MedBen Client Satisfaction Survey

Search

Pages: 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 ... 98

12/18/14

  07:33:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 290 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Workplace Wellness Begins With Leadership

drinking water

The best workplace wellness strategies aren't necessarily expensive -- in fact, some cost the employer only their time and encouragement. Experts at WebMD (via Employer Benefit News) offer these tips for building a better wellness culture.

1. Give your workplace a facelift. Because an employee can burn five times the number of calories by taking the stairs, employers should consider painting their stairwells or posting pictures to brighten up the area. They can also hang motivational or informational pictures near elevators encouraging employees to use the stairs or to think carefully about their vending machine purchases.

2. Consider cafeteria changes. Employers should highlight healthy eating options with attention-grabbing signage and discounted pricing. Having low-calorie entrees or stocking vending machines with healthy food choices can also help.

3. Model after leadership. Figures show that having senior leadership participation in wellness programs will add to employee engagement. Invite employees to walk with senior leaders, which will not only increase activity, but also allow for opportunities to network and ask questions.

4. Set achievable goals. Management competitions, which include team-based activities such as lose-weight challenges or even a hula hoop challenge, can translate into achievable benefits for all parties involved. The thrill of the competition can be a strong motivator for some employees.

5. Inspire through social interaction. Using employee wellness champions can lead to increased use and promotion of wellness events. Also, use of social media, such as Twitter or Instagram, can serve as an outlet where employees can support one another to achieve activity goals.

6. Ask employees to gauge the wellness culture. There is no easy way to figure out how your wellness program is being received. But a simple questionnaire may help. Send out surveys to gauge the overall effectiveness of, and feelings about, employer-sponsored programs.

12/16/14

  06:16:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 291 words,  
Categories: News, Health Care Reform

Hoping For Another ACA Delay Not A Prudent Strategy

fingers crossed

With the imminent rollout of the Affordable Care Act's shared responsibility mandate for employers with 100 or more full-time workers, ERISA attorney Deborah Hyde cautions anyone hoping for a last-minute reprieve:



The most detrimental strategy for [ACA] compliance is for employers to deny the need to comply altogether. By now, it is clear that the employer mandate will be in effect in a matter of weeks. Employers should not hold out for significant changes to, or even a complete repeal of, the current law. A now-Republican majority in Congress brings with it much grandstanding and political rhetoric concerning a repeal of the ACA, but such discussion should be taken with a grain of salt. Any overhaul to the existing law won’t be seen for some time – if at all. And though the U.S. Supreme Court will soon be hearing arguments regarding the role of federally-established marketplace exchanges, the Court’s decision is not only many months away, but is unlikely to result in the unraveling of the employer mandate.

2015 will be the first year of enforcement for the employer shared responsibility rule, but in many instances, 2014 served as a prime guide for employers by highlighting not only the steps to take, but also the steps to avoid, in creating a successful compliance strategy.

Your can read more of Ms. Hyde's thoughts about ACA lessons learned in 2014 at the Employee Benefit News website.

If you're a MedBen client who had 100 employees or more during the last calendar year, you have likely already been contacted by our Compliance Department regarding setting up your plan language to enable you to count your employees for this purpose. If this language is not already in your plan, please contact MedBen Vice President of Compliance Caroline Fraker at cfraker@medben.com.

12/12/14

  07:09:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 315 words,  
Categories: Announcements

MedBen Employees Contribute To Families Helping Families Program

Families Helping Families

As a member of the Licking County (Ohio) community for over than three-quarters of a century, MedBen has been honored to serve the needs of area businesses and their employees. And in gratitude for all that Licking County has given to us, we do our best to give back as well.

For more than 30 years, the staff at Licking County Job & Family Services (LCJFS), in conjunction with the Salvation Army, has coordinated the Families Helping Families program. And for 15 of those years, MedBen has been pleased to contribute to this worthy cause.

Families Helping Families calls on individuals and groups to donate presents to brighten the holiday season for less fortunate members of Licking County. Every year, approximately 600 children and 75 elderly community members each year receive a variety of gifts from anonymous donors.

This year, MedBen employees shopped for 18 children (from lists provided through LCJFS as well as House of New Hope, which helps foster children) ranging in age from a newborn to a 15 year-old. Each child received clothing in addition to toys that were on their “wish list.”

To cover the costs of the gifts, our employees raised money in a variety of ways, from silent auctions to 50/50 raffles. And MedBen chipped in additional funds toward the purchase of clothes for the children.

Families Helping Families is just one of the charities and non-profit organizations MedBen has partnered with over the years. We've also been pleased to support United Way, Food Pantry Network, A Call to College, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Midland Theatre and the Licking County Community Health Clinic, to name a few.

MedBen is proud to call Licking Country home, and pledge to continue doing everything we can do to help the people of our community.

Individuals and groups who are interested in contributing to a future Families Helping Families drive are encouraged to contact LCJFS Program Evaluator Kari Matheny at 740-670-8999.

12/10/14

  05:51:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 334 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Cancer, Cost savings

U.S. Health Trends Troubling... But There's A Cure

blood pressure

Two recent studies suggest a grim future if national health trends continue on their current course:

  • The United Health Foundation's annual analysis of the USA's health revealed that the obesity rate increased from 27.6% to 29.4% of adults in 2013. Also, nearly a quarter of people reported doing no physical activity or exercise in the last 30 days.
  • Research out of McGill University found that obesity can shorten your life expectancy by up to eight years. In addition, excess weight can cut the average lifespan by close to two decades of healthy years, thanks to the increased risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The United Health Foundation study also showed that obesity has more than doubled in the past 25 years. Not surprisingly, that increase almost parallels a jump in reported adult diabetes, now at 10% compared to less than 5% 20 years ago.

As rates for diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions have gone up, so have the corresponding costs of care. Fortunately, there is a simple remedy to the health ills that currently ail the nation.

As individuals, we all have it in our power to live healthier lifestyles... and by doing so, reduce the chances of needing medical care beyond the yearly checkup. Moreover, you can potentially save yourself a great deal of money on hospital bills, prescription drugs and other costs of care.

Better health begins with making smart choices -- and one of the smartest choices is to schedule regular visits with a primary care provider. Your family doctor can monitor your health patterns to detect possible problems... and if you're going down the wrong path health-wise, he or she can help to steer you in the proper direction.

If you're a MedBen WellLiving plan member, you can use the MedBen Access website to check if you're up to date on annual wellness exams and recommended cancer screenings. Just go to MedBen.com, select "MedBen Access" and log in. If you find you're behind on needed care, give yourself an early gift and make an appointment today!

12/09/14

  11:29:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 199 words,  
Categories: News, Health Care Reform

MedBen VP Makes Business First Cover

Business First cover

Last week, we posted that Columbus Business First published an online article about the future of the Affordable Care Act that featured insights from MedBen Vice President of Compliance Caroline Fraker. Well, we're pleased to let you know that an extended version of the article can be found in the newspaper's December 5 print edition ... and Caroline is featured on the cover to boot!

(By the way, if you don't have a subscription to Columbus Business First, we've scanned the cover and article as a downloadable PDF file.)

This is as good a place to remind you that with 2015 just weeks away, the new year brings with it a number of ACA issues and changes that self-funded employers will need to address. Our Compliance team recently compiled a list of the most pertinent topics in a paper titled "ACA -- Additional Thoughts for 2015." It's available for download at MedBen.com.

Also, a reminder to our clients: Should you ever have questions regarding any aspect of the ACA, you are welcome to contact Caroline at cfraker@medben.com.

And finally, thanks to Columbus Business First and reporter health care Carrie Ghose for allowing MedBen to share its thoughts about health care reform with your readers!

12/08/14

  10:21:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 333 words,  
Categories: Announcements, Wellness

Oh, The Weather Outside Is Frightful...

Shoveling Snow

It seems like only yesterday we were walking around in short sleeves and sandals, yet here we are at the start of what threatens to be a long winter. The cold, ice and snow pose unique wellness challenges and boost activity at the ER – but by being proactive, you can safely weather the storm (literally)!

Perhaps the most important tip for braving the chill is to dress properly. Wearing layered clothing works better than a single heavy coat. Add mittens and a hat to prevent loss of body heat, and insulated, waterproof boots to keep your feet warm and steady your footing. And cover your mouth with a scarf or knit mask to protect your lungs.

Once you’re ready to face the elements, remember that cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart – even more so if you have high blood pressure. So whether you’re outside for work or play, pace yourself and pay attention to any sign that your body needs to warm up a bit.

Prolonged exposure to cold can lead to hypothermia or frostbite. If you have symptoms of hypothermia (confusion, dizziness, exhaustion or severe shivering) or frostbite (numbness, skin discoloration or waxy feeling skin), seek medical attention immediately. Put another way: Enjoy walking in the winter wonderland, but be careful out there!

Full story »

12/05/14

  05:29:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 270 words,  
Categories: News, Health Care Reform, Cost savings

MedBen VP Fraker Talks ACA, Small Business Benefits With Columbus Business First

Caroline Fraker

MedBen Vice President of Compliance Caroline Fraker recently spoke with reporter Carrie Ghose about changes coming to the Affordable Care Act in 2015. Portions of their discussion are highlighted in a Columbus Business First article.

Among the ACA topics touched on was the employer mandate -- the provision that requires employers with 100 or more full-time workers to provide minimum essential coverage in 2015 or pay a penalty. (The mandate was delayed until 2016 for groups with 50-99 workers.) Fraker stressed that it's important for smaller businesses to count full-timers accurately, to ensure that they're not caught off guard by unexpected fines.

"'No penalties' doesn't mean 'don't do anything," said Fraker. "[Small businesses] need to determine that they're 'small' the correct way, so they don't have to worry about penalties."

Fraker added that she's seen little evidence that businesses are deliberately reducing work hours to avoid the "pay or play" penalty. "The thought was as we move through the first four years that employers were not going to offer coverage. This completely missed the point that employers offer coverage for other reasons than simply saving money," she said.

Fraker also observed that as more ACA rules have been introduced, MedBen has seen an increase in the number of small- and medium-sized businesses switching from traditional insurance to self-funded coverage, which offer greater benefit flexibility and better opportunities to save employers money.

Read the full article at Columbus Business First.

In 2013 (prior to the employer mandate delay for 50+ groups), Fraker hosted a webinar that explained how employers can determine the number of full-time workers in their group. You can watch the presentation on the MedBen YouTube Channel.

12/04/14

  11:08:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 316 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management, Reporting, Cost savings

Health Care Spending Trends Are Good, But MedBen Saves Employers Even More

U.S. health care spending rose just 3.6% in 2013, the lowest increase since began tracking the rate in 1960, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced yesterday. That's down from the 4.1% increase from 2011 to 2012

Reuters reports that despite an improved economic climate, health spending continues to grow at a modest pace compared to the double-digit increases of a decade ago. Other statistics noted in the CMS analysis:

  • Health care spending in 2013 totaled $2.9 trillion, or $9,255 per person. It accounted for 17.4% of gross domestic product, the same percentage as it has since 2009.
  • Prices of doctor visits, hospital care, nursing homes and other health care services grew 1.3%, more slowly than the overall inflation rate of 1.5%.
  • Premiums for private insurance rose 2.8% last year compared to 4% in 2012. Claim payments also rose 2.8%, compared to 4.4% in 2012.

That low health care spending growth appears to have become the norm is good news. But at MedBen, we believe there's always room for improvement... which is we strive to help our clients' costs stay below even the lowest national spending trends.

When it comes to benefits management, MedBen doesn't subscribe to a "one size fits all" philosophy. Rather, we offer a range of self-funding solutions, from a turnkey model to plans that offers total design independence, as well as reinsurance captive programs that give employers the opportunity to receive a significant portion of their premiums back.

Once your plan is in place, MedBen's innovative cost containment features will help you save even more money. Our claim surveillance system scrutinizes every claim for additional saving opportunities. And our interactive reporting shows you where your money is going and offers actionable advice if changes are needed

Employers don't have to simply rely upon prevailing economic conditions to save money on their group coverage. MedBen can help you take real control of your health care dollars. To learn more, contact Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at bfargus@medben.com.

12/02/14

  10:41:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 320 words,  
Categories: Announcements, News, Health Care Reform, Taxes

MedBen Offers Bundled Pricing For ACA Services

Even though we’re all still in the process of wrapping up 2014, MedBen is looking toward 2015 and the tasks all employer plan sponsors will need to have on their calendars during the course of the coming year. In order to assist our clients with several Affordable Care Act fee and filing requirements, we have created new consolidated pricing for certain ACA-related services.

In addition to the standard flat fees for these services, MedBen is offering a per employee per month (PEPM) fee for 2015 ACA fee-related services. Beginning in January 2015*, any client can request that we take care of all of the following reporting and filing services for one low PEPM rate.

For the PEPM fee (paid from January through December 2015*), MedBen will perform all of the following services during 2015:

  • W-2 Reporting – MedBen will provide specific employer-sponsored plan costs for each employee on your plan.
  • PCORI Fee – MedBen will calculate and provide you with the enrollment count for inclusion in your 2015 PCORI filing (due no later than July 31, 2015 on the IRS Form 720). Although MedBen is not permitted to file this form for you, we will assist in its preparation as part of this fee.
  • Transitional Reinsurance Fee – MedBen will calculate the lowest enrollment count possible and upload your payment and account information in Pay.gov on your behalf.

MedBen clients who are interested in learning more about this service may request a 2015 ACA Bundled Services Price List by e-mailing Sales Analyst Sally Wood at swood@medben.com. And if you have any questions about the list, please contact Proposal Manager Kelley Hahn at khahn@medben.com.

* Please Note: Current MedBen clients who want the PEPM pricing and want MedBen to perform the W-2 reporting must pay the PEPM fee for 12 consecutive months beginning in January 2015. New MedBen clients can purchase these services using the PEPM fee, but are required to pay the PEPM fee for an entire year beginning with the month they select this pricing method.

12/01/14

  02:42:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 335 words,  
Categories: Announcements, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Ketron Joins MedBen Sales Team

Mike Ketron

MedBen is pleased to announce the addition of Mike Ketron to the MedBen Sales and Marketing team. In his role as Regional Sales Manager, Ketron will serve current and prospective clients of the health benefits management company in Kentucky, Tennessee and Southern Indiana.

Ketron brings extensive benefits management experience to MedBen. His insurance work history stretches back three decades, and in 1992 he opened his own agency specializing in employee benefit plans for both small and large group customers. In his most recent position, he served as Vice President of Self-funded Sales & Marketing for an Indiana-based health care organization.

"MedBen is very fortunate to be able to bring Mike on board," said the company's Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus. "His knowledge of benefit plans speaks for itself, and I’m sure our clients will appreciate his expertise and guidance.”

In recent years, MedBen has focused on growing its client base through the introduction of services designed to allow employers to transition from traditional insurance to self-funded coverage. As a Regional Sales Manager, Ketron will assist the company’s team of independent brokers in their efforts to help these employers explore the variety of options available to them.

“Large and small groups alike now have a great opportunity to save money by self-funding,” Fargus noted. “Mike will work with employers and their brokers to determine the best solution to providing comprehensive care while still controlling costs.”

In addition to self-funding, Ketron believes that worksite wellness, which is also offered by MedBen, can be a powerful savings tool when used properly. "Employers must get their employees engaged in taking care of themselves, creating a better lifestyle and lowering their risk factors. The secret to wellness is getting out in front of the problem, not treating problems that could have been prevented," Ketron said.

Ketron is a 15-year member of the National Association of Health Underwriters and served as a local president of the organization. Mike and Janet, his wife of 35 years, currently reside in Columbus, Indiana.

11/25/14

  09:56:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 189 words,  
Categories: Announcements, Prescription, Wellness, Consumer-driven Health Plans, Online Services

MedBen's Closed On Thanksgiving, But Online Services Available

cornucopia

Happy Thanksgiving Day from the staff of MedBen!

As we celebrate the holiday, our offices will be closed on Thursday, November 27 and Friday, November 28. MedBen will reopen on Monday, December 1.

Hopefully you will be too busy with family, food and festivities to think about your health care plan. But should the occasion arise during the 4-day weekend, remember that you and your employees can take advantage of the MedBen Access website to check claims and benefits information, FSA and HRA balances, and current prescription coverage.

Also a reminder to those of you who offer our wellness program MedBen WellLiving: Plan members can use MedBen Access to check their compliance with required wellness screenings by clicking on the WellLiving link under “My Plan.” As many plan years end on December 31 -- and incentives are often tied to completing these tests before year's end -- this is an opportune time for you to remind your employees about this useful feature!

How to get to MedBen Access? Simple... just go to the MedBen.com home page and click on the “MedBen Access” link.

Again, our best wishes to you and yours for a relaxing holiday!

11/24/14

  08:51:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 248 words,  
Categories: Announcements, News, Wellness

Granville Turkey Trot Reminder

Just a reminder that there's still time to register for the 2014 Granville Turkey Trot!

Granville Turkey Trot

MedBen once again serves as the premier sponsor for this 5K fun run/walk, which will be held on Thanksgiving morning, November 27 in Granville, Ohio starting at 9:30am. Young and old alike can participate.

The event benefits the Food Pantry Network of Licking County, whose mission is to acquire, store, and distribute nutritious food to the financially deprived and otherwise needy in Licking County. In 2013 alone, through the generosity of volunteers and donors like you, the FPN supplied food for more than 3,600 meals every day.

Online registration for the GTT has closed, but don’t worry! You can still register on Tuesday, November 25 from 9-1 and Wednesday, November 26 from 9-6 at the St. Luke’s Parish House (at the rear of Opera House Park). Or drop off a registration form at one of the following locations:

  • St. Luke’s Parish House, 118 South Main Street, Granville (M-W, 9-noon)
  • The Reader’s Garden Bookstore, 143 East Broadway, Granville, OH (M-W,10-5:30)
  • The Granville Village Offices, 141 East Broadway, Granville, OH (M-W, 8-4:30)

Registration costs are $30 for adults ($35 on race day) and $10 for ages 6-13 ($15 on race day). The race is capped at 2,500 participants.

If you prefer to be a "virtual runner," you can register for the race for $30. You’ll receive a full race packet, including a Turkey Trot T-shirt and bib number. Alternately, you are welcome to make a donation via the St. Luke’s e-Giving window (zip code is 43023).

Hope to see you bright and early this Thursday!

11/21/14

  09:49:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 287 words,  
Categories: News, Health Care Reform

House Sues President For Exceeding Authority On Obamacare

Capitol Building

The GOP-controlled House of Representatives, making good on an earlier promise, today sued the Obama administration for overstepping its authority on the Affordable Care Act.

According to the lawsuit, the president unilaterally exceeded his powers when he twice delayed the employer mandate provision of the ACA without approval from Congress. The mandate requires larger employers to provide health care insurance to employees.

The House also claimed that the transfer of about $175 billion to insurance companies, appropriated from a separate Treasury Department account authorized for other purposes, was illegal.

“Time after time, the president has chosen to ignore the will of the American people and rewrite federal law on his own,” Republican House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. “If this president can get away with making his own laws, future presidents will have the ability to as well.”

The lawsuit, which named the secretaries of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Treasury as defendants, followed a July vote in the House to sue over the ACA. All but five Republicans voted in favor of pursuing the suit, and all Democrats voted against it.

Jonathan Turley, a law professor at the George Washington University Law School, will represent the U.S. House before the courts. While a supporter of the ACA, Turley said he believes the president's actions violated the Constitution.

In response to the GOP's actions, White House spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine said in an e-mail, “Instead of passing legislation to help expand the middle class and grow the economy, Speaker Boehner and House Republicans are spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars pursuing a lawsuit that is without any sound legal basis.”

Read more about the lawsuit at Employee Benefits News and USA Today.

11/20/14

  09:05:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 112 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Cost savings

Study: Absenteeism Linked To Obesity Costs U.S. Employers Billions



Absenteeism among obese workers in the United States costs employers about $8.65 billion each year, according to a study published in the latest issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Costs associated with obesity-related work absences vary from state to state, reflecting variations in average daily earnings, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine said Thursday in a statement.

Obesity accounts for about 9.3% of all absenteeism costs nationwide, ranging from 6.5% in Washington, D.C., to 12.6% in Arkansas, according to the statement. And the study found that obese workers miss an extra 1.1 to 1.7 days of work each year compared with overweight or normal-weight workers.

Read more at Business Insurance (free registration required).

11/19/14

  10:24:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 412 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Incentives

Wellness Incentives Must Acknowledge Employee Limitations

weigh in

A recent legal ruling has placed put a spotlight on worksite wellness incentives and the need to provide a level playing field for every employee. And it demonstrates the importance of working with a wellness program like MedBen WellLiving that understands the proper balance such incentives require.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery denied a bid by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to stop Honeywell International from imposing penalties on workers who refuse to undergo biometric testing as part of its wellness program. Montgomery said she wasn’t ready to make even a preliminary determination on the matter.

According to Employee Benefit News, the EEOC argued that Honeywell has an "illegal wellness program" -- "illegal" in that (so they claim) tying examinations to worker premium costs and other incentives violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. In Honeywell’s program, those employees who do not participate in a questionnaire and biometric screening are assessed a $500 surcharge on their medical plan costs and can lose $1,500 in company contributions to health savings accounts.

While the final word on this issue is still to come, it's interesting to note that the Affordable Care Act strongly advocates such incentives. Under the law, employers may offer financial rewards and penalties for workers up to 50% of the premium as an incentive to practice healthier lifestyles. Of course, such incentives must be achievable by every employee.

MedBen WellLiving believes in the importance of incentives... indeed, we endorse it as a key to promoting wellness to your employees. But we also understand it's equally important that such incentives are fair to every employee. Toward that goal, we work with clients to develop wellness objectives that can be realistically attained, and that do not discriminate against those with health or mobility issues.

Further, the employee's right to privacy must be respected. WellLiving differs from other worksite wellness programs in that it encourages plan members to see their family doctor for yearly checkups, rather than bringing in outsiders to conduct biometric screenings. But in both instances, the individual results of these exams are kept confidential from the employer -- report information is de-identified or aggregate in nature.

The MedBen Compliance Team sees to it that your WellLiving program adheres to ACA and HIPAA rules. And we use our wellness planning expertise in helping your group offer incentives that promote better health and are realistic for all. For more information, contact Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at bfargus@medben.com.

11/18/14

  10:58:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 232 words,  
Categories: News, Health Care Reform

CMS Extends Deadline To Submit Transitional Reinsurance Fee Info

If you self-fund your health care plan. you've hopefully already taken care of submitting your annual (2014) enrollment count to determine your transitional reinsurance 2014 fee. But if not, you're in luck: The original deadline, which passed this weekend, has been extended for a few more weeks.

According to Business Insurance, regulators from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) had “received requests for an extension.” In response to these appeals, annual enrollment counts must now be submitted to CMS through the Pay.gov website by 11:59 p.m. on December 5, 2014, instead of the original deadline of November 15.

The deadline for payment of fees still remains the same: No later than January 15, 2015 if paid in one installment, and no later than January 15, 2015 and November 15, 2015 if paid in two installments.

The contribution amount for the 2014 benefit years is $63.00 per covered life (if remitting the single installment) or $52.50 and $10.50 per covered life, respectively (if remitting separate installments). Fees collected from this Affordable Care Act mandate will be used to partially reimburse commercial insurers writing policies for individuals with high health care costs.

MedBen clients who have questions regarding this extension are welcome to contact Vice President of Compliance Caroline Fraker at cfraker@medben.com. We also offer clients a variety of services to help clients properly calculate and file their transitional reinsurance fee, from providing general covered lives data to full service reporting. Again, please contact Caroline for more information.

11/14/14

  11:34:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 325 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Surge In Knee Replacement Surgeries A Troubling Trend

knee x-ray

In a culture that increasingly looks for quick fixes and instant remedies, it's hardly surprising that the number of people who get surgery to relieve pain has skyrocketed. Care in point: More than 600,000 knee replacements were performed in 2012, compared with about 250,000 just 15 years earlier.

More troubling, a growing number of those procedures were performed on individuals between the ages of 46 and 64 -- too early in life to get any real benefit from such surgeries. As The New York Times reports:



[R]esearchers at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond conducted a surgical-validity assessment. Using criteria developed in Europe, they concluded that knee replacements could be judged appropriate for only those whose arthritis in the knee was medically proven to be advanced. This means not just severe pain but also impaired physical function, like an inability to climb stairs, get out of a chair or walk without aid. Based on others’ work done in Spain, the researchers also determined that surgical replacements were better suited for patients older than 65. Their reasoning? The implanted materials wear out after a couple of decades, meaning a 45-year-old patient might need an additional knee replacement during his lifetime.

Researchers then analyzed the data from a large study of almost 200 men and women with aching, arthritic knees who went on to have replacement surgery within five years of entering the study. It turned out that approximately a third of the subjects would not have been regarded as appropriate candidates by the researchers. Many in this group had only slight arthritis, according to scans of their knees or the levels of their reported pain and physical impairment.

Frequently, chronic knee pain can be reduced or nearly eliminated through medication or physical therapy. While not necessarily a solution for all patients, therapy can strengthen the leg muscles, reducing pressure on the knee. Bottom line, it's critical to explore all possible options with your doctor before opting for replacement surgery.

Read more at the Times Health Blog
.

11/13/14

  10:18:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 311 words,  
Categories: News, Health Care Reform, Taxes, Reporting

What To Expect From Health Care Reform In 2015

White House

Believe it or not, there are less than eight weeks left in 2014. And as we speed into the new year, MedBen wants to make sure clients have the information necessary to make the transition to 2015 a smooth one – particularly in regards to health care reform.

In 2015, the Affordable Care Act will make various demands on self-funded groups, ranging from plan changes to new reporting responsibilities. Failure to comply with these requirements could mean financial penalties and a lot of added paperwork... so needless to say, staying on top of the latest ACA rules is to your advantage. And MedBen is here to help.

The MedBen Compliance team has assembled a list of health care reform "need to knows" for the coming year. Entitled "ACA – Additional Thoughts for 2015," this document provides an overview of the ACA issues and changes self-funded plan sponsors will need to address. We've broken down these items into three categories, all detailed in the document:

  1. Employer Shared Responsibility Penalties: What employers with 100 or more employees must do to avoid costly penalties; how employers with 50 to 99 employees can qualify for transitional relief; dependent coverage responsibilities and transition relief eligibility; calculating minimum value; defining "affordable coverage."
  2. Benefit and Plan Changes for the 2015 Plan Year: In-network out-of-pocket maximum increases for medical and prescription plans; HDHP deductibles; dialysis cost containment options; non-contracted surgical center (Ohio groups); updated subrogation language; new preventive care recommendations; smoking cessation coverage recommendations.
  3. Employer Reporting Responsibilities: Various reporting requirements for 2014, 2015 and 2016, including (but not limited to) W-2 reporting, minimum essential coverage reporting, PCORI fees and transitional reinsurance fees.

MedBen clients who have any questions about the items covered may contact MedBen Vice President of Compliance Caroline Fraker at cfraker@medben.com. Naturally, our Compliance team is also ready to assist with all matters pertaining to the ACA, be they old or new – so please don't hesitate to ask for help!

11/12/14

  10:03:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 307 words,  
Categories: Announcements, News, Health Plan Management

MedBen VP Fraker Joins SPBA Board

Caroline Fraker

MedBen Vice President of Compliance & Chief Privacy Officer Caroline Fraker has accepted an invitation to join the board of the Society of Professional Benefit Administrators, the company announced today. Fraker will serve a three-year term on the board beginning in January 2015 and running through December 2017.

Doug Freeman, MedBen’s Chairman & CEO, commended the SPBA on their selection of Fraker. “Caroline’s knowledge of the legal issues that affect benefit administrators is second to none. She’s successfully guided MedBen and its clients through the vagaries of the Affordable Care Act and countless other health laws, and I’m certain her insights will be appreciated by the SPBA board and its members,” Freeman said.

Fraker is a long-time member of the SPBA, going back to when she joined MedBen in 1992. She said she was pleased to accept the invitation and looks forward to working with the board.

“The SPBA plays an important role in both the private and public sectors,” Fraker noted. “They provide education and support to third party administrators, and also educate lawmakers on the finer points of health benefits – not in any sort of lobbying capacity, but strictly to ensure they have the information they need to make informed legislative decisions.”

Formed in 1975, SPBA strives to advance the goals of benefits administrators as well as to provide advice that helps members better serve their clients and plans. SPBA board members meet monthly via conference call to discuss issues of importance to the society’s members and their customers. Board members also host twice-yearly conferences open to all SPBA members, which are preceded by board-only meetings.

A 30-year veteran of employee benefits, Fraker assists MedBen clients with regulatory compliance, contractual and risk management issues. She also serves as Chair of the Licking County Chamber of Commerce and is completing her term as Chair of the Ohio Health Reinsurance Pool.

11/11/14

  10:13:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 270 words,  
Categories: News, Health Care Reform

Marketplace Premium Reimbursement FAQ Released

White House

On October 6, the Tri-Agencies (Department of Labor, Health & Human Services and the Treasury) released yet another Affordable Care Act FAQ interpreting the law's regulations. "FAQ XXII" states unequivocally that employers sponsoring group health care plans or policies are prohibited from also offering an arrangement that provides cash reimbursements for the purchase of an individual Marketplace policy by employees, regardless of whether the employer treats the money as pre-tax or post-tax.

In addition, the FAQ makes it clear that no employer that offers a group health plan to its employees is permitted to provide employees with a choice between enrollment in the group health plan or cash, particularly to those employees with high cost claims. Any such approach to do so will constitute discrimination under numerous federal laws and is a violation of the ACA regardless of whether 1) the cash payment is treated by the employer as pre-tax or post-tax to the employee, 2) the employer is involved in the selection or purchase of any individual Marketplace product, or 3) the employee obtains any individual health insurance.

Any employer that violates these rules will be subject to penalties and excise taxes under Section 4980D of the Internal Revenue Code.

The FAQ also prohibits certain “Code Section 105 reimbursement plans” that help employees purchase individual policies in the Marketplace and access premium tax credits. These types of arrangements are not permissible and subject to the market reform provisions of the ACA.

A copy of this FAQ can be found at the Department of Labor website. MedBen clients with questions regarding these rules are welcome to contact Vice President of Compliance Caroline Fraker at cfraker@medben.com.

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 ... 98