United Benefit Advisors Insight and Analysis Blog

Small Employers Lead the Way in Funding HSAs

Posted by: Bill Olson    Jun 15, 2017 9:30:00 AM

The average employer contribution to an HSA is $474 for a single employee (down 3.5 percent from 2015 and 17.6 percent from five years ago) and $801 for a family (down 9.2 percent from last year and 13.7 percent from five years ago). There was a 26 percent increase in the number of individuals enrolled in HSAs, likely due to the increase in CDHP enrollment (which often have HSAs tied to them). Since 2013, there has been a 97.7 percent increase in enrollment, showing significant employer and employee interest in these plans over time.

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Topics: health plan benchmarking, employee benefits, health savings accounts, UBA Health Plan Survey, HSAs

Answers to the Top 4 Questions about Section 105(h) Nondiscrimination Testing

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Jun 6, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Under Internal Revenue Code Section 105(h), a self-insured medical reimbursement plan must pass two nondiscrimination tests. Failure to pass either test means that the favorable tax treatment for highly compensated individuals who participate in the plan will be lost. The Section 105(h) rules only affect whether reimbursement (including payments to health care providers) under a self-insured plan is taxable.

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Topics: employee benefits, nondiscrimination testing, IRS Code Section 105(h), self-insured medical plan

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

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

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

The Changing Landscape of Employee Benefits

Posted by: Pat McClelland    Mar 2, 2017 9:30:00 AM

There is no denying our industry is changing rapidly, and it’s not about to slow down. Combined with disruptive advances in technology and evolving consumer expectations, we’re seeing consumer-driven health care emerge. Take, for example, the fact that employees now spend more than nine hours a day on digital devices.

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Topics: voluntary benefits, employee benefits, VSP Vision Care, preventive screening, vision care, digital eye strain, Patrick McClelland

2017 Annual Limits Card Back by Popular Demand

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Jan 18, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Many employee benefit limits are automatically adjusted each year for inflation (this is often referred to as an "indexed" limit). UBA offers a quick reference chart showing the 2017 cost of living adjustments for health and Section 125 plans, qualified plans, Social Security/Medicare withholding, compensation amounts and more. This at-a-glance resource is a valuable desk tool for employers and HR practitioners.

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Topics: health care costs, employee benefits, employee benefit limits, out-of-pocket limits, Danielle Capilla, group benefit plans

VOI vs. ROI: A Business Case for Wellness

Posted by: Heather Mills, CWWPM    Dec 6, 2016 10:30:00 AM

VolkBell began the exploration into health and wellness about eight years ago. It was something our partners would say, “Just made sense.” At the time, health care costs were skyrocketing across the nation, particularly in our home state of Colorado, and the nation’s obesity rates were at an all-time high. In our research, we observed a basic principle: A population making healthier lifestyle choices equals lower lifestyle-related medical claims, which equals an overall reduction to the nation’s health care expenditure.

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Topics: wellness, employee benefits, Heather Mills, return on investment, VollkBell, value of investment, exercise, wellness consulting

Are Opt-Outs on the Way Out?

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Oct 27, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Opt-out payments or cash in lieu of benefits have been a staple in the employee benefits industry for many years. Employers offer individuals who are eligible to enroll in their group health plan a sum of money, typically paid monthly, to those who waive enrollment in the group health plan. Employers who offer group health plans often use opt-out payments to share the savings they receive when an employee chooses not to enroll in the benefits offered.

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Topics: employee benefits, UBA Health Plan Survey, Danielle Capilla, opt-out arrangement, waive medical coverage

Educating Employees on Wellness Program Options

Posted by: Kathy Ellis    Sep 20, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Adopting best practices for wellness program designs are important in successfully investing in a workplace environment focused on well-being. Finding the right partners, tools, and interventions, and creating an incentive design that hits the sweet spot to motivate employees to participate are all essential. Many organizations fall short and wellness programs often stall when employees do not understand the program. Whether they question an organization’s intent in offering a wellness program, the program components are too overwhelming or not communicated well, or employees simply do not understand how programs affect them, educating employees on wellness program options is crucial to a program’s success.

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Topics: wellness incentives, employee benefits, wellness programs, health care cost containment, Kathy Ellis, Granite Group Benefits