Blog 2018-04-22T03:00:08+00:00

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Single Payer in CA, you think insurance is expensive now, wait until its free!

By | April 21st, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

There is an argument to be made on both sides of the #SinglePayer debate.  You have two people vying for CA governor with very different views.  Gavin Newsom favoring #SinglePayer and Antonio Villariagosa warning of the financial calamity if we adopt it.  Without getting political, there are actually good points from both candidates being made, but I have to side with Villariagosa on this.  It reminds me of an old adage I heard many years ago; “if you think its expensive now, just wait until its free”.  I don’t think you can find anyone that is against having healthcare for everyone, most people feel its a human right.  Its how you go about delivering the healthcare to everyone that is the issue.

Do we really want the government in charge of healthcare

Besides the massive price tag for this type of untested plan, how would the implementation be handled.  Does anyone like going to the DMV?  Oh wait, California is running that too.  Even Democrats that are in favor of Single Payer, are saying that our taxes would increase almost 100%.  Newsom is proposing a $200-BILLION tax increase to cover some of the cost….yes, 200 BILLION!  The more even tempered Democrat, State Treasurer John Chiang, urges caution.  Chiang says that it would be a mistake to change CA’s healthcare system all in one fell swoop.  He thinks implementation should be done gradually and with more testing.

Single Payer a hot button issue

No matter what you believe, this argument will continue to rage on for a long time.  The #ACA has solved many of the issues that Single Payer proponents want to address, but does it go far enough?  Either way you slice it, to bring about a Single Payer, or Socialized Medicine platform is very pricey.  60% of Californians would like to see some sort of Single Payer, but that support drops to under 40% when they learn of increased taxes.  It goes even lower when you start talking about the cost being in the hundreds of billions, and individual taxes increasing over 100%.

Brauer Insurance is exclusively an Employee Benefits Agency, family owned and operated.  We are on the cutting edge of Group Health and #ACA developments in CA.  www.brauerinsurance.com,  (877) 421-4325

Employee Benefits are expensive, but there are some strategies to lessen the pain

By | April 19th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

There are products that can help #employers fight the high cost of Employee Benefits and Group Health Insurance. The products have been available for many years, and really became popular when the #HSA health insurance plans started back in 2004. We use these products for our groups that have a variety of Group Health Plans. Some have HSA plans, others have traditional #PPOs, others have #HMOs. It can work with basically any type of plan that you have for your company.

Voluntary Products are super affordable

Employers that want to enhance their Employee Benefit offering can do so without it costing them a fortune.  In fact, the offering of these products can be done on a voluntary basis and not cost the employer anything at all.  Let me say that again…the employer is not required to pay for any of these products, unless they want to.  Having these products can help with big ticket items like hospital stays, ambulance rides, ER visits, surgeries, etc.

Not all insurance agents are alike, do your homework

Everything these days seem to be more complicated.  #EmployeeBenefits are no different.  Having an expert that specializes in Group Health Plans for companies can make all the difference in the world.  Would you consult with a Primary Care doctor or a Cardiologist if you had a heart condition.  Whether you use an insurance agent that is a Generalist or someone that specializes in Employee Benefits, the cost to you is the same.  The commission is baked into the monthly premium of the insurance and not negotiable.  Whether you call us or another Health Insurance expert, we highly recommend doing your due diligence.  Check out the agency.  Do they really specialize in #GroupHealth or is that just one of their offerings.

Brauer Insurance is a family owned and operated boutique Employee Benefits Agency.  When you call, you either get me, or another family member….and maybe one of my grandkids, if they grab the phone!   www.braueinsurance.com  (877) 421-4325

Larger Employers have some major compliance issues to deal with regarding Group Benefits and Group Health Insurance

By | April 17th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

When your employee count reaches 50 or more #employees, there are some #ACA and #ObamaCare compliance issues you have to deal with.  Even if you have less than 50 full time employees, you still may be subject to the #EmployerMandate.  This affects #employers that have over 50 employees, both full time and part time, called #FTE, Full Time Equivalent.  It can also occur when you own part of a bunch of businesses and the combined employee total of all of those businesses are over 50.  That is called a “Control Group”

A Control Group is when someone owns, even a piece, of many businesses and the employee count reaches 50

The ACA is very specific when it comes to #GroupHealth, the Employer Mandate and what is considered an Applicable Large Employer, or ALE.  Whenever a group of businesses are owned by the same person or entity, even partially owned, its called a Control Group.  All of the businesses employees are pooled together, and if the total is 50 or more, ALL of the businesses are considered to be a Control Group and one entity in the eyes of the ACA.  That means that all of the full time employees must be offered Group Health Insurance at all of those companies.  The coverage also has to be deemed affordable to the employee

Employees must be offered “affordable” Health Insurance for the ACA Mandate to be satisfied

The Affordability piece of the ACA is a bit more complicated.  There are many formulas to try and figure out exactly what is considered affordable for everyone.  One of the simpler ways to calculate this is by using one of the “safe harbors” that the IRS gives employers under section 4980H of the IRS code.  The W-2 Safe Harbor is calculated by using the employee’s W-2 wages as a guide.  When figuring affordability, the employee cannot spend more than 9.5 of their W-2 wages towards the cost of the Group Health Insurance provided by the employer.  There are two other safe harbors, but the W-2 method seems to be the most popular and easy to calculate.  Groups are now getting audited from back in 2015 that were out of compliance….and the penalties are staggering.

Make sure your broker is an expert at the #ACA.  There is too much liability and confusion to take those kind of risks.  Brauer Insurance is one of the leading independent agencies that specializes in #ObamaCare and protecting #SmlBiz.  It’s all we do!  www.brauerinsurance.com     (877) 421-4325

 

Assembly Bill 3087 would set reimbursements for hospitals and doctors through an independent panel

By | April 12th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

Bay Area Assembly Member Ash Kalra is proposing that CA set up an independent, nine-member state commission to set health care reimbursements for hospitals, doctors and other providers in the private-insurance market serving employers and individuals.  That’s an interesting thought and will be heavily challenged by physician groups and hospitals.  Both of which have deep pockets.  Kalra proposes that the commission use Medicare reimbursements as a benchmark and then factor in providers’ operating costs, geography and a reasonable amount of profit to establish rates.  This type of regulation is currently being used with public utilities.  #AB3087 would mirror what Maryland has been doing since 1970, with limited success.  There is an argument that doctors and providers would exit the industry if this bill passes.  Who knows if that would really happen.  CA’s Health Exchange, #CoveredCA, started out slow, but seems to have flourished.  Another idea that many thought would go bust.

Employers and Lawmakers are looking for ways to “bend the curve”

Employers and families are always searching for ways to bend the cost of healthcare.  #ObamaCare was great about giving people access to coverage and helping them pay for it.  The problem is that until we figure out a way to reduce the COST of healthcare…nothing will change, the monthly premiums will continue to rise.  How do we fix it?  That’s the million dollar question. There are some ways to bend the cost curve, as they say, but to truly reduce #HealthInsurance premiums, we have to reduce the cost of healthcare

ObamaCare was Insurance Reform, not Health Reform

Hey…any reform would be welcome at this point right?  I’m no fan of insurance companies, but they are a necessary evil.  I want them to make a profit…just not a killing!  Same the with the pharmaceuticals.  Come on man….we want you to make a profit, but geez!  The message you need to hear from this is that NOTHING will change, until we reign in the COST of healthcare.  That’s the bottom line.

Brauer Insurance can help you BEND that cost curve a bit.  There are strategies that work.  Call us for info, either my daughter Bonnie or I would be happy to talk to you..with no expectation of doing business.  (877) 421-4325   www.brauerinsurance.com

ACA compliance for small business employers, simple ways to avoid problems, hire an expert

By | April 10th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

If you’re running your business, you don’t have time to try and figure out what you have to do to stay compliant with the #ACA.  You can’t be an expert at everything.  Its hard enough to run a successful business, attract employees, keep profitable and not go crazy.  There are only so many hours in the day.  Would you ever try and keep up with all of the most recent tax laws and file your own taxes.  If you do, you’re way better than I am!  Let an expert take this off of your plate.  Whether its #BrauerInsurance or another Independent Broker, get someone that specializes in just #EmployeeBenefits and Group Health Insurance.  This is complicated stuff, and this industry is already convoluted enough.  The penalties are staggering if you’re not compliant

Compliance is the name of the game

Even employers with 5 employees are required to be in #compliance with the #ACA.  It could be something as simple as an #EmployeeHandbook.  If you’ve ever been in front of the CA Labor Board, you know what I mean.  That is the first question that the Board asks you, when you get a complaint from an employee or former employee. When I owned a chain of pizza parlors I made the mistake of not having one.  It went downhill from there.  If you’re business is 20+ employees, the game changes dramatically.  Who does your Federal Cobra?  If you don’t know….that’s a problem, because YOU are responsible if someone’s #COBRA gets messed up.  Again…not fun…but preventable!  We pay for a #TPA to administer the Cobra on behalf of our client, relieving them of liability.

Group Health Insurance Broker services are usually free

When we bring on a new group, there are always #compliance issues.  Some issues can be resolved easily, some require a TPA to administer.  Group Health Insurance is a total specialty.  Any company that has a broker that does other lines of insurance, is risking being out of compliance, and the penalties are insane.  There are not enough hours in the day to be an expert at everything…its just not possible.  Hire a Health Insurance broker that knows the market.  Stalk them (online of course), what do their reviews look like?  Not all brokers are experts at Group Health Insurance….only the crazy ones!

Brauer Insurance is an Independent Brokerage that focuses on Employee Benefits and Group Health Plans.  Call us (877) 421-4325,  www.brauerinsurance.com

Managing Group Health Insurance and Employee Benefit costs for employers, the financing of healthcare

By | April 10th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

For small and medium sized employers there are strategies that can be put into place that will reduce the overall cost of #EmployeeBenefits for your people.  When people talk about managing the costs of #GroupHealthInsurance, they usually mean either downgrading the coverage to a cheaper plan or having the employees themselves pay more each month for their coverage.  Most employers have already done that…and its not a long term solution.  The #HealthInsurance coverage suffers and the employees are not happy, especially when they have to utilize services.

Attract and retain employees by increasing their #Benefits with a strategy

There are #strategies that you can put into place that will not only decrease the cost of the benefits, but make your benefits even richer for the employees.  Many products are designed to accentuate the core Group Benefits that you are offering to your employees.  They’ve been called #VoluntaryBenefits, Ancillary, Gap Plans and other names.

When products accentuate Group Benefits, I like to call it “underfunding”

The sole purpose of having Employee Benefits, specifically Group Health Insurance, is to make sure you’re covered if you have health issues that need to be addressed.  If your Health Plan has a ridiculously high deductible, its pretty much useless and out of reach to most of us.  They like to call these catastrophic coverage.  The plan will cover you if you have something major happen to you, so you won’t go broke.  There are ways to use other products to help “underfund” a traditional Group Health Plan and they are surprisingly affordable.  By bringing in that strategy, you create real value for your employees, and making it so they can actually use their Employee Benefits.  Our strategy is basically a mind shift to the FINANCING of healthcare.

With NO expectation of doing business, we would be happy to chat with you about how to implement some of these suggestions.  Steve Brauer, Principal, Brauer Insurance (877) 421-4325

Workplace hostile environment affects productivity, legal ramifications, Judy Pearce, HR Attorney and Consultant, San Jose

By | April 10th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

 

Written by Judy Pearce, Attorney and Consultant   www.hrlegalresults.com

During a recent investigation of a hostile environment claim, I asked whether the boss in question treated people differently based on sex or race.  She said, “No, he’s an equal opportunity jerk. He mistreats everybody.”

She went on to say that the boss ridiculed people by publishing negative, mean-spirited performance feedback emails copied to the entire staff. She also said that he micro-managed her so much that she was unable to carry out her assignments­—particularly because his directions were often internally inconsistent.

As with many hostile work environment claims the “jerk” is typically the owner or CEO of the company. What is HR or the Board to do?

In many situations, there is legal liability associated with the boss’s actions, and then legal counsel’s warnings can change behavior. But more and more I am receiving complaints that are more like bullying and less like harassment of a protected class. The California legislature made a finding that bullying or abusive behavior reduces productivity and increases stress at work but a cause of action has not been created. Some legal practitioners predict that bullying claims will be deemed actionable in the near future.

So, the question remains: what to do with the equal opportunity jerk today? Some solutions include

  • Explain to the bully that abusive behavior can infect the whole organization, starting with wasted time exchanging stories of mistreatment to and ending with dealing with emotional issues-like crying.
  • Bullying can also lead to top performers resigning to find more pleasant work environments—even the ones who aren’t be subjected to mistreatment leave.
  • It can’t hurt to tell the bully that the times are changing and what used to be tolerated is becoming a liability. You could say, “Why not start early getting rid of the behaviors that are increasingly risky in terms of liability?”

Any thoughts or suggestions?

 

Association Health Plans, AHP, and the changes, will they work and what are the benefits

By | April 7th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Recently there have been some proposed changes in the rules governing #AHPs or Association Health Plans.  In many states (not so much CA), smaller employers are not able to obtain #EmployeeBenefits or #GroupHealthPlans for their employees, leaving them to fend for themselves either on the Health Exchange, or going without.  AHPs were introduced as a way to “pool” businesses together and create some buying power for smaller businesses that have a common link.  Maybe an AHP of restaurant owners, or pre-schools.  They are still arguing about the details, but there seems to be some loosening of the definition of how to set up an AHP

AHPs can be structured in 3 different types of #HealthInsurance plans

The most common and easiest is the fully insured medical plan.  The administration is fairly easy and takes no initial capital reserve to set up by the AHP.  Secondly would be the #SelfFunded Health Insurance plan, where the employer bears much of the risk and the insurance carrier share the risk.  Employers are incentivised to keep employees health good, with preventative measures and programs, many of which can be funded by the government.  The third model of AHP would be a hybrid version of this, sometimes called a Partially Self Funded Health Plan, where both the employer and #insurance carrier share the risk.  The healthier the group, both the employer and carrier share in the cost savings.  In CA, #Cigna has a great product called “LevelFunding.

Coverage for more employees and better options

With AHP type designs, smaller employers have more choices and could potentially enjoy savings over the Individual market, depending on the state.  In CA, we have a portfolio of plans for businesses under 100 employees called the #SmallGroupMarket.  Carriers such as #Anthem, #BlueShield, #Aetna, #HealthNet, #UHC and others lead the market with an array of full and limited network plans.

#BrauerInsurance is a leader in #ACA #GroupHealth plans for small and medium sized employers.  We “translate #ObamaCare into English, for businesses”

Kaiser Insurance for your business can be affordable

By | April 1st, 2018|Categories: Affordable Care Act, Affordable Employee Benefits, Anthem Blue Cross Insurance, Business Health Insurance, California Employee Health Insurance, California Employer Benefits, Employee Benefits San Jose, Employee Health Benefits, Group Health Insurance, Health Exchange and small business, Kaiser, Kaiser Business Insurance, Kaiser Employee Health Insurance, Kaiser Group Health Insurance, Kaiser Permanente|

If you are searching for affordable #HealthInsurance  or #EmployeeBenefits for your business, #Kaiser may be the way to go.  Kaiser offers 17 different plans and even a #PPO that out of state employees can use.  When we strategize #Business #Insurance plans for companies, Kaiser is usually the least expensive, by far. Kaiser is also very flexible when your company wants to offer other PPO carriers like #Anthem, #BlueCross #BlueShield, #UHC, and others.  The Kaiser PPO has a very robust network, all over the country, but its pricey.

Employee Benefits for out of state employees, #Kaiser PPO

When you offer a Kaiser Health Insurance plan to your employees, you can also offer one PPO plan as well.  Kaiser basically acts as the 3rd party administrator with the PPO, but has nothing to do with the network and is not associated with Kaiser at all.  Your business health insurance bill you receive each month from Kaiser will include any employees you have on that PPO plan.  #Kaiser basically “piggy backs” on that network for the benefit of their members.

Companies that have Kaiser and PPO employees, a cheaper alternative

When your employees are split on Kaiser and a PPO carrier, like Anthem, there is a much cheaper alternative to using the Kaiser PPO.  #CalChoice offers #AnthemBlueCross and Kaiser side by side, and has much better PPO pricing.  This type of Private #Exchange offering can be a real win for a #CFO, and gives the company the flexibility to offer many choices in the Kaiser/PPO arena.  Out of State employees have to enroll into the Anthem PPO, but the out of state #network is very robust.

Health Insurance for your company does not have to break the bank, San Jose, Bay Area, CA

By | March 29th, 2018|Categories: Affordable Employee Benefits, California Employer Benefits, Employee Benefits, Employee Health Benefits, Employee Health Insurance, Group Employee Benefits, Group Health Benefits, Small Business Employee Benefits|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Attract and Retain employees with #EmployeeBenefits that have value, but not necessarily super expensive

If you are a business owner looking to protect your employees with #EmployeeBenefits and #healthinsurance, there are many ways to do that, without making you go broke.  #SmallBiz can offer #GroupBenefits for much less than they think.  There are many #strategies that you can use to mitigate much of the cost, while still protecting employees.  We’ve received tons of calls since January from employers looking to attract and retain good employees with either #Dentalinsurance #VSP or some sort of #HealthCoverage.  Employers are only required to contribute 50% of the single employee premium….so we’re talking, roughly $150 or so a month.

#AncillaryBenefits are a great way to help employees, and are very cheap!

When we talk about #AncillaryBenefits, I mean #ColonialLife #Aflac and similar type products.  Many of these products can under fund, or help to “insure the deductible” (as I say) on many plans.  There is a strategy to this, where employees AND employers see the value in pairing #HealthBenefits together.  Some of these products can be as cheap as $20 a month or so.

Finding a broker that specializes in #GroupBenefits is not easy

There are brokers all over that can “sell” you some Group Benefit plans.  Honestly, a monkey could do that.  The value in having someone that specializes in #EmployeeBenefits is that you get a professional that ONLY handles that type of crazy, dysfunctional, #insurance.  Group Health Insurance is a specialty product and has many nuances.  Making very slight changes in benefit packages can save employers thousands a month or year.  Do your Due Diligence….stalk the broker (virutally)  that you are considering using for your company.  Do they specialize in Group Benefits, or is it just ONE of their offerings.

#BrauerInsurance if the Bay Area leader in #GroupBenefits and #HealthInsurance for companies under 100 employees.  Call us…talk to me or my daughter Bonnie.  We will give you candid advice with NO expectation of doing business.

Steve Brauer-Founder/Principal

 

GROUP HEALTH INSURANCE STRATEGIES FOR SMALL BUSINESS

By | February 26th, 2018|Categories: ACA, Cornerstone content, Group Benefits, Group Dental Insurance, Group Health Insurance, HR|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

If you have Group Benefits in place now at your company, or if you are thinking of putting together Group Health Insurance for your employees, there is a lot to think about.  Health Insurance is all over the news.  Group Health Insurance is expensive, confusing, and most business owners don’t know where to start.  That’s where having an expert on your side can make all the difference in the world.  Most people don’t realize it, but having a Group Benefits expert is free.  They are paid by the commission that is “built” into the monthly premium, set by the State of CA.

Would you ever consider doing your own corporate taxes?  Most business owners rely on people with the expertise to help them through the process and create a strategy for them.  Those tax experts know the system, and know how to keep people in compliance.  The same concept applies for Group Health Insurance.  There is a strategy to Group Benefits, specifically Group Health Insurance.  Being in the wrong health insurance network, overpriced premiums, and being out of compliance with the IRS and Dept of Labor is kind of a big deal.

Choosing an Employee Benefits Adviser

Choosing a Group Health Insurance Advisor is also important.  There are tons of us running around, claiming to be experts.  It pays to do your homework and due diligence on Group Health Agencies.  Check their ratings, and their reviews.  Are you dealing with the owner of the agency, or just an account manager for a big firm?  Who has a vested interest in YOUR company and making sure you are set with the right products.  Basically, who has your back? Compliance is a big issue now, especially for groups over 20 or 50 employees.  If that fits your company and your broker has not spoken to you about all of the compliance mandates surrounding the ACA (ObamaCare), that may be an issue.

Compliance mandates for small business

If you are a business owner with 20+ employees, there are steps you have to take to be compliant with the IRS and the DOL (Dept of Labor).  If you’ve ever been in front of the Labor Board or had to deal with the IRS, its never fun.  Getting compliant is not really that hard, if you specialize in Group Health Insurance.  Too many of the business owners I speak with, are completely unaware of the Employer Mandates set up by ObamaCare in 2010.  Since Trump has taken office, the mandates, and enforcement has changed with Group Insurance.  In 2018, the IRS is now auditing companies, from their 2015 filings, that appear to be out of compliance.  Again….if you have a true expert on your side, this is a non-issue.

At Brauer Insurance, we specialize in Group Health Benefits for companies under 100 employees.  Call us anytime for a free evaluation.  (408) 421-5555

Group Health Insurance strategies for Small Businesses

By | February 20th, 2018|Categories: Employee Benefits, Employee Health Benefits, Employee Health Insurance, Group Employee Benefits, Group Health Benefits, Small Business Employee Benefits, Uncategorized|

If you have Group Benefits in place now at your company, or if you are thinking of putting together Group Health Insurance for your employees, there is a lot to think about.  Health Insurance is all over the news.  Group Health Insurance is expensive, confusing, and most business owners don’t know where to start.  That’s where having an expert on your side can make all the difference in the world.  Most people don’t realize it, but having a Group Benefits expert is free.  They are paid by the commission that is “built” into the monthly premium, set by the State of CA.

Would you ever consider doing your own corporate taxes?  Most business owners rely on people with the expertise to help them through the process and create a strategy for them.  Those tax experts know the system, and know how to keep people in compliance.  The same concept applies for Group Health Insurance.  There is a strategy to Group Benefits, specifically Group Health Insurance.  Being in the wrong health insurance network, overpriced premiums, and being out of compliance with the IRS and Dept of Labor is kind of a big deal.

Choosing an Employee Benefits Adviser

Choosing a Group Health Insurance Advisor is also important.  There are tons of us running around, claiming to be experts.  It pays to do your homework and due diligence on Group Health Agencies.  Check their ratings, and their reviews.  Are you dealing with the owner of the agency, or just an account manager for a big firm?  Who has a vested interest in YOUR company and making sure you are set with the right products.  Basically, who has your back? Compliance is a big issue now, especially for groups over 20 or 50 employees.  If that fits your company and your broker has not spoken to you about all of the compliance mandates surrounding the ACA (ObamaCare), that may be an issue.

Compliance mandates for small business

If you are a business owner with 20+ employees, there are steps you have to take to be compliant with the IRS and the DOL (Dept of Labor).  If you’ve ever been in front of the Labor Board or had to deal with the IRS, its never fun.  Getting compliant is not really that hard, if you specialize in Group Health Insurance.  Too many of the business owners I speak with, are completely unaware of the Employer Mandates set up by ObamaCare in 2010.  Since Trump has taken office, the mandates, and enforcement has changed with Group Insurance.  In 2018, the IRS is now auditing companies, from their 2015 filings, that appear to be out of compliance.  Again….if you have a true expert on your side, this is a non-issue.

At Brauer Insurance, we specialize in Group Health Benefits for companies under 100 employees.  Call us anytime for a free evaluation.  (408) 421-5555

 

 

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