How a defined contribution strategy can keep you ahead of the curve

Posted by Emily Kubis on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 @ 09:01

Benefits forecast and more

We know there’s no such thing as a healthcare crystal ball, and it can be hard to make strategic decisions when policies change every year. But at Bernard Health, we’re confident that a defined contribution approach to benefits is where the employer market is heading in 2017.

What is a defined contribution?

A defined contribution strategy is an alternative to the defined benefits model. Instead of offering a set of benefits and committing to pay the same percentage of them each year, the employer defines a flat dollar amount to contribute to the cost of employees’ health plan.

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Tags: Defined Contribution, Defined Contribution Plan, benefits, employer health benefits, employers, solutions for employers, health insurance small employers, Group Defined Contribution, group benefits, employer plans, employer digest

What employers should know about student debt repayment

Posted by Emily Kubis on Wed, Jan 18, 2017 @ 11:01

Highly sought perk expected to grow in 2017

Most employers don’t yet offer student debt repayment, but it’s already being called the hottest benefit of 2017. This highly-sought perk is increasingly popular with Millennial employees, many of whom have thousands of dollars in student loan debt.

In 2016, the average student debt load was more than $37,000. Nationally, the total student debt burden represents $1.3 billion.

Here are three things to know about student debt repayment:

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Tags: benefits, employer health benefits, employers, solutions for employers, health insurance small employers, group benefits, employer plans, ancillary benefits, voluntary benefits, employer digest, student debt, student debt repayment

Healthcare hacks for employers

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Mon, Jan 16, 2017 @ 09:01

Options for employers

More than 147 million Americans have health insurance through their workplaces, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which means rising costs are particularly painful for employers.

On average, healthcare expenses represent nearly eight percent of operating expenses, according to the Society of Human Resources Management, or $8,699 per employee.

The percentage has continued to rise over the years, faster than both worker’s wages and inflation. That’s why many employers have taken steps to cut down their healthcare expenses, particularly as the Cadillac Tax was expected to go into effect in 2020. The fate of that tax remains unclear as President-elect Donald Trump takes office, but House Speaker Paul Ryan also has a plan to tax high-cost, “luxury” health plans.

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Tags: healthcare, employer health benefits, employers, solutions for employers, The Tennessean, health insurance small employers, health insurance solutions, employer health plans, healthcare costs, employer plans, employer digest

Who will benefit most from an ACA replacement?

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Fri, Jan 13, 2017 @ 10:01

Check out our Huffington Post column: 

The Affordable Care Act is one of the more divisive pieces of legislation in the last decade. President Barack Obama’s signature health reform law has not only been mired in partisanship since its inception, but consumers also tend to have pretty passionate opinions on the topic. For some, the law was a literal life-saver. For others, it has only made health coverage more expensive and less accessible.

With a Republican-led Congress and White House, repeal of the ACA is imminent. Most expect Congress to repeal the law early next year, but put off dismantling the ACA for up to four years, as a replacement policy is developed.

Republicans have issued a few replacement proposals already, though no legislation has been introduced since Trump won the election. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Tom Price, Trump’s pick for the Department of Health and Human Services, have each published policy papers on what Republican health reform looks like.

As Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation recently tweeted, “Obamacare” had winners and losers, and whatever Republicans come up with to replace it will also. The ACA particularly benefited lower income consumers, as well as those with pre-existing conditions who were previously “uninsurable” before the law was passed. However, it hit healthier, wealthier people harder. Those with higher incomes, ineligible for subsidies, have faced increasingly expensive premiums.

In looking at the current Republican proposals, we can make a few predictions about who will be most impacted by an ACA replacement—both the “winners” and “losers.”

Check out the full column hereIf you enjoyed this post, you may also like "Healthcare resolutions for consumers."

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Tags: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, obamacare, aca, healthcare costs, Huffington Post, Donald Trump, repeal

Which benefits should you offer in 2017?

Posted by Emily Kubis on Wed, Jan 11, 2017 @ 09:01

Employers: Download our voluntary benefits forecast

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Tags: benefits, employer health benefits, employers, solutions for employers, health insurance small employers, group benefits, employer plans, ancillary benefits, voluntary benefits, employer digest

Is my health plan ACA-compliant?

Posted by Emily Kubis on Mon, Jan 09, 2017 @ 09:01

Know what you’re buying

Individual health insurance consumers have a few different options when it comes to the types of plans available for 2017.

We’re not talking about the difference between a PPO plan or an HMO (though you can read more about that here), but ACA-compliant or noncompliant health plans.

Though the fate of the ACA is uncertain, most expect it will remain in place for 2017, if not longer. The deadline for 2017 coverage is Jan. 31. If you see a dramatically cheaper health plan option, it might be noncompliant. What does that mean?

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Tags: Affordable Care Act, obamacare, traditional health plan, Individual Plans, individual digest, non-compliant, ACA-compliant, qualified health plan

I have a pre-existing condition. What will happen if the ACA is repealed?

Posted by Emily Kubis on Fri, Jan 06, 2017 @ 09:01

Republicans propose protections but much remains unknown

A new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation found 52 million adults under 65 years old have pre-existing health conditions that would have made them uninsurable prior to the Affordable Care Act.

If this sounds like you, you might be concerned about the fate of the ACA, and your ability to access health insurance, under the coming presidential administration.

While much remains unknown about how the Trump administration will affect healthcare, current proposals indicate protections will remain in place for people with pre-existing conditions.

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Tags: Affordable Care Act, obamacare, Individual Plans, pre-existing conditions, Donald Trump, individual digest, Tom Price, repeal, Paul Ryan

Healthcare resolutions for Republicans

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Wed, Jan 04, 2017 @ 09:01

Check out our Huffington Post column: 

Hoping for less healthcare debate next year? You may be out of luck. Republicans have a clear path toward repealing the Affordable Care Act, and legislators on both sides of the aisle will have to debate and develop replacement policies. This could result in the most contentious healthcare year since 2010, when the ACA was implemented.

Though Democrats have led the healthcare conversation for years, both parties will be in new negotiating positions in 2017.

How might Republicans lead another year of healthcare debate? They will likely enter the year feeling confident, but there is much work to be done. As 2017 begins, here are a few healthcare resolutions for Republicans.

Check out the full column hereIf you enjoyed this post, you may also like "Healthcare resolutions for Democrats."

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Tags: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, obamacare, healthcare costs, Huffington Post, Donald Trump

Three hacks for your health coverage

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Tue, Jan 03, 2017 @ 08:01

Options for consumers

Open enrollment — the annual period in which individuals and families can freely sign up for health coverage — is almost over. Consumers have until Jan. 31 to sign up for a 2017 health plan.

Despite the uncertainty around healthcare caused by the presidential election, as of now, the insurance market remains as-is for 2017. It isn’t clear what President-elect Donald Trump will do once he takes office, but consumers should not wait for clarity — the ACA very well may remain in place throughout 2017. And if so, most will be unable to get coverage after the January deadline.

Most of the news around health insurance has been centered on rising premiums. Premium rates have been increasing around the country, as insurers grapple to sustainably cover previously uninsured enrollees. Some insurers, like BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, have decided not to offer plans on the marketplace due to costs.

The marketplace mirrors employer-sponsored health coverage trends. The cost of employer coverage continues to rise, and employees are paying an increasingly large portion of the expenses.

The rising costs are putting a strain on consumers’ wallets, but a savvy insurance buyer might be able to lower her costs through a few health insurance hacks.

First, a disclaimer. All of these hacks pose some risk. Proceed with caution.

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Tags: Affordable Care Act, healthcare, obamacare, The Tennessean, healthcare costs, individual digest

Trump, premiums, salaries: Our top blogs of 2016

Posted by Emily Kubis on Fri, Dec 30, 2016 @ 08:12

A round-up of the year’s most-read blogs

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Tags: Premiums, Insurance Premiums, health insurance premiums, Donald Trump, individual digest, employer digest

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