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  10:53:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 336 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Health Plan Management, Health Care Reform, Third party administration

While Federal Government Wavers, MedBen Helps You Control Costs


In a recent Modern Healthcare editorial, writer Merrill Goozner poses the question, "Is the era of healthcare cost control ending?" With the individual mandate dead, the Independent Payment Advisory Board shuttered, and Congress in no apparent hurry to address rising drug prices, Goosner wonders whether the federal government has abandoned efforts to control health care costs.

One of the primary advantages of self-funding your health care plan is that you're not beholden on the whims of federal bureaucracy to help you control costs. Rather, the power is in your hands... and MedBen has proven strategies to assist you in your cost reduction goals.

Right from the start, the self-funded employer can put in place a plan design that best addresses the specific needs of their employee population (as opposed to government marketplace plans that are at once too broad and too restrictive). Along the same lines, we can review a group's claims activity and provide suggestions for shaping plan language in ways that promote more cost-effective care.

A self-funded plan also has the latitude to manage claim costs by customizing the review of particular types of claims. Through a combination of plan benefits, experienced processors, and sophisticated software, we can conduct a detailed analysis to find claims that may not meet medical necessity or billing standards. When a claim gets flagged for further review, we recommend certified medical specialists to look for possible solutions.

Another key to self-funded cost control is the ability to promote better health in the workplace. The MedBen WellLiving program aids employer in encouraging physician-driven preventive care that can prevent the onset of chronic conditions or detect them before they reach to potential to cause physical and financial strain.

And the cost control strategies don’t stop there. With 80 years of benefits management expertise, MedBen can work with you one-on-one to build and maintain a health care plan that reduce costs while still providing high levels of coverage. Find out more by contacting Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at

  10:45:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 249 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Research

Study Reveals Opioids No More Effective Than Safer Alternatives

pill bottles

Opioid painkillers usually make the headlines because of their addictive dangers, rather than their therapeutic advantages. But now, new research has raised questions as to whether such benefits have been overstated.

A year-long study of individuals suffering from chronic pain revealed that regular use of ibuprofen and other nonopioids proved equally as effective for relieving pain – and in some cases, even more so – than opioids. The 240 participants, all patients who had pain in their backs, hips or knees for at least six months, were randomly assigned to either the opioid or nonopioid group.

"Overall, opioids did not demonstrate any advantage over nonopioid medications that could potentially outweigh their greater risk of harms," wrote the team led by Dr. Erin Krebs of the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Health Care System's Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research.

Krebs observed that based on the study results, there's no reason to use opioids given "their really nasty side effects — death and addiction." He added that other studies show that physical therapy, exercise or rehabilitation therapy work best for chronic pain.

"This is a very important study," said Dr. David Reuben, geriatrics chief at UCLA's medical school. "It will likely change the approach to managing long-term back, hip and knee pain."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that opioids should be prescribed only after other therapies have failed, and if prescribed, should be used for no more than seven days.

Read more about the study at the Los Angeles Times and ABC News.

  10:24:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 318 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Colorful Food, Colorful Life

healthy eating

Birthdays… we love them when we’re younger, then slowly start to dread them as the numbers get higher and higher. As we age, so does our body and our organs – so it’s important to keep them in great condition as the years pass.

To do that, people are always searching for the latest and greatest miracle pill or cosmetic procedure to help prevent signs of aging. But rather than hoping for an artificial “fix,” MedBen recommends going back to the basics and looking at diet.

Diet plays a key role in how our body and organs age, and what you put in it is what you get out of it. If you want to live a colorful life, with radiant skin and good organs, you should eat colorful foods such as leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, and fish. If you want a dull life, eat bland foods such as chocolates, lots of red meats, and dark pop.

For example: Lutein, found in dark leafy green vegetables such as kale, spinach, and collards, as well as in peas and corn, is an important natural antioxidant that helps maintain healthy eyes and supports brain health as we age. It’s also shown that people who at least three servings of vegetables a day reduce yearly their brain deterioration by nearly 40%.

Antioxidant-rich foods seem to have a protective effect for the skin. These foods include items such as carrots, tomatoes, berries, and salmon. And for the heart, in addition to the foods listed above, oatmeal or a handful of nuts every day are good at preventing heart disease over the years. Oh, and if you’ve got a sweet tooth, a small amount of dark chocolate (at long as it is at least 70% cocoa) is also considered “heart-healthy”.

Bottom line… to keep young and healthy, add some color to your life!

Read more about healthy foods at the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic.


2018 Family HSA Contribution Maximum Reduced

IRS building

Due to a change in cost-of-living increases as calculated under last year's tax reform bill, the IRS has released new recalculated maximums for family health savings account (HSA) contributions for 2018. This year's previously announced family HSA limit of $6,900 has been reduced to $6,850.

For plans that offer an HSA option in conjunction with a high-deductible health plan, this announcement means that family HSAs with a stated $6,900 limit will need to be lowered to the new $6,850 maximum -- and by extension, that member election changes may be required. Additionally, excess contributions may need to be returned to those members who have already contributed the full family amount.

Please note that the 2018 individual HSA maximum contribution remains unchanged at $3,450. Also, benefit maximums for flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) were not affected by the IRS recalculations.

MedBen clients with questions regarding this change may contact Director of Administrative Services Sharon A. Mills at (800) 423-3151, Ext. 438 or


  08:57:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 205 words,  
Categories: News, Compliance, ERISA

MedBen ERISA Disability Claims Document Available for Download

Department of Labor logo

The MedBen Compliance team has created a document outlining the final regulations relating to disability claims under the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act (ERISA), which will become effective on April 1, 2018. You can download this document from the website.

ERISA employers sponsoring disability plans should familiarize themselves with the provisions of these new rules, which are intended to protect workers and disability plan participants who make claims under their employer-sponsored disability plans. Much like the Department of Labor's revision of health care claims procedures prior to and through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), these Final Rules ensure that disability claimants receive a full and fair review of their disability claims as required under ERISA Section 503, by requiring that plan sponsors comply with additional procedural requirements.

Employers should note that the Final Rules may affect more than just disability insurance and self-funded health plans; any ERISA-governed plans which include disability benefits, including certain defined benefit plans, 401(k)s, ERISA-covered 403(b)s, and top hat plans, are subject to the Final Rules. Only non-ERISA plans or arrangements are exempt from the new rules.

MedBen clients with questions regarding the final disability claims rules are welcome to contact Vice President of Compliance Caroline Compliance Caroline Fraker at 800-851-0907 or


  06:14:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 264 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Flu Shot Still Worth It? Absolutely

flu shot

The current flu season has been one of the worst in recent memory, and this year's flu vaccine has offered less help than usual. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the vaccine is only about 25% effective against H3N2, the influenza strain behind more cases. Such a low success rate invariably raises the question: Is getting a flu shot really worth it?

Absolutely, says both the CDC and numerous family physicians. Because while the flu vaccine has been ineffective against H3H2, it has worked against other types of flu. People who do get the vaccine cut their risk of getting the flu by one-third -- certainly nothing to, uh, sneeze at.

Since the flu season doesn't look to be winding down anytime soon, the agency recommends that everyone aged 6 months and older get a flu shot. If you haven't already got one, chances are your family doctor can assist you. And if you're overdue for your annual wellness exam, it's a perfect excuse to take care of that as well!

If you do develop a fever, headache, cough, or other flu-like symptoms, don't just wait it out with the expectation it will go away... instead, fight back. Your best defense is to see your doctor, who can prescribe an antiviral medication to help ease the effects of the virus.

Finally, should you get the flu, as much as your coworkers will no doubt admire your dedication by coming into work, you're better off staying home. In addition to recovering faster, staying home will ensure your very contagious symptoms do not spread.

2017 FSA/HRA Reimbursement Request Deadline Is March 31

debit card cashier

A few reminders for MedBen clients who offer flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and/or health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) to their plan members:

  • For most FSA and HRA plans that have a January effective date, March 31, 2018 is the final day of the run-out period in which plan members can turn in reimbursement requests for qualified 2017 purchases. Alternately, your FSA plan may allow a "grace period" for members to spend remaining 2017 funds by March 15, but still adhere to the March 31 deadline for reimbursement requests.

    Some FSA and HRA plans may have a different run-out period. Plan members who have questions about their plan's deadline may call MedBen Customer Service at 800-297-1829.

  • Most plans that offer HRAs allow remaining funds from the prior year to be rolled over for future use, while some allow up to $500 of FSA funds to be carried over from year to year. But in either case, after March 31 plan members will no longer be able to use those funds for outstanding 2017 expenses. (Note that plans offering the FSA grace period option cannot also offer carryovers, and vice versa.)
  • Plan members who need FSA/HRA reimbursement forms can download them from the website, by clicking on the “Plan Members” button and selecting "FSA and HRA" from the "Forms" drop-down box. FSA members can also confirm whether or not a medical expense qualifies for reimbursement by selecting "IRS-Eligible Expenses" from the "Additional Resources" drop-down box.
  • Additionally, our online service site MedBen Access enables FSA/HRA plan members to keep track of their account balances, claims submissions and payments. Simply visit, select "MedBen Access" and, once logged in, click on “FSA/HRA Online Inquiry” under the “My Plan” section.

MedBen clients with additional questions regarding their FSAs or HRAs may call MedBen Customer Service at 800-297-1829.


  06:01:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 257 words,  
Categories: Announcements, News, Prescription, Health Plan Management, Claims management

MedBen Leads Columbus Business First Survey

A new Columbus Business First survey (in the February 16 issue) ranks MedBen as Central Ohio's top employee benefits company, based on the number of Central Ohio benefits workers we employ.

With 143 TPA employees residing in Licking, Franklin and surrounding counties, MedBen employs nearly 100 more local workers than its closest competition.

"MedBen's success is based on the simple fact that we have a great group of professionals working here and they are always focused on helping our clients." said Kurt Harden, MedBen President & COO. "We think long term. Many of our employees have been with us for decades, which I think says something about the quality of people we hire and the culture we promote. Similarly, many of our clients have been long term clients. In a short-term world, we think it helps to think long term."

As benefits management has gotten more diverse with the rise of self-funding and worksite wellness, MedBen has met the call with a variety of flexible service offerings, including a new “Cost Plus” pharmacy program that we're currently rolling out. At the same time, we've built up our team to ensure that clients have the resources they need to design and maintain their health care program.

"Not only are our employees dedicated to our clients' success, they're some of the most innovative people you'd want to meet," Harden added.

One more thing: MedBen is also among the oldest companies on the list, as we were founded in 1938... and we're proud to have called Central Ohio our home for our entire 80 years!


  07:31:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 259 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management, Reporting, Third party administration, MedBen University, Self-funding

In Health Care Planning, One Size Does Not Fit All


A new Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement (NRHI) report highlights the wide disparity of health care costs in U.S. states, with average costs ranging from 17% above comparable populations in Colorado to 16% below in Maryland. The report notes that "there is no one-size-fits-all solution" for health care affordability... and at MedBen, it's a truism that extends well beyond geography.

Nearly 80 years of experience in benefits management has taught MedBen the importance of customizing a health plan to meet the needs of the client. Proper health plan design considers such factors as the particular industry, employee demographics and health care utilization. By treating a business as the unique enterprise that it is, we can create a health plan that addresses specific population health concerns while ensuring that the employer's financial investment is well-managed.

At our upcoming MedBen University roundtables, we'll explore how employer health plans address potential challenges inherent in their industry as well as capitalize on their possible advantages. In addition to industry-specific roundtables for hospitals and municipalities, we're offering a session for private sector employers that breaks down various plan cost factors and offers proven strategies to improve plan effectiveness. Invitations to these events are in the mail (or soon will be), so be sure to look for yours!

Finally, while every business is indeed different, for MedBen one thing always stays consistent -- the level of attention and respect we give to each one of our clients. Learn more about how we can serve your unique needs by contact Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at


  06:41:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 334 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Preventive care, Cholesterol

The Good and Bad of Cholesterol

heart hands

Cholesterol itself isn’t bad. Actually, cholesterol plays an important role in building cells, digestion, and hormone manufacturing. However, since cholesterol is a waxy substance much like a can of Crisco you purchase at the grocery store, the problem occurs when there is excess cholesterol in the body and thus, it begins to build up in the arteries, straining the heart.

Cholesterol comes from two places: your liver and the foods you eat. Interestingly enough, cholesterol is only made by animals, so you only get cholesterol from eating meats and not plant-based foods.

There are two types of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). American Heart Association explained their roles best: LDL cholesterol is like someone who carries stuff all through the house and drops it along the way while HDL cholesterol is like someone who picks up the dropped stuff and puts it away to keep the house from becoming impassable. Without HDL cholesterol, LDL would eventually lead to completely blocked arteries.

Since high cholesterol levels usually show no symptoms, it’s important to have your levels checked by your family physician. MedBen WellLiving recommends a screening every five years (unless your physician recommends otherwise) based on risk factors such as age, sex, family history, smoking history, diabetes and blood pressure. Screenings are simple and require just a small sample of blood.

Full story »


For MedBen, Beating Trend Is All in the Details

MedBen building

In recent years, U.S. health care spending has slowed significantly compared to the double-digit cost spikes we saw a decade ago. But there’s still room for improvement, so MedBen uses containment strategies to keep client claim costs under national trends.

Recently released numbers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) indicate that from the years 2014-2016, U.S. health care spending trend averaged 5.07% annually. MedBen's overall client block for the same period came in at 4.03% trend.

Moreover, as more of our clients have integrated the MedBen WellLiving program into their health plan, their costs have reflected the emphasis on preventive care and early detection of chronic conditions. From the years 2015-2016, our WellLiving block has realized a 1.60% trend compared to 5.05% nationally.

Keeping client health care costs as low as possible starts with focusing on the primary cause of higher spending – claims. MedBen eschews the "claim is a claim" mindset, instead processing every claim with an eye on accuracy and medical necessity. Should our surveillance system detect a claim that merits additional scrutiny, medical specialists review it to ensure the most favorable outcome.

MedBen is committed to finding ways to save your health plan money by beating the trend. See up close how we do it by contacting Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at

  09:36:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 271 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Giving Up Sleep May Come at a Risky Price


In today’s busy culture, sleep can sometimes be low on our priority lists. After all, if we sleep for a full eight hours, that only leaves us 16 hours (at least half of which are spent working), to exercise, cook and eat dinner, do housework, socialize, etc. The daily “to-do” list can sometimes be overwhelming, and research shows that more and more often, people are getting less sleep to do more. According to Eve Van Cauter, Ph. D., Director of Sleep, Metabolism and Health Center at the University of Chicago, over the last four decades, sleep has decreased 1.5-2 hours per night.

But at what cost are you willing to give up sleep? Dr. Van Cauter states that research increasingly points to links between insufficient sleep and diseases such as obesity and diabetes, as those who are sleep deprived tend to eat more foods that they would generally avoid. Additionally, lack of sleep can cause a decrease in insulin sensitivity, which increases the risk of type II diabetes.

Van Cauter also notes that sleep deprivation has been connected to cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Plus, individuals who get less than six hours of sleep are at an increased risk of hypertension – and those who get less than five hours double their risk.

Some suggestions that Van Cauter makes to get more sleep include avoiding mid-day naps, keeping the bedroom dark, cool, and quiet, and establishing a regular and relaxing bedtime routine. Talking to your family physician may be necessary as well. MedBen WellLiving has written a WellCare article about the importance of sleep, which contains additional tips to get your senses ready for bed.

  09:27:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 214 words,  
Categories: Reporting, Cost savings, Third party administration

MedBen Reporting Highlights “Care Gap” Connection

GSRs reviewing report

Among the distinctive features of the MedBen reporting package is a series of reports that examine a group's "care gap."

The simple idea behind a care gap measurement: Individuals who follow wellness recommendations (such as annual exams and cancer screenings) and condition management (i.e., diabetics taking prescribed insulin) have lower care gaps than those who do not. Every MedBen Client Review compares yearly claim costs between plan members with higher and lower care gaps. Typically, we find that plan members with higher care gaps cost the group, on average, three to four times as much as those with lower care gaps.

MedBen reporting also places the care gap in the larger context of care received (or not received) and how it affects your current and future health plan costs. Depending on the report, you can compare care gaps against such factors as disease burdens and specific chronic conditions – and more often than not, these comparisons demonstrate how care gaps are good indicators of the health, and the financial risk, of your employee population.

The care gap is closely linked to current costs and future risk, and MedBen reporting reflects this fact. To see how our reporting approach can reduce your health care spending, contact Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at


  02:24:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 214 words,  
Categories: Announcements, MedBen Employees, Social media

MedBen Gets “Social”… on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

social media

For years, MedBen has posted regularly on Twitter, providing updates and information about our services, as well as links to articles of interest to our clients and self-funded employers in general. And now, we are expanding our social media presence with new pages on Facebook and LinkedIn.

All three sites will share the latest MedBen news, as well as two new weekly features: Motivational Mondays, featuring inspiration thoughts to get your work week off on the right note, and Health Tip Tuesdays – bite-size nuggets of wellness advice that serve as an extra bit of encouragement to live a healthy life!

as MedBen celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, we’ll be periodically spotlighting the people so integral to our growth and success… our employees. We’ll focus on activities around the office as well as the many charitable endeavors in which our team members participate.

Of course, MedBen continues to add new content to the MedBen Blog every week. Or if you prefer to have us deliver updates direct to your mailbox, MedBen e-briefs rounds up the latest happenings in a convenient bi-weekly newsletter. If you’re not currently on our mailing list, we invite you to sign up today… and while you’re at it, connect to any or all of MedBen’s social media platforms!


  11:21:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 341 words,  
Categories: American Health Care Act

MedBen University Season Rolls out with Roundtables

MedBen University

MedBen University (MBU) will soon be in session! Our educational seminar series will offer attendees actionable information on a range of health benefits management topics, from utilization trends to new cost-reducing benefit solutions.

MBU will kick off its 17th season with a series of benefits management roundtables. These special sessions use data from MedBen's business blocks as a starting point for a discussion of medical and pharmacy claim trends, showing where your health care dollars are going and helping you spot opportunities to lower costs. We'll also look at new and emerging coverage strategies, including a unique cost-reducing prescription benefits solution.

All three events will be held at the C. Arthur Morrow Conference Center, 1821 W. Main Street, Newark, Ohio (located next to the MedBen home office). Invitations will be mailed soon, so keep an eye out for yours!

16th Annual Hospital Roundtable
Because of a hospital's position as a care provider, benefit planning poses particular challenges and opportunities for plan administrators. Attendees will learn ways to use this industry advantage to their best benefit, and what performance indicators to watch in order to best manage costs.

12th Annual Municipality Roundtable
City and county governments, school systems and other public sector employers also face unique health care cost control issues. Attendees will learn cost reduction strategies that municipalities can apply to their coverage, and ways that they can make more informed planning decisions.

2nd Annual Employer Roundtable
While no two businesses are alike, there are actions that every employer can take to maximize the effectiveness of their self-funded plan. This session will highlight strategies that have proven successful to MedBen clients as well as new approaches to benefits management that promise to reduce plan costs even further.

Even if you've attended previous MBUs, you'll still get plenty of useful and timely information about health care planning. Our team of benefit management professionals will be happy to answer your questions... and yes, a continental breakfast and lunch will be provided at every session.

We hope to see you at an MBU event in 2018!

  11:14:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 238 words,  
Categories: American Health Care Act

Treatment Advances, Regular Screenings Reduce Breast Cancer Mortality

pink ribbon

A focus on preventive care and breakthroughs in screening and treatment reduced breast cancer deaths by 49% in 2012, compared with a 37% reduction in 2000, a new study finds.

"Advances in screening and treatment are saving lives," said lead researcher Sylvia Plevritis, a professor of radiology and biomedical data science at the Stanford University School of Medicine. "Here's an example that all this investment in research and discovery has had a real benefit. This has translated into making a difference."

The reduction in breast cancer deaths has also coincided with the rise in employer wellness programs like MedBen WellLiving. From its inception, WellLiving has emphasized the importance of regular cancer screenings based on age and gender... and we're pleased to assist employers in their efforts to help employees achieve better health and realize a higher quality of life. WellLiving recommends that women start getting mammograms at age 40 every two years until their physician decides not to order the screening.

Encouraging preventive care in the workplace offers physical and financial benefits alike. Not only do non-invasive (stage 0) and early stage (I and II) breast cancers have a better prognosis than cancer in its later stages (III and IV), which could possibly even save a life, early stage detection can save a health plan hundreds of thousands of dollars in treatment costs.

Learn how you can make a real difference by contacting MedBen Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at


  06:45:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 255 words,  
Categories: News, Health Care Reform, Taxes, IRS

Delayed Again . . . Cadillac Tax Postponed Until 2022

IRS Building

While things have been relatively quiet on the Affordable Care Act front, in recent weeks employers were starting to wonder if they needed to implement strategies to manage costs under the controversial Cadillac Tax which was set to become effective in 2020.

This week’s short-term budget bill put those concerns to rest for a couple more years. The bill that passed out of Congress and was signed by President Trump on January 22 included another delay of the Cadillac Tax – now postponed until 2022.

The biggest problem with planning for the Cadillac Tax is that there are still no implementing regulations. That means that there is no definitive guidance for plan sponsors who want to determine how this tax might affect them. In its current form, the Cadillac tax would assess a 40% penalty on health plans in excess of certain thresholds. Those thresholds, set in 2014 at $10,200 for single coverage or $27,500 for family coverage, increase each year thereafter by statute.

One important fact to remember is that, for Cadillac Tax purposes, the value of a health care plan is determined not just by what the plan offers, but by the overall costs of the plan, which is calculated using the same methodology as used in determining a plan’s annual COBRA rates. So simply removing a benefit here and there will not significantly affect the coverage cost in relation to the threshold amount if the overall plan costs are not affected.

For more information about the Cadillac Tax, contact Vice President of Compliance Caroline Compliance Caroline Fraker at 800-851-0907 or


  05:12:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 187 words,  
Categories: Announcements, Cost savings, Third party administration, Claims management

MedBen Claims Surveillance Continues to Save Clients Money

magnified dollar

MedBen's claims surveillance system, which screens and selects claims for specialist review, saved clients, on average, an additional 38% per selected claim in 2017... savings produced after network discounts are applied, but before claims are paid.

Our advanced surveillance technique takes claims processing to another level. This system works in tandem with our in-house processing, using physician-managed algorithms to find claims that may not meet medical necessity or appropriateness standards. If a claim is flagged, board-certified medical specialists further review the claim (with the client's approval) to find possible resolutions.

In dollars and cents, this added layer of claims analysis saved clients an average of $7.57 per employee per month (PEPM) in 2017. Furthermore, looking at the PEPM amounts from 2013 to 2016 reveals a five-year average client savings of $10.09 PEPM.

It should be noted that these savings come on top of savings derived from plan provisions, network discounts, and medical management. Taken together, these cost controls and other claim management strategies help MedBen clients remain under national plan spending trends.

Learn more about claims surveillance and other MedBen saving solutions by contacting Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at

  05:09:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 345 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Compliance

Judge Vacates EEOC Wellness Program Rules


“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.”

Ben Franklin’s words ring true for those still struggling with the EEOC’s workplace wellness incentive rules. The EEOC’s May 2016 final rules outline how employers are permitted to offer wellness program incentives to employees and when those programs are considered voluntary. The rules were complex and often difficult to reconcile with the less complicated HIPAA wellness rules (which were in effect at the time and remain in effect today). However, in December 2017, a Washington D.C. Federal Judge vacated the EEOC rules in response to a lawsuit brought by the AARP (AARP v. EEOC, D.D.C. 1:16-cv-02113).

Judge John Bates’ ruling sides with the AARP, which has argued that the EEOC's wellness incentive rules (permitting health plans to include incentive penalties of up to 30% of the cost of coverage) are not a sufficient remedy for categorizing the wellness programs as voluntary.

But before running out to change your wellness program you should know two things about the Judge’s order. First, the Judge vacated the current EEOC wellness program rules – but not until January 1, 2019. The Judge reasoned that employers wouldn’t have sufficient time to re-design their plans for 2018 (“on they fly” as described by the Judge). Second, the Judge ordered the EEOC back to the drawing board, requiring that the Agency propose new rules by August 31, 2018. The EEOC must provide a reasoned explanation for considering workplace wellness programs voluntary even if those programs apply penalties.

What does this mean for your wellness program? It means that everything stays the same until it changes. That could be in the Fall of 2018 or in January 2019. Either way, it is important to note that none of this means making changes now and that any future changes may be ones we haven’t even imagined yet. So like Ben says, we’re not finished changing until we’re finished!

In the meantime, if you have any questions about the EEOC’s wellness program rules, the HIPAA wellness program rules, or any other aspect of wellness program design, feel free to contact MedBen Vice President of Compliance Caroline Fraker at 800-851-0907 or


  02:55:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 221 words,  
Categories: Dental, Research, Preventive care

Benefits of Dental Care Go Well Beyond Clean Teeth

dental chair

Dental checkups do much more than giving your teeth a good cleaning. Through twice-yearly exams, a dentist can monitor the condition of the teeth and gums to spot subtle changes that may need attention.

But that's only the half of it. Research shows that people who get their teeth professionally cleaned on a regular basis reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke.

Nor do the benefits end there: Many dentists also use these routine visits to check for signs of cancers of the lips, tongue, and cheek, in addition to other oral cancers, says Todd Coy, DMD, Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Dentistry.

“Evaluation of the oral cavity, including the soft tissues, is part of my exam when patients are in the office for a checkup,” he says. “There are very few downsides to more frequent screening.”

In the first quarter of 2018, MedBen will be rolling out an enhanced version of its dental plan. MedBen PreceDent will offer lower costs through network care, as well as such value-added enhancements as dental implants and periodontal scaling. And of course, preventive care (which includes those twice-yearly exams) is covered in full.

If you'd like to get more information about how MedBen PreceDent promotes dental care that goes beyond the obvious, contact Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at

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