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Medicare for all sounds good, but not so good when you break it down on ROI

By |March 13th, 2019|Categories: ACA, Affordable Employee Benefits, Bay Area Employee Benefits, CA Employee Benefits, California Employee Health Insurance, California Employer Benefits, Employee Benefits San Jose, Employer Health Insurance, Group Employee Benefits, Group Health Insurance, Group Health Plans, Group Medical Insurance, HR, Kaiser Business Insurance, Kaiser Employee Health Insurance, Kaiser Group Health Insurance, Medicare, Obamacare compliance, Small Business Benefits, Small Business Employee Benefits, Small Business Health Insurance, Start Up Insurance|

Medicare for all is the newest buzzword these days.  Putting everyone on a Medicare type system that the government regulates and enforces, is the general premise.  In theory it makes some sense, except when you break down the costs compared to what you actually get.  Its going to be a tough sell, to put it mildly.  Roughly 180 million Americans receive their healthcare from their employer.  To make a switch to a government run system has most people more than a little skeptical.  If they can’t get the DMV and Post Office right, how can they possibly take on this giant undertaking?  Having been involved in the government for many years….I echo those fears!

The cost would be astronomical, and that’s the first estimates

When you have the government giving you figures like 36 TRILLION for the first 10 years…you KNOW its going to go WAY over that number.  Can you say “bullet train”, or Bay Bridge, or BART or Light Rail?  Proponents say the transition would be easy.  OK….what is ever easy when it comes to something of this nature.  A SinglePayer system has been compared to Canada or the UK, in terms of effectiveness.  I’m sorry, the cultures in both of those countries are significantly different.  Americans don’t want to have to wait an extended time to see a General Practitioner, let alone the months wait for a Specialist.  You would have a revolution on your hands.

What will probably happen at the end of the day

After all of the saber rattling, chanting and endless fruitless debates, we will probably end up bringing back some part of ObamaCare and trying to retool what is left of the Affordable Care Act.  Since no one can seem to agree on anything these days, I highly doubt that something this giant will be voted in, any time soon.

For each of us….we just need to learn to be good consumers, especially when it comes to healthcare.  When a doctor suggests a bunch of tests or procedures, question them, do your own research, be your own good advocate!!

 

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

Government looking for ways to end the Cadillac Tax on employers, part of the current ACA….more taxes

By |February 27th, 2019|Categories: ACA, ACA Cadillac Tax, Affordable Employee Benefits, 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, How will ObamaCare affect business, Kaiser Business Insurance, Kaiser Employee Health Insurance, Kaiser Group Health Insurance, Mid sized companies, Obama Care, ObamaCare, ObamaCare requirements, Over 50 employees, Small Business Employee Benefits, Small Business Health Insurance, Small companies, Small Group Health Insurance, Start Up Insurance, Start Ups looking for Employee Benefits|

There is wide support to repeal the current ObamaCare (ACA) Cadillac Tax due to take effect in 2022 for #employers and affecting Group Health Plans and Employee Benefit offerings by companies.  The tax was introduced by Obama as a way to help pay for the uninsured citizens in the US.  The Cadillac Tax would impose a 40% TAX on sponsors of #GroupHealth Plans.  Plans that have amounts over $11,100 for employee-only and $29,750 for family coverage, would fall under that tax and would be adjusted for inflation annually.  Employer groups are nervous that even though the Cadillac Tax was delayed until 2022….they have to prepare well in advance for any types of changes in the Employee Benefit landscape.

The Cadillac Tax would have a devastating affect on employer groups and companies

To reach the threshold of $11,100 and $29,750 for an employer, would not be that hard to do.  Much of it depends on the ages of the employees, geographical location of the business and the availability of affordable Group Health Insurance plans.  Many business owners, CFOs and Controllers that I speak to, can barely afford to offer the coverage to their employees now.  Add a devastating Cadillac Tax onto that, and many of them will give up the Employee Benefits offering.  Employers are in a tough spot too, especially in the Bay Area of CA.  There is so much competition for talent, that NOT offering Employee Benefits put companies at a major disadvantage.

What about companies that have over 50 employees that HAVE to offer Health Insurance to their employees

If a company has over 50 employees, they MUST offer Group Health Insurance to their employees.  If the Cadillac Tax does take affect, those companies are really in trouble.  They cannot simply drop coverage, or face the huge ACA, ObamaCare penalties associated with the #EmployerMandate.  Between the Cadillac Tax and the ACA Employer Mandate fines, one of them would most certainly put some companies out of business.

HR 748, the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act

Last month the House introduced H.R. 748, titled the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act.  It has bipartisan support with both Republicans and Democrats….which is unusual in and of itself.  Law makers are working to either repeal the Cadillac Tax or somehow revise it to make it more reasonable.  With both parties working on it….we’ll see what happens.

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

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 Benefits to their employees at its highest level in 10 years.  Employers are offering Employee Benefits more than ever, even though the prices are rising.  There is major competition for talent and employers want to stay relevant and compete with other similar companies. Smaller companies are competing with large monsters of the industry like Google, Facebook, etc.  Being a small business and offering health insurance doesn’t have to break the bank.

Bay Area companies are getting strategic with their Group Benefits offering.

Insurance Brokers like us that focus on employee benefits are more valuable than ever nowadays.  We focus on benefits and try to come up with creative ways to lower costs to both employee and employer.  One strategy we use is having the employer fund the deductible in different ways.  There are a couple different ways we go about doing this.  Shoot us an email at Brauer Insurance and we’ll talk strategies.

Employee Benefits are the Second highest cost for employers.

Wages are the number one cost for employers and Employee Benefits are a close second.  Employers have to find ways to get creative in order to stay in business.   When we come across a company that has an expensive Group Health Plan in place, we try to find out why.  Most times the decision to have a Gold or Platinum plan is well intended, but in reality it can be a waste of money.  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.

The pricing on Group Health Insurance plans are set by the State of CA when you have under 100 employees. These plans are 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 it’s set up.  The Trump Administration is trying to find ways to bend the cost curve on pricing.  But even with ideas of more competition and trying to allow states to purchase Group Health Insurance, it’s going to be tough.  These changes could 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.  You can avoid lawsuit by updating the following training and HR procedures immediately.

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. As a result, 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. However, 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 small business and sole proprietors to purchase insurance as a group.  By setting up an Association Health Plan business owners can now band together to purchase insurance as a group.  This will be beneficial because the costs will potentially be lower.  On top of that, it will count as a business deduction.

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

There are those that feel this is yet another attempt at dismantling the #ACA.  Association Health Plans COULD be set up without all of the mandatory coverage that all the ObamaCare plans currently have.  Coverage like maternity may or may not be written into the Association Health Plans.  As a result, many 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.  I’ve heard it said many times, “If someone wants that type of coverage, then THEY should have to pay for it”.  There are many people that feel being forced to purchase something just is wrong.  Therefore, a large portion of small business owners are in favor of the new rules.

Previous problems with Association Plans

Association Plans have not always benefited those who participate in them.  There were some Association Health Plans that were riddled with fraud in the past.  These plans ended up leaving nearly 200,000 people with unpaid medical bills, according to some estimates.  Therefore, if we WERE to bring back Association Health Plans, there would have to be some sort of oversight.  As a result, insurance companies and the government would not be left holding the bag if things went south.

There are no easy answers on any of this stuff.  According to new estimates  health insurance 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|

It used to be that employers would give their employees money to purchase their own Individual-Family plans.  They would find plans on the internet or through an Independent Broker.  Some employers would “reimburse” employees for their health insurance expenses that they found on their own.  Many companies would claim the 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 types of arrangements.

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 Group Health Plan they can set up a legitimate Health Reimbursement Arrangement, or HRA.   The IRS has accessed penalties for companies to the tune of $36,000 per employee for each violation of the 2013 law.  In other words, its nothing to mess with.  I still get calls from smaller employers that don’t want the hassle of having to be responsible for setting up a legit Group Health Insurance plan for the employees.  I politely point them to the IRS website and suggest they consult with their CPA.

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.  However, 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 Group Benefits to their employees can be as low as $100 a month, or 50% of the solo employee premium on the cheapest plan offered.  For example, a company with 10 employees enrolling into a Kaiser plan could be as low as $1000 a month for the employer.

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

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