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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

Short Term Plans for CA…probably not going to happen thanks to CA Democrats

By | September 6th, 2018|Categories: ACA, CA Employee Benefits, Covered California, Employee Benefits San Jose, Employee Health Benefits, Employer Health Insurance, Group Benefits, ObamaCare, Short Term Plans|

Even though Trump is allowing Short Term plans to come back, and even flourish for people that don’t want to pay the super high pricing of a fully insured plan with benefits they neither want or can use, CA lawmakers are putting a stop to it.  The thinking is that Short Term plans are not a good idea because people need to be in either the Covered California fully insured plans with all of the “essential benefits” that the ACA has set up, or through a traditional insurance carrier on one of the same plans.

People want to be able to make the choice when it comes to their coverage

Overwhelmingly, people support the idea of making their own choice when it comes to their health care.  If someone is 55 years old they probably don’t need maternity coverage, or pediatric dental and vision benefits.  The argument is that WHY should they have to pay for it.  I get angry calls constantly from people complaining about how they have to pay for coverage they don’t need, and wanting an alternative.  Short Term plans would have been one of those options.

Skewed risk pools and helping to cover everyone is the flip side argument

The other side of the coin is that some people believe that IF people were allowed to purchase these Short Term Plans, with limited coverage, a few things would happen

  1.  People would not understand what they are purchasing and get themselves into trouble when they don’t have coverage for something they THOUGHT they were covered for
  2. The only people that would purchase these Short Term Plans would be the healthier people, thereby skewing the risk pool with more sick people and insurance companies having to pay out big bucks on these people on an unbalanced level
  3. The Short Term Plan insurance companies would most likely be located out of CA.  Because of that, the CA lawmakers feel that they would have little recourse to hold them accountable for any “issues” that occur.

CA has pushed for Single Payer or Universal Coverage for years

Depending on who you talk with, CA has wanted to move to the Universal Coverage platform for many years now.  The problem is how to pay for it.  By some estimates, it would cost CA into the TRILLIONS over a 10 year period, limit choice and create chaos.

Hey…not easy answers here.  If I had one, I’d be very famous.  Its a complicated subject and EVERYONE has an option.

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

Small Business Health Insurance little secret……once a year Special Enrollment Period

By | September 1st, 2018|Categories: ACA, Affordable Employee Benefits, Bay Area Employee Benefits, Business Health Insurance, CA Employee Benefits, California Employer Benefits, 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 Exchange and small business, Health Reform, Healthcare Reform, HR, Kaiser Business Insurance, Kaiser Group Health Insurance, Obama Care, ObamaCare, Obamacare compliance, Over 50 employees, Small Business Benefits, Small Business Employee Benefits, Small Business Health Insurance, Small Group Health Insurance|

If you are an employer that is looking to put together a Group Health Insurance plan, there may be some affordable options out there, only available once a year.  The ACA (ObamaCare) has mandated that once a year, during the month of November, all carriers, Kaiser, Anthem, Aetna, UHC, Blue Shield, all have to accept Small Businesses with very little restrictions.  This is a little secret that the carriers would rather you NOT know

Some of the cool advantages to the SEP (Special Enrollment Period)

All carriers HAVE to accept any small business, no matter how many of the employees want to enroll OR even if the employer does not want to contribute to the offering of the Group Health Insurance or Employee Benefits.  Insurance companies would rather have the more restricted guidelines for acceptance.  Here’s an example why;  lets say a company of 25 employees want to offer Group Health Insurance but only 4 of the employees want to enroll because the others think its too expensive.  The 4 enrolling are PROBABLY the ones that really need the coverage…maybe they have health issues or whatever.  The insurance companies would rather “spread” the risk around more healthy employees, than just the sick ones.

Very tight window for this to happen

Employers (and brokers that focus on Employee Benefits) have a very small window to get all of the underwriting requirements through the approval process of the insurance companies.  The approval has to happen in early December, for the effective date of January 1st.  Having helped many businesses through this process, I’ve learned a few “tricks of the trade” to get approval quickly.

Change can happen every year

With Group Health Insurance, you have the ability to change your insurance whenever you want.  Its literally a month to month contract.  With this SEP, Special Enrollment Period, if the coverage you choose this year is not exactly what you wanted, you can always change to another insurance company during this time, next year, making it very versatile.

One more reason to working with an agency that focuses on Employee Benefits.  Having a Specialist working for you, whether its us or someone else, can pay huge dividends.

 

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

Employers that embrace HSA Group Health Plans for their employees can still save big

By | August 28th, 2018|Categories: ACA, Affordable Employee Benefits, Bay Area Employee Benefits, Business Health Insurance, California Employer Benefits, Employee Benefits San Jose, Employee Health Benefits, Employee Health Insurance, Group Benefits, Group Employee Benefits, Group Health Insurance, Group Health Insurance, Group Health Plans, Group Medical Insurance, HR, Kaiser, Kaiser Business Insurance, Kaiser Employee Health Insurance, Kaiser Group Health Insurance, Kaiser Permanente, Small Business Benefits, Small Business Employee Benefits, Small Business Health Insurance, Small Group, Small Group Health Insurance|

Back in 2004 when HSA plans made their debut, most employers made the switch, including myself.  It made absolute sense.  The savings in moving from a traditional plan was so great that employers were fully funding the employee’s deductibles, and still saving a ton of money.  It was a no brainer…..then something changed.  Because so many people moved to the HSA platform, it skewed the amount of claims that these HSA plans experienced.  The premium increase in the next few years were ugly, almost 50-60% in some cases.

 Group Health Insurance is not cheap, but strategy is key

Its been 14 years since HSA plans were introduced and the pricing have leveled off.  Employee Benefit HSA plans are not the screaming deal they once were, but still something to consider when an employer wants to look at being strategic.  In my own agency, we offer Kaiser plans, the HSA Kaiser Bronze plan and some plans in the Silver and Gold tier.  The Kaiser HSA Group Health Insurance plan pricing is between 30-50% cheaper than its Silver and Gold plans.  Depending on your employee count, the ages of the employees, their dependents, etc, the monthly savings can be significant.  There are some drawbacks to the HSA Health Plan model.

HSAs are great, but employee education is vital

If an employer is considering moving their employees to an HSA Group Health Insurance Plan, there are a few things to consider.  With HSA plans, ALL services (except for yearly preventative visits) are full price until the yearly deductible is met.  That means no more $20 or $30 copay to go to the doctor.  No more $5 prescriptions.  Employees pay the “negotiated rate” for the services they receive, until the deductible is met.  That is a huge difference from the traditional Group Health Plan model.

Some strategies that help both employers and employees

Many employers will help “fund” their employee’s personal HSA savings accounts, to help offset the costs employee’s have to pay when they DO go to the doctor.  Many times the savings that employers enjoy, allow them to share that savings with employees.  Any money deposited into an HSA savings account is tax deductible and can be used for tons of things like prescriptions, office visits, massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, over the counter drugs, etc.

Even though the HSA Group Insurance Plans are not as inexpensive as they were years ago, its still worth business owners checking out to see if it would be a good fit.

 

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

Are Employee Benefits really important to Small Businesses, or a waste of money

By | August 21st, 2018|Categories: ACA, ACA Compliance, Affordable Employee Benefits, Business Health Insurance, Employee Benefits San Jose, Employee Health Benefits, Employer Mandate, Group Benefits, Group Employee Benefits, Group Health Insurance, Group Medical Insurance, HR, Obamacare compliance, Small Business Employee Benefits|

The bottom line to all of the talk about Employee Benefits or Group Health Insurance for smaller companies is this….they really have to make sense for you, as an employer, to have them available to your employees.  I’ve been introduced to so many owners of companies that don’t see the value in Employee Benefits being offered to their people.  When I hear things like that, my usual response is, “sounds like this would not be a good fit for you”  Employee Benefits are expensive, confusing, and can be a pain to manage, but they ARE one of the most sought after employment pieces, second only to wages.

Group Benefits and Employee Benefits are confusing and expensive

All of the employers I speak to on our first meeting, I let them know that the relationship they have with their broker is paramount.  I recommend that they do their due diligence on so called “experts”, and find out what experience they’ve had, and what their agency culture is like.  Employee Benefits is a niche field.  An agent that is not a specialist, or lacking experience, can screw things up, in a bad way.  There are tons of people running around trying to advise employers on Employee Benefits, and some are taking a stab at explaining  the super complicated Employer Mandate compliance laws of the ACA.  Do your homework on these folks!!

There are compliance aspects for all employers that offer Employee Benefits to their people

Even if your company is under 50 employees, there are some major liability issues associated with Group Benefits and the responsibility of employers.  One of the biggest issues I’ve found is the required notifications for new hires, as well as terminated employees for Cobra.  Missing a filing or not being timely can cost companies dearly.  In the 15 years I’ve been in business, I think I’ve taken on so many companies that had a “generalist” as a broker, that were unaware of so many of these compliance issues.  Being a new agent back in 2003, there were tons of things I did not know, but nowadays the liability and complexities of Employee Benefits, Group Health Insurance and Group Benefits is staggering.

Find a broker that specializes in Group Benefits and do your due diligence.

 

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

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