How to Control Employee Dishonesty

One in every 27 employees was apprehended for theft from their employer in 2016, according to the 29th Annual Retail Theft Survey. 53,786 dishonest employees were apprehended in 2016, up 9.3% from 2015.

Employee dishonesty is the most important crime coverage for most businesses. Most basic business package policies do not include crime coverage beyond a baseline amount, so unless you already have employee dishonesty coverage, you will need to add it to your basic policy. Continue reading “How to Control Employee Dishonesty”

What Republican Changes to the ACA Mean to YOU

Many Republicans believe that, even though the new plan is more oriented to the free market, it doesn’t go far enough to fix the ACA’s problems. While Democrats are concerned that millions of Americans will lose access to healthcare coverage.

The ACA was implemented in 2010 to increase access to healthcare coverage for all Americans. Key provisions included:

  • Implementing market reforms
  • Establishing health insurance marketplaces
  • Expanding Medicaid eligibility for low-income adults

To meet those goals, the federal government mandated that:

  • All individuals must purchase insurance or pay a fine
  • Insurers offering health coverage must include 10 essential benefits
  • Large employers must provide health insurance to full-time workers

Continue reading “What Republican Changes to the ACA Mean to YOU”

Crisis Management: Where Risk Management and Public Relations Meet

You might (or should!) have a disaster management plan to help your company minimize the effects of a disaster. You’ve probably considered the evacuation of employees and customers, data backup, and contingency plans for manufacturing your products or delivering your services. But have you considered the role public relations can play in managing a crisis?

Continue reading “Crisis Management: Where Risk Management and Public Relations Meet”

Are You Choosing the Right Health Insurance?

It’s time to start thinking about your health insurance needs again!

The Affordable Care Act requires all U.S. citizens (with certain narrow exceptions) to have health insurance or pay a fine. If you don’t have coverage through an employer-sponsored plan or a government program such as Medicare or Medicaid, you can buy coverage for 2017 during the annual open enrollment period from now through Jan. 31, 2017.

You have choices and it might be tempting to just choose the least expensive plan. There are, however, other considerations you should take into account.

Individuals can purchase health insurance from the Marketplace Exchange created by the Affordable Care Act, a private exchange or a private health insurer.

Where to Buy Coverage?

The types of plans available to you and the price you pay may depend on where you purchase your coverage. If you might qualify for a subsidy, you’ll want to shop on the Marketplace Exchange. You can only receive a subsidy by shopping the Exchange, however, you may be able to find insurance that’s less expensive even without the subsidy.

To shop on the Exchange, go to Healthcare.gov and enter your ZIP code. You’ll be sent to your state’s exchange if it has one. If not, you’ll use the federal website. You can also contact our office—as licensed insurance professionals, we can help understand the various types of plans and costs involved, and help you secure coverage. Insurers pay us for our services, which cost you nothing extra.

When you buy coverage through the Exchange, you will pay a monthly premium to your insurance company. You also pay out-of-pocket costs, including meeting the deductible required by the plan you chose.

Plans on the exchange are divided into four “metal categories” — Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Plan categories have nothing to do with quality of care; they simply indicate the coverage levels. You’ll pay the lowest premiums for a Bronze plan, but when you have a claim, the Bronze plan will require you to pay more out-of-pocket for covered health services.

Compare Insurance Plans

You’ll get the most information about a plan from the summary of benefits. One of your first steps should be to look at your family’s past medical history to determine the level of care you’ll need in the future. Do some family members suffer regularly from severe allergies? Does someone in your family have diabetes or do you know of an upcoming surgery? Any indication that you’re going to need regular access to a doctor is a good sign that you should consider plans that cost more now but will cover more of your medical costs later.

Every plan also has its own level of out-of-pocket costs, which are the costs you will pay after the insurance company pays its portion. Each plan also will have its own deductible — the amount you have to spend on out-of-pocket medical expenses before your insurance pays.

There are four types of insurance plans. Whether you buy coverage on or off the Exchange, you’ll encounter these same basic types of plans. The one you choose will help determine your out-of-pocket costs and the doctors you can see.

 

  • Health Maintenance Organization (HMO): Lower out-of-pocket costs and access to a primary doctor; focuses on integrated care — particularly prevention and wellness; you must seek care from a provider who is in the network, except for emergencies.
  • Preferred Provider Organization (PPO): You don’t have to stay in network and use the doctors and hospitals that are in the PPO network, but care will be less expensive if you do; you don’t need referrals for care.
  • Point of Service Plan (POS): In-network care is less expensive, but you have to get a referral from a primary doctor to see a specialist.
  • Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO): Lower-out-of pocket costs; you have to stay in network except for emergencies; you don’t need referrals for care.

 

You can also buy coverage through a private exchange or private insurer, which will provide insurance coverage for a premium. If you don’t qualify for a subsidy (and even if you do), you might find coverage more affordable through a private insurer.

The Importance of Networks

If you have established relations with certain doctors or healthcare providers, you’ll want to check the plan’s list of approved healthcare providers. Is your doctor included? Plans that feature a network usually offer lower costs because the insurance company has signed an agreement with certain providers to provide lower rates. Your insurance provider will provide a list of doctors who have been approved for the plan.

Something else to consider: Do you like going to see your doctor for a referral before scheduling a procedure or visiting a specialist? This is something an HMO or POS will require. Some people don’t mind and like the idea that their doctor’s staff will coordinate the visit and send their medical records to the specialist.

We can help you evaluate your options—please contact us for more information.

Do you qualify for a subsidy? Health insurance subsidies—which are actually premium tax credits—help eligible individuals and families with low or moderate income afford health insurance purchased through a Health Insurance Marketplace. To get this credit, you must have an income no more than the federal poverty level and file a tax return.

The poverty level varies with your location and family size. Healthcare.gov offers an easy-to-use tool that lets you see whether you are eligible.

TeleMedicine: There’s An App For That!

TeleMedicine has the potential to shave $4.28 billion annually from America’s healthcare bill. But there are still more reasons to look for a plan that covers TeleMedicine services.

What Is Telemedicine?

As the name implies, TeleMedicine encompasses any medical activity involving distance. Today TeleMedicine uses electronic information and telecommunications, but the practice goes back to the days when sea captains would use ship-to-shore radio to obtain medical advice. TeleMedicine includes such technologies as telephones, teleconferencing, electronic mail systems, and remote patient monitoring devices, which collect and transmit patient data for monitoring and interpretation. Continue reading “TeleMedicine: There’s An App For That!”

Should You Buy Rental Car Coverage?

Travel Insurance

If your vacation plans require a rental car, knowing what your existing insurance policies cover could save you money.

 

The next time you rent a car and the agent asks whether you want the optional coverages, should you say yes or no? Buying them will add substantially to your car rental costs—if you buy all the additional coverages offered, you’ll add at least $18 to the rental charges per day. Are these coverages worth it? Read on for more information.

CDW or LDW

The collision damage waiver (CDW) or loss damage waiver (LDW) cost the most of any of the optional coverages, about $10-$25 a day. Although the CDW and LDW are not insurance, they will waive your financial responsibility if a car you rent is damaged or stolen.

When you sign a rental car agreement, you agree to become responsible for any damage to the car. Continue reading “Should You Buy Rental Car Coverage?”

Why People Don’t Like Thinking about Life Insurance…

…And why they should think about it anyway.

It’s not that buying life insurance is difficult. In fact, it’s actually quite easy, especially when you have an experienced broker to guide you through the process. The challenging part comes in actually deciding to buy life insurance.

Buying life insurance means facing one’s mortality. And many people don’t like to think about their eventual deaths. But the fact is that everyone will die at some point. Continue reading “Why People Don’t Like Thinking about Life Insurance…”

ACA Provisions: Eliminations, Delays, & Extensions

Affordable Care Act

Delays, shifting deadlines, and even the elimination of certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are providing employers and group health plans additional time to comply with certain key requirements that have not yet taken effect. For 2016, the following eliminations, delays, and extensions apply.

 

Please Note: This information is for general reference purposes only and is not all-inclusive. Requirements and compliance deadlines are subject to change. Additionally, your company or group health plan may be exempt from certain requirements described below. Employers with questions are advised to contact a knowledgeable employment law attorney or benefits advisor to obtain specific guidance.

 

ELIMINATIONS

 

ELIMINATED: Automatic Enrollment Provisions

 

Provisions of the ACA which generally would have required an employer with more than 200 full-time employees to automatically enroll new full-time employees in one of the employer’s health plans, and to continue the enrollment of current employees, were repealed on November 2, 2015.

 

ELIMINATED: Annual Deductible Limits

 

The ACA’s annual limitation on deductibles for non-grandfathered plans in the small group market has been eliminated, effective retroactively to 2010. However, the annual limitation on out-of- pocket expenses for non-grandfathered group plans was not eliminated and remains in effect.

 

DELAYS

 

DELAYED UNTIL 2020: Cadillac Tax

Implementation of the so-called “Cadillac tax,” an excise tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health coverage, has been delayed until taxable years beginning after December 31, 2019.

 

 

DELAYED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE:

Nondiscrimination Rules for Fully-Insured Plans

Non-grandfathered fully-insured group health plans are not required to comply with certain rules prohibiting discrimination in favor of highly compensated individuals that are currently applicable to self-insured plans, until after regulations or other administrative guidance is issued. However, health benefits offered as part of a cafeteria plan (a plan which meets specific requirements to allow employees to receive certain benefits on a pre-tax basis) generally remain subject to the nondiscrimination requirements of Internal Revenue Code section 125.

 

DELAYED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE:

Form W-2 Reporting for Small Employers

The IRS has granted employers filing fewer than 250 Forms W-2 for the preceding calendar year transition relief from reporting the cost of coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan on each employee’s Form W-2 until the agency publishes additional guidance.

 

 

 

EXTENSIONS

 

EXTENSION: 2015 Information Reporting Deadlines

 

The IRS extended the ACA information reporting due dates for calendar year 2015 returns and statements (that are filed and furnished in 2016) as follows:

 

  • The deadline for furnishing the 2015 Forms 1095-B and 1095-C to employees/responsible individuals was extended from February 1, 2016, to March 31, 2016; and

 

  • The deadline for filing the 2015 Forms 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C, and 1095-C with the IRS was extended from February 29, 2016, to May 31, 2016 (if not filing electronically) and from March 31, 2016, to June 30, 2016 (if filing electronically).

 

These extensions have no effect on the deadlines for future years. As a reminder, the deadlines apply to all applicable large employers (ALEs)—generally those with 50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalents—as well as to small self-insured employers that are not considered ALEs.

 

EXTENSION: 2015 Information Reporting Corrections

 

As a result of the information reporting deadline extensions, the deadlines for employers to correct errors and receive reduced penalties for incorrect or incomplete information reported on 2015 returns or statements have also been extended, as follows:

 

  • ALEs must correct statements furnished to employees by October 1, 2016 and must correct both paper and electronic returns filed with the IRS by November 1, 2016.

 

  • Small self-insured employers that are not considered ALEs must correct statements furnished to individuals by April 30, 2016, paper returns filed with the IRS by June 30, 2016, and

 

  • Returns filed with the IRS electronically by July 30, 2016.

 

Note: In general, the IRS will not impose penalties for 2015 returns and statements filed and furnished in 2016 on reporting entities that can show that they have made good faith efforts to comply.

 

EXTENSION: Transitional Policy for Existing Small Business Coverage

 

A previously extended transitional policy which allows health insurance issuers, at their option, to continue small business group coverage that would otherwise be terminated or cancelled has been extended further—to policy years beginning on or before October 1, 2017, provided that all policies end by December 31, 2017. Health insurance issuers that renew coverage under the extended policy are required to provide standard notices to affected small businesses for each policy year.

 

Policies subject to the transitional relief will not be considered to be out of compliance with some of the ACA’s key provisions, including:

 

  • The requirement to cover essential health benefits;
  • The requirement that any variations in premiums be limited with regard to a particular plan or coverage to age and tobacco use, family size, and geography; and
  • The requirements regarding guaranteed availability and renewability of coverage for employers.

 

 

 

EXTENSION: “Pay or Play” Transition Relief for 2015 Non-Calendar Year Plans

Under previously granted transition relief, compliance with the “pay or play” requirements was delayed until 2015 for applicable large employers (ALEs) with 50 to 99 full-time employees (including full-time equivalents) that certified that they met certain eligibility criteria. For ALEs with non-calendar year health plans, this transition relief (as well as the transition relief regarding offers of coverage to dependents) extends to any calendar month during the 2015 plan year that falls in 2016.

 

 

Note: The information and materials herein are provided for general information purposes only and have been taken from sources believed to be reliable, but there is no guarantee as to its accuracy.

Avoiding Medical Identity Theft

Like financial identity theft, medical identity theft can leave you responsible for bills you did not incur. But unlike other types of identity theft, it can also affect your medical records, jeopardizing your health. It could even jeopardize your health insurance coverage.

 

Medical identity theft occurs when another person uses your identity or insurance information to obtain medical services. Since the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services started keeping records in 2009, between 27.8 and 67.7 million Americans have had their medical records breached. Continue reading “Avoiding Medical Identity Theft”

Old Life Insurance Policies Could Have Value

You found Great-Grandpa’s life insurance policy in an old trunk? Don’t throw it out!

Unlike many types of insurance, most life insurance policies don’t have claim-filing deadlines. You can file a claim many years after the insured has died and the insurer should pay the policy’s face value, as long as the policy was in force (paid up and not expired) at the time of death. Continue reading “Old Life Insurance Policies Could Have Value”