25 July 2017 In Barry Blog style

On Wednesday, July 19th, the New York State Workers Compensation Board posted Final Regulations in regards to New York Paid Family Leave (effective on January 1, 2018). Paid Family Leave coverage will typically be added to an employer’s existing disability insurance policy.

The 2018 community rate is 0.126% of the employee’s gross salary, capped at New York’s current average weekly wage of $1,305. Keep in mind, this coverage is 100% employee paid and only applies if you have a location in New York and they are on NY payroll. You could begin pre-funding via payroll deduction as early as July 1, 2017, but billing will not begin until 2018. Contact your payroll provider if you are unsure of your NYPFL deduction status.

17 July 2017 In Barry Blog style

There aren't many ways you can reduce health care costs without taking something away from your employees.  If your medical plan is experience rated, self-insured and/or you provide an HRA with a high deductible plan, this may be a great solution for your organization.

Telemedicine is quickly growing as a way to supplement your medical program and the way to receive care.  The program enables people to save time and money by calling a board certified physician over the phone and getting prescriptions that they need rather than taking the time and incurring the cost of actually going to the doctor.  This is certainly no replacement for medical insurance, but considering the growth of high deductible health plans, unnecessary office visits, difficulty getting an appointment, etc., people are looking for creative ways to save money and improve convenience.

17 July 2017 In Barry Blog style

There are not many changes you can make to your medical program that will reduce costs without having an adverse impact on your employees. 

Did you know that 81% of companies with over 200 employees are self-insured (with stop loss), and 55% of firms with 200-999 employees are also self-insured?  Even 16% of companies with less than 200 employees have self-insured medical plans (Source: Kaiser 2014 Benefits Survey). 

17 July 2017 In Barry Blog style

Why Promote Wellness?

According to a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Education Trust, 81 percent of large employers and 49 percent of small employers offer wellness programs to their employees. These programs aim to improve employees’ well-being by encouraging them to lose weight, stop smoking or make other positive lifestyle changes.

What is Workplace Wellness?

Workplace wellness refers to the education and activities that a worksite may sponsor in order to promote healthy lifestyles for their employees and their families. Examples of wellness initiatives include health education classes, subsidized use of fitness facilities and internal policies or programs that promote healthy behavior.

Do Wellness Programs Really Work?

When sponsoring a wellness program, the main hurdle to success is employee engagement. The benefits of wellness programs can only be realized if a significant number of your employees take part in your efforts. In order to gain buy-in, some businesses offer employees an incentive for participating or reaching certain health goals.

17 July 2017 In Barry Blog style

Between rising healthcare costs, changes to community ratings and healthcare reform efforts, there’s no question the employee benefits landscape is continually changing — and keeping the hands of benefits managers full.

With all these changes, employers need to think creatively when it comes to building and administering their health plans. While consumer driven plans and health reimbursement accounts are not new, they are becoming much more commonplace and their importance is now greater than ever. HRAs, in particular can help employers create a self-insurance plan for their employees and maintain rich benefits.

HRAs help employees pay for medical expenses before a deductible is met. They’re essentially employer-funded group health plans that reimburse employees for medical expenses up to a certain dollar amount. Employers fund and own the accounts — which means they get to keep all savings and any unused funds. HRAs can help employers in a number of ways.

17 July 2017 In Barry Blog style

Employers with health plans that provide prescription drug coverage to individuals who are eligible for Medicare Part D are subject to certain disclosure requirements. One of these requirements provides that plan sponsors must disclose to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on an annual basis and at other select times, whether the plan's prescription drug coverage is creditable or non-creditable.

This disclosure is required regardless of whether the health plan’s coverage is primary or secondary to Medicare. Plan sponsors are required to use the online form on the CMS Creditable Coverage Web page to make this disclosure.

The plan sponsor must complete the online disclosure within 60 days after the beginning of the plan year. For calendar year health plans, the deadline for the annual online disclosure is March 1 (Feb. 29 for leap years).

17 July 2017 In Barry Blog style

Sometimes companies have trouble meeting their human resources needs, especially while also trying to increase profits. To assist in this area, many companies hire professional employer organizations (PEOs).

When hiring one of these organizations, the company and its employees become employees of the PEO, and the company delegates many of its HR responsibilities to the PEO. Though the company still officially hires its employees, the PEO handles payroll, benefits administration, workers’ compensation, medical insurance and retirement accounts. Then, the company pays the PEO for its services (often a percentage of total salaries), along with an amount to cover the payroll for the employees.

17 July 2017 In Barry Blog style

If you desire the freedom of a self-funded insurance plan but need a little more certainty for your budgeting concerns, level funding might be an option for you. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages and decide what’s best for your company.

What is a Self-funded Plan?

In a self-funded health plan, the employer assumes the risk and responsibility of medical claims instead of contracting with an insurance carrier to pay claims. The employer sets premium rates based on claims history and typically benefits from lower administration costs and greater flexibility both in plan design and cash flow within the business.

A self-funded plan may contract with a third party administrator (TPA), but it is still a self-funded plan because the company is responsible for funding the claims payments. Stop-loss insurance can be obtained to pay for excessively high claims, but the employer is responsible for the majority of the costs and the stop-loss insurance is simply a protection against extremely high, unpredictable claims.

Self-funded plans are not right for every company. One of the downsides to a self-funded plan is that the employer must pay out claims as they come in, leaving itself exposed to fluctuating expenses. Level funding is an option that can add predictability back into the equation if your company decides to implement a self-funded plan.

10 July 2017 In Barry Blog style

Though your benefits package may be quite substantial, your employees may not know it or may not understand some of the benefits you offer. Helping employees understand their total compensation can raise morale and may increase loyalty to your company. To assist your employees in fully comprehending their benefits package, consider providing a total compensation (benefit) statement.

This communication highlights the monetary value of your benefits package, including those perks that may be overshadowed by traditional benefits, to give an overall view of your benefits package. A typical total compensation statement may include information about the following:

  • Salary
  • Bonuses
  • Commissions
  • Stock options
  • Stock grants
  • Employee stock purchase plan
  • Retirement plan
  • Social Security contributions
  • 401(k) matching contributions
  • Paid time off
  • Coverages for health, life and disability
  • Wellness rewards (discounts, cash bonuses, etc.)


10 July 2017 In Barry Blog style

The cost of medical and prescription programs continue to rise at an alarming rate, and decision makers are looking for creative alternatives to simply accepting increases every year under their traditional insurance approach.  

Fortunately, there is an alternative to the typical medical insurance carriers in the marketplace – partnering with an Employee Benefit Group Captive.   A benefit captive allows employers to jointly form and manage their own insurance "entity" so they can reduce costs and increase control over their employee benefit program.

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