How Employers Can Keep Healthcare Costs Down

Group healthcare expert reveals how employers can save big on healthcare plans in 2019

Healthcare CostsAccording to the most recent data, premium healthcare plans for individuals in 2019 will increase by 15 percent in many states across America. As the Affordable Care Act continues to be in flux, employers are very concerned about how they can help keep healthcare costs down.

With insurance renewals approaching later this year, Rob Wilson, human resources expert and President of Employco USA, offers some tips that can help employers save on healthcare costs while also keeping employees happy and healthy:

  • Move to consumer-directed health plans. “Instead of traditional PPOs, high deductible health plans might be a smarter choice for you. With these plans, employees pay for preventive care visits, which in turn teaches them to watch prices and become better spenders. It empowers employees and gives them more ownership over their own health choices and costs.”
  • Consider surcharges for smokers. “Now, with HIPPA and the ADA, there are some concerns regarding employers regulating an employees’ decision to smoke or not to smoke. However, what you can do is encourage smokers to attend smoking cessation classes. If smokers attend these groups, you can offer them the premium discount even if they are not able to stop smoking.”
  • Implement spousal surcharges. “Many companies are now charging their employees a spousal surcharge. With this cost-saving measure, employees will have to indicate if their spouse has access to healthcare at their job. If they do have access to healthcare elsewhere, but your employee still wants them to be on your plan, they might have to pay a small amount of more than employees who aren’t making this same choice.”
  • Shift the claim cost to employees. “Some employers are reducing costs by shifting the claim for cost to employees,” says Wilson. “For example, instead of offering a PPO with a $30 dollar co-pay, you might shift that to $40 or $45 employees.”
  • Encourage virtual office visits. “e-Medicine is becoming a growing trend, and for good reason. It can help keep costs down while helping to decrease the amount of time doctor’s visits can take. It’s a win-win for employers: Your employees are able to see their doctor and get back to work in less time and with less cost.”
  • Shift part of the premium cost to employees. “For example, instead of playing 75 percent of the premium, in 2019, you might ask your employees to pay 73 percent. It is a small but meaningful reduction, and one that will not to be too costly for your workers,” says Wilson.
  • Encourage health initiatives. “Workplace wellness programs aren’t just going to reduce your overall health costs, they are going to ensure that your employees are healthy, happy and productive. So, whether you want to have an on-site fitness center, or hand out Fit bits or incentivize healthy eating and fitness programs, anything you can do to get your employees moving and eating more mindfully will have massive paybacks for you.”
  • Make sure employees know their benefits. “It is common for many employers and insurance providers to send out information about the employees’ health plans via email, but people’s inboxes are so packed with junk that they might not open these messages,” says Wilson. “It might be a smart idea to rely on snail-mail when it comes to keeping employees informed and on top of their health care spending. To this end, on a quarterly or bi-annual basis, you might want to send out packet with tips and package benefits to employees’ home address, or leave it on their desk.”

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

What Illinois Employers Need to Know About New Required Retirement Plan

Chicago-based employment expert explains “Illinois Secure Choice”

Starting in May 2018, a new retirement plan called Illinois Secure Choice is being introduced in Illinois. For the first several months, this program will be voluntary, but beginning in November 2018, employers will be legally required to participate in this plan. However, many companies are still woefully uneducated or undereducated about this program.

“It is imperative that employers in Illinois become better acquainted with these changing retirement requirements,” says Rob Wilson, President of employment-solutions firm Employco USA, which is based in Chicago, IL and services a number of prestigious Illinois companies.  “This is especially true right now, as big changes are coming with the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program, which is a retirement savings plan that enables Illinois-based workers to save their own money through a regular payroll deduction.”

Here the employment expert outlines what Illinois employers need to know about Illinois Secure Choice:

  • Voluntary Pilot Phase. “After several delays, the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program is ready to launch its pilot phase in May 2018. Starting in May, employers that elect to voluntarily participate can begin to process employee payroll deductions and remit the funds to the retirement plan provider,” says Wilson.
  • Employer Requirement Phase. “Starting in November 2018, employers will be notified of their legal requirement to participate in the program. Employers in Illinois that have 25 or more employees, have been in operation for at least two years, and that don’t offer a qualified savings plan (e.g., a 401(k) plan) will be forced to automatically enroll their employees into Secure Choice,” says Wilson.

“Employees can opt-out at any time. Employers will be responsible for dispersing information packets (provided by Secure Choice) to each of their employees. Employers will also facilitate enrollment of employees into Secure Choice, set up the payroll deduction process, and remit employee contributions to the plan provider. Employers who do not comply with the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program Act may be subject to fines and penalties.”

Wilson concludes, “Instead of participating in Illinois Secure Choice, an employer can choose to offer an employer-sponsored plan, similar to ones that we have helped clients transition to. However, you need to move quickly in order to make sure you have your ducks in a row in time for these new deadlines.”

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

Rob Wilson on Business for Breakfast: Why So Many Americans Are Still Opting out of Health Insurance

Rob Wilson discusses why so many Americans are going without health insurance on a segment of Business for Breakfast (Money Radio).

Read more on this topic here:
http://www.employco.com/blog/2018/03/26/many-americans-still-opting-health-insurance/

Contact us with any questions you may have, we’re here to help: hr@employco.com

Why So Many Americans Are Still Opting out of Health Insurance

Group health insurance expert explains why so many Americans are going without health insurance

The Affordable Care Act was supposed to bring healthcare to millions of Americans who could not afford it, but critics say that the healthcare law was a failure. In fact, many Americans are still choosing not to purchase healthcare, including those who are considered middle-class.

“Surprisingly as it might sound,  it isn’t people with low-wage jobs who can’t afford to buy healthcare in our current market,” says Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and group health insurance expert. “Due to President Obama’s changes to healthcare law, healthy people and middle-class people suddenly found themselves looking at a steep uptick in prices, and not every family can stand to foot that bill.”

While it is true that the Affordable Care Act helped to lower health insurance costs for people in the lower-income brackets, the result is that other people, such as those in middle-class income brackets, have had to pick up the slack.

“We are looking at big premium increases right now,” says Wilson. “And all it takes is a difference of $10 an hour to find yourself no longer eligible for the federal subsidy to cover healthcare costs.”

Wilson says that the reality is that buying your own individual health plans as a middle class individual or family is becoming too exorbitant, and this won’t change until ACA has been rolled back even further.

“Right now, the health insurance companies have all the power, and we need to put that power back in the hands of the consumer,” says Wilson.

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

30 Days into Trump’s Tax Reform: What’s the Verdict?

Employment trends expert discusses the stats

Tax ReformIt’s a month since President Trump’s tax reform went into effect. So how have these changes impacted the average American worker?

“One thing for sure is that the market loves it,” says Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and employment trends expert. “We hit the 26,000 mark for the first-time ever, and it’s also the first time we have ever seen such a fast 1,000 point rise.”

Wilson also points out that companies like Walmart, Disney, Starbucks, Apple and Verizon have already rolled out bonuses, raises and other incentives to their employees. However, some lawmakers don’t see the value of these bonuses, such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi who scoffed at these “crumbs.”

“When you look at someone working at Walmart who is making $10 an hour or $20,000 a year, a $1,000 check is far from peanuts. It’s a 5 to 10 percent bonus,” says Wilson, who also points out that Walmart is increasing their wages from $13.85 to $14.50. “These wages will no doubt be matched by other companies like McDonalds among others as they try to stay desirable in the hiring market.”

The tax law is having other important changes on the economy.

“Apple has more offshore earnings than any other U.S. company, but now, as a direct result of President Trump’s tax reform, they are going to pay repatriation tax payments of approximately $38 billion to bring that money back home. They are also going to spend tens of billions on domestic jobs, manufacturing and data centers in the future,” says Wilson.

Also, starting in 2019, individual people will not be penalized for not having insurance. “The employer mandate for those companies with over 50 full-time employees is still in place, however, this removes the burden from the average American who does not want to be forced into buying costly insurance that they don’t need.”

“The bottom line is the tax plan is working,” says Wilson. “Middle America is directly benefiting from the tax reform, and I expect that unemployment and underemployment numbers will continue to decrease.”

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

How Pres. Trump’s Tax Cuts Led to Wage Hikes for Walmart Employees

Employment trends expert explains why the tax cuts benefited more than just the uber-rich

President Trump’s tax cuts were heavily criticized by Democrats who feared they were merely cuts for the wealthy, but recent decisions by mega-employer Walmart could prove otherwise.

“Changing the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% might seem like it’s only a benefit for those in the higher-income bracket, but Walmart has just announced that one million employees are going to receive a new hourly rate as a direct result of the tax break,” says Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and employment trends expert.

Wilson also says that full-time and part-time employees will also receive a one-time cash bonus based on their years of service, noting, “Employees who have been with the company for over 20 years are going to be treated to a $1,000 bonus.”

The average pay increase for hourly workers will go from $13.85 to $14.50, and Wilson says that employees will not be the only ones who benefit from Pres. Trump’s tax plan.

“Customers will likely see lower costs as a result, as well as a higher standard of customer care. Staff will receive better training and see better incentives as a reward for performance,” says Wilson.

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

Should You Be Able to Charge Your Company for Your Dress Shoes?

Employment expert discusses the hidden costs of employment 

Presently, teachers are greatly concerned about possibly losing the ability to deduct for the classroom supplies they purchase out of pocket. No matter what side of the aisle you’re on, it raises an important topic that is rarely discussed: The amount of money it costs to keep your current job.

Rob Wilson, employment trends expert and President of Employco USA, says, “There are many costs associated with working that people don’t always consider. Yet, it’s crucial to factor in these expenditures in order to ascertain if your job is worth what you are putting in.”

Here, Wilson explains some of these hidden costs.

“One of the most obvious is the cost of commuting. This includes not just gas money, but also parking, tolls, and fees associated with your car’s upkeep. Driving to and from work each day is hard on your car, especially when it comes to extreme weather and idling in traffic. In fact, sitting in stop-and-go traffic can actually be very harmful to your vehicle.”

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Should Non-Smokers Get More Vacation Days?

Employment solutions expert explains this new trend

SmokeBreakIt is estimated that smokers waste 5 weeks every year with their smoke breaks. So, not only is smoking hazardous to your health, but it can also be incredibly hazardous to your company’s bottom line.

“Wise employers are confronting nicotine-addicted employees through incentivization,” says Rob Wilson, employment solutions expert and President of Employco USA. “For example, Tokyo-based company Piala Inc. is now offering non-smokers extra days off in compensation for all the time they spend working while their other co-workers are out enjoying a smoke.”

The idea is that non-smokers are being offered extra days to make up for the time they don’t spend smoking, and it’s quickly catching on.

“For years, non-smoking employees have complained that they aren’t allowed to take breaks for fresh air, but others can take breaks to inhale toxins,” says Wilson. “Programs like this, as well as employee wellness programs, aren’t just helping to make things more equitable, but they are helping employees to make healthy choices.”

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

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.