 9:30:00 AM

We recently revealed how competitive small business health plans are when compared to national averages—and even how they are doing a better job of containing costs. But the UBA Health Plan Survey also uncovers two challenges these groups face in its new special report: “Small Businesses Keeping Pace with Nationwide Health Trends”.

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Topics: UBA Health Plan Survey, health care cost containment, employee benefit trends, small business healthcare

What You Need to Know about Health Flexible Spending Accounts

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Aug 29, 2017 9:30:00 AM

A health flexible spending account (FSA) is a pre-tax account used to pay for out-of-pocket health care costs for a participant as well as a participant's spouse and eligible dependents. Health FSAs are employer-established benefit plans and may be offered with other employer-provided benefits as part of a cafeteria plan. Self-employed individuals are not eligible for FSAs.

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Topics: FSA, group benefit plans, health flexible spending account

Survey: Small Businesses Keeping Pace with Health Benefits Offered by Employers Nationwide

Posted by: Bill Olson    Aug 24, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Small employers, those with fewer than 100 employees, have a reputation for not offering health insurance benefits that are competitive with larger employers, but new survey data from UBA’s Health Plan Survey reveals they are keeping pace with the average employer and, in fact, doing a better job of containing costs.

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Topics: group health insurance, small business, UBA Health Plan Survey, health care cost containment, employee benefit trends

The COBRA Payment Process

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Aug 23, 2017 9:30:00 AM

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) allows qualified beneficiaries who lose health benefits due to a qualifying event to continue group health benefits. The COBRA payment process is subject to various rules in terms of grace periods, notification, premium payment methods, and treatment of insignificant shortfalls.

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Topics: health insurance premiums, COBRA, group health insurance, Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, qualified beneficiary

Strategic benefits communication: Five key steps to success this open enrollment season

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

In previous posts, I have talked about several aspects of strategic benefits communication. Now it’s time to put those strategies into action. As we approach enrollment season, let’s look at five key steps to ensuring this year’s open enrollment is successful for you and your employees.

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Topics: employee communication, voluntary benefits, Open Enrollment, benefits communication

Wellness Programs – Getting Started and Remaining Compliant

Posted by: Hope DeRocha, PHR, SHRM-CP    Aug 15, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Where to Start?

First, expand the usual scope of wellness activity to well-BEING. Include initiatives that support more than just physical fitness, such as career growth, social needs, financial health, and community involvement. By doing this you increase your chances of seeing a return on investment (ROI) and a return on value (ROV). Qualitative results of a successful program are just as valuable as seeing a financial impact of a healthier population.

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Topics: employee wellness, voluntary wellness programs, wellness compliance

Biting the Hand that Pays Them

Posted by: Ron E. Peck, Esq.    Aug 10, 2017 9:30:00 AM

I was recently asked to speak to a gathering of hospital-sponsored health plans and providers of health care services about our health care system, and trends I see developing which threaten it. I’d planned to talk about how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) only targets one-third of the health care system – that being payers (insurance), while mostly ignoring the other two-thirds: providers and patients. Call it a scapegoat, or something else, but of the three players in health care, insurance is the villain. It’s easy, then, to say that what’s wrong with health care is what’s wrong with insurance, and vice versa. As such, fixing health care then becomes fixing health insurance. Rather than assign blame to all three – providers, patients, and payers – it’s politically expedient to point a finger solely at the least popular of the three: the payer. And so, health care reform became health insurance reform; but as I’ve said many times before, insurance isn’t health care – it’s a way to pay for health care. This idea that insurance is to blame for the overall cost of health care, that it can strong-arm providers into taking whatever they want to pay, and thus, the rising cost of insurance is based solely on greed and not at all on the actual cost of the care, is a lie. There is another attitude that it’s easier for insurance to raise premiums than push back on the cost of care, because pushing back on providers is tough, and – for the insured – not having insurance means certain death (and thus they will pay any premium). This holds a little more water; however, it wrongfully assumes that without insurance there is no health care. Yet, the truth is that health care would exist with or without insurance; we’d just need to find a different way to pay for it. People “need” insurance – not for its own sake – but to pay for health care, because health care itself is too expensive.

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Topics: single-payer system, benefits cost control, group health care cost, health care plan design

When Grief Comes to Work

Posted by: Kathryn Schneider, LPC, CEAP    Aug 8, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Death and loss touch all of us, usually many times throughout our lives. Yet we may feel unprepared and uncomfortable when grief intrudes into our daily routines. As a manager, when grief impacts your employees it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of what they are going through as well as ways you can help.

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Topics: Employee Assistance Programs, employee leave management, grief, return to work plan

ERISA's "Church Plan" Exception

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Aug 3, 2017 9:30:00 AM

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) was signed in 1974. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is the agency responsible for administering and enforcing this law. For many years, most of ERISA's requirements applied to pension plans. However, in recent years that has changed, and group plans (called "welfare benefit plans" by ERISA and the DOL) now must meet a number of requirements. Government and church plans do not need to comply with ERISA.

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Topics: ERISA, group benefit plans, church plan

Determining COBRA Premiums for Fully Insured and Self-Funded Health Plans

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Aug 1, 2017 1:04:34 PM

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) allows qualified beneficiaries who lose health benefits due to a qualifying event to continue group health benefits. While some group health plans may provide COBRA continuation coverage at a reduced rate or at no cost, most qualified beneficiaries must pay the full COBRA premium. The COBRA election notice should include information about COBRA premiums.

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Topics: health insurance premiums, COBRA, fully insured health plans, COBRA continuation coverage