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HR Directors to employers: Here is what employees want with their Employee Benefits

By |December 23rd, 2018|Categories: Affordable Employee Benefits, AFLAC, Anthem Blue Cross Insurance, Bay Area Employee Benefits, Benchmarking, CA Employee Benefits, California Employee Health Insurance, California Employer Benefits, Colonial, Critical Illness Insurance, Customized Policies, Employee Benefits, Employee Benefits San Jose, Employee Health Benefits, Employee Health Insurance, Employer Health Insurance, Group Benefits, Group Employee Benefits, Group Health Benefits, Group Health Insurance, Group Health Insurance, Group Health Plans, Group Medical Insurance, HR, Kaiser Business Insurance, Kaiser Employee Health Insurance, Kaiser Group Health Insurance, Small Business Benefits, Small Business Employee Benefits, Small Business Health Insurance, Small Group Health Insurance, Start Up Insurance, Start Ups looking for Employee Benefits, Strategy|

Whether you’re a Millennial or Baby Boomer, employees pretty much want the same thing from their employer; a good salary, good benefits, and a sense of belonging.  Lets dive into the Employee Benefit offering first.

Employee Benefits are vital, and sometimes a deal breaker for a potential new hire

Obviously the first Employee Benefit would be the compensation.  Is it in line with the industry, and other employers?  If yes, the conversation turns to the “Total Compensation”….meaning what else is being offered besides the money.  Employer Sponsored Healthcare is paramount.  Offering a Group Health Plan and Group Dental Plan is much more important than having a pool table or snacks in the lunchroom.  Finding the right mix of Employee Benefits is the job of the Benefits Broker.  A good broker can use bench-marking to help companies get, and stay competitive with the marketplace.  A robust Group Health Insurance plan, with a good network is valued by employees, much more than is known by most employers.

Work-Life balance, flexible time off, and a voice in the company

Employees in all industries, especially now, are looking for that employer that values the employee’s time.  Time on the job and time off.  When an employee feels that the company cares about them, the productivity and the morale increases substantially.  Almost to a person, the word “work-Life Balance” comes into the conversation.

Creative, Out of the Box Employee Benefits add to the offering

When a company offers a Group Health Plan that is tailored to the individual employee’s needs, it makes much more of an impact, and appreciated much more.  Instead of the company offering Health Insurance that is a “one size fits all”, companies have become creative in their offerings…such as Accident Plans, or Cancer Plans, by #Aflac.  Many companies even pay for a majority of these #VoluntaryBenefits.  Most times the Ancillary Benefits are very inexpensive

Being creative, and strategic about the Employee Benefits that you offer, can make all the difference in the world.

 

Steve Brauer-Principal, Brauer Insurance Services,  www.brauerinsurance.com,  (877) 421-4325

Small Business Employers offering Group Benefits at all time high

By |December 12th, 2018|Categories: Aetna, Affordable Employee Benefits, Anthem, Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross Insurance, Bay Area Employee Benefits, Blue Shield, Blue Shield of CA, Business Health Insurance, CA Employee Benefits, CalChoice, California Employer Benefits, Cigna, Employee Benefits, Employee Benefits San Jose, Employee Health Insurance, Employer Health Insurance, Group Benefits, Group Employee Benefits, Group Health Benefits, Group Health Insurance, Group Health Insurance, Group Health Plans, Group Medical Insurance, Kaiser, Kaiser Business Insurance, Kaiser Employee Health Insurance, Kaiser Group Health Insurance, Kaiser Health Insurance, Kaiser Permanente, Large Group Health Insurance, Over 50 employees, Small Business Benefits, Small Business Employee Benefits, Small Business Health Insurance, Small companies, Small Group, Small Group Health Insurance, Start Up Insurance, Start Ups looking for Employee Benefits, Ways to reduce your Employee Benefit costs, Ways to reduce your Health Insurance costs|

CA Employers are offering Group Health Insurance and Group Benefits to their employees is at its highest level in almost 10 years.  Despite the wild increases and crazy deductibles, #employers are offering Employee Benefits more than ever.  The main reason, there is major competition for talent and employers want to stay relevant and compete with other similar companies.  In the Bay Area, you have smaller companies competing with Google, FaceBook, Ebay, Apple, and many more.  Because smaller companies cannot offer those super rich benefits, they are becoming more and more strategic.

Bay Area companies are getting strategic with their Group Benefits offering

Insurance brokers that specialize in Group Health Benefits or Group Medical Insurance, have an edge over other brokers that are “jack of all trades”.  Brokers that focus on Employee Benefits are familiar with ways that companies can get strategic with what they offer, and offer it without making them go broke.  One of the strategies is offering a mid range plan, and then “underfunding” or “insuring” the deductible.  I don’t want to get too much into it, for obvious reasons.

Employee Benefits are the #2 cost for employers

Wages are the #1 cost for employers, with #EmployeeBenefits and Group Benefits being a close second.  Because of this, strategy is the name of the game.  Employers have to get creative with what they offer.  When I come across a company that has an expensive Group Health Plan in place, the first question I ask the decision maker is “why”.  Most times the decision to have a Gold or Platinum plan is well intended, but usually, almost always, wasteful.  Even if a Health Insurance agent could cut your costs by even 10 or 15%, that’s definitely a conversation worth having.

Rating for smaller companies is different than larger employers

When you have a company with under 100 employees, the pricing on #GroupHealthInsurance plans are set by the State of CA, and age rated.  That means that an employee that is 20 years old is half the price of someone that is 50.  That’s just how its set up.  The Trump Administration is trying to find ways to bend the cost curve on pricing, with ideas like more competition, being able to offer plans without things like maternity, trying to allow states to purchase Group Health Insurance across state lines.  All of these things would probably have a positive effect on pricing, but until we reign in the COST of healthcare, the insurance will continue to be expensive.

 

Steve Brauer-Principal,  Brauer Insurance Services LLC,  www.brauerinsurance.com,  (877) 421-4325

More requirements for Small Business owners, and HR Managers

By |December 9th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Is Now Required

With recent changes to the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), the California legislature has made it easier for employees to win sexual harassment claims.

For example, employees can qualify their sexually hostile environment claims with just one incident of harassment. In many cases, employers won’t be allowed to prohibit testimony – and may have to change provisions of confidentiality agreements during settlement negotiations.

In such an environment, providing sexual harassment training isn’t just common sense — it’s now required by law.

Small Businesses Are Not Immune: Any business with 5 or more employees is now required to provide sexual training to employees, specifically:

  • 2 hours of sexual harassment training to supervisors
  • 1 hour of sexual harassment training to non-supervisory personnel

You have until January 1, 2020 to meet this requirement — but updating the following training and HR procedures immediately can help you avoid lawsuits.

Legal Dos and Don’ts

In your anti-harassment training, DO be sure to include:

  • Clear expectations of  employee conduct including anti-bullying policies
  • Components on harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation

In your interactions with employees, DON’T

  • Try to entice employees to release discrimination or other FEHA claims in exchange for bonuses, raises or continued employment.

Other changes in 2019

  • Payroll Records: You are now required to provide employees and ex-employees with copies of their payroll records. You can charge for copying but you can’t deny them the copies.
  • Recruiting: Pay range and hourly rate disclosure information doesn’t have to be provided to current employees or prospective employees on the first interview. It must be disclosed to candidates going beyond the initial interview.
  • Lactation Facilities: You must provide a specific lactation area that is not a bathroom and meets state guidelines — unless you can show undue hardship.

Questions about how the changes affect your company? Contact me by calling 650.518.0327 or by email at judypearce@hrlegalresults.com.

Insurance companies NOT hurting for money….record profits this year

By |November 28th, 2018|Categories: ACA, Affordable Employee Benefits, Anthem, Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross Insurance, Bay Area Employee Benefits, Blue Shield, Blue Shield of CA, Business Health Insurance, CA Employee Benefits, CalChoice, California Employee Health Insurance, California Employer Benefits, Cigna, Employee Benefits, Employee Benefits San Jose, Employee Health Benefits, Employee Health Insurance, Employer Health Insurance, Group Benefits, Group Employee Benefits, Group Health Benefits, Group Health Insurance, Group Health Insurance, Group Health Plans, Group Medical Insurance, Health Care Reform Update, HealthNet, HR, HR Assistance, HR Compliance, Kaiser, Kaiser Business Insurance, Kaiser Employee Health Insurance, Kaiser Group Health Insurance, Kaiser Permanente, Large Group Health Insurance, PPO, Small Business Benefits, Small Business Employee Benefits, Small Business Health Insurance, Small companies, Small Group, Small Group Health Insurance, Start Up Insurance, Start Ups looking for Employee Benefits, Ways to reduce your Employee Benefit costs|

Even though I’m an Independent Insurance Broker, I am not a fan of most of the insurance carriers.  The effects of NOT having health insurance plan, or Group Health Insurance plan, could be disastrous, economically.  Honestly, Health Insurance is a necessary evil.  If you are an employer, and you offer a Group Health Plan, you need to be a good consumer, and have a broker that not only specializes in Employee Benefits, but one that you trust, so they can give you sound advice.

For 2018, some of the largest insurers in America are recording record profits, being led by UHC, United HealthCare.  UHC is well on their way to be the largest insurance company in the United States, with 2018 profits expected to be well into the billions….yes billions

Group Health Insurance plans are still expensive for employers and employees

Even with ALL of the insurers having big profits, the Employee Benefit plans for companies are still going up and I think I have an explanation.  I believe that because Health Insurance is not mandatory for Individual people any longer, the insurance companies are “hedging their bet” with banking more money, in anticipation of losing some of the profitability with the change in the #ACA, that Trump made.  Being a Benefits Broker, its hard to meet with #HR Directors, CFOs, and business owners, and bring them bad news each year of the continued increases, knowing that the insurers are making so much money.

In these times its even more important to consult with a Benefits Specialist

You have no idea how many times I’m called out to a company by someone in charge of their Employee Benefits, asking if I would be able to help them understand what they have and why its so expensive.  In most of these situations, the company is either on a plan that does not fit what they need, or they are wasting their money on plans that are too rich.  In both cases, its because they don’t have a relationship with their broker, or they have a broker that tries to be an expert at various types of insurance.  Either way the Small Business #Employer and their employees are the losers.

Find an Group Health Insurance expert…its free, and it can really make a major difference in not only what you spend, but the value you receive.

 

Steve Brauer, Principle, Brauer Insurance Services,  www.brauerinsurance.com.  (877) 421-4325

Parental Bonding policies for employers, are they discriminatory?….most are

By |October 30th, 2018|Categories: CA Employee Benefits, California Employer Benefits, Employee Benefits San Jose, Employee Health Benefits, Employee Health Insurance, Employer Health Insurance, ERISA compliance, Group Employee Benefits, Group Health Insurance, Group Health Plans, Group Medical Insurance, HR, HR Assistance, HR Attorney, HR Compliance, HR Platform, Kaiser Business Insurance, Kaiser Group Health Insurance, Small Business Benefits, Small Business Employee Benefits, Small Business Health Insurance, Small Group Health Insurance, Start Up Insurance, Start Ups looking for Employee Benefits|

Think that dads deserve the same amount of time for parental bonding leave as moms? If you answered no, it’s time to review your parental bonding policy. The EEOC recently announced that that practice of giving moms more bonding time is discriminatory. Employers are required to grant fathers equal amounts of paid parental bonding leave.

Many employers grant more leave to mothers based on the generally held assumption that mothers need more time to bond after the birth of a child. There’s no science to justify that belief.

This announcement also discussed modified work schedules—given to ease the transition to work after the arrival of a new child— and said that when such schedules are only offered to mothers, the employer violates the law.

Mindy E. Weinstein, acting director of the EEOC’s Washington Field Office said, “This settlement ensures that {the Employer} will provide equal opportunities for time off to new dads and new moms, which is what the law requires, and what makes sense for families,”

So, take a look at your parental leave policies and practices to see if you are giving moms and dads equal treatment. If not, take the time to update your company documents so that you are meeting this standard.

For expert HR advice, contact our in-house HR Consultant and Attorney, Judy Pearce.  Here is her cool blog.  Not as cool as mine!, but close!   http://www.hrlegalresults.com/

 

Like me, she’s an ex cop, although much smarter than me, studying law instead of insurance.  What was I thinking??!!

 

Steve Brauer-Principal, Brauer Insurance Services,  www.brauerinsurance.com, (877) 421-4325

Association Health Plans for businesses…..California Democrats say NO

By |October 27th, 2018|Categories: ACA, Affordable Employee Benefits, Business Health Insurance, CA Employee Benefits, California Employee Health Insurance, California Employer Benefits, Employee Benefits, Employee Benefits San Jose, Employee Health Benefits, Employee Health Insurance, Employer Health Insurance, Employer Mandate, Group Employee Benefits, Group Health Benefits, Group Health Insurance, Group Health Insurance, Group Health Plans, Group Medical Insurance, Health Reform, How will ObamaCare affect business, HR, Kaiser Business Insurance, Kaiser Employee Health Insurance, Kaiser Group Health Insurance, Mid sized companies, Obamacare compliance, ObamaCare requirements, Small Business Benefits, Small Business Employee Benefits, Small Business Health Insurance, Start Up Insurance, Start Ups looking for Employee Benefits|

The Trump Administration released rules that would make it easier for #SmallBusiness and Sole Proprietors to purchase insurance as a group, instead of being forced to go to the Individual Health Insurance Market, or the Covered CA.  By setting up an Association Health Plan, professionals in certain industries would be able to ban together to purchase insurance as a group, with the idea that the costs would potentially be lower, and also making the coverage a business deduction.

Opponents say Association Plans are just a way to avoid the ACA

Depending on who you talk to, people that disagree with Association Health Plans, feel that its yet another attempt at dismantling the #ACA.  Association Health Plans COULD be set up, without all of the mandatory coverages that all the #ObamaCare plans currently have.  Coverages like maternity may or may not be written into the Association Health Plans.  Most Democrats are strongly opposed to anything that steers away from the ACA or ObamaCare type coverage.

Proponents want choice, and potentially lower pricing

Most people that are in favor of Association Health Plans want two things….cheaper pricing, and choice.  Many people feel that they should not HAVE to purchase insurance with coverage they don’t want or need.  When this issue is brought up with me, among Small Group Employers, most of them tell me “If someone wants that type of coverage, then THEY should have to pay for it”.  Being forced to purchase something, just feels wrong, they tell me.

Previous problems with Association Plans

Back in the early 2000’s, there were some Association Health Plans that were riddled with fraud and ended up leaving, according to some estimates, nearly 200,000 people with unpaid medical bills.  If we WERE to bring back Association Health Plans, there would have to be some sort of oversight, so insurance companies, and the government, would not be left holding that bag, if things went south.

No easy answers on any of this stuff.  According to some new estimates though, #HealthInsurance pricing is due to actually fall a bit in 2019.  Uh huh….we’ll see about that!

 

Steve Brauer-Principal, Brauer Insurance Services, (877) 421-4325,  www.brauerinsurance.com

Employees enrolling into HSA compatible Health Plans continues to grow, here’s why

By |October 24th, 2018|Categories: ACA, Affordable Employee Benefits, AFLAC, Business Health Insurance, CA Employee Benefits, California Employee Health Insurance, California Employer Benefits, Colonial, Employee Benefits, Employee Benefits San Jose, Employee Health Benefits, Employee Health Insurance, Employee Pre-Tax shelter, Employer Health Insurance, Group Benefits, Group Dental Insurance, Group Employee Benefits, Group Health Benefits, Group Health Insurance, Group Health Insurance, Group Health Plans, Group Medical Insurance, Group Vision, Health Insurance, HR, HSA, HSA plans, Kaiser Business Insurance, Kaiser Employee Health Insurance, Kaiser Group Health Insurance, Kaiser Health Insurance, Large Group Health Insurance, Section 125, Small Business Benefits, Small Business Employee Benefits, Small Business Health Insurance, Small companies, Small Group, Small Group Health Insurance, Start Up Insurance, Start Ups looking for Employee Benefits, Tax Credits, Ways to reduce your Employee Benefit costs|

Since 2004, the concept of using an #HSA has been growing steadily, and its predicted that it will surpass both HRAs and FSAs.  That’s a lot of acronyms.  To sum it all up, people like HSAs.  They’re not wild about High Deductible Health Plans, or #HDHPs, but that is the only way to have an HSA, is to enroll into an HSA compatible HDHP.  Studies are saying that by 2021, the number of HSA accounts will rise to almost 43 million.  All the money you bank with an HSA is tax free.  You either do it pre-taxed by your employer, or you deduct it from your 1040 when you do your taxes.

HSAs are super flexible and a great way for long term savings

I insure tons of employers, where their employees have HSA accounts.  Many #employees have come up to me at Open Enrollment meetings and thanked me for suggesting (more like coercing), their employers to bring HSAs into the workplace.  Some of them have been able to amass thousands of dollars that can be used for a MULTITUDE of things!  Not to mention, IF they end of blowing up the plan one year, they have the funds available to handle the unforeseen costs.  One guy was absolutely giddy, telling me that he has over $20,000 in his HSA account.

Being able to “insure” your deductible

I get weird looks from #employers and employees when I use this term.  Hear me out….there are insurance products out there that will cover much, if not all, of your deductible, when you have an accident or a hospital stay.  To be very frank, these products are cheap, easy to get, and cover tons of issues, mostly surrounding accidents or issues resulting from accidents.  I have these products for myself AND for my employees as well.  This is a short blog, so I can’t really explain fully how these work.  For myself, I have an HSA plan, bank money each year, and also have these ancillary products that help insure my deductible.  It truly works, and like I said, easy to implement.

HSA money can be used for way more things than you think

Almost everything you can think of, medically related, can be purchased with TAX FREE HSA money.  President Trump has also increased the number of things you can get with HSA money.  Some HSA qualified expense examples are; massage therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, anything dental or vision related, prescription drugs, and how about this one….you can use your banked HSA funds to pay for Medicare premiums and Long Term Care.

Bottom line….HSA plans are some of the least expensive plans out there and with a little determination, you can seriously bank some money, tax free!

Strategies Small Business employers use to set up Employee Benefits for their employees

By |October 12th, 2018|Categories: Affordable Employee Benefits, Bay Area Employee Benefits, Business Health Insurance, CA Employee Benefits, California Employee Health Insurance, California Employer Benefits, California Supplemental Insurance, Employee Benefits, Employee Benefits San Jose, Employee Health Benefits, Employee Health Insurance, Employer Health Insurance, Group Benefits, Group Employee Benefits, Group Health Benefits, Group Health Insurance, Group Health Insurance, Group Health Plans, Group Medical Insurance, Health Benefits, HR, Kaiser Business Insurance, Kaiser Employee Health Insurance, Kaiser Group Health Insurance, Small Business Benefits, Small Business Employee Benefits, Small Business Health Insurance, Small Group Health Insurance, Start Up Insurance, Start Ups looking for Employee Benefits, Ways to reduce your Employee Benefit costs|

Small Business owners are setting up #EmployeeBenefits for their employees at a frantic pace in today’s economy.  Yes, the Group Benefits are expensive….there’s no doubt about that, but #SmallBusiness employers are having a hard time competing with others in their industry.  It really doesn’t matter if its a Plumbing company, or a Tech #StartUp.

Technology companies are competing with Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Apple

Tech companies are in a tough spot.  They are trying to lure away employees from the big guys, and…from other smaller Tech companies.  Its not easy for a small company to offer Employee Benefits that are comparable to what some of the bigger companies offer.  Employees rate Employee Benefits second only to salary, when judging a potential employer.  Group Benefits and insurance is also the second most expensive expenses for employers, right underneath wages.

There is a reason employers seek out Benefit Brokers

When you work with a Benefit Broker, and they specialize in small business Employee Benefits, they have access and knowledge that a typical insurance agent does not have.  There is a finite number of hours in the day.  No single person can be an expert at all lines of insurance.  There is too much information to digest.  With #GroupBenefits, its even worse.  This dysfunctional industry is constantly changing for Benefit Brokers and employers.  If you have a Generalist….you should rethink that.

There is a strategy to offering Group Benefits that make a difference

When an employer wants to be creative and open to some “out of the box” solutions, companies can offer Employee Benefits that can really make a difference.  Pairing #voluntarybenefits, and ancillary coverage with the traditional Group Health Plans can enhance Employee Benefits in ways that have never been imagined.  An example of that would be when an employee has a high deductible plan, or #HDHP, some products can basically underfund the amount that employees would have to pay for services.  Once again, an insurance agent that does not specialize in Employee Benefits or Group Insurance, usually knows nothing about this.

Steve Brauer-Principal, Brauer Insurance Services LLC,  www.brauerinsurance.com   (877) 421-4325

How about employers that want to give employees $$ to go out and buy their own Health Insurance, not so fast!

By |October 9th, 2018|Categories: ACA, ACA Compliance, Affordable Employee Benefits, Bay Area Employee Benefits, Business Health Insurance, CA Employee Benefits, Cafeteria Plans, California Employee Health Insurance, California Employer Benefits, Employee Benefits, Employee Benefits San Jose, Employee Health Benefits, Employee Health Insurance, Employee Pre-Tax shelter, Employer Health Insurance, Employer Mandate, Group Benefits, Group Employee Benefits, Group Health Benefits, Group Health Insurance, Group Health Insurance, Group Health Plans, Group Medical Insurance, Health Care Reform Update, Health Reform, Healthcare Reform, How will ObamaCare affect business, HR, Kaiser, Kaiser Business Insurance, Kaiser Employee Health Insurance, Kaiser Group Health Insurance, Kaiser Permanente, Obama Care, ObamaCare, Obamacare compliance, ObamaCare requirements, PPO, Small Business Benefits, Small Business Employee Benefits, Small Business Health Insurance, Small companies, Small Group, Small Group Health Insurance, Start Up Insurance, Start Ups looking for Employee Benefits|

In the old days…like 4-5 years ago, employers would routinely just give employees money to purchase their own Individual-Family plans on the internet, or through an Independent Broker.  Other employers would “reimburse” employees for their health insurance expenses.  Many companies would claim that money paid as a “business expense”, or even pre-tax the money.  These were sometimes called an “Employer Payment Plan”.  With the #ACA and the retooling of #ObamaCare, in 2014, the IRS disallowed these type of arrangements, and got pretty mean about it.

IRS notice 2013-54 clearly states employers cannot reimburse or pay for Individual Health Plans for people

Now that I’ve said that…..there are some exceptions.  When an employer purchases an ACA compliant #GroupHealthPlan and then sets up a legitimate Health Reimbursement Arrangement, or #HRA, then it can work.  The IRS has accessed penalties for companies to the tune of $36,000 per employee for each violation of the 2013 law.  Its nothing to mess with.  I still get calls from smaller employers that don’t want the hassle of having to be responsible to set up a legit Group Health Insurance plan for the employees, and come up with this idea on their own.  I politely point them to the IRS website and suggest they consult with their #CPA.  Here is a good article on the subject:   https://www.swlaw.com/blog/employee-benefits/2014/06/11/the-irs-meant-what-it-said-in-notice-2013-54-employers-who-pay-for-individual-health-insurance-policies-for-employees-on-a-pre-tax-basis-face-massive-penalties/

An ACA compliant Employee Benefit plan has massive benefits for recruiting and retaining

First of all….Employee Benefits are expensive, there’s no getting around that.  There ARE some creative ways to make them less expensive, if you want to be creative.  Find yourself an Independent Employee Benefits Broker that you trust and have them guide you through the process.  We are in the Bay Area and the competition for talent in most industries is insane.  Employee Benefits and Group Health Insurance is the #2 question potential hires ask about…..right underneath salary.

Employers don’t realize that the company contribution does not have to be a lot

The minimum contribution for a company to offer #GroupBenefits to their employees can be as low as $100 a month, or 50% of the solo employee premium on the cheapest plan offered.  To give you an example, a company with 10 employees enrolling into a Kaiser plan, could be as low as $1000 a month for the employer, even less if some employees don’t enroll.

Do your due diligence and find a good Benefits Broker.  Stalk them on LinkedIn, FaceBook, Yelp, etc…you’ll be surprised what you find.

Steve Brauer, Principal, Brauer Insurance Services LLC, (877) 421-4325   www.brauerinsurance.com

Larger employers may get relief from the ACA if new measure passes

By |October 2nd, 2018|Categories: ACA, ACA Compliance, Affordable Care Act, Affordable Employee Benefits, Bay Area Employee Benefits, Business Health Insurance, CA Employee Benefits, California Employee Health Insurance, California Employer Benefits, Employee Benefits San Jose, Employee Health Insurance, Employer Mandate, Group Benefits, Group Employee Benefits, Group Health Benefits, Group Health Insurance, Group Health Insurance, Group Health Plans, Group Medical Insurance, Health Reform, Healthcare Reform, How will ObamaCare affect business, HR, Kaiser Business Insurance, Kaiser Employee Health Insurance, Kaiser Group Health Insurance, Large Companies, Large Group Health Insurance, Mid sized companies, Obama Care, ObamaCare, Obamacare compliance, ObamaCare requirements, Over 50 employees, Small Business Benefits, Small Business Employee Benefits, Small Business Health Insurance, Small Group, Small Group Health Insurance|Tags: , |

The “Save American Workers Act, (HR 3798) will be voted on very soon by the House of Representatives.  If passed, it would change the definition of a full time worker to a full 40 hours a week, not 30 hours as it stands now with the ACA, ObamaCare.  Today, an employer with at least 50 “full time” workers (30+ hours) are required to offer them affordable health coverage approved by the ACA.

ACA Employer Mandate holding back some employers from growing and expanding

I personally know several companies that purposely keep their employee count under the 50 FTE, or Full Time Equivalent for the very reason of NOT having to meet the ACA Employer Mandate, instituted as part of ObamaCare back in 2010.  These employers are fearful that IF all of their employees take them up on their offer of insurance, it would put the company out of business, trying to keep compliant.  What happens with all of our employers forced to comply with the Employer Mandate is that only a few employees enroll into the insurance, for several reasons

Multiple reasons why employees don’t enroll into health insurance with companies under the gun with the ACA

What we see time and time again, is that when you have employees making minimum wage or just above minimum wage, they still feel that the coverage is not affordable to them.  Even though the employer is compliant with the ACA calculations set up by ObamaCare, the employee feels the insurance is too expensive.  Under current law, the employee cannot spend more than about 9.5% of their gross wages towards the single employee coverage offered by the employer.  The company has to pay for anything above that 9.5%.  Employees are looking at spending $200-$300 a month for their coverage.  Many of them don’t want ANY money out of their check, so they waive off the coverage

What looked like a big scary law that was going to put larger employers out of business, ended up being a big nothing.  They have to pay for a few employees that DO want to enroll, and the rest of them decline to enroll.

Currently the law is set up to where IF an employee of a company of 50 or more employees obtains a subsidy from the Health Exchange, the IRS looks to the employer to make sure they are compliant with the Employer Mandate Law.  If they are not, big fines are being levied against ALEs, Applicable Large Employers.

 

Brauer Insurance was started by Steve Brauer and his daughter Bonnie Brauer Shelton to provide guidance to companies struggling with these issues.  Brauer Insurance Services LLC, www.brauerinsurance.com  (877) 421-4325

Trump still battling ObamaCare, no change in number of unisured with Trump at POTUS in 2017

By |September 24th, 2018|Categories: ACA, Affordable Employee Benefits, Bay Area Employee Benefits, Business Health Insurance, CA Employee Benefits, CA Medicare, California Employee Health Insurance, California Employer Benefits, Employee Benefits, Employee Benefits San Jose, Employee Health Benefits, Employee Health Insurance, Employer Health Insurance, Group Benefits, Group Employee Benefits, Group Health Benefits, Group Health Insurance, Group Health Insurance, Group Health Plans, Group Medical Insurance, Kaiser, Kaiser Business Insurance, Kaiser Employee Health Insurance, Kaiser Group Health Insurance, Kaiser Permanente, Obama Care, ObamaCare, Obamacare compliance, ObamaCare requirements, Section 125, Small Business Benefits, Small Business Employee Benefits, Small Business Health Insurance, Small Group Health Insurance, Start Ups looking for Employee Benefits|

According to the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC, the first year of President Donald Trump has not affected the numbers of overall uninsured in America.  Census Bureau data information is that in 2017, the uninsured in America held firm at under 9%.  States that have expanded Medicaid (It’s MediCal in CA), have experienced a decrease in the uninsured rate.  Those states include California, New York, and even Louisiana.  Trump has also enacted a “work requirement” for Medicaid which may bump up the number of people that lose coverage.  Pretty sad when you have to force able bodied people to work.

With the Individual Mandate gone, Kaiser says that the uninsured numbers will most likely increase

Larry Levitt, a senior vice president with the Kaiser foundation believes that the number of people not enrolling into coverage will increase as a result of the ObamaCare “tax” or Individual Mandate being repealed.  At this point, approximately 28 million Americans in 2017 had no coverage, for whatever reason.  I will say, that if you don’t have the funds to pay for your coverage, the CA Health Exchange is VERY accommodating.  In the Bay Area, its especially difficult with the price of affordable housing and just the cost of living, you have earn at least $100,000 or more to make ends meet.

Group Health Insurance, still the most popular coverage in America, increased slightly in 2017

About 56 percent of Americans obtain their health insurance coverage through Group Health Plans offered at their work.  Group Insurance coverage is typically much better than Health Insurance you purchase on the internet.  The Group Health Insurance networks are typically better and more robust, and the coverage is usually broader.  Even better, the employer is required to help employees pay for part of the coverage, and employees many times, can elect to have what THEY pay, done on a pre-taxed basis, called a POP plan or Section 125 plan.

ACA Employer Mandate and Pay or Play may be going away, possibly retroactively! Employers are cheering

By |September 13th, 2018|Categories: 1094, 1095, ACA, ACA Compliance, Anthem, Anthem Blue Cross, Bay Area Employee Benefits, Blue Shield, Blue Shield of CA, Business Health Insurance, CalChoice, California Employer Benefits, Cigna, Employee Benefits, Employee Benefits San Jose, Employee Health Benefits, Employee Health Insurance, Employer Health Insurance, Employer Mandate, Group Benefits, Group Employee Benefits, Group Health Benefits, Group Health Insurance, Group Health Insurance, Group Health Plans, Group Medical Insurance, Health Benefits, Healthcare Reform, HealthNet, HR, Kaiser, Kaiser Business Insurance, Kaiser Group Health Insurance, Kaiser Permanente, Large Companies, Large Group Health Insurance, Mid sized companies, Obama Care, ObamaCare, Over 50 employees, Small Business Benefits, Small Business Employee Benefits, Small Business Health Insurance, Small companies, Small Group, Small Group Health Insurance, Start Up Insurance, Start Ups looking for Employee Benefits|

I would not celebrate yet…but H.R. 4616 would basically shut down the ACA’s Employer Mandate, sometimes known as the “Pay or Play” for larger employers.  Members of the House of Representatives will be voting very soon on this bill that could suspend collection of the ACA Employer Mandate penalties and also further delay the ACA Cadillac Tax.  Nothing is set in stone yet, but the Republicans potentially have enough votes to make it happen.  This would be a giant win for ALEs, or Applicable Large Employers, who are the targets of the ACA’s Employer Mandate tax

ACA Employer Mandate penalties are huge and complicated

As it stands today….employers with at least 50 full time employees are required to provide compliant Health Insurance to their people.  The employer is also required to pay for a lot of the employee’s premium, based on their monthly gross wages.  Tracking employees hours, wages, etc, has become a nightmare for employers.  Some software companies are running to the bank though, with this new customer base.  Some of the penalties for employers that screw up are in the tens of thousands, or more.

IRS 226J is a big scary letter that some larger employers are getting

If an employer gets an IRS 226J letter, its pretty scary, and details out what the employer owes and why.  I’ve had more than a couple of our employer groups call in a panic.  It turns out that they had made a slight error in their “reporting” for the year…..the 1094 and 1095 notifications.  When I saw the letters they got, I would be a little nervous too.  One of them had an IRS penalty assessment of almost $50,000.  To say that she was upset is a gross understatement.  After calming her down, we found that she did not “check a box” on the notification that went to the IRS the January before.  Problem solved.

Because we ONLY do Group Benefits, we discovered the error pretty quickly.  Many companies have brokers that are “jack of all trades” and not specialists.  That can be a problem when there’s an issue to deal with.  If not us….find yourself a Benefits Broker that ONLY does benefits.  Its totally to your advantage!

Steve Brauer-Principal, Brauer Insurance Services,  www.brauerinsurance.com  (877) 421-4325

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