Newsroom & Solutions
This section is devoted the latest news and practical solutions that address the Design, Administration, Communication and Funding Vehicle issues that Employers must take into consideration when trying to provide high quality, cost effective and administratively efficient employee benefit plans.
Benefit Briefs! - monthly newsletter published by Bushnell & Company. Current and past issues are here.
ALERTS - Major late breaking employee benefit news items and regulatory announcements that we publish are saved here.
Announcements - Published periodically by Bushnell & Company are news items about our firm and special events. They can be found here
Agent / Broker
The key Professional Designations that you should be looking for are described in this article. Did you agent / broker walk away sunburned, hung over and a new designation for their business card?
Insurance Agent Commissions: An insurance agent / broker who provides superior service and serve your needs in a way that you find acceptable is entitled to be compensated fairly. On the other hand, if you only see your agent / broker at renewal time and occasionally bearing gifts or tickets to an outing and the service is less than adequate, or no new ideas are ever explored except to fully insure your employee benefit plan and collect a large commission then something is wrong. Look at your 5500 forms that are filed with the IRS and in particular the Schedule A. Are the commissions paid commensurate with the services provided?
For a great article on the impact of health care reform on Health Savings Accounts (HSA) click here.
Many experts think that the future of Health Care Plans is in Health Savings Accounts or HSAs - click here to read a thorough explanation of them that was published by Alston & Bird.
State Health Insurance Mandates - The 2008 list.
Birth Control & Pregnancy Disability Act - The EEOC issued regulations in Dec. 2000 plan plans must cover birth control / contraceptive devices.
403(b) Plan Changes Proposed for 1-1-06 - There are some major changes on the horizon for 403(b) plan sponsors & participants
Spousal Coverage Surcharge - This is a must read article for employers who are trying to limit "financial leakage" involving double coverage.
Consumer Driven Health Plans - good two page article on Myth vs. Reality of CDHPs. There is another report that you may want to look at which addresses CDHPs and Disease Management. Recently Guardian Life Insurance Co. published a very good Executive Summary on the Benefits & Behavior of Consumer Driven Health Plans.
Top 10 Health & Welfare Items Often Overlooked at Year-End are here.
Fraud in employee benefit plans is becoming a bigger & bigger issue and costing employers 3-10% of their annual spend. If you want to read what employers can do to stop this waste click here.
Third Part Administrators need to be supervised - see why (TPA)
Outsourcing Overseas is losing its luster.
The new COBRA Provisions of the Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009 (combined they make up Pres. Obama's February 2009 Economic Stimulus Plan) have far reaching administrative, technical and financial implications. Click on the COBRA Provisions link above to read just the 26 page portion of the full 577-page tax portion of the House and Senate Conference Committee report which summarizes the existing Law, the House version, the Senate version and the FINAL version that was reached through compromise. If you try & read the provisions in the tax package it is impossible to follow without having the existing Law out, see every change that was being made and then try and determine the implications. Once the Code and Regulations are published then it should all be clear and flow together or some semblance thereof :>).
Have you ever been tempted to write a sarcastic communication piece after preparing those ridiculous Summary of Benefit Coverage statements in the fall of 2012? Here is the best ones that we have seen & no it was not sent, but is funny - look here.
Companies are encouraging employees to save for retirement according to Hewitt survey
Self-Funding - The whole story including pros & cons.
TPA Interview Checklist - Be prepared for your next meeting. (assumes that TPA also provides re-insurance)
Stop Loss Re-insurance - This is no place for amateurs or inexperienced agents or brokers. Unless you are an expert, the "gotchas" will turn the whole transaction into a very expensive mess.
Insurance & Employee Benefit Plans - What you need to know and what insurance agents don't want you to know. They are not going to show you alternatives that reduce their commissions.
Illness is a leading cause of Bankruptcy even with Health Insurance.
Long Term Care Insurance - a Shopper's Guide prepared by the Texas Dept. of Insurance.
Work - Life Balance
The value of Time Off is more important than salary!
Information Overload got you down - read this article about how to manage it
Ted Carlson, a friend of the firm, wrote a great article in 2006 entitled Ten Practical Strategies to Reduce Health Care Costs. Many of the suggestions still hold true today.
Wellness Program / Plans
The issue of a wellness program/plans is a very interesting topic and extremely hard, if not impossible, to quantify in the short term. The only way to commit to a wellness program is for a five-year period after completion of health risk assessments that will guide you in what you need to address with your unique employee population group. Then, you can measure all the various employee benefit programs, workers comp costs, etc. Initially, it is very much of a "faith walk" for the employers. Below are a our couple of links to articles that you may want to read.
Health Care Reform - PPACA
The National Coalition for Health Care Reform published a very insightful report in 2004 that we thought that you would want to read. It set the table for what you are seeing today.
In March 2010, President Obama signed into law two multi-thousand page pieces of legislation that together comprise the large-scale reform of the American healthcare system. On March 23, 2010 he signed The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148) and on March 23, 2010 he signed the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act (P.L. 111-152). Healthcare reform has now entered the regulatory phase: over the coming years, the Department of Health and Human services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will be issuing instructions to states, providers, insurers, and other stakeholders on how they should implement the provisions of the new law. Click on the links above for copies of the actual legislation. For a comprehensive summary of the Legislation click here.
In 2011, after a number of cases made their way through the U.S. District and Appellate Courts, the US Supreme Court agrees to hear the Florida case, that was joined by 25 other states, on the constitutionality of the requirement to purchase health insurance that is in the Law. In March 2012, the Supreme Court heard 3 days of oral arguments. For complete copies of the transcripts and/or to listen to the oral arguments, go to www.SupremeCourt.gov. For a summary of the arguments on Monday March 26, Tuesday March 27, or Wednesday March 28, just click on the days that have are linked to the summaries.
On June 28, 2012 the United States Supreme Court, in one of the most historic decisions in our lifetime, upheld the the constitutionality of the individual mandate. In the 5-4 decision authored by Chief Justice Roberts, the Supreme Court found that the individual mandate provisions of the PPACA were constitutional as a tax. The relevant quote from the section on the mandate is as follows: “Our precedent demonstrates that Congress had the power to impose the exaction in Section 5000A under the taxing power, and that Section 5000A need not be read to do more than impose a tax. This is sufficient to sustain it.” If you would like to read the decion, the link is here.
Our friends at Ernst & Young have shared with us a very comprehensive analysis on the 2012 Presidential and Congressional elections that affects the Fiscal Cliff, Tax Reform, Health Care and Financial Services. The link to the document is here.
Rosie O'Donnel's recent heart attack is being touted as a wakeup call for women - look here.
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