Three open enrollment takeaways for Nashville

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Tue, Jan 30, 2018 @ 08:01

Trying to beat the tax time rush?

The most recent open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act marketplaces was unique. It was the first administered under anyone other than former President Obama, it was half as long as previous periods, and it was the last open enrollment for which the individual mandate applies.

These different circumstances may be signals of what’s to come for the ACA.

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Tags: healthcare, aca, HSA taxes, taxes, The Tennessean, individual mandate

How much should I contribute to my HSA in 2018?

Posted by Emily Kubis on Mon, Jan 29, 2018 @ 07:01

What individuals should know

Wondering about the best strategy to fund your HSA this year? There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approaches to Health Savings Accounts, but here are a few things to consider.

First—what’s an HSA? Consumers with high deductible health plans are eligible to fund Health Savings Accounts. These savings accounts allow consumers to contribute funds tax-free to be used for qualified medical expenses. You never pay any taxes on funds used for medical expenses, and unused funds roll over every year. After age 65, you can continue to use the funds for medical expenses, or you can withdraw the funds for any use and pay only income taxes.

So how much should you contribute?

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Tags: HSAs, HSA Plan, health savings accounts, HSA Advice, HSA questions, HSA-based plan, HSA-eligible plans

How small employers can improve HR

Posted by Emily Kubis on Fri, Jan 26, 2018 @ 08:01

Two ways for small businesses to become more strategic

The fragmented HR ecosystem presents challenges to small and mid-sized employers. Compliance is key but regulations are ever-changing, and HR policies are the foundation of your workplace, so it’s important to get them right.

A recent study conducted by Paychex found that 20 percent of small employers have little to no confidence in their HR abilities, specifically in onboarding, employee classification and background checks.

Further, the report notes most small businesses lack the structure and technology to automate their current manual processes. Only 30 percent of small businesses use technology for onboarding, and 38 percent still track time and attendance manually.

With manual processes comes human error, which further adds to the low confidence levels experienced by most small businesses when it comes to HR. Further, uncertainty about whether these processes are conducted correctly can lead to costly penalties and fines.

Here are two ways small organizations can address these issues:

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Tags: BerniePortal, HR, employer digest, BernieHR

3 questions to ask when you're looking for a health partner

Posted by Ryan McCostlin on Wed, Jan 24, 2018 @ 07:01

Check out this column in ThinkAdvisor!

As health care costs continue to rise, financial advisors are increasingly building health care consulting services into their value proposition to clients. The issue is material to wealth management — health care costs in retirement are estimated at $275,000 for a couple retiring this year, according to Fidelity Benefits Consulting.

More financial advisors are recognizing that strategically evaluating health care and insurance costs is key to an effective retirement strategy. But most financial planners and wealth managers aren’t insurance experts themselves, which has led to a partnership between two industries — health care and benefits advisors and wealth management experts.

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Tags: Medicare, healthcare advice, Individual Plans, financial advisors, healthcare extension, wealth managers

What is self-insurance?

Posted by Emily Kubis on Mon, Jan 22, 2018 @ 07:01

What employers should know

What is a self-insured health plan? This is an alternative to a “fully-insured” health plan, and is another option employers have for funding their group health plan.

The major difference between self-insured and fully-insured plans are in regards to who operates the plan, and who pays the claims. With self-funded insurance, the employer operates the plan and pays the claims. With fully-funded insurance, the insurance company operates the plan and pays the claims.

The big benefit of self-insurance is the savings potential. Because employers pay the claims, they reap the benefit of low-claim years.

Employers might hear that they are responsible for claims and immediately balk at the idea of self-insuring. “What if we have a really bad month, or really bad year?” Typically, employers are responsible for claims up to a certain threshold, and they carry stop-loss insurance for claims that exceed that threshold. This reduces claims pressure in a self-funded plan.

So how does it work?

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Tags: employers, health insurance small employers, Self-Insured, employer digest, employee benefit adviser, self-funded, self-funding, self-insured lite

New tax withholding tables and deadline released

Posted by Emily Kubis on Fri, Jan 19, 2018 @ 09:01

Employers must implement by Feb. 15

The IRS announced this week the new income tax withholding tables for 2018, reflecting changes made by the GOP’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Employers should begin using these new tables as soon as possible, but they must be implemented by February 15. Organizations should continue using the 2017 withholding tables until they have implemented the 2018 tables.

There are still seven federal income tax brackets, but the rates have been slightly lowered and income ranges have been adjusted.

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Tags: HR, employers, health insurance small employers, hr software, employer digest, employee benefit adviser, tax withholding

Financial advisors, will Medicare changes affect your high-income clients?

Posted by Emily Kubis on Wed, Jan 17, 2018 @ 08:01

What advisors need to know

Changes to Medicare thresholds for higher Part B and Part D premiums will affect higher income recipients this year.

Medicare beneficiaries with higher incomes pay higher premiums for Parts B and D, called income-related monthly adjustment amounts, or IRMAA. Beginning this year and applying to tax year 2016, the thresholds for the surcharges have changed.

The surcharges apply to individuals with modified adjusted gross incomes above $85,000 and couples above $170,000.

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Tags: Bernard Health, retirement, financial planner, financial advisors, healthcare extension, medicare costs

Three healthcare tips for tax time

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Mon, Jan 15, 2018 @ 07:01

Trying to beat the tax time rush?

Mid-January marks the start of tax season, and health care items throughout the past year can impact how you file your taxes. 

This time of year typically creates a lot of consumer confusion, and getting all the facts straight can be tricky. With the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate recently in the news, this topic is certain to cause particular issues this year. 

Aside from the individual mandate, other health care expenses can also affect your tax return, including Health Savings Accounts and high-cost medical expenses. 

If you’re trying to beat the tax time rush, here are a few tips on what you should know about these items.

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Tags: healthcare, aca, HSA taxes, taxes, The Tennessean, individual mandate

With the individual mandate repealed, three things to expect

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Fri, Jan 12, 2018 @ 10:01

When is the repeal effective? 

Republicans successfully repealed the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate through their tax reform legislation, which has created many questions for consumers.

How will this decision affect insurance markets and consumers’ ability to get coverage? Without additional legislative action, there are three things we can expect.

With the individual mandate repealed, many healthy people will drop their coverage. This will likely lead insurers to expect to lose money, and they will either exit the individual market or raise premiums. As a result, there will be increased pressure on Congress to come up with a solution before consumers’ access to coverage is reduced.

Let’s go through each of these predictions, but first, a little more on repeal.

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Tags: healthcare, aca, The Tennessean, individual mandate

Three healthcare resolutions for consumers in 2018

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Wed, Jan 10, 2018 @ 08:01

Looking ahead to 2018

Healthcare policies made plenty of headlines in 2017, but unfortunately, there won’t be much relief for consumers when it comes to high costs and out-of-pocket spending.

Republicans were largely focused on repealing the Affordable Care Act this year, in efforts that were ultimately unsuccessful. The party did successfully repeal the individual mandate through the Republican tax bill, but a year later, the law is still largely intact, and very little time has been spent trying to improve it.

Both the law’s supporters and opponents agree that Obamacare has challenges—particularly around affordability. But a bipartisan solution to those challenges was not in the cards this year, and 2018 doesn’t seem promising, either.

Repealing the individual mandate will reduce the tax burden for consumers who don’t want to carry insurance, but it won’t affect many of the other challenges healthcare consumers face. These include rising medical bills, narrow networks, and increased out-of-pocket costs.

The takeaway? Expect expenses to remain steady or rise next year. In light of this, here are three resolutions for consumers about how to minimize your costs and become a better healthcare consumer. It won’t help you avoid all of your bills, but it might help reduce your costs.

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Tags: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, obamacare, marketplace, universal healthcare, individual market, Bernie Sanders, Huffington Post, single-payer, tim kaine

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