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Health insurance is a crucial but often complicated part of the healthcare system, and it is not always as easy to understand as straightforward medical bills or even other forms of insurance. However, health insurance is much more than just an added hassle to the doctor-patient relationship. It is a key safeguard that can enhance your quality of life for decades to come.
This guide is intended to provide you with the basics about health insurance benefits so you are able to more easily understand what your options are when choosing a health insurance plan.
On December 20, 2017, the House and Senate sent President Trump the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act for signature. The House of Representatives passed their version of the bill on November 16, 2017 while the Senate passed their version on December 2, 2017. Because the versions were not identical, a Tax-Bill Conference Committee was formed from members of the Senate and the House of Representatives to negotiate the text of the combined bill.
After the finalized text was approved and released by the committee, the House and Senate each passed the combined bill (which happened on December 20th in the House and December 19th in the Senate) before it was sent to the White House.
On December 22, 2017, the IRS issued Notice 2018-06, which provides a limited extension of time for employers to provide
2017 Forms 1095-C to individuals. It also extends good-faith transition relief from certain penalties for the 2017 reporting
year. The deadline to provide Forms 1094-C and 1095-C to the IRS was not extended.
I am frequently asked “Why should I choose you as my employee benefits broker” or “What makes you different?
My answer is always the same. Not sure if there is a difference. If your current broker is doing a wonderful job, there may not be much of a difference. I might have to ask his golf handicap?
If your agent is doint a great job, keep him/her. If you are comfortable with your health insurance benefits as it relates to cost, stay where you are. If you are confident you are compliant with existing federal, state and local compliance challenges, by all means stay right wher you are. If you like your enrollment technology and voluntary options, wonderful. There are a lot of good brokers and agents. Most do a pretty good job. But if you have a question with anything as it pertains to your benefits, does it hurt to get an independent review and confirm that you are where you should be, and compliant? Some people don’t want to know.
Everyone promises great customer service. That should be the norm. At the Denesha Insurance Agency, we strive to give our clients ‘value added’ services. We have a commitment to customer care that we believe ranks our business a cut above the average insurance agency. It’s a fundamental philosophy that we call the Denesha Difference. Here are just some of the reasons that business owners should choose our agency to be their insurance broker.
The Denesha Difference
We offer a unique business review program, a comprehensive assessment of your business’s insurance and employee benefit plan, with an eye toward compliance with all local, state, and federal laws and regulations. If you are positioned properly, we will tell you to stay right where you are.
We utilize the latest technology and software platforms. Most enrollment software is intended for larger companies of 100 or more employees, but developers are starting to to target the small to medium business niche with insurance solutions designed to meet their unique needs. We try out new products when they come on the market and thus can recommend the right solutions for a company’s specific needs, and can offer assistance with customizing and troubleshooting new technologies.
We offer the option of either electronic enrollment, one-on-one in person enrollment, or a combination of the two. Companies can monitor and maintain HR compliance functions online if they choose. We take a proactive approach to legislative compliance issues and any other critical factors that HR departments need to be aware of.
Open enrollment is usually the most challenging time of the year for our clients, and we’re there to guide you through the process, but Denesha Insurance Agency continues to serve our customers throughout the other 11 months of the year. We’ll advise you on the best and most in-demand employee benefits, and help you to develop a strategic plan to lower the cost of health claims. We fully understand that health benefits are more than just a perk, they’re also an important recruitment and retention tool, and choosing the right plan is important for employee morale. We also ensure that you’re always informed about the latest compliance requirements.
Our regular business hours are from 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM, Monday through Friday, longer than any other agency we’re aware of, and we can also be reached on weekends by phone, text, or email.
As more regulatory requirements are placed on businesses, they need an insurance broker who can not only actively engage with their employees, but also leverage new technologies to help streamline the administrative tasks associated with their benefit plan.
We help both businesses and families analyze the coverage they need for their particular situation, and develop a customized policy that also fits their budget.
When you call the Denesha Insurance Agency, the phone will most likely be answered by one of the owners, either Terry or his wife Debbie. They’ll be ready to assist you with benefits support, employee communications, and personalized insurance services.
We always try to anticipate our customer’s needs, and proactive service is one of the key points that differentiate us from our competition.
Free, no obligation review of current benefits and compliance. We believe that once you’ve worked with our agency, you’ll appreciate the Denesha Difference. Contact us at any time to discuss all of your insurance needs. Even if it’s only to confirm your guy is doing a great job.
Insurance is changing. And with these changes, Employers are looking to evolve their company’s benefit plans to not only offer the best value available, but also views their employees holistically and sees the need for them to achieve a satisfying work-life harmony. Providing solution based advice for employers can be a valuable benefit should they seek guidance.
Most employers are doing just that. According to insurance giant MetLife’s most recent benefit trends study, at least 81% of employers surveyed say an insurance agent or a broker plays a crucial role when they are developing their benefit plans, and another 75% say a benefits consultant or consulting firm assisted them during their renewal period.
As a guide to benefits advisers, as well as a helpful checklist for employers, MetLife has created a list of 15 areas that employers most often seek advice about from their agents or brokers, along with the percentage that inquiries about those specific benefit areas increased from 2015 to 2016. The areas range from providing global benefit solutions to healthcare reform requirements. The list provides an interesting insight into the changing landscape of employee benefits.
15 Employee Benefit Plan Specifics Companies Most Commonly Seek Advice About
- Providing assistance with creating and maintaining an employee benefit handbook: 2015 52% – 2016 62%. Putting together an employee handbook that is comprehensive and informative, yet easy to understand, and keeping it updated as needed, can be a daunting task for any HR department, even those with benefits specialists on staff. An insurance agent or broker can provide valuable guidance about best-practices and effective solutions.
- Providing prompt, effective service and answering questions on time: 2015 60% – 2016 68%. Great customer service is one of the keys to a great employee benefit plan. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to spend time on the phone and getting passed around to different departments just to get answers to basic questions about benefits.
- Recommending new and innovative benefit solutions: 2015 57% – 2016 65%. This is an important area these days, with so many new solutions coming onto the market, especially for smaller companies with 100 employees or less, towards which a lot of new products are being marketed. New technologies are rapidly changing the way employee benefits are administered.
- Recommending cost savings alternatives: 2015 61% – 2016 68%. Everyone is interested in saving money obviously, and an experienced agent or broker can recommend the best values for both employers and employees.
- Help with legal, regulatory, and compliance issues: 2015 56% – 2016 64%. With the complexity of the myriad government regulations and new legislation, it doesn’t take much for a company to run afoul of the rules, and incur severe penalties and fines. Professional advice in this area is almost a must.
- Providing insights on employee needs and desires for benefits: 2015 53% – 2016 63%. An agent who is experienced in advising on benefit plans for companies in a wide range of industries will be able to help tailor a plan for different types of employees. For instance, companies that hire mostly younger, single people will have different needs than companies that employ mostly older, married individuals.
- Reducing the frequency and expense of claims: 2015 56% – 2016 65%. An obvious goal of any employer, there are many ways to achieve it, including employee awareness and educational programs.
- Recommending non-medical benefit solutions: 2015 48% – 2016 58%. These are usually preventative programs such as exercise, diet, nutritional, and other health and wellness programs, but also non-traditional medical solutions such chiropractic, massage and aromatherapy, acupuncture, and herbal treatments, among many others.
- Advising on employee physical wellbeing strategy: 2015 50% – 2016 60%. This parallels #8 above, but might be considered a more comprehensive, holistic approach encompassing many elements, both physical and mental, leading to total wellbeing.
- Advising on employee financial wellbeing strategies: 2015 50% – 2016 60%. Financial stability is actually an important part of a holistic health strategy, as the stress associated with money problems can lead to serious mental and physical illnesses, as well as family issues including divorce and domestic violence.
- Creating benefits statements: 2015 52% – 2016 62%. Employees need clear, easy to understand benefits statements on a regular basis throughout the year, at least quarterly, so that they know their exact status. A professional can inform an employer on best practices and technologies for generating these important reports.
- Advising on healthcare reform requirements: 2015 57% – 2016 64%. Healthcare reform is one of the biggest political issues of the day, and employers need to keep abreast of changes in legislation that might affect their benefit plans, and what they need to do to stay in compliance with the law.
- Providing benefits administration: 2015 54% – 2016 64%. Administering benefit plans can be a huge task for larger companies, an no easy chore for smaller ones either. New technologies and platforms are making the job easier for both, and employers need to be aware of their options.
- Recommending product bundling that will meet employee needs: 2015 55% – 2016 64%. There are many products on the market today that can make managing employee benefit plans much easier and more efficient. Finding the right combination for a particular company’s needs requires a professional who is thoroughly familiar with what’s available and the strengths and weaknesses of specific products.
- Providing insights regarding benefits trends: 2015 54% – 2016 62%. Like just about everything else, benefits follow trends, and a good, up-to-date plan will take the latest ones into account. An agent or broker will be aware of these and can advise an employer accordingly.
Terry and Debbie Denesha have been advising businesses both large and small on their insurance and employee benefits plans for over a decade. Contact us at 661-397-0041 to arrange a consultation and find out how they can help create a plan to meet your company’s unique requirements.
Insurance is a misunderstood issue for a lot of people, but it is also one of the most important issues employers and employees will address. When you have a business and offer insurance to the people who work their, you need to be able to show them why insurance matters and what kinds of benefits they are really getting when they sign up. The more you understand about insurance, the more easily you can explain it to your employees in ways they are comfortable with. Then they can go on to make informed choices about whether they want to purchase insurance and what plan or policy they should select.
Transferring Risk Away From the Employee
The biggest benefit to your employees when they have insurance is that risk is transferred away from them. They will no longer have to pay for huge medical bills if something happens to them, like an accident or an illness, because the insurance company will be paying the majority of the bill. While insurance does not cover everything an employee might need to spend, and there will be out-of-pocket costs, employees can save themselves from financial ruin at the hands of medical bills if they have good insurance. That is a big benefit they receive when they work with an employer who offers a good insurance plan.
As an employer, you can show your employees that you care by helping them have good quality insurance at a reasonable price. There are only so many options open to employers, but picking the best plans and offering their information to your employees is a way to show that they matter. You will be taking some of the risk off of the employee and putting it in the hands of the insurance company, and when you can convey the message and value of that to your employees they will better understand why they should consider getting insurance through the company at the rates that are offered to them.
Employees Feel More Valued When They Are Offered Insurance
Employees who are offered insurance feel valued by their company more than employees who do not get any kind of insurance benefits. Because the employee and the employer both have to pay into the cost of the insurance, employees see that the company they work for is investing in them. Companies that offer insurance are saying to their employees that the employees are worth keeping, and that their health and safety matters. By providing this understanding of value to your employees, you show them they are important and they mean something to the company they work for. That can affect loyalty and performance.
Having Good Insurance Plans Can Mean Better Employment Candidates
An important benefit employers get when they offer good health insurance plans is a better pool of job candidates to choose from. People who are looking for employment often want more than just a paycheck, and if they see that they can get good insurance through one company but not through another company that is comparable in pay and job duties, most of them will choose the company where they can receive insurance. Having insurance is about more than just keeping employees from going broke if they are injured or sick. It is also about acquiring and retaining the best employees for the job at hand.
It’s Easier to Pick From a Few, Company-Provided Options
Self-employed people often struggle with how and where to choose an insurance plan. For company employees, though, that struggle is avoided. There are just a few options offered, and employees can pick the ones that work best for them. That eliminates the possibility of having too many choices, and the decision fatigue that can come along with it. In short, it helps employees make better choices, because too many choices generally leads people to pick something that actually is not right for them. By limiting employee choices for insurance, you are doing them a favor and making things much easier for them, overall.
Insurance Can Motivate Employees to Work Harder
Giving bonuses and other incentives, along with the idea that they will be protected by insurance if the company keeps them on after their probationary period of up, can all encourage employees to work harder. They want to do more for a company that treats them right, and that cares about them and their lives. That is good news for any company that offers insurance, because happy, productive employees are so important to the proper running of any company. Without good employees, many companies are left struggling. Sometimes as simple as providing insurance can change motivation levels and improve the bottom line.
Good Insurance Means Employees May Remain On the Job Longer
When employees have good insurance through their employer, another thing they may do is stay on the job longer. When they quit they will lose their insurance, and if the choose to keep it the price often rises drastically. If they change jobs they may not be covered by the other company for a while, or the other company they are considering may not have as good of an insurance plan. In some cases, the other company may not have an insurance plan at all. That can make a significant difference in how long a person chooses to work for a company, and if they stay even if other opportunities are available.
The Bottom Line on Insurance
Because insurance is a transfer of risk from the employee to the insurance company, it helps to protect the employee financially if there is an injury or illness. Additionally, employees feel much more valued and important to the company if they are offered insurance, which can lead them to stay with the company longer and work harder than they otherwise would. Good insurance plans can also bring in other employees who are dedicated and talented, and their lives are made easier by not having to choose from too many insurance plans. When insurance is handled the right way, It is a winning situation for both the employees and their employer.
A company’s open enrollment period can be a hectic time for management, HR staff, and employees alike. While a successful open enrollment period can increase employee health and satisfaction, an unsuccessful open enrollment period can result in compliance risk and reputational damage.
Learn the five most common open enrollment mistakes and how to avoid them below.
Mistake #1: Not Informing Employees of the Value of the Health Plan
Retention is greatly increased when employees understand the value of their employer-sponsored health plan. To aid this understanding, employers should consider providing their employees with:
- A well-organized benefits summary which addresses the key features of the health plan; and
- A total compensation statement which emphasizes that health plan benefits are a form of compensation received by the employee.
Mistake #2: Not Informing Employees of Health Plan Changes
If the employee has not experienced a job or family change, he or she may simply re-enroll in the health plan without giving it a second thought. However, health plan premiums, deductibles, and coverage networks may change each plan year, and the employer may be offering new benefits with unique requirements. As a result, it is important for the employer to inform employees of plan changes. Employers should consider using tools such as benefits summary documents, emails, in-person meetings, and social media posts to help ensure that employees fully understand their health benefits.
Mistake # 3: Not Responding to Employee Questions or Concerns
Some employees may have specific questions about the health plan which go unaddressed, while others may want a benefit that is not part of the current health plan. Employers should be mindful of these concerns and seek to better understand what employees want from their health plan. By using online surveys and other methods to obtain employee feedback during open enrollment, employers can satisfy concerned employees and learn how to enhance their health plan.
Mistake #4: Not Offering Coverage to Dependents
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employers with 50 or more full-time employees (including full-time equivalent employees) may be liable for a penalty of over $3,000 per full-time employee if they do not offer coverage to the dependents of their full-time employees. In addition, the ACA requires all plans that offer dependent coverage to offer coverage to plan enrollees’ adult children until they reach age 26, even if the child is eligible for coverage through his or her own employer. As a result, it is very important for employers to offer dependent coverage and inform employeesof its availability.
Mistake #5: Not Fully Explaining any Tax-Favored Accounts Offered
To take the sting out of high plan deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs borne by employees, many employers have begun offering health savings accounts (HSAs), health flexible spending arrangements (health FSAs), and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) in conjunction with their health plans. However, the rules governing these tax-favored accounts can be complicated, and violations of their specific participation, contribution, and distribution requirements can lead to tax penalties. Employers should take the time to fully explain any tax-favored account they offer, and remember to emphasize that the employer’s establishment of and contribution to these accounts is yet another part of the employee’s total compensation.
Fortune magazine has consistently listed Google as the No. 1 best company to work each year. The
company offers free food, an on-campus gym, a bowling alley, game room and basketball courts. On top of
that, employees can also find a barber shop, massage parlor and a laundromat.
Cisco’s Health Center is more than just fitness. Its LifeConnections Health Center also provides employees
with primary care, physical therapy, acupuncture and there is even an on-site pharmacy. Cisco says it
believes in a strong work-life balance, so it also provides employees with telecommuting technologies like
data and voice services for a home-office experience.
Free flights for themselves as well as family and friends. Enough said. Also, the company gives its
employees access to discounts with a handful of other companies including other airlines, hotels, theme
parks and rental car companies.
Another work-life balance advocate, General Mills starts all new hires immediately with three weeks of
paid vacation. On top of that, the company provides flexible telecommuting and for those who go to the
Minneapolis headquarters, a flexible seating schedule — instead of assigned seating, employees can work
from any part of the office where they are most comfortable.
J.M. Smucker Company
The Ohio employer starts its relationship off on the right foot with every employee, sending a new-hire gift
basket to their home. In addition, the company provides a 100% tuition reimbursement program to its
employees with no cap on costs, as well as free technical training in the event they would like to learn a
new workplace skill.
Yahoo offers perks both in and out of the office. The Yahoo offices have on-site fitness centers with yoga,
cardio-kickboxing, pilates and golf classes. The offices are also equipped with ergonomic support chairs,
plus healthy snacks and drinks on every floor. Outside the office, Yahoo offers discounts to ski resorts and
California theme parks. The company will even throw a baby shower for employees who become parents.
The law firm Quinn Emanuel says it gives its lawyers a $2,000 allowance to work one week a year from
anywhere in the world — so long as they work their normal hours. Additionally, the office provides a
casual dress policy to increase creativity and evaluates its prospective summer associates at parties on law
school campuses, rather than a stuffy office interview.
To celebrate inclusivity, new employees at Boeing are connected through what the employer calls the
“REACH program,” setting up employees up with community service and social activities. The icing on the
cake from the aerospace and defense company is a schedule that includes 12 paid holidays and a winter
recess between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
As a children’s toy maker, Mattel offers several child-related programs such as one that defrays the costs in
pursuing an adoption, and another policy that offers 16 hours of paid time off for school-related absences
such as parent-teacher conferences or field trips.
Microsoft gives new parents paid maternity and paternity leave. Also, the company provides a network of
support systems, such as mentoring programs and health care coverage for Applied Behavioral Analysis
therapy, which treats autism — a first major corporation to offer this unique benefit.
The World Wildlife Fund
What the nonprofit calls “Panda Friday,” employees work a little extra throughout the week to have every
other Friday off. The company also points that shutting down the office saves energy and reduces its carbon
The truck and military vehicle manufacturer shows loyalty to its employees through extensive training and
advancement opportunities, as well as tuition reimbursement for advanced degrees. Additionally, the
employer lists job opportunities specific for internal candidates, and hosts a rotational engineer program
that provides engineers the ability to learn a variety of other skills.
3M Corporation offers a host of health and wellness programs to its employees. The company offers life
insurance and retirement plans on top of the standard medical, dental and vision perks — and extends those
same benefits to same-sex couples in domestic partnerships. Also, the company provides child- and
eldercare consulting services, smoking cessation programs, weight management reimbursements and stress
A sports addict? TIAA-CREF gives its employees access to the corporate athletic program which allows
employees to play up to six sports on site, as well the Toastmasters communication development program
for leadership development.
Loyalty is valued by this health care technology company, as it gives a month-long paid vacation to
employees after five years. What’s better, if it is in a never-before-visited country, Epic will help pay most
of the travel expenses for the employee and a friend. Also, when at the office, the Wisconsin campus
features an Indiana Jones-themed tunnel, a tree-house conference room, a moat and plenty of green space
for outdoor activities.