Articles tagged 'health care'

Benefits, HR News & Trends

Software Flaw Lets Employers Offer Health Plans Without Hospital Benefits

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A flaw in the federal calculator for certifying that insurance meets the health law’s toughest standard is leading dozens of large employers to offer plans that lack basic benefits such as hospitalization coverage, according to brokers and consultants.

The calculator appears to allow companies enrolling workers for 2015 to offer inexpensive, substandard medical insurance while avoiding the Affordable Care Act’s penalties, consumer advocates say.

Insurance pros are also surprised such plans are permitted. Read more…

Benefits, HR News & Trends

Premiums For Job-Based Health Insurance Rose 3% This Year

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Premiums for job-based insurance rose modestly for the third consecutive year, reflecting slowed spending, even as key elements of the federal health care law went into effect.

Family premiums rose 3 percent in 2014, one of the lowest increases tracked since the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust began surveying employers in 1999. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

Nonetheless, the cost of the average family plan rose to $16,834 annually, according to the survey of more than 2,000 employers nationwide. Read more…

Benefits, HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

California Repeals 60-Day Waiting Period on Health Insurance

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By Sara Richland

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a “waiting period” is defined as the period that must pass before coverage for an individual who is otherwise eligible to enroll under the terms of a group health plan can become effective.

The ACA prohibits group health plans and group health insurance issuers from imposing a waiting period that exceeds 90 days after an employee is otherwise eligible for health coverage.

Generally, an individual is “eligible” to enroll in a health plan if he or she has met the plan’s substantive eligibility conditions, such as being in an eligible job classification, earning a certain level of commission, or satisfying a reasonable and bona fide employment-based orientation period. Read more…

Benefits, HR News & Trends

Some 16% of Large Employers Plan to Still Offer “Skinny” Health Plans

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Nearly one company in six in a new survey from a major employer group plans to offer health coverage that doesn’t meet the Affordable Care Act’s requirements for value and affordability.

Many thought such low-benefit “skinny plans” would be history once the health law was fully implemented this year. Instead, 16 percent of large employers in a survey released Aug. 13 by the National Business Group on Health said they will offer in 2015 lower-benefit coverage along with at least one health plan that does qualify under ACA standards.

The results weren’t unexpected by benefits pros, who realized last year that ACA regulations would allow skinny plans and even make them attractive for some employers. But the new survey gives one of the first looks at how many companies will follow through and offer them. Read more…

Benefits, HR News & Trends

New Obamacare Wrinkle: Some Employees Get Automatically Enrolled

Health care reform has been a key initiative of President Obama's administration.

Newly hired employees who don’t sign up for health insurance on the job could have it done for them under an Affordable Care Act provision that may take effect as early as next year.

But the controversial provision is raising questions:

Does automatic enrollment help employees help themselves, or does it force them into coverage they don’t want and may not need? A group of employers, many of them retail and hospitality businesses, want the provisions repealed, but some experts say the practice has advantages and is consistent with the aims of the health law. Read more…

Benefits, HR Basics

Benefits Communication: Why It Matters Now More Than Ever

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It’s a wait-and-see year for employers, in part driven by the seemingly endless legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act.

But health care is big this year, like it’s been every other year in recent memory.

Whether or not you believe ACA successfully or unsuccessfully reformed the structure of health insurance in America, you’ll agree costs are still an issue. Cheryl DeMars of The Alliance succinctly said, “The work of bending the cost curve is largely the business of physicians and hospitals, employers and consumers — not regulators.” Read more…

Benefits, HR News & Trends

Appeals Courts Split on Legality of Subsidies Under Health Care Act

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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…

Benefits, Global HR

How Employee Benefits Are Changing Around the World

Maximizing benefits

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…

Benefits, HR News & Trends

Health Plans Dropping Contraceptive Coverage Must Notify Participants

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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…

Benefits, HR News & Trends

Poll Finds That Workers Dislike Penalties In Wellness Programs

Employee wellness

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…