Will Your Employer Stop Paying for Your Birth Control?

Group insurance expert predicts how Pres. Trump’s decision will impact average American 

Many people are concerned that their employers are going to opt against paying for birth control now that President Trump has taken steps to reverse the federal mandate requiring companies to do so.

“Headlines across the country have frightened people into thinking that their companies are no longer going to pay for their contraception,” says Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and group insurance expert. “Thankfully, this is going to be unlikely across the board.  Even before President Obama used the Affordable Care Act to require employers to pay for birth control for employees, 9 out of 10 companies already did so.”

Essentially, the ruling just allows for people to opt against covering contraceptive costs if it challenges their religious beliefs, however, the number of employers who fall in this category will be small, says Wilson. And, he says changes are even less likely when it comes to big firms.

“From a business standpoint, it’s wise to provide affordable contraception options to your workers,” says Wilson. “After all, birth control is much less expensive than the cost of pregnancy and delivering a baby, not to mention family leave. So, the reality is that despite the scary headlines, most employees should expect little to no changes in their contraception costs.”

Nor does he think employers would be wise to use this as a loophole to get out of paying for birth control. “One way or another, all employers pay a price for their workers’ reproductive decisions,” Wilson says. “Financially speaking, contraception is the least expensive option, provided it does not go against your religious beliefs.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

Above-Average Rise in Cost of Employee Benefits in 2018

How can employers prepare?

Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and group insurance expert, says, “Employees say that an employer’s health insurance plan is more important to them than their actual salary, but as these numbers show, offering group insurance can be a losing game for employers. For the last five years, employer costs to insure each employee have risen, but now we are looking at a significant bump: 5  percent or more.”

Wilson points to the fact that Republicans have not yet been able to eradicate the Affordable Care Act, as well as the fact that specialty prescription drug costs are skyrocketing.

“Employers may consider enrolling in high-deductible CDHPs as these plans can help to protect your bottom line. Other cost-saving measures like instituting a surcharge for spouses or employees who smoke can slow cost. Outcome based incentives and wellness programs have also been shown to be useful, as have on-site clinics and prescription purchasing coalitions. Some companies are instilling a policy that requires mandatory generic brand medication,  which can help to reduce costs in a meaningful way.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

Here’s How Trumpcare Is Going to Impact the Average American

Group insurance expert reveals what Americans can expect

President Trump’s American Healthcare Act is under ever-increasing scrutiny from politicians and pundits alike. However, misunderstandings and oversights have been rife when it comes to the way many Americans talk about the Republican healthcare bill, says Rob Wilson, group health insurance expert and President of Employco USA.

Here, Wilson identifies key part parts of ‘Trumpcare’ which he believes are important for Americans to become aware of:

  • Elimination of the employer and individual mandates: “It will no longer be a requirement for anyone (such as young, healthy people) to have for health insurance. And, the elimination of penalties means that they will not be penalized if they decide if they would rather spend their hard-earned money elsewhere.”
  • A 30% surcharge to premium cost for lapse of coverage over 60 days: “This will allow insurers to charge people who drop in and out of the market, which will help to keep costs fair and encourage people to keep their health insurance intact.”
  • Repeal tax on over-the-counter medicine: “This will be a nice boon for consumers.”
  • Repeal of tax increase on Health Savings Accounts and increase in maximum contribution for HSA accounts: “This will remove the excess penalty if Americans need to use their HSA for costs other than healthcare bills, and the increase in max contributions will also offer tax benefits for Americans, as these funds are 100 percent tax-deductible.”
  • Repeal of Medical Device Excise Tax: “A $20 billion tax cut, this will help to increase lower costs for manufacturers and breathe life back into states such as Indiana where medical device manufacturing is a multi-billion dollar industry.”
  • Repeal of increased Medicare tax: “Removing the 0.9% Medicare payroll tax on any money Americans earn above $250,000 will be a relief for many Americans.”
  • Repeal of tax on Prescription Medications: “This will amount to a $28 billion tax cut,” he says. “It will lessen the burden on Americans who purchase prescriptions each month, and it will allow drug companies to spend more money on research, production and development of medications.”
  • Repeal of Tanning Tax: “That 10 percent federal tanning tax is going away,” says Wilson.
  • Cadillac tax would not go in to effect until Dec 31, 2025: “The astronomical tax is now being delayed until 2025, which will lift a huge burden on consumers.”

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The Age Penalty in the GOP Health Bill: Will Seniors be Stuck with a Bigger Bill?

Group employment insurance expert weighs in

Many Americans are upset that older people are going to face a ‘age penalty’ under President Trump’s healthcare plan, but not everyone sees the situation as problematic. In fact, some experts think that it won’t be the unfair cost that Americans fear it will be.

Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and group employment insurance expert says, “For many years, insurers have been able to charge older people higher premiums, as it is understood that they will generally have higher health costs and require more doctor’s visits. This reality has been folded into insurance costs for older people for a significant period of time, so President Trump’s so-called age penalty won’t be changing things too much. The only difference is that Obamacare only allowed insurers to charge older folks three times as much as they what they would charge other people for the same coverage, whereas President Trump’s plan allows for them to charge up to five times as much.”

Still, Wilson doesn’t believe that this means that millennials will be getting a free ride, as he explains that President Trump’s  “continuous health insurance coverage incentive” will hit younger people the hardest.

“Younger people are disproportionately likely to suffer a lapse in insurance coverage,” says Wilson. “And President Trump is asking that people who drop in and out of the insurance market be faced with penalties for doing so. This continuous coverage incentive applies to anyone who opts to go without insurance for longer than 63 days and then desires to resume coverage. The idea is that young people can’t cherry-pick when they want insurance, leaving older folks stuck with a hefty bill.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

The Truth About Health Insurance Penalty Within the American Health Care Act

Group health insurance expert weighs in

The American Health Care Act is President Trump’s answer to President Obama’s hotly-debated Affordable Care Act. While many political experts are excited about the new plan, others wonder if the proposed penalty is similar in nature to the dreaded Obamacare penalties, which many complained laid an undue financial hardship on those least able to foot the bill.

Rob Wilson, group health insurance expert and President of Employco USA, says, “President Trump’s plan is exciting for employers for many reasons, including the removal of the taxes, the mandate penalties and the subsidies that were a cornerstone of Obamacare. As for the new proposed penalty, it only applies to anyone who opts to go without insurance for longer than 63 days and then desires to resume coverage.”

The purpose of this penalty, Wilson explains, is to keep people from dropping in out and of the market. However, it also allows for healthy individuals to opt not to buy a healthcare plan if they so desire.

“Part of the problem with Obamacare was that it forced people to buy coverage even when they did not need it or use it,” says Wilson. “Under President Trump’s plan, people can opt to buy insurance only when they actually need it. Even if a person were to take a penalty for not buying insurance and retaining it, it would still amount to less under The American Health Care Act than Affordable Care Act, so Americans still save big.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

Rising Healthcare Costs

New Survey Reveals that Middle-Class Families Must Choose Healthcare Over Food, Clothes

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Healthcare trends expert discusses these disturbing findings

Recent numbers show that middle-class families have increased their spending on healthcare by 25 percent since 2007. As these expenditures have increased, families have tightened their belt in other areas—with spending dropping on essentials such as food and clothing.

“These numbers are very disturbing,” says Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and healthcare trends expert. “The Affordable Care Act was supposed to offer healthcare savings for Americans across the board, but instead it seems that middle-class families have been the hardest hit by our unstable economy.”

Wilson says that many Americans are reporting that their premiums are now so high that they cannot afford to go to the doctor. “With Obamacare, Americans are now facing deductibles of $3,000 a year or more,” he says. “Meanwhile, other Americans are losing their insurance as companies are forced to shut down as a result of the Affordable Care Act—not to mention, the amount of jobs that are going to be lost due to these company shutdowns.”

Wilson continues, “The whole point of President Obama’s plan was so that people would not have to choose between a doctor’s visit and paying for groceries. But now, thanks to these high premiums, we are right back in that same situation.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

Cost of Healthcare

Question: What do a 2016 Ford Escape and the annual cost of family healthcare have in common? They’re both $25,000!

A recent Milliman healthcare study found that the cost of healthcare for a typical American family of four covered by an average employer-sponsored PPO medical plan is $25,826 per year.

Milliman’s Key Findings:

  • The cost has more than tripled since its value of $8,414 in 2001
  • This year’s increase (4.7%) is the lowest rate since 2001, but is still well above the average increase in household income
  • Prescription drugs is the most rapidly growing component

Employee benefits programs, such as group medical plans, are an important component of Employco’s overall portfolio that helps to level the playing field for our clients. Using our large volume buying power to negotiate with benefit providers, we offer a benefits package that allows clients to compete with large corporations. Please let us know if you have any questions about employee benefit plans, including the plans provided in Employco’s portfolio.

Federal Reserve Announces Plans to Leave Interest Rate Unchanged

Employment expert available to comment on what motivated this decision

The Federal Reserve just announced that it plans to leave the interest rate unchanged. Many believe that this is because the country’s slow economic growth has challenged the policy-makers’ confidence.

Rob Wilson, employment expert and CEO of Employco USA, says, “The Federal Reserve opted not to change the interest rate due to unreliable low unemployment numbers and slow wage growth.”

Wilson also believes that the Affordable Care Act played a large part in this decision.

“Due to the Affordable Care Act, employers have been slow to hire, and some have even been forced to let employees go or slash staff hours. Pending changes to the overtime laws also has employers worried, along with general anxiety over the economy as a whole.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

Confusion Runs Rampant as Millions Pay Obamacare Penalty

7.5 million Americans were required to pay a penalty last year due to not having health insurance. This is a higher number than the government predicted, and many worry it is a sign that the country is not prepared for Obamacare.

Rob Wilson, CEO of Employco USA, says “The Affordable Care Act is causing issues across the board. Not only did the IRS collect $1.5 billion dollars in penalty fees from hardworking Americans, but many people also were confused about filling about their tax forms. Taxpayers who paid a penalty to the IRS should have claimed an exemption on their tax forms, but thousands and thousands did not, simply because they were not informed. As a result, they overpaid the government on their taxes.”

Additionally, about five million Americans claimed no health insurance status on their forms, leaving the government struggling to find out how to categorize these folks. “We don’t know how millions of Americans in this country are able to pay for healthcare, or if they are receiving healthcare. It’s scary business.”

Critics Challenge Netflix’s Paternal Leave Plan 

The pros and cons of Netflix’s game-changing family leave.

Netflix recently announced that they will offer one year of paid leave for mothers and fathers after they have a child. Microsoft made similar changes to their paternal leave by offering 12 weeks of paid time off for parents. (Currently, America is one of the few developed nations that doesn’t mandate paid time off for new parents.)

Rob Wilson, CEO of Employco USA, says, “Many people are criticizing Netflix because they feel the plan is too open-ended. People have the option to come back when they desire (within a year’s time), but many employees say that they will feel pressured to come back sooner in order to protect their position and their upward mobility. No one wants to be the employee that takes a full year if everyone else is taking just a few months or less. Women might especially feel this pressure as they often have to work twice as hard to earn promotions and raises.”

Wilson says that majority of Employco’s clients follow the FMLA guidelines and provide 12 weeks of time off, although this time is not paid.

“Most of these companies do not offer paid leave, but they do offer short term disability insurance through our office which has no waiting period if purchased during open enrollment,” he says. “In most cases, employees use a combination of vacation/PTO and short term disability in order to survive those early days of parenthood. It’s not a perfect system, but things continue to improve as more people aren’t afraid to broach this topic with their employers and ask for what they need.”