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Universities Get Educated about PPACA

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It is back to school time!  Universities and colleges across the nation have dedicated time and resources to course planning and curriculum evaluation, but have they prepared for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)?  Have they run the numbers, solved for unknown variables, and double-checked their answers?

Four Simple Tips for Streamlining Open Enrollment


Communicating the value of benefits is an age-old dilemma further complicated now that many employers are making big plan changes to comply with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). As more and more employers move to high deductible health plans, making employees aware of how to use their benefits and take control of their health care consumption will be the key to cost savings. UBA’s white paper, "A Business Case For Benefits Communications,” addresses how best to reach employees, what they need to know, and how they prefer to receive the information. However, once you have educated your workforce, how do you enroll them efficiently and effectively in your plan options? UBA Partner Mike Humphrey, Senior Benefits Advisor at The Wilson Agency, has been guiding employers through the daunting task of enrolling hundreds or thousands of employees and their dependents for years. To keep open enrollment hassle and panic-free, he offers four basic tips for employers:

What to Include in an SBC


A Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) must contain:

EEOC Files Suit Over Wellness Program


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has sued an employer because the penalty it applied for not participating in its wellness program was, in the eyes of the EEOC, so high that participation was not, as a practical matter, “voluntary.” Under EEOC rules, an employer may conduct medical examinations, which includes obtaining medical histories and blood draws, only in limited situations. One of those permitted situations is a voluntary wellness program. Because the program did not qualify as “voluntary,” the questions employees were asked about their health on a health risk assessment, a blood draw, and a range of motion assessment violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), according to the EEOC’s Complaint.

Religious Objections to Covering Contraceptives


On August 22, 2014, the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor, and Treasury released an interim final rule and a proposed rule that provide some new accommodations to employers that have religious objections to covering contraception under their group health plans. The agencies also released a fact sheet on the rules and an alternate form that religious organizations (like religious hospitals, universities and charities) may use.

How The Marketing of Health Benefits Has Changed


By Mathew Augustine, GPHR, REBC
CEO, Hanna Global Solutions

The advent of state insurance exchanges last year has promoted a paradigm shift in the distribution and sales of insurance programs as part of employee benefit programs. Individuals using their ‘own’ funds to pick from virtual ‘store shelves’ of a wide range of insurance products is not an experience limited to employees of large corporations supported by big technology and service operations anymore. Consumers are making ‘purchase’ decisions as opposed to employees making ‘enrollment’ decisions; choice is being driven from ‘lowest price’ to ‘highest value’; decisions are moving away from employers preselecting a set of comprehensive plans on behalf of their employees, to employees putting together a portfolio of insurance products to suit their specific situation.

Highlights of the SBC Requirement


With Fall open enrollment around the corner, most employers will need to provide a Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) to eligible individuals. Here are some highlights of the requirement (as of August 2014):

Overcoming Employee Disengagement


By Peter Freska, CEBS, Advisor
The LBL Group 
A United Benefit Advisors Partner Firm 

I have sat with hundreds of employers that want to make a difference. They want to make a difference in how their teams work, how productive the employees are, and better yet…in how they, as an employer, can attract, retain and engage the best and brightest people for long-term sustainable (profitable) growth of the organization. But many companies fall short. And, while most employees are 100% engaged when they start a new job, a recent Dale Carnegie Training study indicated that only 29% are fully engaged. In another article entitled “Overcoming Employee Disengagement,” the author mentions that the “2013 RAND Health Study found that less than half of employees (46%) participate in health risk assessment (HRA) or clinical screenings, and out of those identified as needing a wellness program, less than one fifth chose to participate.” (August 2014, Benefits Magazine) The point of the article was simple, that people create their own barriers to success.

Dependent Eligibility: Top Three Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Audit


Recently, UBA Partner Mike Humphrey, Senior Benefits Advisor at The Wilson Agency, shared some great insights for those who are considering doing a dependent audit.  He points out three reasons why you shouldn’t do these audits and offers a much better approach to reining in costs associated with covering dependents that should no longer be on your plan.  Humphrey’s long tenure counseling large employers shows once again that sometimes quick-fix solutions for eliminating wasteful spending aren’t worth it in the end, no matter how well intended. Instead, simple changes to the up front enrollment process can avoid a lot of headaches and keep costs in line.

Part 3: The Affordable Care Act: Affordable ... or just an Act?


(This is the third article of a three-part series. Read Part One here and Part Two here.)

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