Two U.S. appeals courts Tuesday reached opposite conclusions about the legality of subsidies in the Affordable Care Act, a key part of the law that brings down the cost of coverage for millions of Americans.
In Washington, a three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the Internal Revenue Service lacked the authority to allow subsidies to be provided in exchanges not run by the states.
That 2-1 ruling in Halbig v. Burwell could put at risk the millions of people who bought insurance in the 36 states where these online insurance marketplaces are run by the federal government. Judge Thomas Griffith, writing the majority opinion, said they concluded “that the ACA unambiguously restricts” the subsidies to “exchanges ‘established by the state.’ ” Read more…
In the last 12 months I’ve been to 73 cities in 19 countries, working with our global clients about the advantages of using online benefit management and employee engagement software.
Along the way, I’ve picked up some interesting facts, figures and anecdotes regarding employee benefits management strategies. These are high-level observations and therefore should be taken with a pinch of salt.
I know how infuriating it can be to have your country or region generalized. For example, you can’t talk about the American economy in high-level terms: Read more…
By Ilyse Wolens Schuman
In response to the recent U.S. Supreme Court holding in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that closely held, for-profit entities with religious objections to certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) birth control requirements could avoid the mandate by invoking the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the U.S. Department of Labor has released guidance to address this eventuality.
In the latest set of Frequently Asked Questions on the ACA’s implementation, the Labor Department explains that group health plans offered by closely held, for-profit businesses that intend to cease providing all or some contraceptive coverage must notify plan participants within 60 days after the adoption of a modification or change to the plan’s coverage. Read more…
Workers believe employer wellness programs should be all gain but no pain, according to a poll released this week.
The poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found employees approve of corporate wellness programs when they offer perks, but recoil if the plans have punitive incentives such as higher premiums for those who do not take part. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)
Wellness programs, which are encouraged under the federal health law, are structured in various ways. In some plans, the worker has to join a particular program, such as an exercise class, while others focus on outcomes, such as the employees’ blood sugar or cholesterol. Evidence is mixed about whether any substantially improve workers’ health or lower costs to employers and insurers. Read more…
Health costs will accelerate next year, but changes in how people buy care will help keep them from attaining the speed of several years ago, PricewaterhouseCoopers says in a new report.
The prediction, based on interviews and modeling, splits the difference between hopes that costs will stay tame and fears that they’re off to the races after having been slow since the 2008 financial crisis.
“This is not an immediate return to double-digit growth rates,” says Ben Isgur, a director in PwC’s Health Research Institute. However, he adds, “what we’re seeing for 2015 will be our first uptick in some time.” Read more…
June is National Employee Wellness Month, so let’s focus on some current workplace health and wellness stats.
We know that a workplace culture based on trust creates happier, engaged and higher performing employees on all levels. And health and well-being should be considered an important factor towards this overall goal, because employees who experience poor health and wellness are likely to (among other things):
- Experience higher levels of stress;
- Miss more days of work; and,
- Experience less productivity.
These are all important determinants in an employee’s overall engagement. Read more…
Employers with 20 or more employees are required to offer COBRA benefits to departing, eligible employees.
Managing these COBRA benefits can be a burden to mid-sized businesses, whether they invest the time to manage the process in-house or invest the money to have a third party manage it.
The Affordable Care Act has added a new wrinkle into this process that both employers and employees should be aware of. The issue boils down to timing. Read more…
Work can be sickening. Literally.
During an appearance at the recent Great Place to Work annual conference this month n New Orleans, Stanford business school professor Jeffrey Pfeffer presented a devastating case for the negative effects of U.S. workplaces on our health.
Pointing out that human sustainability ought to be at least as important a goal as environmental sustainability, Pfeffer described bad work environments as environmental hazards and even more dangerous than carbon emissions or second-hand smoke. Read more…
Today’s model for workplace wellness is to offer a program of dazzling options, but studies show such programs are not producing the outcomes they promised and that employees and companies deserve.
Here are four major changes for employers who want to improve their employees’ health and wellness and realize a return on their investment in wellness programs.
1. Get real about outcomes
A recently published study by The RAND Corporation revealed that wellness programs are not getting the intended results. One reason programs were failing was that fewer than 37 percent of U.S. employers even measure the effectiveness of their wellness programs. Read more…
Employers saw only a tiny increase in enrollment in their health insurance plans this year, even as key provisions of the Affordable Care Act — including a requirement that nearly all Americans carry coverage or face a fine — went into effect, a survey by benefit firm Mercer finds.
Additionally, the percentage of workers eligible for job-based coverage rose only minimally, suggesting that employers didn’t expand their programs.
This may reflect a one-year delay in rules requiring employers of 50 or more to offer insurance to full-time workers or face penalties. In February, the Obama administration gave firms with 50 to 99 workers until 2016 to comply. Read more…