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Trending Employee Benefits That Companies Should Be Aware Of

The U.S. unemployment rate is now at its lowest levels since 1969. This strengthening of the American job market has given many workers the confidence to reassess their employment situations in a way that they may not have felt comfortable doing ten years ago.

Employers are realizing that it is becoming harder to attract top talent and keep them. Previous benefits packages such as PTO and 401(k) offerings don’t seem to be enough anymore. So many businesses are now tasked with developing new ways to find and retain good staff.

While a comfortable salary is nice, a growing number of workers are placing a higher value on voluntary benefits. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United States ranks 7th in the world for Countries With the Worst Work-Life Balance. So the more companies do to make their employees’ lives easier outside of the workplace, the more appealing and valuable those jobs become.

These are some of the most sought-after benefits right now:

Identity Theft Protection

According to Javelin’s 2019 Identity Fraud Study, over 14.4 million people fell victim to identity fraud in 2018 and over 23 percent of victims were not reimbursed for personal expenses. As technology continues to evolve, protecting your identity has never been more important. With new reports of data hacks every month, it’s at the forefront of many minds. Offering identity-theft protection could give employees an invaluable benefit: peace of mind.

Student Loan Refinancing

At the start of 2019, over 44 million U.S. citizens owed more than $1.56 trillion in student loan debt – signaling the highest amount ever recorded. According to Forbes, “Student loan debt is now the second highest consumer debt category – behind only mortgage debt – and higher than both credit cards and auto loans.” For the majority, this level of debt will continue to weigh them down for decades making this a crisis that impacts more than just recent college graduates.

This has led many businesses to begin offering student loan benefits to their employees in the form of refinancing options – or even help to pay down some of their debt (usually a set amount over a period of years). Some businesses who have implemented this approach have seen increased employee retention rates.

Wellness

Providing your employees with the tools they need to maintain their overall physical health can benefit not only them but your business as well. As a result, many employers are choosing to invest in everything from gym memberships to telemedicine options for their employees.

While exercise is a great way to relieve stress and improve overall cognitive abilities such as learning and concentration, sometimes that isn’t enough to fight off common depression and anxiety symptoms.

Roughly 1 million workers are absent from their jobs every day because of stress. According to The American Institute of Stress, “Unanticipated absenteeism is estimated to cost American companies $602.00/worker/year and the price tag for large employers could approach $3.5 million annually.”

Improving the access and affordability of mental health services is something that could greatly benefit businesses and employees alike. Many telemedicine services, such as Teladoc, have ventured into the realm of mental health counseling. This gives employees an additional benefit while allowing them to access crucial mental and physical health services wherever and whenever they need.

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How To Find The Best Group Health Plan For Your Business

The Group Health Insurance industry continues to change with premiums continuing to rise. You have probably changed insurance carrier’s multiple times hoping to secure for the deal of the year.

So, the question is: Is that all there is? Change carriers and tweak my benefits?

What To Consider In Your Group Health Plan Decision

Not all Group Health Insurance plans are the same and one of the largest problems we come across in the industry is that so few companies are aware of all of their options. Most of the time, the reason behind this is because businesses are often dependent upon their insurance agent to present them with their group health options. In doing so, it is important for businesses to note and understand that like the differing group health plans on the market, not all agents are alike. Agents often differ greatly in regard to their level of experience and general knowledge pertaining to new and emerging trends in the industry.

Here at Member Benefits, we specialize in providing businesses with creative solutions that can greatly reduce their health insurance premiums, while still maintaining a comprehensive list of benefits that satisfy your employees and promote attraction and retention.

Perhaps one of the latest trends that many businesses have found themselves considering over the course of the past two years is something called level-funding.

Level-Funding is a partially self-insured option that functions just like a fully-insured plan and has little to no risk involved due to the built-in stop-loss insurance provisions. If your business qualifies, your premiums could end up being 10 to 15 percent less than what they would have been with a traditional fully-insured plan.

With a level-funded plan, there is no need for a separate bank account and the hospital and physician networks are nationwide and very large. As an added bonus, if your business has had a successful year and the claims are low, you may be entitled to receive a refund of up to 50 percent of the claims surplus. Some level -funded plans now offer no network limitations, giving you access to any doctor or hospital across the country!

Are you worried about the possibility of your deductibles resetting if you make the change now? One of the many great things about level-funding carriers is that they will give you credit for any deductible you may have met up until the point of transition.

So, when closing out your year, rest assured that there is no rule or law stating that you must settle for your same Group Health Insurance as opposed to weighing your options. Be confident in your decision. It is important to take the necessary time when you are not busy to explore your options and a level-funded option may prove to be a great place to start.

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Form 5500 Filing Deadline for Many Health Plans is July 31

Certain Group Health Plans Required to File

Group health plan administrators are reminded that Form 5500 must be filed with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) by the last day of the seventh month after the plan year ends. For calendar-year plans, that due date falls on July 31.

Who Must File Form 5500

In general, all group health plans covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) are required to file Form 5500. However, group health plans (whether fully insured, unfunded [meaning its benefits are paid as needed directly from the general assets of the plan sponsor], or a combination of the two) that covered fewer than 100 participants as of the beginning of the plan year are exempt from the Form 5500 filing requirement. For more on the Form 5500 requirement, click here.

How to File Form 5500

Forms 5500 must be filed electronically with the DOL using either the IFILE web-based filing system or an approved vendor’s software.

Visit our ERISA section for more ERISA compliance information.

 

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New Rule Allows Brokers to Further Aid SHOP Enrollment

Rule Effective for Plan Year 2018

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a new rule that allows employers to directly enroll in SHOP (Small Business Health Options Program) coverage through a SHOP-registered agent or broker. This enrollment approach is now generally available in federally-facilitated SHOPs (FF-SHOPs), including state-based Exchanges using the federal platform for SHOP, for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2018. State-based Exchanges operating their own SHOPs can also adopt this new approach.

For more information, please contact the SHOP that applies in your state.

Visit our Health Insurance Exchanges (Marketplaces) section for more on SHOPs.