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.

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month

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The month of September is Life Insurance Awareness Month coordinated by Life Happens. This is an industry-wide campaign to educate Americans about the importance of life insurance and helping them get the coverage they need. According to the 2016 Insurance Barometer Study by Life Happens and the Life Insurance and Market Research Association, 1 in 3 households would have immediate trouble paying living expenses if the primary wage earner died.

Life insurance has many different purposes, more than just helping loved ones handle daily expenses after a death. With life insurance policyholders can leave a legacy. Ways to do this include making a significant donation to a charity or cause, ensuring that children or grandchildren will be able to go to college and create a scholarship fund or other endowment.
There are different types of Life insurance that can be offered to employers and their employees. These include:

Term-Life Insurance provides protection for a specific period of time, or term. Most often, you will see it offered in 10-, 15-, 20- and 30- year terms. The premium does not change throughout the term. If the insured person dies during this period, the beneficiaries receive the proceeds income tax-free. At the end of each term, the insured may renew the policy, generally with a higher premium.
Whole Life Insurance builds value which the policy holder will know the exact cash value of your policy on each policy anniversary. The policy holder can choose to take a loan or withdrawal from the policy. However, if they choose to do so, the cash value and death benefit will decrease.
Universal Life Insurance earns a fixed interest rate on the cash value in the policy. While the interest rate may change over time, it will never dip below a guaranteed minimum rate.

Though many employers and their employees may already have life insurance, this month is a good time to remind everyone to check on their policy to make sure it still fits their needs. Marriage, having or adopting children or other life events can greatly impact the amount of insurance needed. For those who do not already have life insurance, the first step is to get quotes on policies and choose one. Finally, even if the policy holders deem that they have plenty of coverage, they may still want to suggest looking at other policies as they may find similar coverage for less.

 

HSA Increase

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Health Savings Accounts, or HSAs, have seen a massive boost in popularity as both employers and employees look for creative ways to keep healthcare costs down while retaining high-quality benefits. The flexibility and cost-effectiveness of these plans allow individuals to save for the future and unlike FSA accounts, the participants don’t have to use the money or lose it, but instead unspent funds roll-over from year to year.

Recent surveys show that over 15 million employees have enrolled in HSA-linked plans in 2015, a more than 20.3% increase over the previous year. Health Savings Accounts offer flexibility, portability, and efficiency for employers, employees, and their families and they are a great option for those seeking quality care at a reasonable price.

When paired with a high-deductible health plan, HSAs help employees save money on premiums and receive tax advantages. Health Savings Accounts are tax-deductible for employees and tax-free for employers, meaning that both sides get to keep money that can be put towards healthcare costs or other expenses. Employees can contribute to an HSA even after they are maxed out on 401K or IRA contributions for the year and once they turn 65, employees can withdraw remaining funds for nonmedical expenses with no tax penalty.

As an employer, it’s important to find an HSA provider that provides tools and calculators so that employees can research and understand the different types of Health Savings Accounts and their benefits. It’s also important to make sure that the HSA provider allows for an easy conversion to an individual account for employees that change benefits plans, leave the company, or retire.

Using Benefits to Close the Deal and Retain Employees

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As a business it’s important to be at the top of the list of top recruits when looking to hire new employees. It’s also important to keep those with years of tenure, experience and knowledge in the industry. Both new hires and those with years within the company have a lot to offer when they collaborate leading to growing your company’s success.

When looking to hire highly qualified and skilled employees, offering more than a competitive salary is the golden ticket. Though the younger generation may not be so concerned with healthcare and retirement, they may be looking for flexible work hours and a great work-life balance. More mature recruits may be looking to make sure their family is covered with health insurance, accident insurance and they’re looking to what retirement benefits a company will offer them. Therefore, companies need to offer a flexible package that can be modified and flexible to the needs of those being recruited.

The discussion of benefits shouldn’t end after the acceptance letter is signed and returned. Prior to the annual open enrollment period, you should educate your employees and clearly define the highlights of the programs offered. You need to have information posted on a website, company intranet or emailed out to make sure that employees have access to the most up-to-date information of offerings. You must communicate the value that each program can offer and be available for questions and answers to help them choose the best fit for themselves and their family.

Keep a pulse on what employees are choosing for your plans so you can adjust year-to-year to have what your employees want and need for their health, wellness and peace of mind. Can you save your employees money but also offer them the best benefits? Show your employees you care about the health and well being. The more you show you care more about who they are as a person and the lives they live outside of the office the more they will appreciate your efforts and look forward to coming to work each day. Showing your employees you’re more interested in who they are will help with retention.

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.