Posts Tagged ‘healthcare’

Yet Another Health Care Posting Requirement – As If There Weren’t Enough!

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Are you in one of the 40 states that require employers to provide another health care notice to employees if a group insurance program is offered?

The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA) provides new requirements for additional enrollment opportunities to those employees who are eligible for company group health plans and group health insurance. These new opportunities provide free or low cost health care insurance to employees and their families if the employee is not currently enrolled in the group health plan and group health insurance. CHIPRA applies to individuals and families when an eligible employee:

1.  Loses their eligibility for State Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

-or-

2.  Becomes eligible for State Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

Upon time of eligibility or termination of coverage under State Medicaid or CHIP, an employee and/or dependent is required to request coverage within 60 days of the qualifying event.

What Does This Mean for You as an Employer?

Employers in any of the 40 states who offer State Medicaid or CHIP and offer group health plans and group health insurance to their employees are required to notify all employees of these opportunities at the beginning of the next benefit plan year and annually thereafter.

Why Does This Matter Now?

With Open Enrollment looming in the distance or (thankfully) winding down, you must be aware of your requirement to provide the notice to your employees. The most effective way to do so for current employees is to include the notice in the Open Enrollment materials. For new employees, including the notice in the new hire enrollment materials is ideal.

Where Can I Find This Notice and Additional Information?

The Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have provided the CHIP model notice that can be used to satisfy the notice requirement as well as additional information regarding individual state premium assistance programs. This information is available at www.dol.gov/ebsa and www.cms.hhs.gov.

Meet with your Insurance Broker to Update Benefit Plans Before Fall Enrollment

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Compliance Tip of the MonthMost open enrollment periods for benefits programs happen in the fall so use the summer months to get a head start. After researching what health care reform requirements will impact you, schedule a meeting with your insurance broker. Draw on the agent’s expertise to walk through your benefits plans, plan by plan, and make changes where necessary (such as to the dependent age coverage limitations, which are increasing to age 26). Be sure that the broker and insurance carrier work together to present you with revised plan documents, as necessary. You can also view list of binary brokers that could benefit these programs. KPA offers a free webinar and white paper on How Healthcare Reform Impacts Dealerships.

More benefits, less cost- consider childcare and dependent care programs

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Ever had to take a sick day not because you were sick but because a child or other dependent was?   Or how about when your childcare provider is sick, where does that leave you- and even if your children or other dependents can be left alone for a few hours so you went into work- you probably spent the whole day distracted and worried.  Wouldn’t it be be nice if you could just run downstairs or across the street and check on the kids- by the way employers, the ability to bring your kids to work with you on Saturday does not a childcare program make (although my kids have all spent some time coloring on my whiteboard while I just ran in for a “quick meeting” or hanging out in Dad’s office while he taught a class).

A recent study by Bright Horizons and Northwest University shows real benefits to employer provided childcare and dependent programs- specifically reduced  health care costs.

Employees offered benefits such as child and dependent care were:

  • 31% less likely to report lost productivity due to stress over the past month
  • 25% fewer personal health concerns due to stress

Employees who were not offered these benefits were:  

One-third more likely to report being down, depressed, or hopeless in the last month, 62 % more likely to experience sleep issues that impact their work and three times as likely to be treated for high blood pressure and diabetes.

In addition, the study noted that behavioral health problems cause more than 200 million missed work days each year in the U.S. at an estimated cost of $105 billion, according to the National Business Group on Health.

Join the conversation: does your company offer any type of childcare or dependent care program?

Employer “To Do List” for Healthcare Reform Compliance

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Healthcare Reform is officially the law so you might as well get started on your “to do” list to comply.  Every employer is going to be impacted in one way or another.  Start your list with changes for 2011:

1) Take some time to review the  Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010,the bill as passed by the Senate, 60-39, on Dec. 24, 2009, and by the House, 219-212 on March 21, 2010 .  It was signed into law on March 23.    You can’t comply with what you don’t understand. Some great website for more information are-

The American Medical Association (which endorsed the final bill) has an FAQ for consumers here and a summary for practitioners  here.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has a tool for calculating health care subsidies under the new health reform laws.  Kaiser also has a good timeline of when key provisions of the laws take effect.

The New York Times published a handy interactive chart on March 21 showing how health reform will affect the insured and the uninsured.

2) Healthcare reform benefit compliance dates: If you have a calendar year benefit plan you will need to redesign your healthcare plan to extend coverage to adult children up to age 26, eliminate lifetime dollar limits and remove pre-existing condition exclusions, if any, for children up to age 19. The deadline for compliance  is January  1, 2011 so contact your broker or agent within the next month and start the process.  There will be additional regulations related to this provision so make sure your broker or agent is keeping you up to date.

3) If you provide an FSA (Flexible Spending Account)  you will have to narrow allowed spending from flexible spending accounts to bar reimbursement for nonprescription, over-the-counter drugs, an FSA feature that the Internal Revenue Service sanctioned in 2003. If you don’t have an FSA, consider adding this to your benefit program.

5) If you provide health care plans covering retirees age 55 to 64,  you have to determine how to assemble claims information to take advantage of a one-time, soon-to-start $5 billion federal reinsurance program set up by the legislation that will reimburse employers for 80 percent of each claim between $15,000 and $90,000.

5) If you provide prescription drug coverage that is at least equal to Medicare Part D to Medicare-eligible retirees. be aware that that  you are  about to lose the associated tax break,  effective in 2013. While the government-provided subsidies,  which can run more than $500 per retiree, will continue to be tax-free, employers collecting the cash no longer will be able to take a tax deduction for retiree prescription drug costs equal to the subsidy. Talk to your accountant as these changes must be reported immediately.

Tomorrow I’ll cover changes in 2012 and beyond.

Join the conversation:   What are you doing to comply with the new healthcare plan requirements?

What Does New Healthcare Bill Mean for Employers? Less Then You Might Think It Does

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Beyond personal or political preferences, what does health care reform mean for employers?  Not much for those with less than 50 employees and maybe even lower costs overall for employers with more than 50 employees.

  • Employer Responsibilities - The legislation would require an employer with more than 50 full-time employees to pay $2,000 per employee if the employer fails to offer health coverage and has at least one full-time employee receiving a premium assistance tax credit or cost-sharing reduction created by the legislation. The first 30 employees of the employer would be excluded from the calculation of the penalty.
  • Dependent Coverage - The legislation would also require health plans that provide dependent coverage to provide it up to age 26. This provision would apply to existing health plans in addition to new plans beginning six months after enactment. For coverage of these non-dependent children prior to 2014, the requirement on group health plans is limited to those adult children without an employer offer of coverage.
  • Breaks for Breastfeeding - The legislation would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to require that employers provide unpaid breaks for employees to express breast milk. The legislation would also require that employers provide a private location for employees to have these breaks.
  • Tax on “Cadillac” Plans - Beginning in 2018, there would be an excise tax on any “excess benefit” of employer-sponsored coverage. The legislation defines “excess benefit” as one that exceeds $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage. The thresholds would be indexed to inflation.
  • Automatic Enrollment - The legislation would require that employers with more than 200 employees automatically enroll full-time employees in health coverage. The legislation would allow employees to opt-out of the coverage after automatic enrollment.
  • Lower Costs - Congressional Budget Office estimated that the legislation would have a relatively small effect on premiums for employer-based healthcare insurance.  For employers with more than 50 employees, premiums could be as much as 3 percent lower under the legislation than they would be under current law in 2016, according to the CBO’s projections.

Several other provisions would affect employers as well, including the creation of state-based exchanges for purchasing health plans and incentives for small employers to offer healthcare coverage.

Join the conversation: what effect will healthcare reform have on your business?