Expanding your Benefits Package in 2017

As 2017 approaches, many employees will be setting resolutions and goals for their future health, finances and looking for how to improve their lifestyle over the next year. Also heavy on many people’s minds are how their health care may change under new President-elect Donald Trump with his proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act. It is well known that health care costs continue to rise; many employees are looking to their employers to give stability and financial comfort through voluntary benefits. As an employer, the New Year is a great time to start planning which products and services will help meet employee needs more comprehensively — to help ease their concerns and stress related to medical bills and other finances.

Below are a few options to consider when looking at adding new benefits to your offerings:

Part-Time/Seasonal Packages
Part-time and seasonal employee benefits packages may offer some perks that your full-timers have. These packages can include benefits such as discount Rx, wellness programs or limited medical plans and more. Offering benefits to this group can help with recruitment.

Patient Advocacy Services
Many employers are offering patient advocacy services to assist employees through their health care process. This can include bill negotiation to reduce their out-of-pocket expense, doctor referrals and cost comparisons for procedures and medications.

Identity Theft Protection
Identity Theft Protection Programs include credit monitoring, fraud alert and services to help employees restore their identity and fix any damage that has been done. Many pla n tiers are available based on service a price needs.

Financial Coaching
Financial stress may not be a highly talked about issue, but some employers are starting to provide educational benefits to their employees various financial needs. Outside of 401(k)s and HSAs, services are available including student loan refinancing, debt repayment, credit score improvement and financial education for the future.

Telehealth
With telehealth programs, employees can consult with a doctor via phone or video for medical advice and treatment of minor illnesses with the need to leave work. This can help employers with absenteeism and reduced productivity.

ACA Reporting – New Required Form

ACA-reporting

Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was put into place in 2010, many companies have been impacted in a variety of ways. Not only are companies required to provide affordable coverage (“minimum essential coverage”) for their employees, but they are also required to provide compliance reporting to the IRS as stipulated by the health care law. ACA reporting adds tremendous responsibility for human resource departments. Starting in January 2016, employers with more than 50 full-time employees must provide a new Form 1095-C to their employees along with the 1094 C form and W-2s, only adding to the myriad of details for HR to handle. The new 1095-C form shows that the employee and/or their family members had qualifying health coverage required by ACA. Employees will need to share this form with a tax preparation company along with the other tax documents when filing their taxes. Companies must provide this form to their employees by the end of January 2016. The following provides important points to keep in mind about the ACA reporting:

  • The new 1095-C form must be completed for all full-time employees who have been with the company for at least 1 month of the calendar year, including COBRA plan holders, and provide employees with a copy of Form 1095-C by January 31, 2015.
  • Employers must report information for all 12 months of the calendar year on each employee regardless of if they participate in an employer-sponsored group plan and part-time employees enrolled in the employer’s self-insured plan.
  • To ensure employees are aware of the new form and necessity for tax purposes, communicate to them via email, postcards, intranet, posters, group meetings or newsletter.
  • Send reminder communication to employees so they do not forget to complete and file the form.
  • Keep an open line of communication with your employees about important health reform information to address any questions that may arise.
  • Make sure to include messaging about the form, as well as other ACA requirements to employees as part of year-end communication.

For more information on the new Form 1095-C, visit https://www.irs.gov/uac/About-Form-1095-C.

Choosing a Third-Party Administrator

hr-outsourcingOver the past few years there has been a steady rise in outsourcing of HR benefits responsibilities; this is due largely in part to healthcare reform. Many companies do not have the time or manpower to stay up-to-date with the newest laws and requirements brought on by the Affordable Care Act.

Mistakes made within companies can lead to a lapse in coverage for the employee, and companies can incur large fees from penalties when mistakes are made when it comes to benefits administration and payroll. Therefore, more companies are reaching out to third party administrators to help handle the load.

Listed below are a few tips and aspects to consider when choosing a third-party administrator to handle benefits and payroll responsibilities.

  • Do your research, know what policies your employees have enrolled in and put together packages that can be combined to create the perfect plan for them and their family.
  • Is the company you’re outsourcing to available for questions before and during enrollment and will the employee be able to find information via a website or brochure?
  • Have an information session to educate your employees about the products offered along with a benefits representative available to answer questions they may have regarding the policies available.
  • Although the responsibility may be in another company’s hands, you want to have someone within your company trained and knowledgeable in the options available.
  • Be available to add a helping hand and answer question and step in if there are any problems with the benefits administrator or enrollment process.

Keeping your employee’s in mind when choosing the best resource for benefits administration is important. You want to make sure you save money but also give the best user experience possible. The burden of benefits administration and payroll can be outsourced and take the stress off your company and keep the focus within your own company.