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01/06/17

  10:04:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 268 words,  
Categories: Cost savings, MedBen Analytics, Bundled Payments, Quality, Value-based care

Study: Bundled Payment Model Saves Money, Maintains Quality Care

MedBen Analytics

Proper use of bundled payments by health care providers can save money while maintaining or even improving quality of care, concludes new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

According to a Penn Medicine news release, the evaluation of costs and care quality for hip and knee replacements performed from 2008-2015 at a Texas-based health system determined that the average cost per patient dropped nearly 21% during that period. The health system began the transition from fee-for-service to bundled payments in 2009.

The study also found a 67% drop in extended hospital stays, while the severity of patient conditions remained unchanged.

As these numbers suggest, the steady growth of alternative payment models carries the potential for significant cost savings in the delivery of health care. MedBen Analytics is working to help hospitals, health systems, and physician groups fulfill that potential.

Through our proprietary reporting platform that converts disparate Medicare data into actionable insights, MedBen Analytics enables providers participating in the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) and other value based payment initiatives to make informed decisions regarding hospital readmissions, lengths of stay and other cost-oriented variables.

As methods from bundled payments for hip and knee replacements are being applied to cardiac care and other medical procedures, MedBen Analytics continues to broaden its reporting platform. Our goal is to ensure that providers get full advantage of the data transparency now available to them, and use our reports to offer optimal service while saving money ‒ and enhancing their reputations.

Organizations interested in discussing MedBen Analytics' services can call President and COO Kurt Harden at 888-633-2364 or email him at kharden@medben.com.

01/05/17

  10:49:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 290 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management, Compliance

Federal Judge Halts a Portion of the ACA’s Section 1557 Regulations

gavel

Over the past few months, MedBen has provided information to our clients about the ramifications and compliance requirements of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA's) Section 1557 regulations, which prohibits employers and organizations (covered entities) from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (gender), age, or disability, for any health program or activity of which any party receives Health and Human Services (HHS) federal funding or assistance. This includes both patient care and health benefit plans, and applies to health benefit plans effective on the first day of the plan's 2017 plan year.

On December 31, 2016, just one day before the Section 1557 rules took effect for some covered entities, a federal Judge in Texas issued a nationwide injunction halting enforcement of a portion of the Section 1557 rules – specifically, the requirements relating to the provision of health care services for gender transition and termination of pregnancy.

While Section 1557 only applies to a small portion of MedBen clients, it is essential that those covered entities have a clear understanding of how this ruling affects their compliance responsibilities. To that end, the MedBen Compliance team has composed a document summarizing the current status of Section 1557 and what it means for health benefit plans of covered entities. This summary is available for download and printing at MedBen.com.

We'll emphasize here that, due to the federal court’s injunction and as noted in the summary, it appears that you may not have to modify your plan document to cover gender transition services or termination of pregnancy at this time – unless you choose to do so voluntarily.

We encourage MedBen clients who receive HHS federal funding or assistance to read the entire summary. If you have questions, please contact Vice President of Compliance Caroline Fraker at 800-851-0907 or cfraker@medben.com.

01/01/17

  05:23:00 am, by MedBen5   , 280 words,  
Categories: Announcements

A Note from Our Chairman and President

Doug Freeman and Kurt Harden

To our customers, consultants and brokers:

As we come to the close of a rather eventful 2016, we wanted to take a moment to wish you and your employees a Happy New Year on behalf of the entire MedBen staff!

While we've both seen plenty of changes in our time at MedBen, it's safe to say that what we have experienced these past few years have been really unprecedented: A reform of the health care system by one president's administration, followed by a potential overhaul by the next one. Suffice to say, it's been equal parts interesting and challenging so far... and it looks like we're just getting started.

As we turn the calendar, we want to pledge to you that whatever changes to health care that occur in the coming months, MedBen will continue to provide innovative and money-saving benefit solutions and unmatched service. Many of the people working here have been with us for decades, and our trust in their ability to serve you grows with every passing year. Likewise, we will strive to earn your trust in every way possible... and if we should fall down on this pledge, please call either one of us. We will work quickly to fix whatever isn't working for you.

We hope that the coming year finds you happy and healthy, and offer you our very best wishes for a prosperous 2017!

Sincerely,

Doug Freeman
Chairman & CEO
(740) 522-7339

Kurt Harden
President & COO
(740) 522-7345

A quick reminder: MedBen will be closed on Monday, January 2 and reopen on Tuesday, January 3 at 8:00 a.m. EST. Should you have a claims or benefits question, please visit MedBen Access. Our online customer service center is available 24/7 for your convenience!

12/30/16

  09:35:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 260 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Research, Diabetes, Preventive care

Diabetes Tops List of U.S. Health Care Spending

diabetes

The U.S. spends more on diabetes than any other medical condition, according to a new analysis that underscores the impact that a wellness-driven workplace can have on reducing health care costs.

HealthDay reports that in 2013, Americans spent $101 billion on diabetes diagnosis and treatment. Between 1996 and 2013, diabetes spending grew 36 times faster than spending on heart disease, the nation's leading cause of death.

"After adjusting for inflation, we see that every year the U.S. is spending 6% more than we spent the year before on diabetes," said lead researcher Joseph Dieleman of the University of Washington. He added that "spending on diabetes grew twice as fast as all conditions combined" during that 18-year period.

Most diabetics are diagnosed with the type 2 variety, in which the pancreas produces insufficient amounts of insulin to control excess blood glucose. Fortunately, lifestyle changes can significantly reduce the effects of type 2 diabetes ‒ and here, MedBen WellLiving can provide timely assistance.

Through our WellLiving specialty care program, plan members diagnosed with type 2 diabetes will be contacted by an RN Health Consultant to offer customized counseling and confidential disease monitoring. Individuals who aren't at immediate risk will benefit too, as our focus on preventive care encourages regular wellness exams with a family doctor, improving the chances that diabetes symptoms will be detected and addressed in their earliest stages.

Of course, MedBen WellLiving brings population health awareness to other costly conditions as well. Contact Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at bfargus@medben.com to learn more.

View the list of the 20 most costly health conditions at the Becker's Hospital Review.

12/29/16

  03:47:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 219 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Health Plan Management, Cost savings, Third party administration, Self-funding

Self-funding Allows Employers to Flex Cost Saving Muscles

MedBen building

With health care spending expected to reach one-fifth of the U.S. gross domestic product by 2025, it's more important than ever for businesses to have a greater degree of cost control with their health plan. Toward that goal, MedBen continues to help employers make the switch to self-funded coverage.

Self-funding has a number of advantages (i.e., cost savings, regulatory freedom), but we'll single one out here: Flexibility. Specifically, the input the employer has in the creation of their health plan far exceeds that available in traditional insurance coverage. With MedBen’s expertise, employers can rest easy that their customized plan both meet their needs and will be regulatory compliant.

The flexibility doesn't end there. MedBen also offers stop-loss independence, which allows us to shop multiple carriers to find you the best rate. This applies to new groups as well as renewing clients.

MedBen’s risk reduction strategies have been proven to help clients keep their costs in check and beat national cost trends. Also, you can complement your benefits plan with our population health strategies like MedBen WellLiving, resulting in even greater client savings.

Self-funding opens employers to a variety of ways to keep their health care spending to a minimum. Discover how MedBen can help your bottom line by contacting MedBen Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at bfargus@medben.com.

12/27/16

  03:49:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 311 words,  
Categories: Health Care Reform, Taxes, Compliance, Employer Mandate

ACA Uncertainty Troubles Employers; MedBen Compliance Ready to Help

Caroline Fraker

With all the talk these days about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it's little wonder that its uncertain future troubles many businesses. But as health care reform is potentially "re-reformed," the MedBen Compliance team will be closely monitoring developments and advising clients along the way.

In a new Aon survey of 800 employers, 48% responded that the ACA's employer mandate ranks above prescription drug costs and the "Cadillac tax" as their biggest concern for the incoming Trump administration. "The employer mandate ... has the reporting obligations, the disclosure obligations, 1094 and 1095 forms and the service tracking ... all of that goes into the ACA. The concern is, is it going to be dropped, expanded or modified in some way?” said J.D. Piro, head of the Aon’s law group, to EBN.

While it's fair to say that the ACA has been reliably consistent in its inconsistency, the election of Donald Trump holds the potential for a major overhaul that few could have foreseen. Fortunately, the MedBen Compliance Department has been through health care reform once, and is ready to tackle it again.

Even before the ACA was signed into law in 2010, Compliance management was reviewing its potential provisions and charting a course of action for MedBen clients. And as we collectively learn what's to come, our team will draw upon their experience from the first go-round to help clients understand what the new reforms will mean to their business, and how to best prepare for it.

Of course, any reform will take time to implement... so for 2017 at least, it's business as usual. MedBen Compliance will continue to guide clients, brokers and consultants through the details via phone calls, meetings, webinars, educational materials, newsletters, and this blog. And as always, if you ever have questions about any aspect of the ACA, don’t hesitate to call Vice President of Compliance Caroline Fraker at 800-851-0907 or cfraker@medben.com.

12/22/16

  10:00:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 226 words,  
Categories: Compliance, ERISA

ERISA Electronic Distribution Summary Available from MedBen

Department of Labor logo

Since its inception, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (or ERISA), as amended, has required employers and plan administrators to provide certain information and documentation to group health plan participants and beneficiaries. These documents include such things as Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs), Summaries of Benefits and Coverage (SBCs), Summaries of Material Modifications (SMMs) and Summary Annual Reports (SARs) – as well as information and notices like open enrollment materials, QMCSO notices, COBRA notices, and the new Section 1557 Notices (if applicable).

In 2012, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) issued regulations providing guidance to employers and plan administrators about how they could make these required document and information distributions electronically. With the increase in technology infiltrating the employee benefits field, including the group health plan arena, MedBen thought it was good idea to review the Electronic Distribution rules.

The MedBen Compliance Department has put together a summary of the ERISA Electronic Distribution regulations, which is available for download from MedBen.com. If you are interested in starting to provide documents and information to your plan participants electronically, now is the time to review the rules. Or if you are already providing documentation and information electronically, it is always a good idea to check your compliance. Either way, if you have any questions about these rules, feel free to contact Vice President of Compliance Caroline Fraker at 800-851-0907 or cfraker@medben.com.

12/21/16

  03:25:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 358 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Turkey, Muffins, and Pie – Oh My!

presents

It’s easy to lose sight of a healthy diet… especially at this time of year. The average person consumes more than 3,000 calories on ONE Thanksgiving meal (and 7,000 total on Christmas Day) where the USDA recommends (depending on demographics) individuals consume between 1,300 – 3,000 calories per day.

While it’s too late to modify your eating habits for Thanksgiving, there’s still time to be conscious of your consumption for December festivities. So what can you do to stay healthy this winter season? Being cautious in the kitchen and staying active are two great answers. (They’re also good ways to make sure your annual wellness results aren’t skewed if you’re planning to get that within the next month or so).

Skip items like dark turkey (especially if it still has the skin) and go for the ham with just 140 calories per three-ounce serving, or a piece of fudge for dessert versus a brownie that contains 112 calories per two-inch square. Be careful, though, as choosing an item with added glaze or toppings could undo your healthy choice. In addition, eat smaller portions and wait 5-10 minutes before getting a second helping to ensure you don’t pass “full” status.

Finally, make sure to stay active! It’s easier to skip walks or stay at your home when the cold air surrounds you. But going to the gym or bundling up and taking a brisk walk has the same benefits it did in the summertime. And what’s so bad about a holiday walk?

The Naughty List of Foods
The list has been checked twice. Here’s some foods you should avoid this winter.

  • Eggnog contains 343 calories per cup in addition to almost an entire day’s worth of sugar.
  • Thinking about drinking a peppermint white chocolate mocha to help warm you up? It contains 540 calories.
  • Cranberries are a great source of vitamins, but cranberry sauce contains over 4 times the suggested daily sugar intake.
  • A side of creamed spinach contains 75% of your saturated fat for the day.
  • A single Swedish meatball contains close to 400 calories.
  • Green bean casserole has more than 7,000 grams of sodium – more than double what the CDC recommends for an entire day!

SOURCES: LiveStrong, ABC News, Huffington Post

12/18/16

  11:05:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 290 words,  
Categories: Announcements, Wellness, Consumer-driven Health Plans, Online Services

Holiday Hours and Year-end Reminders

winter window

The MedBen team wishes you and yours a happy holiday season!

Our home office will be open regular hours (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST, with customer service available until 6:30 p.m. EST) on Friday, December 23. We will be closed on Monday, December 26 and will reopen at 8:00 a.m. EST on Tuesday, December 27.

MedBen will also observe regular office hours on Friday, December 30. We'll be closed on Monday, January 2, 2017 and reopen at 8:00 a.m. EST on Tuesday, January 3.

A few year-end reminders:

When we're closed, take advantage of MedBen online services. Plan members and plan administrators alike can visit the MedBen Access site 24/7 to view claims and benefits information and perform many other client services. MedBen.com also offers a variety of useful features, including downloadable forms and applications, provider directory links, and 2017 prescription formularies.

Remember the FSA "use it or lose it" rule. If your health plan offers a flexible spending account (FSA) option that requires remaining funds to be used by December 31, remind plan members that they can view a list of IRS-eligible expenses at MedBen.com should they need to make last-minute purchases. The site also offers FSA reimbursement requests and substantiation forms, as well as similar documents for health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) members.

FSA and HRA members can check their current balances through MedBen Access by selecting the “FSA/HRA Online Inquiry” under the “My Plan” section.

Check your wellness compliance. As a year comes to a close, it's a good time to double-check if you've up to date on recommended wellness exams and screenings. For MedBen WellLiving members, MedBen Access features an easy-to-use page that displays current wellness compliance status. If you're overdue for a checkup, please schedule it soon!

Once again, enjoy the holidays, be safe... and have a healthy and prosperous 2017!

  11:03:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 255 words,  
Categories: Ancillary benefits

Get Happy, Get Healthy

healthy eating

A sound body is critical to good health, but a sound mind can be no less important, suggests a study which analyzed how an optimistic outlook affects a person's physical well-being.

Using what The New York Times describes as a "well-validated questionnaire," researchers rated 70,000 women on their level of optimism and collected information about their health and behavioral characteristics. Comparing the two sets of data, they found significant associations between increasing levels of optimism and decreasing risks of death from cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and infections.

Particularly strong were the associations for cardiovascular disease, as women in the quarter with the highest optimism scores had a nearly 40% lower risk for heart disease and stroke than those in the lowest quarter, even taking into account other health factors.

The MedBen WellLiving program subscribes to the idea that wellness works best when an individual is fully invested with the goals for better health. That's one of the reasons why, rather than offering onsite wellness, we encourage members to maintain a professional relationship with a family doctor of their choosing.

Through our primary care program, members have the opportunity to discuss concerns with a doctor who is well-acquainted with their health history and can provide informed guidance. This, in turn, increases the likelihood that the patient will heed the advice ‒ and hopefully promotes a positive attitude about his or her long-term health.
Learn more about all the ways MedBen WellLiving can benefit your workplace by contacting Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at bfargus@medben.com.

12/16/16

  08:03:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 340 words,  
Categories: Hospitals, MedBen Analytics, Bundled Payments, Value-based care

Value-based Care Will Thrive Regardless of ACA's Future

MedBen Analytics logo

While the recent election has created much uncertainty about the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there's a strong likelihood that a number of its individual provisions will survive in one form or another ‒ among them, the push to switch from a fee-for-service provider payment model to one centered around value-based care.

Kevin Kennedy of ECG Management Consultants suggests 10 reasons why value-based care will continue to thrive in the Trump Administration. You can read the entire list at the ECG website, but we'll highlight a few of his thoughts below:

We need to get costs under control, and the same fee-for-service model isn’t going to get us there. According to the Department of Health & Human Services, healthcare spending could climb to $3.35 trillion by the end of 2016. That equates to $10,345 for every American, which dwarfs the per capita healthcare spending of every other industrialized nation.

Many employers have already made up their minds about value-based care. In an effort to keep their employees healthier and curb premium costs, employers are increasingly collaborating with health insurers and medical service providers to design value-based reimbursement arrangements.

Healthcare consumers want value. As in other industries, consumers want to know that there is value in the services they are purchasing, be that in the form of cost, quality, convenience, experience, or a combination. Consumerism is not a partisan issue.

Kennedy also mentions that "... innovation has been unleashed on the healthcare industry" ‒ and here's where MedBen Analytics comes in. We provide an innovative platform with which hospitals can best capitalize from bundled payments for value-based care.

MedBen Analytics' advanced reporting system takes raw claims data and converts it into actionable reports. Using the insights offered, providers can see where opportunities for improvement lie. And while the initial focus for our platform is on Medicare payments, its cost-saving applications have the potential to benefit the private sector as well.

Hospitals and providers interested in a demonstration of the MedBen Analytics system or additional information are welcome to contact MedBen President and COO at 888-633-2364 or kharden@medben.com.

12/06/16

  08:03:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 289 words,  
Categories: Announcements

MedBen Employees Donate Gifts to Community Children

For the 17th consecutive year, MedBen is pleased to take part in the Families Helping Families program. Our employees have once again joined together to raise funds and purchase presents, to ensure that the less privileged children of Licking County (Ohio) share in the giving spirit of the holiday season.

Families Helping Families

"For nearly 80 years, we've been proud to be a part of Licking County, and have benefitted greatly from working here," said MedBen Chairman & CEO Doug Freeman. "Families Helping Families is just one way we try to give back to the community, and our people really enjoy buying gifts for the kids."

Spearheaded by Licking County Job and Family Services (LCJFS) and coordinated by the Salvation Army, Families Helping Families provides gifts anonymously to more than 600 children in Licking County. Area businesses, churches, schools, clubs, families, and other groups all contribute to the program, which brightens the holidays for many elderly citizens as well.

This year, MedBen employees "adopted" 17 children ranging in age from 2 months old to 12 years, from lists provided through LCJFS as well as House of New Hope, which helps foster children. Each child receives clothing in addition to toys and other items that were on their wish list. MedBen contributes extra funds on top of the employee donations to buy additional gifts.

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

Individuals and groups who are interested in donating to Families Helping Families are encouraged to contact Jamie Spangler or Misty Edwards at (740) 670-8714 or LCFHF@jfs.ohio.gov.

12/02/16

  08:15:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 232 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Heart, Research, Diabetes, Preventive care

Controlling Chronic Conditions Key to Healthier, Longer Lives

wellness exam

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among Americans under the age of 80, followed by cancer, stroke, and asthma, according to new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. But there's good news, too ‒ between 2010 and 2014, the CDC saw notable declines in deaths from cancer, heart disease and stroke.

These declines happen to coincide with a growing effort to better personal health: Over two-thirds of U.S. employers currently offer some form of worksite wellness. MedBen WellLiving has also grown during that period, and is using its experience to put in place wellness programs with a proven record of success.

By controlling the chronic conditions that lead to disease, we significantly reduce the odds of developing the disease in the first place. A study published by JACC found that patients without hypertension, obesity, or diabetes had much lower risks of incident heart failure than patients with these risk factors, and lived an average of 3 to 15 years longer.

WellLiving acts as a proper complement to diet, exercise and other healthy habits. By tracking health changes through annual wellness exams and regular screening, individuals reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions while improving energy and productivity.

Through MedBen WellLiving, employers benefit from a healthier workplace and long-term savings on medical costs. Learn more about how it can work for your group by contacting Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at bfargus@medben.com.

12/01/16

  07:58:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 245 words,  
Categories: Prescription, Health Plan Management, Cost savings

Specialty Drug Growth Shows No Signs of Slowing

pill bottle and mortar

The increasing popularity of specialty drugs has brought new challenges to health plan management. However, MedBen has closely followed their growth, and works with clients to develop strategies that balance their medicinal advantages with realistic cost considerations.

Back in 1990 ‒ roughly the same time MedBen launched its third party administration services ‒ there were just 10 specialty drugs on the market. Today, there are around 300 available, with a projected 700 more in various stages of development. Since 2010, half of all FDA approvals are for specialty drugs.

But those numbers don't tell the real story. While specialty drugs make up only 1% of all prescriptions, in 2014 they comprised 32% of total drug spending. That same year, spending on specialty drugs rose over 30%, compared to 6% for traditional medications.

When determining whether to cover a specialty drug, self-funded groups must consider its benefits (i.e., the potential to replace more expensive and prolonged medical treatment) along with its drawbacks (high cost, no assurance of effectiveness). MedBen, working in conjunction with our pharmacy advisor, offers clients recommendations on coverage levels as well as alternative medications and therapeutic options.

By providing educated guidance on the costliest drugs, last year MedBen limited average client trend on per-member pharmacy spending to just 4.1%, compared to 12.2% nationally. Learn more about how we can do the same for your group by contacting Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at bfargus@medben.com.

You can download a list of new specialty drugs, including the diseases treated and estimated costs, from the MedBen website.

11/28/16

  03:45:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 354 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Diabetes, Ancillary benefits

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

meter reading

9.3%. 29.1 million. Both representations of the number of Americans who have been diagnosed with diabetes. The 7th leading cause of death in the United States, the American Diabetes Association states that an additional 86 million Americans are at risk of developing the disease.

Generally, people with diabetes either have a total lack of insulin (type 1 diabetes) or they have too little insulin or cannot use it effectively (type 2 diabetes). Type 1 diabetes accounts for 5% of diabetic diagnosis while type 2 diabetes accounts for the remaining cases in the U.S. at 95%.

Type 1 diabetes has no known prevention. Risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include obesity, having a family history of diabetes, and having diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes). Many people with type 2 diabetes can control their blood glucose (sugar) with lifestyle changes such as healthier eating and being active. Others may require oral medications or insulin injections.

As with caring for other chronic conditions, it is essential that you monitor the status, including regular visits to see your family physician. Even if you are not diagnosed with diabetes and live a healthy life, visiting your family physician at least once a year for an annual wellness visit is a good idea. In doing so, your physician could detect any early onsets of the condition and help guide you through a prevention or management plan, tailored to you.

Full story »

11/23/16

  07:22:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 315 words,  
Categories: Health Care Reform

The ACA in 2017... and Beyond

White House

The presidential election of Donald Trump, coupled with the Republican majority in both houses of Congress, has suddenly put the future of the Affordable Care Act into serious doubt. For the short term, however, it's business as usual... and MedBen is helping clients to prepare for health care reform in 2017.

As a timely reminder of what the ACA has in store for employers next year, the MedBen Compliance team has compiled a summary of its various costs, fees and potential penalties. You can download "2017 By the Numbers" from the MedBen website.

But what will become of the ACA after 2017? For all the talk of "repeal and replace" during the election, it's still a more likely scenario that less successful elements of the ACA are scrapped or changed (i.e., marketplace insurance out, individual health savings accounts in), while more popular provisions, like dependent coverage to age 26 and no pre-existing condition limitations, remain. Indeed, President-elect Trump has already indicated that he would likely keep these rules in place.

Most of the post-election chatter on ACA changes has focused on what will happen to the 20 million Americans who have purchased coverage through the marketplaces; there's been comparatively little talk about the rules directly affecting employers, such as health coverage data reporting and PCORI fees. Again, there's a strong probability that at least some of these provisions will stay put or get tweaked... though at this point it's all pure speculation.

One employer-related element that seems almost certain to be scrapped or revamped is the Cadillac tax. Already delayed until 2020 and unpopular with Republicans and Democrats alike, this penalty on benefit-rich health plans was pretty much doomed regardless of which party took the White House.

Whatever the future of health care reform may be, MedBen Compliance is always ready to assist clients with their ACA questions and concerns. Simply contact Vice President of Compliance Caroline Fraker at 800-851-0907 or cfraker@medben.com.

11/22/16

  04:45:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 243 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Dental, Heart, Research

Dental Checkups Go Much Deeper than Healthy Teeth

dental chair

Is there anything a dental checkup can't do? In addition to ensuring the continued health of your teeth (and often getting a free toothbrush in the bargain), dentist visits may even help to keep your lungs clean.

HealthDay News reports that a new study suggests that regular dental cleanings could lower your risk of pneumonia by reducing levels of bacteria that cause the lung infection. The review of over 26,000 medical records found that people who never saw a dentist were 86%t more likely to get bacterial pneumonia compared to people who got dental checkups twice a year.

While "clean lungs" may sound comparatively trivial to things like healthy teeth and gums, the study does serve to show that the advantages of dental care go beyond the obvious ‒ and why dental coverage offers a value-added benefit to your group health care plan.

In addition to promoting preventive care through regular exams, MedBen Dental allows businesses to provide employees with restorative services at reasonable prices. And because frequent cleanings could actually reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, a good dental plan complements a company's wellness program.

Dental care is among the least expensive benefits that employers can offer, and one of the most popular. Whether as a stand-alone service or part of a total health benefits package, MedBen Dental offers valuable care at an affordable cost. Learn more about its advantages by contacting Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at bfargus@medben.com.

11/21/16

  10:41:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 263 words,  
Categories: News, Health Care Reform, Taxes, IRS

IRS Extends ACA 1095 Employer Reporting Deadline

IRS Building

On Friday, November 18, 2016, the Internal Revenue Service released Notice 2016-70, effectively extending the due date for furnishing IRS Forms 1095-B and 1095-C to individuals offered and/or covered under employer-provided health plans. The extended deadline for distribution of these forms to employees and covered individuals is now March 2, 2017. The Notice also extends good-faith transition relief from penalties to the 2016 information reporting requirements. The Notice can be found at the MedBen website.

According to the Notice, the Treasury Department has determined that there is no similar need for an extension of time to file the Forms with the IRS which means that a plan sponsor's 1094-B (and accompanying 1095-Bs) or 1094-C (and accompanying 1095-Cs) are still due on February 28, 2017 (if filing via paper) or March 31, 2017 (if filing electronically).

The Notice extends transition relief from penalties under sections 6721 and 6722 to reporting entities that can show that they have made good-faith efforts to comply with the information-reporting requirements under sections 6055 and 6056 (both for furnishing to individuals and for filing with the Service) for incorrect or incomplete information reported on the return or statement. This relief applies to missing and inaccurate taxpayer identification numbers and date of birth, as well as other information required on the return or statement. No relief is provided in the case of reporting entities that do not make a good-faith effort to comply with the regulations or that fail to file an information return or furnish a statement by the due dates.

MedBen clients who have questions regarding the deadline extension are welcome to contact Vice President of Compliance Caroline Fraker at 800-851-0907 or cfraker@medben.com.

11/20/16

Thanksgiving Observances and Online Services

cornucopia

Happy Thanksgiving from the staff of MedBen! We hope that you and your family have a fun, safe, and relaxing holiday.

To observe the holiday, MedBen will be closed on Thursday, November 24 and Friday, November 25. We will reopen at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, November 28.
Our hope is that health care concerns are the furthest thing from your mind this holiday, but should you be in need of information about your plan, our online service is always open and ready to help. Just go to the MedBen.com home page, click on the “MedBen Access” link, and log in.

MedBen Access offers claims and benefit information, and more. Plan members can see their accumulated deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, read up on medications and compare drug costs, and send questions to MedBen Customer Service (which will be answered by the next business day). Additionally, FSA and HRA plan members can review their account payments and balances, and WellLiving members can check their compliance with wellness exams and screenings.

Plan administrators can also take advantage of MedBen Access' various features, such as enrolling new members, adding or changing dependents, requesting ID cards, and notifying MedBen of COBRA events. The site offer drop-down convenience that makes navigation easy.

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

11/18/16

  09:05:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 193 words,  
Categories: News, Health Care Reform

Section 1557 Discrimination Summary Available for Download

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Earlier this year, Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) published a final rule implementing Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). This rule prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (gender), age, or disability, for any health program or activity, any part of which receives federal funding or assistance from HHS.

HHS put out guidance on how employers can determine whether or not they are subject to the new Section 1557 rules. These rules are complex, and even more complicated is making a determination as to whether or not your organization and your health plan must comply. Making the rules more complicated is the fact that only HHS has put out guidance about how to determine if an organization is subject to the rules based on HHS-provided federal assistance.

The MedBen Compliance Department has put together a downloadable summary on the rules, including how to determine if the law applies to you and what changes you need to make if it does. For more information or if you have questions, please contact Vice President of Compliance Caroline Fraker at 800-851-0907 or cfraker@medben.com.

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