Employee Benefit Guidance & Compliance Solutions

Monthly Newsletter November 2018

Posted by on November 14, 2018 in Newsletters

Dear Valued Clients and Associates,

As we lead up to Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season we would like to express our gratitude to our clients, prospects and colleagues for their continued support.

Would you like a simpler way to manage benefits at open enrollment and throughout the year without added expense? Give your employees the opportunity to review and enroll in their benefits online! Whether you are a current client or a prospective one, give me a call or email to find out how we can help.

Don’t forget, we are offering 3 free hours of HR Consulting/ DOL Audit for all NEW clients joining PF Compass (new plan, renewal or off renewal BOR) from 10/1/18-1/31/19. To receive this offer you must reply to this email or call me at 732-258-1032

Here is your November 2018 Newsletter with a combination of HR and Health related news. I hope you enjoy!

Sending wonderful Thanksgiving wishes to you and yours!



Medical Plan Acronyms Part 1

I had the joy of attending the SHRM show in Atlantic City last month and was having a conversation with one of the attendees who I had never met before. She explained she is an HR consultant for several companies so I asked her:

ME: I create a newsletter every month for our clients and prospects. I like to include helpful HR articles and would love to know, what are some of the top frustrations your clients have?

HER: How confusing insurance benefits are.

Surprised, I chuckled and asked if she knew I was a benefits consultant… She did not…

This month our HR Consultant, Maggie Johnson has put together a list of acronyms to help when you are deciding which health benefits are best for your company.

Visit our PF Compass Blog for the definitions of common health plan acronyms from Maggie Johnson.

Insurance can be confusing which is why it’s important to partner with an attentive broker. If you or your employees are frustrated or confused, we should talk.



Don’t Leave Your Office Unprotected from the Flu

Each year, seasonal influenza has a marked impact on employers. The seasonal flu can cause increased absenteeism, decreased productivity, and higher health care costs. As an employer, you are well-positioned to help keep your employees healthy and minimize the flu’s impact on your business.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following strategies for employers to help fight the flu:

  • Host a flu vaccination clinic. Doing so can help educate employees about the importance of vaccination, and make it easier for them to get vaccinated.

Educate employees. Emphasize the importance of getting the flu vaccine and educate employees on common flu prevention strategies.



New Contractor For Food Stamps Upsets Cart For Farmers Markets

by Michelle Andrews

If a popular app used by many farmers’ markets to process federal supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) benefits is no longer offered next spring, consumers’ access to fresh produce may be stalled.

Click here to learn more.



IRS Issues ACA Letters to Noncompliant Employers

The IRS has been sending Letter 5699 to employers that have not complied with their ACA reporting requirements for 2015.

Letter 5699 requests missing information from applicable large employers (ALEs) that were required to report under Section 6056, but failed to file Forms 1094-C and 1095-C with the IRS. The IRS identifies potentially noncompliant ALEs based on their Form W-2 total employee count reported for 2015.

Employers who receive a Letter 5699 should respond within the appropriate time frame and provide all appropriate information requested by the IRS, including any forms that are due.

Penalties may apply for any failures to file with the IRS by required deadlines. The IRS will use information provided in response to Letter 5699 to identify noncompliant ALEs and assess any penalties that may be owed.



HR 2025: 7 Critical Strategies to Prepare for the Future of HR

Understand what makes your company succeed. To become a trusted workforce advisor, HR must focus on seven critical areas, including business strategy, analytics, shifting compliance and benefits issues and, of course, people.

Click here to learn more.



Health Care Costs Still Rising, According to Annual Survey

Each year, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust conduct a survey to examine employer-sponsored health benefit trends such as annual deductibles, plan enrollment, and health and wellness programs. The 2018 edition of this survey has been released, and it discusses a lot, including how health care costs continue to rise.

One of the key findings of the survey was that the average cost of employer health coverage offered to workers rose 5 percent for a family plan in 2018, reaching nearly $20,000. For individual coverage, the average cost rose 3 percent from 2017 at just under $7,000.

While it was predicted years ago that health care costs would continue to rise, the sticker shock can be hard to get past. Industry experts believe that an increase in the costs of health care services is the reason why insurance premiums are consistently increasingly expensive.

How Are Employers Combating Rising Costs?

Many employers have sought out ways to offset the cost of rising health insurance premiums. One of the most common ways this is accomplished is through increasing annual deductibles. For 2018, the average annual deductible for single coverage was $1,573 and the average annual deductible for family coverage was $4,676.

Another common way to reduce costs is to give employees the resources they need to become wiser health care consumers. Helping employees learn how to use the right health care services and shop around whenever possible can help employers and employees spend less money on health care services.



Affordability Concerns Lead More Employers to “Future-Focused” Strategies

The results are in! Key findings from Mercer’s National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans 2018 were released to the press this week.

The good news is that average per-employee health benefits cost rose by a moderate 3.6% in 2018 and a similar increase is expected in 2019. The bad news is, that’s faster growth than in 2017, and benefits cost is still outpacing inflation and workers’ earnings growth. Prescription drugs – specialty drugs in particular – remain a top cost driver.

Smaller employers were hit with higher cost increases in 2018 (5.4% among those with 10-499 employees), and many moved to high-deductible consumer-directed health plans or raised PPO deductibles. Mid-sized and large employers were more likely to pursue longer-term strategies addressing the price, quality, and management of care.

With over 2,400 employer participants in 2018, the survey is the largest of its kind. This year’s results highlight three important trends in employer health program management: balancing affordability and choice, creating a culture of health, and moving from cost-shifting to future-focused strategies.

Click here to read the survey highlights.



Five Steps to Successful Employee Communication

Effective managers must be strong communicators to inspire and lead their teams. The video below offers five strategies and suggestions to keep your managers’ communication efforts on point.



I am constantly looking for ways to improve this newsletter, comments and suggestions are welcome. Thank you!


Brandi Bowers | Benefits Consultant
PF Compass Employer Guidance & Benefit Solutions

461 Somerset St. North Plainfield NJ 07060
Tel (732) 258-1032



Source Credits: Copyright © HR 360, Inc. All rights reserved., Mercer, SHRM.org, Kaiser Health News

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