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Employee Benefits

Playing games is fun — but sometimes it can also be good for your health and bottom line. [August 2018, 317 word article]

If you’re looking for health insurance that allows your employees to see any provider, you may want to consider an indemnity plan. [August 2018, 531 word article]

Few people can imagine a day when they will be too ill or injured to work. Unfortunately, it’s not that uncommon. According to the Council for Disability Awareness, more than one in four of today’s 20-year-olds can expect to be out of work for at least a year because of a disabling condition before they reach the normal retirement age. [August 2018, 630 word article]

Although the U.S. economy is strong and the stock market continues to rise, most employees are worried about the future. [August 2018, 852 word article]

Your employees can enjoy the benefit of paying their long-term-care insurance premiums tax free — if you offer a Health Savings Account (HSA). [July 2018, 284 word article]

Employer sponsored life insurance is the way most Americans receive coverage. There are important decisions to make when offering coverage to employees. [July 2018, 691 word article]

Working past age 65 is no longer uncommon. According to the U.S. Jobs report, almost 19 percent of people 65 or older worked at least part-time in the second quarter of 2017. [July 2018, 833 word article]

Many employees rely heavily on the money they put into their employer-sponsored 401(k) account to pay for their retirement. The last thing they want is for the money to be stolen by cyber thieves. [July 2018, 889 word article]

New regulations will affect employers and plan administrators who offer short-term and long-term disability plans. [June 2018, 317 word article]

Help your employees achieve more control over their health care decisions and expenses by providing them with a savings account for medical expenses. [June 2018, 838 word article]

Even though the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is in its eighth year, many employers are not especially confident they know how to stay in compliance with the controversial health care reform law. [June 2018, 791 word article]

Although the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires some employers to provide unpaid leave to workers for family or medical reasons, several states now mandate employers to provide paid leave. [June 2018, 604 word article]

Congress is considering making improvements to the Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act (RESA). The proposed changes could make it easier for small employers to offer retirement plans to employees and simpler for all employees to offer 401(k) annuities. [May 2018, 289 word article]

Many small employers are turning to self-funding to provide economical group health benefits to employees. A growing number now use reference-based pricing to lower costs. [May 2018, 938 word article]

If you purchase group health, dental or vision coverage for your company from an agent or a broker, you’re aware of the wide range of services they offer. Are you also familiar with the terms used in the insurance industry and what each entity does? [May 2018, 635 word article]

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will have a big effect on the way the government taxes employer-sponsored benefit programs. Some of the changes will make it easier for you to offer benefits, while others will make it harder. [May 2018, 679 word article]

Three successful American companies decided to see if the status quo of rising health care costs and decreasing patient satisfaction can be improved. [April 2018, 316 word article]

Tuition assistance not only benefits your employees, it helps your company. [April 2018, 534 word article]

A 401(k) Retirement plan is one of the most desirable and valuable benefits you can provide your employees. Having an employee retirement plan shows you care about their future and helps employees create a nest egg for a comfortable retirement. [April 2018, 838 word article]

A particularly virulent influenza strain, H3N2, was responsible for a record number of illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths this winter. [April 2018, 738 word article]

Do you have employees who are depressed, anxious or addicted to alcohol or drugs? If so, do you know what to do? [March 2018, 282 word article]

That’s just one of the many changes to retirement plans for 2018. [March 2018, 593 word article]

It’s not enough to give your employees the right health plan if they don’t understand it. An online employee portal or self-service site can help — if employees are motivated to use it. [March 2018, 778 word article]

Step therapy can save money but some say there can be a downside. [March 2018, 554 word article]

If you shop around, you might be able to save money and get better group coverage by purchasing your dental and vision insurance from the same company. [February 2018, 228 word article]

You’ve worked hard to choose and provide the right group health benefit plan for your employees. The premiums are reasonable, the deductibles are low and plan participants have a good choice of health care providers. [February 2018, 557 word article]

Thinking of changing retirement plan providers? Here are the questions you should ask. [February 2018, 692 word article]

Regardless of whether the Republican-controlled House and Senate repeals, replaces or alters the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there are a number of rules and regulations employers must comply with in 2018 and 2019 if they offer group health benefits to employees. To make sure you’re not caught unaware, review and implement this checklist of obligations and deadlines: [February 2018, 928 word article]

More employers are turning to voluntary benefits as a cost-effective way to help employees protect their financial assets. Employees, too, are looking for more robust benefit packages. [January 2017, 269 word article]

Supplemental insurance allows employees to customize their coverage to meet their individual needs. [January 2017, 583 word article]

Long-term disability coverage offers employees better financial security. Yet most workers choose short-term coverage. [January 2017, 768 word article]

Drugs are formulated for normal physiology. Physicians with knowledge of a person’s unique genetic makeup can better determine which drugs will be most effective. [January 2018, 615 word article]

You spend valuable time and money to offering benefits to your employees. So imagine how frustrating it would be for you and your employees if they were unable to enjoy the benefits they deserve. [December 2017, 364 word article]

The president and congress continue proposing changes to healthcare laws and the country continues to debate what the effects of those proposals will be. [December 2017, 595 word article]

Employees increasingly rank vision insurance as one of the most important benefits. Here’s how to get the right plan for your employees. [December 2017, 573 word article] 

Congress is debating possible changes to the 401(k) retirement plans employers offer their employees. Some of the ideas being discussed by Senators and Representatives would favor employees, some would benefit the federal government. [December 2017, 786 word article]

Once you establish a 401(k) retirement plan for your employees, you might think your work is done. However, despite your retirement plan carrier’s best efforts to educate employees on how to make good investment decisions, many employees do not have appropriately diversified portfolios. [November 2017, 343 word article]

These days there are a lot of group health plans to choose from. To pick the right one for your employees it’s important to know the advantages and disadvantages of each. [November 2017, 800 word article]

To get the best benefit plan it’s important to know your options. [November 2017, 626 word article]

Employers have a responsibility to protect the rights of employees suffering from a mental health condition. [November 2017, 554 word article]

It could cost you five percent or more to provide your employees with health care benefits in 2018. [October 2017, 355 word article]

After salaries, Health care benefits are an employer’s largest employee-related expense, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A 2016 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) pegged the annual cost in 2016 at $8,669 for each employee. [October 2017, 814 word article]

Wellness programs are promoted as win-win. Employers save money on health care benefit costs. Employees improve their health. [October 2017, 676 word article]

As an employer you are in a unique position to offer your employees an easy way to purchase a valuable benefit, costing them less than if they purchased it on their own. [October 2017, 712 word article]

A 529 college savings plan is considered one of the best ways for parents to save for their children’s’ higher education. Similar to a 401(k) savings plan or an Individual Retirement Account, contributions to the state-run plan grow tax free. In many states, participants get a tax deduction or credit for their contributions. [September 2017, 375 word article]

High-deductible health plans (HDHPs) are gaining in popularity as a way for employers to save money and to give employees more say on how their health care dollars are spent. [September 2017, 607 word article]

Opioid addiction is on the rise and is affecting the workplace. The National Safety Council reported that nearly 70 percent of the employers they surveyed said prescription drug abuse has negatively impacted their companies. [September 2017, 519 word article]

Affordable Care Act marketplaces are closing at an alarming rate. Health care benefit costs are soaring. Some Republicans are trying to to repeal and replace the current Affordable Care Act and others in Congress just want to make changes before it implodes. Meanwhile, coverage isn’t getting any cheaper, and many Americans are left wondering what options they have for affordable health care coverage. [September 2017, 623 word article]

Estimates show that almost half of American private sector employers offer health care insurance to their employees. The Kaiser Family Foundation says the percentage ranges from a low of 34 percent in Idaho to a high of 70 percent in the District of Columbia. The practice is popular because the benefits are exempt from federal, state and city taxes and employers can deduct 100 percent of the costs. [August 2017, 378 word article]

Have your employees saved enough for retirement? The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says an individual could easily spend 30 years or more in retirement, and to retire comfortably could need up to 80 percent of their annual income. [August 2017, 729 word article]

If you’re a small employer with 50 or fewer employees, you might be wondering what benefits you need to provide to attract and keep valuable talent. You want to offer attractive benefits on a cost-effective, sustainable basis for yourself, your family and your employees. Health care benefits are expected and often mandatory, but are dental benefits worthwhile? [August 2017, 616 word article]

A new law, along with rules governing Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRA) affects the type of health care benefits you can offer your employees. [August 2017, 861 word article]

The Nationwide insurance company estimates that 65 percent of Americans own at least one pet. Of those pet owners, the American Pet Products Association estimates 24 percent are millennials. [July 2017, 378 word article]

Employers have a lot of options for increasing the appeal of their benefits plans. But there are also certain minimums to comply with — benefits required by law. [July 2017, 624 word article]

Many employers rely on a robust benefit package to attract and retain employees. The challenge is determining which benefits will appeal to a diverse employee base. [July 2017, 643 word article]

Wondering how the changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will affect you? You’ll have to be patient. The American Health Care Act (AHCA) bill is still in flux. Possible enhancements or repercussions are only educated guesses at this time. [July 2017, 784 word article]

America’s long-term care insurance companies paid $8.65 billion in benefits to 280,000 people in 2016, an increase of 6 percent over the prior year, according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. [June 2017, 355 word article]

As President Trump and the new Republican-controlled Congress settle in, experts say U.S. retirement policies are likely to change significantly over the next few years. [June 2017, 657 word article]

A bill that members of Congress are considering would substantially change federal rules governing workplace wellness programs, lifting limits on the inducements that can be used to persuade workers to provide personal health information, according to a brief by the Kaiser Family Foundation. [June 2017, 679 word article]

Every day, 60 people die from opioid pain medications in America. That’s 22,000 people every year. Opioids are being overprescribed and they’re now the #1 cause of unintentional death in the United States. Not surprisingly, this “hidden epidemic” is impacting businesses. The National Safety Council has recommendations on what employers need to do. [June 2017, 731 word article]

The cost of long-term care insurance continues to rise. A couple in their 60s purchasing new coverage could expect to pay 6-9 percent more compared to a year ago, according to the annual industry analysis of prices. [May 2017, 328 word article]

More than half of working age Americans risk facing a lower standard of living during retirement, a new study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College found. [May 2017, 648 word article]

Spending on prescription drugs in the United States accounted for nearly 17 percent of total healthcare spending — with a price tag of $457 billion in 2015. And that’s only going up, unless serious change occurs. [May 2017, 685 word article]

At a time when the annual price tag for health insurance is topping $10,000 per employee, cognitive health systems, telemedicine or telehealth and other medical advances are helping to lower costs. [May 2017, 586 word article]

While fewer employers are offering workers defined pension plans, a growing number of companies are taking a renewed interest in providing annuity income options to their employees, the Employee Benefit Research Institute found. [April 2017, 302 word article]

As the healthcare market shifts toward individual responsibility, a survey found many workers are overwhelmed by the complexity of their healthcare options and many have a poor understanding of the benefits of health savings accounts. [April 2017, 606 word article] 

As more employers offer high-deductible health plans amid rising healthcare costs, health savings accounts are becoming increasingly popular in the workplace — especially among millennials. [April 2017, 515 word article]

Four members of Congress have reintroduced bipartisan legislation that would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the excise tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health coverage. [March 2017, 310 word article]

As more employers face increasing health insurance costs, many are looking at their total benefit package to find the best benefits to invest their dollars in. [March 2017, 740 word article]

Workplace wellness programs reduce medical costs, absenteeism and health-related productivity losses, yet many employers find it difficult to measure the success of their programs. [March 2017, 745 word article]

In a 227-198 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a resolution in January that paves the way for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. President Trump and Republicans, who are working on a replacement plan, say Obamacare was a failure, but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi argues it diminished the rate of growth in healthcare costs. [March 2017, 983 word article]

Balances in Health Savings Accounts grew by more than a third in 2015, according to a new report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. [February 2017, 358 word article]

Prior to leaving the White House, the Obama administration increased enforcement of laws requiring parity of coverage for mental health and substance abuse benefits. [February 2017, 682 word article]

At a time when employers are trying to solve talent gaps while juggling tight budgets, the popularity of voluntary benefits continues to gain traction—with voluntary benefits’ sales increasing for the fifth straight year, according to LIMRA. [February 2017, 601 word article]

It’s one of the top issues for employers this year. As President Donald Trump begins his term, an Aon survey found nearly half of employers view the employer mandate as the top healthcare concern of 2017. [February 2017, 815 word article]

On November 18, 2016, the IRS extended the 2017 due date for providing 2016 health coverage information forms to individuals. Insurers, self-insuring employers, other coverage providers, and applicable large employers now have until March 2, 2017 to provide Forms 1095-B or 1095-C to individuals. This is a 30-day extension from the original due date of January 31. [January 2017, 274 word article]

Over the last decade, average annual premiums workers have paid for family healthcare coverage have shot up 78 percent, while employer contributions rose 51 percent, a new report found. [January 2017, 664 word article]

Most people don’t plan for a debilitating accident or illness during their working years. But three in 10 workers entering the work force today will become disabled before retiring. And only five percent of disabilities are work-related—meaning 95 percent of people with disabilities will not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. [January 2017, 905 word article]

Before his surprise election, President-Elect Donald Trump said he would repeal the Affordable Care Act “on Day One.” However, the health care law championed by Barack Obama could prove more difficult to dismantle than Trump had imagined. [January 2017, 852 word article]

Although sales of traditional long-term care insurance have dropped 60 percent over the last decade, half of the insurance companies marketing the policies experienced increases sales in the first half of 2016 compared to the same time period last year. [December 2016, 317 word article]

About one in four Americans suffers from asthma today. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America estimates the annual cost of asthma at about $56 billion. Direct costs, such as hospital stays, accounted for nearly $50.1 billion, while indirect costs, such as lost pay, accounted for $5.9 billion. [December 2016, 625 word article]

It’s considered the cornerstone of sound financial planning. [December 2016, 795 word article]

Various proposals in Congress would eliminate or cap the employer tax exclusion for health insurance. Now’s the time to make your voice heard! [December 2016, 914 word article]

Employers are increasingly offering voluntary benefits as a way to improve financial well-being, new research found. [November 2016, 318 word article]

A new study looked at 401(k) account balances of workers from 2010 to 2014. Participants who consistently contributed had balances almost twice the average account balance of other plan participants. [November 2016, 520 word article]

Getting employees to participate is the key to making wellness programs effective. Read on for some suggestions. [November 2016, 692 word article]

Affordable Care Act compliance, along with benefits cost management and employee wellness programs, are emerging as the top issues affecting small business health plans. [November 2016, 884 word article]

A new study by the Urban Institute that found the more affluent live longer reinforces the importance of long-term care insurance planning for middle-income and affluent Americans, says Jesse Slome, director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. [October 2016, 333 word article]

At a time when people in the United States are working longer hours and taking second jobs to pay the bills and save for retirement, a new Gallup poll found the average age that Americans are retiring was 62 in 2014, up from age 59 in 2010. [October 2016, 584 word article]

The rich get richer, and the wealthy get far nicer benefit packages too. [October 2016, 649 word article]

A new survey by Willis Towers Watson found more than half of U.S. employers are confident that public health exchanges will be a viable option for their pre-65 retiree coverage within two years. As costs for health plans continue to rise, the survey also found that nearly three-quarters of employers plan to make substantial changes to pre-65 retiree health benefits in the near future. [October 2016, 926 word article]

Perhaps you’ve seen the ad on Facebook or elsewhere, noting runners have a “35 percent lower risk of all-cause mortality” and may be eligible for life insurance discounts. [September 2016, 296 word article]

The rise of 401(k) plans has left most Americans unprepared for retirement. The average family only has $5,000 saved in a retirement account, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute. [September 2016, 670 word article] 

At a time when changing healthcare legislation is creating uncertainty for businesses, private exchanges can help employers stay financially afloat in the choppy seas of benefit changes. [September 2016, 642 word article]

A new report by Sun Life Financial U.S. offers insights for self-funded employers about critical factors affecting their medical costs. The Top Ten Catastrophic Claims Conditions report compiles the costliest medical conditions covered by Sun Life stop-loss insurance from 2012-15 and explores trends to help brokers and self-funded employers manage their risks. [September 2016, 749 word article]

As more baby boomers retire, sales of short-term care insurance policies grow 20 percent. [August 2016, 286 word article]

A report by the Transamerica Center for Retirement offers a 10-step plan for increasing retirement security among Americans at a time when most workers expect to retire after age 65, if at all. [August 2016, 805 word article]

By promising to extend health insurance coverage to all Americans, the Affordable Care Act has eliminated employers’ need to offer COBRA continuation coverage. Or has it? [August 2016, 775 word article]

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act if elected. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton would only make slight changes. As the presidential elections get closer, how could these scenarios play out?  [August 2016, 847 word article]

If you have employees who are nearing retirement age, don’t be surprised if they indicate an interest in working several more years. New studies and surveys are showing that the American dream of retirement is being delayed: [July 2016, 345 word article]

If you offer a medical benefit package to your employees, you might be wondering whether it’s worth the expense to add dental coverage. The evidence says yes! [July 2016, 663 word article]

Affordable Care Act regulations and other government rules have many employers wondering whether it would be more cost effective and prudent to outsource employee benefits administration. [July 2016, 520 word article]

The more you understand what goes into setting your company’s health insurance premiums, the better prepared you’ll be to control insurance costs for you and your employees. [July 2016, 917 word article]

If you’re interested in offering a disability plan to your employees, but aren’t sure whether to choose a short- or long-term plan, consider these additional facts: [June 2016, 271 word article]

The majority of workers in this country have employer-sponsored health insurance, but only 30 percent of American workers in private industry have employer-sponsored disability insurance, according to a recent survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor. [June 2016, 498 word article]

Low enrollments and low contributions not only mean that you’re not getting your money’s worth out of your administrative dollars, they can also translate into decreased employee loyalty and failure of nondiscrimination tests. Following are five common retirement plan problems and how you can solve them. [June 2016, 869 word article]

Employers have compliance requirements to meet or face possible fines. Two of the newest compliance challenges are the employee reporting requirements of the Affordable Care Act and employee classification for overtime pay. [June 2016, 794 word article

If knowledge is power, most Americans lack power when it comes to choosing healthcare providers because the quality of resources and number available is poor. [May 2016, 262 word article]

Five states, 22 cities, and one county in the United States mandate paid sick leave benefits, making the United States the only country among 22 developed nations that doesn’t guarantee paid leave if someone falls ill or has to care for a sick family member.  [May 2016, 802 word article]

Implementation of the “Cadillac Tax,” a tax on expensive employer health plans, has been pushed back from 2018 until 2020. Many, though, would like to see the tax go away completely. [May 2016, 453 word article]

Prescription drug costs rose by 12.6 percent in 2014 and by 10 percent in 2015 — well beyond the U.S. inflation rate. And in some extreme cases, specialty drug costs increased more than 5,000 percent. What can employers do to control these soaring costs? [May 2016, 1141 words]

An Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) plan has the right to be reimbursed for a member’s medical expenses if that member is compensated through a third-party settlement. However, a U.S. Supreme Court decision in January 2016 means that an ERISA plan will need to act quickly to identify the appropriate funds for repayment. [April 2016, 354 word article]

The U.S. Department of Labor revised a number of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) forms. The forms now include wording that protects employees by limiting information gathered about family members needing the employee’s care. [April 2016, 322 word article]

Private health exchanges may offer lower health insurance costs for employers and more benefit choices for employees. This makes them an enticing option for many companies. [April 2016, 559 word article]

Premium increases for employer-sponsored family coverage are expected to remain modest in 2016, ranging from 6.8 percent for a health management organization (HMO) to 7.8 percent for a preferred provider organization (PPO), according to the 2016 Segal Health Plan Cost Trend Survey released in September 2015. [April 2016, 967 word article]

How to get the most out of your retirement plan. [March 2016, 266 word article]

Whether or not Americans have a retirement savings plan is a key factor in their outlook about having an affordable retirement, say the Employee Benefit Research Institute and Greenwald & Associates. The authors of the annual Retirement Confidence Survey found confidence levels in 2015 were higher than during the recession, but still have a way to go. [March 2016, 766 word article]

A few sentences Congress slipped into HR 2029, a consolidated appropriations act, will bring parity to tax-favored mass transit and parking benefits. [March 2016, 589 word article]

Regulators, insurers and others continue to tweak health insurance benefits due to changes brought by the Affordable Care Act. Here are just a few recent changes and clarifications you should be aware of. [March 2016, 713 word article]

A survey of employed email users finds: [February 2016, 283 word article]

When considering retirement plans, the many options — not to mention complicated tax rules — leave many employers uncertain about the best plan for their company. One of the basic decisions employers face is whether to offer qualified or non-qualified retirement plans, or some combination of both. Here’s a closer look at the pros and cons of each. [February 2016, 808 word article]

As employers cut back on benefits or require employees to contribute more, establishing a flexible spending account (FSA) gives employees a valuable benefit at little cost to the employer. [February 2016, 614 word article]

Due to longer life spans, higher medical costs and recession-impacted savings, the percentage of Americans staying in the workforce past age 65 is increasing. How does this affect your medical benefit plans? [February 2016, 477 word article]

Pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, have nine basic tools to control the cost of prescription drugs: [January 2016, 386 word article]

Help your employees keep their resolutions to be healthier in the new year by helping them quit smoking. Your budget will enjoy the benefits as well.[January 2016, 472 word article]

Our October 2015 issue discussed some of the forces driving prescription costs up and gave some pointers on what employers can do to control employee prescription drug costs. Here’s a brief overview of how pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) help in that process. [January 2016, 632 word article]

When your employees are covered by more than one health plan, you’ll want to know which plan is “primary,” insurance jargon for the one that pays claims first. Here’s some guidance. [January 2016, 689 word article]

According to one source, Americans have a 10 percent chance of being sued in any year, and a 33 percent chance over their lifetime. [December 2015, 342 word article]

Give your 401(k) plan a little routine care and maintenance to avoid compliance problems! [December 2015, 637 word article] 

When it comes to complying with provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), you may find yourself forced into two roles seemingly at odds with each other — verifying the employment of every employee while at the same time avoiding discriminatory practices. To help you walk the tightrope, here are nine common IRCA mistakes and solutions to help you avoid them: [December 2015, 646 word article]

Insurers developed consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) to help employers take control of their employee healthcare costs. What are the different CDHP types and what features do they offer? [December 2015, 740 word article]

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requires insured small group health plans (50 and fewer people) to use community rating. As originally written, the PPACA would have extended the definition of “small group” to include plans with 51-100 employees.  [November 2015, 413 word article]

What would your employees do if they became injured or ill and couldn’t work for an extended period? How does this affect morale? [November 2015, 535 word article]

A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that nearly 40 percent of U.S. workers experience fatigue. Why should employers care? [November 2015, 600 word article]

Should your company self-insure its health plan? Here’s what you need to know to decide. [November 2015, 883 word article]

A vendor survey found that 39 percent of employees want to buy identity theft insurance through their employer. Are you providing this valuable benefit? [October 2015, 351 word article]

You might have the best retirement plan available, but if employees aren’t participating, what’s it worth? The following plan changes could make your plan more attractive to all employees. [October 2015, 605 word article]

More than one in five American adults lives with a diagnosable, treatable mental health condition but can live full and productive lives. A properly structured benefit program can support the very real link between mental health and overall wellness. [October 2015, 749 word article]

Open enrollment can overwhelm even the most seasoned benefits manager. But the time when employees can make changes to their benefits plans doesn’t have to be a time of stress. [October 2015, 676 word article]

Guidance on out-of-pocket spending issued by the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Treasury will make health plans more expensive for employers. [September 2015, 261 word article]

More employers provide paid vacation time than paid sick leave time: 58 percent versus 52 percent, found a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management. Forty-one percent provided paid time off (a combination of vacation time, paid sick leave and general paid time off). [September 2015, 575 word article]

The good news: Pharmaceutical companies are developing a range of drugs to treat diseases that are chronic and/or rare. The bad news: Their high (some might say outrageous) cost. [September 2015, 713 word article]

The EEOC has concluded “sexual orientation is inherently a ‘sex-based consideration’ and an allegation of discrimination based on sexual orientation is necessarily an allegation of sex discrimination under Title VII.” Translation: Title VII nondiscrimination protections apply to people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. [September 2015, 752 word article]

That’s the conclusion of a working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, NBER Working Paper No. 21031. [August 2015, 116 word article]

In May, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Tibble v. Edison International. The ruling went in favor of employees, which could make it easier for retirement plan participants to sue employers for using plans that charge excessive fees. [August 2015, 673 word article]

Short-lived or infrequent episodes of stress pose little risk. But when stressful situations go unresolved, the body is kept in a constant state of activation, which increases the rate of wear and tear to biological systems. Ultimately, fatigue or damage results, and the ability of the body to repair and defend itself can become seriously compromised. As a result, the risk of injury or disease escalates.—NIOSH [August 2015, 598 word article]

In late June, the Supreme Court issued its decision in King v. Burwell. The case challenged the legality of subsidies in federally run or federally facilitated health insurance exchanges. The Court ruled the subsidies could stand, a decision that probably saved the exchanges in 34 states from a “death spiral.” [August 2015, 395 word article]

LIMRA’s 2015 U.S. Worksite Sales survey shows that voluntary benefits sales increased 5 percent between 2013 and 2014, marking four straight years of growth. Many experts agree that voluntary benefits will play an increasingly important role in American workplaces. [July 2015, 239 word article]

An improving economy will bring sighs of relief to many employers. Unfortunately, it could also bring increased employee turnover. A strong benefits program can help you retain your valuable employees. [July 2015, 635 word article]

A study published earlier this year shows that dental benefits decrease the incidence of emergency room visits. [July 2015, 407 word article]

The Affordable Care Act recognized the importance of wellness programs allowing employers to offer higher incentives for participation. Just be careful your incentives don’t violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). [July 2015, 609 word article]

Every written employee retirement plan must name at least one fiduciary. Responsibilities include, but are not limited to: [June 2015, 336 word article]

Recently, the state of Washington passed a law requiring employee health plans to reimburse providers for telemedicine services. That made Washington the 24th state to require “telemedicine parity.” [June 2015, 683 word article]

No longer can employers select a retirement plan and put it on autopilot. Lately, employee groups have been suing their employers…and winning…over high 401(k) fees. [June 2015, 638 word article]

As this issue went to press, the IRS had just ended a comment period on the so-called Cadillac tax. The tax, part of the Affordable Care Act, is scheduled to go into effect in 2018 unless the law changes. Some Republicans have promised to do just that. [June 2015, 799 word article]

Fifty-five percent of plan sponsors surveyed reported having at least one plan participant with claims that exceeded $500,000 in the last two policy years. Twenty-three percent reported a claimant in excess of $1 million, with 9 percent of those in excess of $1.5 million.(Source: 2014 Aegis Risk Medical Stop Loss Premium Survey) [May 2015, 364 word article]

Employer group disability income plans offer tremendous tax advantages to both employer and employee. The employer can deduct premiums as a business expense, and they do not count toward the employee’s taxable income. However, group disability plans usually do not provide enough coverage for upper management and highly compensated employees. Here’s how to provide for these employees’ additional coverage needs. [May 2015, 788 word article]

Republicans in the Senate and House have proposed several bills to repeal President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). In January, several legislators introduced the Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment Act (Patient CARE Act), which would create a new health insurance reform plan, in addition to repealing the ACA. [May 2015, 865 word article]

Self-insurance can create risk exposures that most smaller employers don’t want to take. Still, 15 percent of smaller employers (1-199 employees) find the benefits outweigh the risks. [May 2015, 656 word article]

As this newsletter went to press, the U.S. Supreme Court was hearing arguments in the case King v. Burwell. Their ruling could determine the fate of the Affordable Care Act. [April 2015, 317 word article]

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama promised to “streamline child care tax incentives” to help 5.1 million families. But his proposal could jeopardize dependent care savings accounts, a benefit valued by millions. [April 2015, 492 word article]

In February, the U.S. Labor Department updated the Family and Medical Leave Act’s (FMLA) definition of spouse. This extends the benefits under the FMLA to workers in legal same-sex marriages, regardless of where they live. [April 2015, 795 word article]

As this issue went to press, the Supreme Court was hearing arguments in King v. Burwell, which could decide the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Meanwhile, other changes have affected administration of the ACA. [April 2015, 807 word article]

The Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Treasury oversee implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Although they have issued some FAQs on how the law will affect expatriate health plans, they have remained largely silent. [March 2015, 298 word article]

Summer will soon be here. Unum, an insurer that writes accident and disability coverage, reports that accident claims typically jump 20 percent during summer months. [March 2015, 952 word article]

In December 2014, the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Treasury issued proposed rules that would allow employers to offer limited “wraparound” plans. This would give employees access to high-level benefits, even if they would lack generous employer-based benefits otherwise. [March 2015, 689 word article]

If you’re considering wellness programs to improve employee health and productivity, don’t overlook the importance of financial health! [March 2015, 520 word article]

Administering payroll, benefits, time and attendance cost mid-sized employers $2,000 per employee annually, according to a 2011 PricewaterhouseCoopers study. Commissioned for payroll provider ADP, the study found that large employers typically paid a bit less, at $1,400 per employee per year. It’s no wonder that many employers turn to third-party administrators. [February 2015, 318 word article]

A record 57 million Americans — or nearly one in five people in the U.S. — live in multigenerational households, according to the Pew Research Center. Some of this growth is due to adult children moving back home, but more and more elders are moving in with their children. [February 2015, 552 word article]

Employers are increasingly turning to high-deductible health plans to control their benefit costs. In 2014, 20 percent of people covered by an employer-sponsored plan had an HDHP, and 27 percent of large employers offered this type of plan. [February 2015, 536 word article]

Despite reports to the contrary, COBRA is alive and well…and costing you money. A COBRA audit can help you trim your rolls of ineligible beneficiaries. [February 2015, 734 word article]

The U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Treasury issued guidance that draws a bright line delineating employer group health coverage from individual coverage sold to those who aren’t covered by government or employer-sponsored health plans. [January 2015, 315 word article]

Employers spend thousands per employee on health insurance plans. Yet few check the quality of their plan before buying. [January 2015, 754 word article]

COBRA, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, allows qualifying people formerly covered by an employer’s group plan and their dependents to temporarily continue health coverage at group rates. Employers who don’t understand their COBRA obligations can face penalties. [January 2015, 807 word article]

Proposed regulations would close a loophole that allowed certain employers to skirt the Affordable Care Act’s minimum value requirement. [January 2015, 546 word article]

Contribution and income limits on certain employer-sponsored retirement plans adjust annually for inflation. The following limits will become effective on January 1, 2015. [December 2014, 239 word article]

As this issue went to press, only a few confirmed cases of Ebola existed in the U.S. What happens if it spreads? [December 2014, 834 word article]

At year end, many employers like to reward their employees. What you do could affect your taxation and that of your employees. Here are a few basics to keep in mind. [December 2014, 1005 word article]

The Affordable Care Act did away with association health plans. Or did it? [December 2014, 598 word article]

More than one-third of adults surveyed for the Surgeon General's study on oral health (2000) had not visited a dentist in the past 12 months. [November 2014, 328 word article]

Although dental plans are "excepted health plans" exempt from Affordable Care Act (ACA) reforms, two provisions in the ACA could affect dental plans. [November 2014, 655 word article]

Only one-third of working adults rated their employer's benefits education as excellent or very good in a recent survey. With open enrollments coming, how does your benefits education program measure up? [November 2014, 670 word article]

In August, the EEOC filed its first lawsuit against an employer regarding a wellness program. In October, it filed another. Here's what you need to know to avoid a similar situation. [November 2014, 952 word article]

Virtually all retirement plans fall into one of two categories: defined contribution plans or defined benefit plans. Here's a review of these two types of plans. [October 2014, 368 word article]

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires certain employers to provide "minimum essential" health coverage to their full-time employees. It also requires them to make certain reports. [October 2014, 862 word article]

Sales of critical illness insurance grew 90 percent (in premiums) between 2011 and 2012. Yes, 90 percent. Perhaps it's time to consider adding critical illness insurance to your benefits portfolio. [October 2014, 805 word article]

The EEOC has had pregnancy discrimination on its radar screen for a while. A Supreme Court case, Young v. UPS, will likely bring more attention to the issue. [October 2014, 811 word article]

The open enrollment period for health coverage during 2015 runs from November 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015. Coverage can start as soon as January 1, 2015. This applies to individual plans only; businesses can offer coverage to their employees at any time. [September 2014, 290 word article]

It's a fact: your overweight and obese employees cost you more. How much more...and what can you do about it? [September 2014, 701 word article]

On Sept. 2, 1974, President Gerald Ford signed ERISA, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Since then, benefits managers have dreaded running afoul of this huge law. Does ERISA apply to your benefit programs? If so, what do you need to know? [September 2014, 913 word article]

Parents consider it extremely important to have life insurance, found the 2013 State Farm Life Insurance survey. But 95 million Americans have no life insurance coverage at all, according to LIMRA. What does this mean for your employees? [September 2014, 960 word article]

Only 44 percent of employees responding to a recent Virgin Pulse survey take most of their allotted paid time off per year. More than one-third (34 percent) take half or less of their paid time off. [August 2014, 247 word article]

The percentage of workers younger than 40 who considered their retirement program an important factor in accepting their job jumped from 28 to 63 between 2009 and 2011, reported Towers Watson. Human resource managers agree retirement benefits are important, and 76 percent said they will increase in importance in the next five years.* [August 2014, 725 word article]

Researchers predict that one-third of the U.S. workforce will be age 50 or older by 2016. (Heidkampe, Mabe & DeGraaf, 2012). By 2050, the U.S. Census Bureau predicts that workers age 65 and older will make up 19 percent of the total U.S. workforce. [August 2014, 941 word article]

The average cost of a course of branded cancer drugs has doubled over the past decade, reaching $10,000. That's per month, not year. [August 2014, 824 word article]

Oops...did someone forget to look at HDHPs when determining maximum out-of-pocket expenses (OOPs) under the Affordable Care Act? [July 2014, 262 word article]

A new drug called Sovaldi has an 80 percent cure rate for certain types of Hepatitis C infection when taken in combination with a drug called ribavirin. That's good news for the approximately 3.2 million Americans with chronic Hepatitis C. The bad news is the drug costs $1,000 per pill, or about $84,000 for a course of treatment. [July 2014, 770 word article]

"The number of employer-sponsored hybrid pension plans insured by the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. nearly tripled between 2001 and 2010," reported Business Insurance magazine in May. A hybrid pension plan combines features of both defined benefit (DB) and defined contribution (DC) plans, which can benefit both employers and employees. [July 2014, 763 word article]

A number of trends are boosting the popularity of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) linked to high-deductible health plans. [July 2014, 755 word article]

Want to give your employees something to smile about? A section of the IRS code allows for something called de minimis fringe benefits. [June 2014, 349 word article]

In a previous issue (September 2013), we discussed so-called “skinny plans,” a strategy some employers plan to use to cut healthcare costs under the Affordable Care Act. Others are planning to use the opposite strategy: high-cost plans with rich benefits, or “fat plans.” [June 2014, 640 word article]

Qualified retirement plans earn their name by “qualifying” participants and sponsors for certain tax benefits. But sometimes administrative and other concerns outweigh these benefits. Nonqualified plans offer other options. [June 2014, 673 word article]

American businesses use more than 3 million temporary workers per day. How will the Affordable Care Act affect the use of temporary and leased workers? [June 2014, 934 word article]

In 2015, Affordable Care Act reporting requirements will begin to phase in for employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees. The statute calls for employers, insurers and other reporting entities to report information to the IRS. Employers with 100 or more employees must offer affordable health insurance coverage to employees or make a “shared responsibility” payment; employers with 50-99 employees have received a one-year reprieve (until 2016) from the coverage mandate. [May 2014, 320 word article]

In April 2014, New York City became the latest jurisdiction to require employers to provide paid sick leave, joining Washington, D.C., Milwaukee and the state of Connecticut. Is your city or state next? [May 2014, 925 word article]

May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month, making it a good time to take stock of your organization’s disability benefit needs and current offerings. [May 2014, 713 word article]

Administering COBRA has presented compliance challenges to employers since 1985. The Affordable Care Act promises to make health insurance available and affordable for all Americans. This eliminates employers’ need to offer COBRA continuation coverage. Or does it? [May 2014, 733 word article]

April 2 is National Employee Benefits Day, a good time to recognize the value of quality employee benefits. This year, the International Federation of Employee Benefit Plans is encouraging plan sponsors to use the annual event to focus on the coming retirement crisis and to “motivate participants to actively engage in their financial wellness.” [April 2014, 365 word article]

by Keith R. McMurdy, partner, Fox Rothschild LLP [April 2014, 476 word article]

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Compensation Survey, only 25 percent of workers have access to employer-provided vision care benefits. Employers that fail to offer vision benefits due to cost could be making a mistake, however, since vision benefits have big payoffs in terms of improved health and productivity. [April 2014, 802 word article]

Early 2014 has brought some clarifications and changes to the Affordable Care Act and its implementation. Read on for information about just a few of the changes employers should be aware of. [April 2014, 675 word article]

In his State of the Union address, President Obama announced that he would direct the Department of the Treasury to create “myRA” — a “starter” retirement savings account for low- to middle-income Americans. [March 2014, 393 word article]

Every year, thousands of people disappear into thin air, at least as far as their former employers are concerned. This can create problems for retirement plan sponsors. [March 2014, 490 word article]

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are growing in popularity. How should employers handle this? [March 2014, 714 word article]

Now that the Departments of Labor and Treasury have clarified how EAPs can co-exist with employer health plans under the Affordable Care Act, it’s a good time to consider adding one of these valuable programs to your benefits package. [March 2014, 898 word article]

Recent research from LIMRA reveals that most Americans lack adequate life insurance. Employer programs can help fill that gap. [February 2014, 283 word article]

Dental health coverage is the second most requested benefit—right behind medical insurance. With a variety of plan types, any employer can find an affordable dental insurance plan to enhance its benefit package. [February 2014, 610 word article]

Before buying something online, you can check reviews from previous purchasers. When you buy a car or appliance, you can check Consumer Reports and other rating services. But when you buy healthcare services, where do you turn for pricing and quality information? [February 2014, 936 word article]

Every year, the cost of benefits goes up. Rules and regulations governing their administration grow more complicated. And then there’s the Affordable Care Act… It’s enough to make an employer wonder whether to stop offering benefits and face the ACA’s penalties next year. But doing so could put your firm at a disadvantage…here’s why. [February 2014, 864 word article]

These changes created by the Affordable Care Act become effective January 1. [January 2014, 363 word article]

A properly structured transit benefit program can encourage ride-sharing, help eliminate employee stress due to commuting, and may even encourage better health through walking or biking. Best of all, qualified transit benefits can reduce your payroll tax obligations and give employees another tax-free benefit. [January 2014, 521 word article]

Think health cost inflation is something new? Back in 1973, encouraged by the Nixon administration, Congress passed the Health Maintenance Organization Act to bring cost-control measures to health plans. Today, managed care plans comprise the bulk of group and individual plans on the market. But healthcare costs more than ever. What happened? [January 2014, 1019 word article]

The Affordable Care Act will create one of the largest expansions of mental health and substance use disorder coverage in a generation. Here’s what you need to know about mental health benefits. [January 2014, 737 word article]

The HITECH Act, enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, strengthened the health privacy and security protections under HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. [December 2013, 238 word article]

In addition to no costs, voluntary plans can offer employers the advantage of minimal paperwork—if ERISA does not apply. [December 2013, 566 word article]

With uncertainty due to the Affordable Care Act on top of continuing premium increases, more employers are looking into self-insuring their employee health benefits. Although self-insuring involves more risk than buying a fully insured plan, stop loss insurance helps mitigate some of that risk. [December 2013, 697 word article]

Although employers got a yearlong reprieve from the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) coverage mandate, other provisions of the ACA will affect employers in 2014. The following brief checklist will alert you to some important changes to prepare for. [December 2013, 1236 word article]

ERISA stands for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, a federal law that sets minimum standards for retirement and health benefit plans in private industry. [October 2012, 384 word article]

Legal problems aren’t limited to lawsuits—debt, bankruptcy, mortgage refinancing, short sales and family matters can also require legal assistance. A legal plan can help your employees cope…at no cost to your organization. [October 2012, 652 word article]

401(k) plans require a great deal of regular care and maintenance. Administrative mistakes could affect the retirement income of one or more employees or subject your company to regulatory penalties. [October 2012, 837 word article]

Why are benefits communications so important, and what can you do to improve them? Good communications can make the open enrollment period easier for everyone involved. Read on for suggestions. [October 2012, 703 word article]

A study appearing in the journal Health Affairs concluded consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) — high-deductible, catastrophic coverage combined with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) — could achieve $57.1 billion savings annually if half the non-elderly U.S. population had them. That’s because they operate as true insurance plans, covering medical costs for unexpected, catastrophic events, with people paying out of their own pocket for routine care and prescriptions. The study predicts the potential savings of these plans, together with additional incentives in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, will encourage their growth. [September 2012, 378 word article]

Most people realize the importance of saving for retirement, but fail to do so, or fail to save enough. According to the most recent data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 65 percent of all workers in private industry have access to an employer retirement plan, but only 75 percent of those with access participated. Some simple, practical actions can help you encourage employee participation in retirement plans and minimize nondiscrimination problems. [September 2012, 670 word article]

Owners of small businesses may unintentionally violate employment laws just by trying to be flexible or nice. The Small Business Administration (SBA) shares ten of the most common mistakes and suggestions on how to avoid them. [September 2012, 970 word article]

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month, making it a good time to promote the value of your life insurance benefits. If your organization doesn’t already offer life insurance benefits, we can tailor a program to your needs. [September 2012, 890 word article]

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of two contentious provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the case National Federation of Independent Business et al. v. Sibelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, et al. The decision paves the way for continued implementation of the law. [August 2012, 414 word article]

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has helped organizations establish a family-friendly environment. On the other hand, it has introduced administrative cost and worries, chief among them FMLA abuse. [August 2012, 642 word article]

Employer group disability income plans offer tremendous tax advantages to both employer and employee. The employer can deduct premiums as a business expense, and they do not count toward the employee’s taxable income. However, group disability plans usually do not provide enough coverage for upper management and highly compensated employees. Here’s how to provide for these employees’ additional coverage needs. [August 2012, 988 word article]

ERISA (the Employee Retirement Income Security Act), the federal law governing private-sector retirement plans, requires those responsible for managing retirement plans to carry out their responsibilities prudently and solely in the interest of the plan’s participants and beneficiaries. Called “fiduciaries,” these individuals also have a responsibility to ensure that the services provided to their plan are necessary and their cost is reasonable. [August 2012, 793 word article]

When conducting a dependent audit, please be aware that the Affordable Care Act prohibits health plans from rescinding coverage, except in the event of fraud, intentional misrepresentation of material fact or failure to pay premiums on time. “Rescission” generally means to cancel with some retroactive effect. [July 2012, 410 word article]

Although employers have no obligation to subsidize dependent coverage, many do. By dropping coverage for ineligible dependents, your firm saves that premium contribution. Even if you don’t subsidize dependent coverage, having ineligible dependents on your benefit rolls will likely increase your utilization (and costs), since those people most likely to use health insurance are the most likely to buy it. [July 2012, 743 word article]

According to the most recent U.S. Department of Labor National Compensation Survey, just 26 percent of workers in private industry had access to employer-provided vision care benefits. In comparison, 70 percent had access to healthcare benefits, 68 percent had access to outpatient prescription drug benefits and 45 percent had access to dental benefits. [July 2012, 584 word article]

Pension plans fall into one of two categories: defined benefit plans or defined contribution plans. A cash balance plan has features of both. They can also be simpler to administer than some other plans. Is a cash balance plan right for your firm? [July 2012, 990 word article]

No discussion of self-insured health plans would be complete without an examination of stop loss reinsurance. Self-insured employers can buy stop loss reinsurance to protect themselves when claim costs exceed their expectations. This form of reinsurance for self-insured employers limits the amount the employers will have to pay for each person’s health care (individual limit) or for the total expenses of the employer (group limit). [June 2012, 397 word article]

Traditionally the domain of big business, self-insured health plans are gaining ground among mid-sized and smaller employers. What are the advantages and disadvantages of self-funding? [June 2012, 779 word article]

June is National Employee Wellness Month, which “…showcases how supportive social communities, such as the workplace, can help to improve employee health and productivity and lower healthcare costs, and how leveraging an individual’s social connections helps create and sustain a workplace culture of health.” It’s also a good time to start a wellness program. If your organization doesn’t already have one, the following suggestions can help you start one. [June 2012, 913 word article]

Providing your employees with commuter benefits can enhance your reputation as a “green” employer, and may even improve employee wellness by encouraging them to get out of their cars. [June 2012, 727 word article]

In times like these, many employers are looking to cut back wherever possible. But eliminating coverage for mental health care could prove to be false savings. How do you know if your plan isn’t making the grade? Experts cite the following signs — and risks — of inadequate mental health care benefits: [May 2012, 421 word article]

A COBRA audit can help you trim your rolls of ineligible beneficiaries. Doing so can help you save money in three ways. [May 2012, 796 word article]

You might have the best retirement plan available, but if employees aren’t participating, what’s it worth? The following plan changes could make your plan more attractive to all employees. [May 2012, 658 word article]

More than one in five American adults live with a diagnosable, treatable mental health condition and can go on to live full and productive lives. That fact makes May, Mental Health Month, a good time to take stock of your organization’s mental health benefits and how a properly structured benefit program can support the very real link between mental health and overall wellness. [May 2012, 792 word article]

Last year, Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company surveyed nearly 400 employee benefits counselors after the 2012 open enrollment period. These experts listed the most common mistakes that employees make during open enrollment. [329 word article, November 2013]

In January, when more provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) go into effect, several could cause HRAs and FSAs to be out of compliance. Here’s what employers need to know about administering these popular benefit funding options. [703 word article, November 2013]

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 72 percent of all full-time employees in private industry had access to life insurance through their employer. Nearly all eligible employees (98 percent) participated in their employer’s program, vouching for the popularity of employer-provided life insurance. [723 word article, November 2013]

An overwhelming majority of employers, including those that currently offer employee health coverage and those that don’t (81 percent and 71 percent, respectively), would prefer a private health insurance exchange to a public one, according to a 2012 survey by Booz & Company. How do private exchanges differ from public ones, and what advantages do they offer employers? [965 word article, November 2013]

Are you looking to reward a few highly compensated employees? Are you unwilling to take on a lot of extra benefits paperwork and administrative costs? A nonqualified retirement plan could meet the needs of your organization and your employees. [865 word article, April 2012]

Only half of Americans surveyed said they knew enough about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or ACA, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey. [366 word article, October 2013]

Most (85 percent) of employers with ten or more full-time workers find defined contribution (DC) retirement plans, such as 401(k)s, valuable in helping to retain, recruit and motivate employees. And a surprising 72 percent of similarly sized employers that do not offer a DC plan agree.* To find out why, read on. [876 word article, October 2013]

The National Academy of Social Insurance reports that nearly 75 percent of baby boomers and seniors are concerned about paying for long-term care. Long-term care insurance can help.  [741 word article, October 2013]

An excise tax will apply to so-called "Cadillac" health plans starting in 2018. Will this affect your company's health plan? [825 word article, October 2013]

In a recent poll by Aflac, an overwhelming majority (76 percent) of workers surveyed admitted they were not knowledgeable about the federal and state health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA also created new insurance programs, incentives and penalties, giving consumers and small businesses a whole new system to learn. [June 2013, 361 word article]

Only 28 percent of small and medium-sized organizations offer retirement benefits to their full-time employees. And the reasons are simple: Many don’t want to deal with the administrative hassles and cost of a 401(k). SIMPLE IRA plans provide these employers with an alternative. [1134 word article, June 2013]

Between 2000 and 2010, the percentage of people with employer-based health plans enrolled in self-insured plans increased nearly 10 percent, according to the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) creates new incentives for smaller employer groups to consider self-insuring. [June 2013, 761 word article]

A stronger medical privacy protection rule became effective on March 26. In January, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a new rule to strengthen the privacy and security protections for health information as required by the so-called HITECH Act. The rule modifies protections established under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).  [April 2013, 361 word article]

Wellness programs might be getting all the buzz lately. But employee assistance programs (EAPs) can also help employers control their employee health costs, while reducing absenteeism and other productivity problems as well. [April 2013, 585 word article.]

April 2 is Employee Benefits Day, a day to recognize benefit administrators and to remind your employees of the importance of their benefit program. [April 2013, 971 word article.]

Of the 45 percent of employees who had access to a dental benefit plan through their employer, 78 percent participated, making dental benefits a very popular offering. Will the Affordable Care Act change all that?  [ April 2013, 876 word article]

American businesses use more than 3 million temporary workers per day. How will the Affordable Care Act affect the use of temporary and leased workers? [June 2014, 934 word article]

A qualified retirement plan offers tax advantages to both the employer and employee; however, they pose more compliance challenges than nonqualified plans. The IRS’s “list of some of the more important retirement plan requirements” appears below. Note that the IRS also says, “Your plan may have other operational requirements that need to be monitored.” We can help your organization set up and administer your retirement plan; please contact us for more information. [April 2012, 259 word article]

Two important trends are converging and affecting employers’ health benefit programs. As medical technologies and treatments improve, more people are surviving once-fatal forms of cancer, heart disease and other conditions. Many employers have responded to rising costs by increasing their employees’ share of costs. This can leave many employees with staggering healthcare expenses—even if they have medical benefits. The answer? Supplemental health benefits. [April 2012, 915 word article]

Many employers are switching to consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) because they give employees incentives to control costs and improve their own health. Do they accomplish those goals? The evidence in favor of CDHPs is growing. [April 2012, 855 word article]

In January, the IRS clarified how “affordability” would be determined for purposes of determining an individual’s eligibility to receive subsidies for buying health coverage. [March 2013, 324 word article]

Employers that offer sick leave and disability benefits should coordinate among their plans to eliminate any coverage gaps. [March 2013, 642 word article]

Employees want more flexibility in when and where they do their jobs. If you want a low- or no-cost benefit, consider offering flexible hours and/or telecommuting. [March 2013, 774 word article]

Despite the coming of health insurance exchanges next year, both employers and employees value employer-provided health insurance. [March 2013, 945 word article]

For 2012 and earlier years, the IRS put no specific dollar limit on the amount of money employees could contribute to a health flexible spending arrangement, also known as an FSA. Plans simply had to prescribe either a maximum dollar amount or maximum percentage of compensation that could be contributed, as determined by the employer.[November 2012, 361 word article]

While Mississippi claims the dubious distinction of being the "fattest state," with a self-reported obesity rate of 34.9 percent among adults, the truth is that the obesity problem affects employers in every state. Even in Colorado, the "slimmest state," more than one-fifth of adults are obese. [November 2012. 805 word article]

A recent report found that satisfaction levels was increasing among people in "consumer-driven" health plans (CDHPs), and decreasing among those in traditional health plans. Will CDHPs finally become the employee health plan of choice? [November 2012, 681 word article]

Dependent care FSAs cost employers almost nothing, yet they save money for both the employer and employee. Year-end is the perfect time to set up this low-cost, family-friendly benefit! [November 2012, 661 word article]

Mercer’s 2011 survey of employer health benefits found that 16 percent of employers with 500 or more workers offered Medicare-eligible retirees health benefits—down from 40 percent in 1993.  [December 2012, 240 word article]

Here are some important updates for your benefit plans. [December 2012, 533 word article]

Plan loans and hardship withdrawals offer participants in defined contribution retirement plans additional financial flexibility and short-term financial relief—if used judiciously. [December 2012, 751 word article]

As the annual cold and flu season approaches, take an honest look at your organization’s sick leave policies. Do they encourage employees to take needed time off when they are sick? Or do they encourage “presenteeism,” which experts estimate costs more than $150 billion annually in lost productivity? [December 2012, 870 word article]

The National Association of Dental Plans (NADP) estimates that almost all (98 percent) of dental benefit plans are “standalone” plans—or plans sold separately from medical coverage. Although dental plans are “excepted health plans” exempt from Affordable Care Act (ACA) reforms, a provision in the ACA could require the purchase of dental coverage.  [February 2013, 310 word article]

In 2012, American’s confidence in their ability to retire comfortably dropped to its lowest level in more than 20 years, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Despite the fact that workers are getting more serious about saving for retirement, retirement benefits were available to only 50 percent of workers in small establishments (<100 employees).  [February 2013, 514 word article]

Voluntary benefits can fill gaps in employer-provided plans, including in high-deductible health plans. Experts expect more employers to offer voluntary benefits in 2013, and more employees to take advantage of these plans.  [February 2013, 499 word article]

The shared responsibility provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) go into effect in 2014. Otherwise known as “pay or play,” they will require “large employers” to offer their employees “affordable” health insurance or pay a tax. What exactly do these terms mean? [1078 word article, February 2013]

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has several provisions that give small businesses more options to pool risks and buy coverage across state lines, with the goal of increasing competition.  [741 word article, January 2013]

In late March, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on several provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) essentially determining its fate.   Most attention will center on the minimum coverage provision, the so-called “individual mandate.”  This provision requires most people to have health coverage for themselves and their dependents starting in January 2014. Employer-sponsored plans will count, as will Medicare and Medicaid… [345 word article, March 2012]

Health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs) let employees or dependents set aside money, before taxes, for qualified healthcare expenses. Employers can use them to incentivize employees to participate in health improvement programs, and they have tax advantages for both the employer and employee. But they have a few key differences—which account should you use and when?… [696 word article, March 2012]

No doubt you’ve heard the buzz about consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs), which seek to control employers’ healthcare costs by giving consumers “skin in the game.” With the cost of providing dental benefits increasing, can consumer-driven dental plans be far behind?

More than medical plans, dental plan enrollment tends to go up and down with economic conditions… [711 word article, March 2012]

The National Retirement Risk Index published by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College found 44 percent of U.S. households were “at risk” for financial insecurity during retirement. When it considered the effect of projected healthcare costs, that percentage rose to 61 percent…and again to 65 percent when it considered long-term care costs… [812 word article, March 2012]

The Profit Sharing/401k Council of America’s 54th Annual Survey of Profit Sharing and 401k Plans provides an in-depth look at current practices in profit-sharing and 401(k) plans.

Eligibility:Respondents reported that 89.0 percent of their U.S. employees were eligible to participate in their defined contribution plan. Nearly 60 percent of companies allow employees to start contributions immediately after hire… [333 word article, February 2012]

If your employees are typical, fewer than 20 percent know how much you contribute each month toward their health insurance premiums. How can employees value their benefits if they don’t know what they cost?

Surprisingly, most employees also don’t know how much they themselves pay toward their own and their dependents’ health insurance premiums… [706 word article, February 2012]

The year was 1911, the city was Passaic, New Jersey, and the company was the now-defunct Pantasote Leather Company. That’s when and where the first group life insurance policy was issued.

The most common form of group life insurance is term life, which provides coverage for a specified period, usually one year or more… [595 word article, February 2012]

Women comprised 46.8 percent of the total U.S. labor force in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Many of these working women will become pregnant at least once during their careers. Improper handling of pregnancy, pregnancy-related disability and maternity leave can lead to discrimination lawsuits. Do you know the laws that apply?… [865 word article, February 2012]

Looking to boost employee participation in your retirement plans? Remind them of the retirement savings contributions credit (saver’s credit), which allows qualifying individuals to take a tax credit of up to $1,000 ($2,000 if filing jointly) for making eligible contributions to an IRA or employer-sponsored retirement plan… [342 word article, January 2012]

COBRA, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, allows workers and family members who would otherwise lose their benefits to temporarily continue health coverage at group rates. If you had 20 or more employees in the prior year and offer a group health plan, COBRA applies to your company. Here’s what you need to know about COBRA’s requirements… [746 word article, January 2012]

Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of employers surveyed by Aon Hewitt and Polako Boland in 2011 said they would be interested in using accountable care organizations (ACOs) to provide healthcare benefits to employees. Can ACOs work in the employee benefit system to deliver promised improvements in quality, communication and cost control?… [805 word article, January 2012]

The centerpiece of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, health insurance exchanges, won’t go into effect until 2014. However, some portions of the law will begin taking effect this year. Here’s an overview of some of the changes you’ll see. 

A new health plan model. Starting on January 1, 2012, accountable care organizations (ACOs) can enter into contracts with Medicare… [737 word article, January 2012]

The Internal Revenue Service has announced dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement accounts for Tax Year 2012. In general, many of the pension plan limitations will change because the increase in the cost-of-living index met the statutory thresholds that trigger their adjustment. However, other limitations will remain unchanged.  Highlights include:… [342 word article, December 2011]

With employees working harder than ever before, many say it’s becoming more difficult to find a balance between work and home life. If you  want a low-cost way to improve job satisfaction and increase productivity, consider developing a telecommuting program.

Telecommuting: Meanings Vary

“Telecommuting” (also called “telework”) means any arrangement where an employee works at home or another location removed from the employer’s site… [753 word article, December 2011]

As healthcare costs continue to rise faster than inflation, wellness programs have gotten a lot of attention lately. What exactly is a wellness program, and how do you start one?

Why wellness? First off, lifestyle choices contribute to many of the most common—and costly—chronic conditions:… [724 word article, December 2011]

As with nearly everything else, retirement plans require periodic maintenance to keep running smoothly. Here are some suggestions to ensure your plan complies with all laws and regulations and meets the goals of your benefits program.

Keep your plan up-to-date with the law. On a regular basis, ask your benefits professional “when and what” to change in your plan… [770 word article, December 2011]

The CLASS government-managed long-term care insurance program has been tabled. In the fall of 2011, the Health and Human Services Department (HHS), which managed the program, reduced staffing at the CLASS office and pink-slipped its chief actuary.

Actuaries had long warned that adverse selection, a phenomenon where the sickest people are most likely to buy coverage, would cause the program to run out of funds unless it received taxpayer subsidies… [177 word article, November 2011]

The good news is employers are doing a better job of complying with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Between 2001 and 2008, the number of complaints the U.S. Department of Labor received dropped by one-third, as did the number of violations found. And back wages paid by employers dropped by nearly half. Still, many employers find FMLA compliance confusing… [757 word article, November 2011]

What changes are in store for employee healthcare benefits in 2012? Here are some facts that will help you better manage your program in the coming year.

Health insurance premiums: In 2011, average employer-sponsored family health plans cost $15,073—9 percent higher than 2010, according to a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust… [786 word article, November 2011]

If your organization doesn’t already offer healthcare flexible spending accounts, year-end is the perfect time to start. And if your organization does offer employees this valuable benefit, now is the time to re-educate them.

Flexible spending accounts or arrangements (FSAs) are accounts offered and administered by employers that allow employees to set aside, out of their paycheck, pretax dollars to pay for qualified medical expenses… [769 word article, November 2011]

On January 1, 2012, Connecticut will become the first state to mandate paid sick leave for employees. The law will apply to employers with 50 or more employees in the state. Although other states do not mandate paid sick leave, Connecticut’s experiment could prompt other states to follow suit, making this a good time to give your organization’s sick pay plan a checkup… [621 word article, October 2011]

Two rules affecting participant-directed individual account plans, such as 401(k)s, originally due to become effective January 1, 2012, have been delayed until April 1, 2012. Following is an overview of these rules.

Nearly 483,000 participant-directed individual account plans, including 401(k)s, cover an estimated 72 million participants and hold almost $3 trillion in assets… [701word article, October 2011]

Consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) came on the scene about ten years ago to help employers take control of their employee healthcare costs. At first, employers and employees were slow to adopt them, but in the last couple of years, their popularity has grown. What are the different CDHP types and what features do they offer?… [726 word article, October 2011]

A survey of employed email users finds:

22% are expected to respond to work email when they’re not at work.
50% check work email on the weekends.
46% check work email on sick days.
34% check work email while on vacation.

Source: Mother Jones… [329 word article, September 2011]

Many employees take care of their children, parents or both. This “sandwich generation” can benefit from dependent care reimbursement accounts, which allow employees to pay for eligible dependent care expenses on a pretax, salary reduction basis.

By setting aside pre-tax money into a dependent care account, employees can later be reimbursed for eligible expenses incurred in the plan year… [678 word article, September 2011]

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires the Secretary of Labor to “conduct a survey of employer-sponsored coverage to determine the benefits typically covered by employers.” The first report, published in April 2011, provides employers with a valuable tool for benchmarking their employee health benefits.

Following are some of the most relevant statistics from the report, which used data from 2008 and 2009… [748 word article, September 2011]

If you suspect an employee has a vision problem that could affect safety or productivity, how should you handle the situation?

As you are probably aware, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its amendments strictly limit the circumstances under which an employer may ask questions about an employee’s medical condition or require the employee to undergo a medical examination… [309 word article, August 2011]

According to the most recent U.S. Department of Labor National Compensation Survey, just 26 percent of companies offer vision care benefits. In comparison, 72 percent offer medical benefits, 68 percent offer prescription drug benefits and 46 percent offer dental benefits.

Companies that don’t offer vision care may want to rethink their strategy. Vision disorders carry a hefty price tag for employers… [557 word article, August 2011]

Families who save their retirement funds in high-fee accounts could end up with one-quarter less money in retirement than those saving in low-fee accounts, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Investigations by the Congressional Research Service found that fees of 2 percent or higher are not uncommon in retirement plans… [673 word article, August 2011]

Is all work and no play good for American workers? Evidence suggests that vacation time is important for both mental and physical health.

It’s no secret that Americans generally get less time off than their counterparts in other industrialized countries. Employees in European Union countries get four weeks of paid leave by law, for example, while most U.S. workers… [868 word article, August 2011]

One of the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act healthcare reform law required employers to include the cost of group health plan coverage on their employees’ W-2 forms starting on January 1, 2011. However, the IRS recognized the burden this would create, particularly for smaller employers, and granted a one-year extension, so the requirement applies to W-2 forms beginning with tax year 2012… [328 word article, July 2011]

The Community Living Assistance Services and Support Act (CLASS Act) established a national voluntary long-term care insurance program. While most provisions of the Act became effective January 1, 2011, the law gave the secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) until October 1, 2012 to release the details of the plan… [593 word article, July 2011]

Companies surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in 2009 had an average of 21 wellness or prevention programs, and half planned to add at least one more program in 2010. And companies with 1,000 or more employees spent an average of 2 percent of their annual budget on wellness programs in 2010… [740 word article, July 2011]

Warning to employers: your middle-income baby boomer employees are nowhere near ready for retirement. A majority (79 percent) are delaying their planned retirement dates by an average of five years. In addition, 14 percent believe they will never be able to retire due to financial conditions… [794 word article, July 2011]

There are four major differences between typical cash balance plans and 401(k) plans.

Participation.Cash balance plans generally do not depend on workers contributing to the plan; however, participation in a 401(k) plan does depend, in whole or in part, on an employee choosing to contribute... [195 word article, June 2011]

In the 1990s and early 2000s, many employers looking to control their pension liabilities converted traditional defined benefit pension plans to cash balance plans. Some older employees affected by the change sued, alleging age discrimination. Most suits resolved in favor of employers, and the Pension Protection Act of 2006 affirmed the legitimacy of cash balance plans... [784 word article, June 2011]

Employers’ group healthcare costs continue to grow faster than the general inflation rate — up an average of 7 percent over 2010 costs, to $11,176 per employee. Employees’ share of healthcare costs are going up as well — to an average of $2,660 per employee. Employers are taking a variety of strategies to contain these costs. A few for you to consider follow... [680 word article, June 2011]

In December 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released “Program Perspectives,” a report on life and disability insurance benefits. Using information gathered in the National Compensation Survey, the report provides an overview of what employers offer in terms of life and disability benefits and participation rates... [767 word article, June 2011]

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control define overweight and obesity as “ranges of weight that are greater than what is generally considered healthy for a given height” and that “increase the likelihood of certain diseases and other health problems.” The CDC uses body mass index, a ratio of weight to height, to determine weight ranges for overweight and obesity... [221 word article, May 2011]

To help higher-income workers maximize their retirement savings, consider adding a Roth 401(k) option to your retirement benefits menu. Unlike traditional or safe harbor 401(k)s, Roth 401(k)s place no limits on an employee’s income in determining if he or she can make contributions. Younger and lower-income workers might also decide the advantage of tax-free income in the future,... [688 word article, May 2011]

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease control, in 2006, obese people spent $1,400 more in medical care costs than did people of normal weight. Obese individuals also spend 77 percent more money for necessary medications than non-obese persons.

Researchers have linked obesity and overweight to the following health conditions:... [625 word article, May 2011

Do you suspect an employee has a drinking problem? The following Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT) from the Ensuring Solutions to Alcohol Problems program can help you determine whether he/she needs professional help... [320 word article, April 2011]

Illicit drugs get all the attention, but alcohol—legal, cheap and readily available—causes more health problems and takes a greater financial toll than any illegal drug. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sponsors Alcohol Awareness Month in April to raise awareness of alcohol abuse and encourage people to make healthy, safe choices... [921 word article, April 2011]

Regulations implementing the Pension Protection Act of 2006 made target-date funds a qualified default investment alternative (QDIA) in 401(k) plans. This means that when a plan uses target-date funds as the default investment along with a qualified automatic contribution arrangement (QACA), plan fiduciaries receive “safe harbor” protection and plans gain exemption from annual nondiscrimination testing requirements and “top-heavy” rules... [534 word article, April 2011]

Employees often don’t realize how much their benefits cost. A benefit statement can be an effective way to communicate the true value of your employee benefits package to your employees.

Many insurers provide employee benefit statements for employees, but most of these include only the benefits provided through an insurer, such as group health, life and dental insurance.... [528 word article, April 2011]

There’s more to selecting the “right” dental plan than just the premium. Here are some factors to consider as you evaluate a dental plan proposal.

How does the plan cover preventive services? Look for one that pays 100 percent for preventive maintenance. Services such as cleanings and fluoride treatments can prevent more serious and costly dental problems down the road... [356 word article, March 2011]

The federal healthcare bill passed last year included a provision to add a 40 percent excise tax on so-called “Cadillac” health plans. What does this mean for your executive benefits?

A “Cadillac” or “gold-plated” health plan is a top-of-the-line health insurance plan, usually defined by the total cost of premiums, rather than what the insurance plan covers... [336 word article, March 2011]

The economic downturn has coupled with longer lifespans and higher medical costs to make running out of retirement income a real possibility for many workers. For this reason, many employers are considering adding annuity options to their 401(k) plans.

For years, many investors avoided annuities due to high expense ratios and other factors... [848 word article, March 2011]

The National Compensation Survey (NCS) found the average cost for a private employer to provide health insurance rose from $1.03 per hour worked in 1999 to $2.00 per hour in 2009, an increase from 5.4 percent to 7.3 percent of total compensation.

Employees have watched their share of healthcare costs soar as well... [525 word article, March 2011]

The Affordable Care Act provided $5 billion in financial assistance to employers to help them maintain coverage for early retirees age 55 and older who are not yet eligible for Medicare. The federal Early Retiree Reimbursement Program (ERRP) reimburses participating employment-based plans for a portion of the costs of providing health benefits for early retirees and their spouses, surviving spouses and dependents...  [157 word article, February 2011]

Although limited benefit medical plans (also called “mini-medical” plans) have existed for nearly 30 years, healthcare reform is likely to bring about their demise by 2014, unless the law is changed or repealed. If your organization currently offers a limited benefit plan, here’s what you need to know now…and what to look for in 2014... [974 word article, February 2011]

Test anxiety isn’t just for students. The words “nondiscrimination testing” can strike fear into even the bravest of benefit administrators. What is nondiscrimination testing, why is it necessary, and how can you avoid it?

Under a 401(k), employees can elect to have the employer contribute a portion of their wages to the plan. These plans enjoy several tax advantages:... [661 word article, February 2011]

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requires most group health plans that are not “grandfathered” to cover certain evidence-based preventive services with no copayments or cost-sharing. This includes screenings, check-ups and patient counseling to prevent illnesses, disease or other health problems.

Covering preventive care services with no cost-sharing sounds like a good idea... [425 word article, February 2011]

Under a self-insured plan, your organization assumes the financial risk for providing health benefits to your employees. In practical terms, self-insured employers pay for claims out-of-pocket as they are presented instead of paying a pre-determined premium to an insurance carrier for a fully insured plan. Typically, a self-insured employer will set up a special trust fund to earmark money (corporate and employee contributions) to pay incurred claims... [333 word article, January 2011]

Self-funding your organization’s benefits plan comes with a worthy list of advantages, but “ease of use” is not one of them. For this reason, many organizations that self-fund turn to third-party administrators (TPAs) to handle the brunt of the paperwork.

A TPA may handle claims processing, collection of premiums, manage workers’ compensation and disability programs, contract for PPO (preferred provider organization) services... [452 word article, January 2011]

On the face of it, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) seems easy enough. It assures employees time off from work to care for a sick family member. But in this day and age, who exactly is “family”? How you determine whether someone is a “family member” could mean the difference between complying with the FMLA or facing expensive fines... [618 word article, January 2011]

Are employees more productive if they own a piece of the company? Workplace analysts overwhelmingly say yes. That’s why many employers offer Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs).

ESOPs appear to increase sales, employment, and sales per employee by about 2.3 percent to 2.4 percent per year over what would have been expected absent an ESOP, according to a study by Rutgers University... [634 word article, January 2011]

A workplace lactation program can encourage working mothers to return to their jobs sooner, without sacrificing their babies’ health. Employers also benefit by retaining employees who otherwise might extend their leave or not return to work. Second, breastfed babies are healthier, which can reduce absenteeism due to a child’s illness and reduce your dependent healthcare costs... [712 word article, December 2010]

In the concern over healthcare costs, employers might easily overlook one provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which took effect on March 23, 2010. The law requires employers to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year…” Failure to comply can lead to fines. Here’s what you need to know... [737 word article, December 2010]

New group health insurance plans created after September 22, 2010 and all existing calendar-year plans must meet the following requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Here are the changes you should know about.

Fully insured health plans cannot discriminate in favor of highly compensated individuals in terms of eligibility to participate or in terms of benefits provided... [849 word article, December 2010]

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into law in March 2010 included a tax credit designed to encourage small employers to offer health insurance coverage for the first time or maintain coverage they already have. Here's how to claim a credit.

Eligible small businesses and tax-exempt organizations will use IRS Form 8941 to calculate their credit... [453 word article, December 2010]

When it comes to complying with provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), you may find yourself forced into two roles seemingly at odds with each other — verifying the employment eligibilty of every employee while at the same time avoiding discriminatory practices. To help you walk the tightrope, here are nine common IRCA mistakes and solutions to help you avoid them:... [712 word article, November 2010]

A growing number of employers — particularly those who self-insure — are embracing what’s called value-based insurance design (VBID) as they pursue the tandem goals of optimizing employee health and containing costs.

The philosophy behind VBID is simple: provide employees with greater incentives to seek out high-value health services while creating disincentives to using high-cost, low-value services... [750 word article, November 2010]

Take a look at your company’s life insurance statistics and you may find a disturbing trend: Female employees with children carry significantly less life insurance than their male counterparts.

According to MetLife’s 8th Annual Study of Employee Benefits Trends, married men with minor children have, on average, five times their annual household income in life insurance coverage — … [675 word article, November 2010]

Disease management has grown into an estimated $2.5 billion industry. But lately it’s been taking some hits. What exactly is disease management, and is it effective in controlling healthcare costs?

A 2009 RAND study for the state of Massachusetts concluded that disease management could increase employer and government healthcare costs by more than $6 billion with little spending reduction in return... [453 word article, October 2010]

Cancer now accounts for about 10 percent of all healthcare costs in America. And one in three Americans will receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. With many Americans uninsured or underinsured, no wonder the idea of low-cost cancer insurance holds appeal. But is it worth it?...  [579 word article, October 2010]

By 2005, private employers sponsored more than 635,000 401(k) plans that covered more than 75 million employees. A well-designed 401(k) plan helps employers attract and keep talented employees, allows them to take a tax deduction for their contributions to employees’ accounts, and eases administrative burdens by allowing participants to take their benefits with them when they leave the company.... [970 word article, October 2010]

From “do it yourself” to hiring a wellness consultant, there are many ways to create a wellness program.  One of the best ways to garner excitement and interest (and great ideas) is to engage your employees with a contest for your new or expanded wellness program.

To frame the competition correctly, first ask yourself and your team the following questions:... [151 word article, September 2010]

Spending accounts let employees or dependents set aside money, before taxes, for qualified healthcare expenses. Spending accounts can also incentivize employees to participate in health improvement programs, and offer tax benefits to the employer as well.

The most popular options in this category are health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs)... [931 word article, September 2010]

In study after study, employee wellness programs have been shown to reduce absenteeism, staff turnover rates and healthcare costs, while improving productivity and morale.

Wellness programs run the gamut from a monthly newsletter with wellness information to health risk assessments backed up by a full menu of exercise and wellness classes... [580 word article, September 2010]

Open enrollment can overwhelm even the most seasoned benefits manager. But the time when employees can make changes to their benefits plans doesn’t have to be a time of stress.  

In fact, open enrollment is a great opportunity to introduce new tools and resources to a captive audience, and it’s the perfect time to help employees become better healthcare consumers all year long... [536 word article, September 2010]

The economic downturn might be affecting your bottom line in more ways than you think. A recent MetLife survey found that 25 percent of employees admitted they felt more distracted at work because of financial problems, while 52 percent of employees believe that absenteeism increases when employees are dealing with personal financial problems... [578 word article, August 2010]

A COBRA audit can help you trim your rolls of ineligible beneficiaries. Doing so can help you save money in three ways.

The health provisions of COBRA, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, require most group health plans to offer continuation coverage to covered employees, former employees, spouses, former spouses, and dependent children...[776 word article, August 2010]

Millions of Baby Boomers are juggling eldercare along with childrearing and their jobs—and are stressed about it. That stress can affect their job performance and health (and your healthcare costs).

In a survey released by The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. and ComPsych Corporation, more than 80 percent of Baby Boomers said they feel moderate to high levels of stress... [632 word article, August 2010]

Mid-year is a great time to give your 401(k) plan a little routine care and maintenance. Here’s how.

A mid-year review will help you catch any plan errors or overlooked updates that might affect the retirement income of one or more of your employees or subject your organization to regulatory penalties... [637 word article, July 2010]

Prepare for open enrollment and the implementation of requirements scheduled to take effect for your next plan year.

Educate employees on what the new laws mean to them and their coverage.

Inform employees that adult children under age 26 previously ineligible for coverage will be become eligible if they don’t qualify for employer coverage... [180 word article, July 2010]

It's time to institute changes to your employee health plan resulting from this year's historic Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act. Because benefit plan design must be finalized, enrollment materials prepared and distributed, and open enrollment concluded well in advance of the first day of the plan year, now's a great time to turn your attention to these details:... [486 word article, July 2010]

ERISA: The Employee Retirement Income Security Act generally forbids using health status to determine premiums or contributions to a group plan. HIPAA: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act prohibits group health plans from charging higher premiums based on health factors. Wellness programs must:...[295 word article, June 2010]

Why you should start a wellness program, and how to design it to meet the specific needs of employer and employees.

Reason #1: Wellness programs help retention. Forty-five percent of Americans working at small to medium-sized companies said that they would stay at their jobs longer because of employer-sponsored wellness programs.*  [541 word article, June 2010]

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) provides an eligible employee with a total of 12 administrative workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for specified reasons. Employees can also stack their FMLA leave with other available leave programs. Here's how to handle leave stacking... [611 word article, June 2010]

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the largest healthcare reform bill in decades. Many provisions of the bill will not go into effect for a few years (generally, 2014). Until then, here are some of the provisions that might affect your organization's health plan during 2010... [887 word article, June 2010]

What would your employees do if they became injured or ill and couldn't work for an extended period? How does this affect morale?

By the time people reach age 35, they have a one in three chance of being disabled for more than 90 days during the rest of their working life, according to the America's Health Insurance Plans, a trade organization… [490 word article, May 2010]

Understanding how your 401(k) compares with other employer's plans can help you improve your plan's performance, its value to employees, and its value as an employee recruiting and retention tool.

So how does your plan compare? To help answer this question, here are some common performance characteristics and features offered by many 401(k) plans... [867 word article, May 2010]

Accidents can happen in an instant, but the consequences can last a lifetime. Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance gives your employees added financial security in sudden and tragic circumstances.

AD&D insurance can be a valuable and low-cost addition to your current benefits package. But before offering AD&D coverage, it’s important to understand what AD&D covers and what it doesn’t... [841 word article, May 2010]

Small businesses might be missing an opportunity to enhance their benefit programs and employee loyalty!

In a 2009 survey by the nonprofit International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, 84 percent of employers responding said they offered some type of voluntary benefit. An additional 5 percent planned to offer them... [624 word article, April 2010]

All group health plans covering more than 50 employees must comply with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 by October 1, 2010. Here’s what you need to know.

If you’ve been handling employee health benefits for a while, you might remember previous rules requiring “mental health parity” in group health benefits expiring at year-end, only to be renewed... [632 word article, April 2010]

ERISA requires every person who handles funds for an employee benefit plan to be bonded. Read on to find out what kind of bond you need, for how much, and how to save money on it.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) requires that every employee benefit plan fiduciary and every person who handles funds or other property for the plan to be bonded.. [550 word article, April 2010]

Policymakers and the public may exaggerate the role of medical malpractice liability in the rising cost of medical care. That’s the conclusion of two recent studies on healthcare tort reform, one by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the second by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBOE). 

For years, the American Medical Association has claimed that eliminating defensive medicine could save upwards of $200 billion in healthcare costs annually... [1049 word article, December 2009]

Today, more than 34 million US adults telecommute at least occasionally, according to a survey for Forrester Research. Fueled by broadband adoption, better collaboration tools, and growing management experience, the US telecommuting ranks will swell to 63 million by 2016. At least some of your employees might be among them.

Leading the surge are occasional telecommuters and regular telecommuters who work from home between one and four days a week... [801 word article, December 2009]

Now that a majority of employees (51 percent) obtain most of their financial products through the workplace, it’s not surprising that workplace benefits play an important role in their decisions about whether to remain with their employer.

A study of employee benefit trends by MetLife found a significant gap between employee and employer perceptions of how benefits contribute to loyalty... [551 word article, December 2009]

Here’s a brief overview of how pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) help employers control employee prescription drug costs.

Your PBM plays an important role in helping control employee drug expenses.

  • PBMs manage approximately 70 percent of the 3 billion+ prescriptions dispensed each year in the U.S.
  • Today, approximately 95 percent of patients with drug coverage receive benefits through a PBM... [676 word article, November 2009]

In 2007, nearly 20 percent of working age adults (19-24) had employer-provided health coverage, 17 percent had coverage under some type of government plan, and nearly 20 percent were uninsured. Limited benefit plans might appeal to many of these uninsured individuals. Here are some of the pros and cons.

One reason why some adults of working age are uninsured is because they work in part-time or service jobs... [1088 word article, November 2009]

A 2007 study by Russell Research/ARAG found that 70 percent of full-time U.S. workers had experienced some kind of “legal life event” in the past year. Of these, 20 percent said they were less productive at work, and one-third took time off of work — an average of 13 days — to deal with legal needs.

Despite the prevalence of legal problems, the ARAG study reported that only one of eight employees had access to group legal coverage through their employer... [691 word article, November 2009]

Every year, it’s estimated that more than 80 percent of employers revamp their benefit plans, yet only 20 percent of employees make new elections. You can improve those figures by taking time to review your benefits communications and decision support system. After all, your employees need to understand their benefits before they see them as benefits.

Here’s the all-important why: Driving employees to the right plans increases employee satisfaction with benefits,... [773 word article, October 2009]

Among the “big four” healthcare benefits — medical, dental, prescription drugs, and vision — it’s the latter that is the least likely to be offered by companies. According to the most recent US Department of Labor National Compensation Survey, just 28 percent of companies offer vision care benefits.

However, companies that offer vision care reap a number of benefits, starting with productivity... [712 word article, October 2009]

Once considered a safe retirement choice, 401(k) plans and other employer-sponsored defined contribution (DC) retirement programs have come under renewed scrutiny in this soft economy. But a number of in-depth studies show that employees are sticking to their 401(k) plans, and their investments stack up nicely when compared to other retirement plans available to most workers.

If you’re trying to retain the best employees (and who isn’t?), ... [752 word article, October 2009]

AARP’s annual survey of prescription drug prices found the average price of the most widely prescribed brand-name drugs increased 8.7 percent in 2008, while the general inflation rate was 3.8 percent. But the news isn’t all bad: the average price of generic drugs dropped 10.6 percent in 2008.

Prescription drugs represent only 10 percent of total healthcare expenditures... [728 word article, September 2009]

Now more than ever, employers and employees alike recognize the importance of having disability income protection

Research by the U.S. Census Bureau and Cornell University clearly illustrates how having a disability can negatively affect a person’s employment status and income. In 2007, the percentage of working-age people with disabilities working full-time/full-year in the US was 21.2 percent, as compared to 56.7 percent among the non-disabled—a difference of 35.5 percentage points... [668 word article, September 2009]

Many federal laws prohibit discrimination in employment. All apply to “any term, condition or privilege of employment,” including benefits, and most apply to job applicants as well as to active employees.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) makes it illegal to discriminate against a worker age 40 or older because of age... [791 word article, September 2009]

After January 1, 2010, group health plans of all sizes must comply with the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008—or GINA. Plan sponsors that offer incentives for wellness should pay particular attention to GINA.

GINA prohibits group health plans and health insurers from using genetic information to adjust premium or contribution amounts for the group covered under the plan... [516 word article, January 2010]

Low enrollments and low contributions not only mean that you’re not getting your money’s worth out of your administrative dollars, they can also translate into decreased employee loyalty and failure of nondiscrimination tests. Following are five common retirement plan problems and how you can solve them.

Problem 1: Lack of Participation

One study reports that 56 percent of private sector workers had access to a defined contribution (DC) plan in 2006, but only about 40 percent participated. Younger workers and low-income workers are less likely to participate... [1029 word article, January 2010]

In November 2009, Reps. George Miller and Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) introduced HR 3991, the Emergency Influenza Containment Act (EICA), which provides up to five days of paid sick leave for employees whose employers have directed them to leave work or not to come in to work due to contagious illness.

Regardless of whether the EICA becomes law, the threat of pandemic should prompt employers to examine their sick leave policies. Sick leave does no good if employees aren’t using it... [906 word article, January 2010]

Employers like CDHPs because these plans help them slash the cost of providing medical benefits. When used well, consumer-driven health plans help individuals and families get better healthcare while reducing the cost of medical insurance. Here’s how to help your employees use their benefits well.

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) provide consumers incentives to manage their own... [773 word article, February 2010]

When administering a retirement plan, you have certain responsibilities that produce potential liabilities. Here’s what you can do to reduce the risk.

If you’re offering a retirement plan to your employees, congratulations. You’re doing a great service. However, (as you may already know) administering a retirement plan can be one of the most challenging tasks a human resources professional or benefits administrator faces... [878 word article, February 2010]

The PBGC is on the Government Accountability Office’s “high-risk” watch list. What does this mean to your company’s defined benefit pension plan?

With the financial markets attempting a recovery and the economy still struggling, the last thing your company’s employees want to worry about is their pension plans... [677 word article, February 2010]

People who are obese spent 42 percent more for medical care in 2006 than did normal-weight people, found a study by RTI International and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. - FREE article!

And the problem is getting worse:  Two-thirds of adults are now either overweight or obese. Childhood obesity rates have nearly tripled since 1980, from 6.5 percent to 16.3 percent... [465 word article, March 2010]

Even in a difficult economic environment, employers need to attract and retain top talent. One way to do this is by offering high-level executives a non-qualified deferred bonus plan, also known as a supplemental executive retirement plan (SERP).

Unlike qualified retirement plans, non-qualified SERPs allow your company to provide benefits to your key employees on a selective basis. You decide who participates, what benefits will be provided, and how and when benefits will become vested... [776 word article, March 2010]

What healthcare plan allows employers to set their own maximum for employee healthcare costs, can be structured to cover 100 percent of preventive care for most employees, and gives employees greater incentive to manage their healthcare costs?

The answer? Health reimbursement arrangements, or HRAs. As one of the most flexible healthcare benefits, it’s no surprise that many employers offer HRAs... [904 word article, March 2010]

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