When it comes to benefits, think like a CFO

Posted by Brian Tolbert on Wed, Aug 15, 2018 @ 15:08

How to get more transparency and better control over healthcare costs

Benefits are typically the largest expense item in a company’s budget next to payroll. Traditionally, managing the benefits budget hasn’t been like managing other business expenses, as employers have had little to no transparency into these costs. While most employers would be averse to accepting annual increases of 10 or 15 percent on other business expenses, they have never been able to apply the same level of scrutiny to their healthcare spend.

But things are changing. As healthcare spending continues to rise with no end in sight, maintaining the status quo is simply no longer an option. Fortunately, action steps similar to those you’d take in other parts of your organization are available for your health plan. At Bernard Health’s 8th Annual Health Reform Luncheon, our team explained how small and mid-sized company leaders can think about their benefits like a CFO. Here are some of the highlights.

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Tags: employer digest, health insurance small employers, employers, HSAs

Strategies to keep pharmaceutical costs down as a self-insured employer

Posted by Chase Ballard on Tue, Aug 07, 2018 @ 06:08

You’re likely spending too much on your employees' prescriptions

As a self-insured employer, you have a lot of control over how you spend money on your employee’s prescriptions. Unfortunately, most employers are not aware of all the tactics that are available to help them mitigate these prices.

Prescription spending is the fastest growing healthcare cost, and these costs likely make up a good portion of your annual healthcare spend. Fortunately, there are a few available strategies that will help you and your employees find the cheapest available options:

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Tags: employer digest, employee benefits, pharma

Three things employers should know about the new HSA bills

Posted by Emily Kubis on Mon, Aug 06, 2018 @ 09:08

New bills could expand qualified expenses and contribution limits

In July, the House of Representatives passed two new bills affecting Health Savings Accounts. The new bills could expand the list of qualified medical expenditures, as well as nearly double contribution limits.

With adoption of high-deductible health plans still on the rise, the new regulations would expand the opportunity for employers to maximize the value of their benefits plans and support employees in opening accounts.

Here’s what employers should know about the new bill:

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Tags: employer digest, health insurance small employers, employers, HSAs

How a defined contribution health plan can help you save

Posted by Chase Ballard on Tue, Jul 31, 2018 @ 06:07

Combat rising health plan expenses with a defined contribution plan

You’ve heard it before; the cost of group health plans are on the rise. You’ve probably experienced the effects of these cost increases within your own company. Here’s how a defined contribution health plan could help you regain control over your healthcare spend.

For decades, most employers have been approaching rising costs in one of two ways:

  1. To change the plan design by introducing higher deductibles, copays, or out of pocket maximums.
  2. To increase employee payroll deductions.

This may be an appropriate way to address cost increases of two to three percent, but it could cause serious issues when your plan see’s a cost increase of fifteen-plus percent as many have in recent years.

Let’s say this years health plan costs $500 per employee per month. You, the employer, are telling your employees that you are picking up 80 percent of that expense, leaving $100 per month for your employees.

Now, let’s say the cost of your plan increases by twenty percent to $600 per employee per month (PEPM) next year. The cost to you, the employer, would rise by that same twenty percent meaning next years plan would cost you $480.

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Tags: employer digest, group plan, employee benefits

Should I use applicant tracking software?

Posted by Emily Kubis on Wed, Jul 25, 2018 @ 08:07

Benefits of adding an applicant tracking system

Are you in hiring mode at your organization? With historically low unemployment rates, many U.S. employers are focusing on recruitment. HR departments especially are finding it challenging to find and hire good talent in such a competitive environment.

One solution that can make the hiring process easier and more streamlined is applicant tracking software. If your organization is struggling to keep the hiring process organized, using an applicant tracking system can improve recruitment and reduce time to hire.

Here’s what small and mid-sized businesses should know about applicant tracking.

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Tags: employer digest, BerniePortal, onboarding, applicant tracking

Five ways to save money on your group health plan

Posted by Chase Ballard on Tue, Jul 24, 2018 @ 06:07

Address rising costs with new strategies

The cost of group health plans are growing more and more expensive. Rates for fully-insured plans are expected to rise by upwards of 8 percent next year. Across the country, small to mid-sized businesses are starting to reconsider how they are financing their health plans.

Here are some things to consider when planning for next years health plan:

  1. Choose a high deductible health plan: Switching to a high deductible health plan may sound like a daunting task. But making the switch could help you and your employees save on next year’s plan. A high deductible plan will offer your business and your employees lower premiums because it makes the user responsible for a larger amount of health costs before insurance kicks in. This tends to make users more conscious of how they are spending their dollars on healthcare and will simultaneously make them eligible for an HSA (Health Savings Account).
  2. Utilizing HSAs (Health Savings Accounts): A health savings account is a great way for your employees to start saving for their health costs. With an HSA, employee’s can spend pre-tax dollars that they’ve saved on qualified out of pocket medical expenses. Spent HSA funds count towards the users yearly deductible and unused funds will be rolled over from year to year. A high deductible health plan is a prerequisite to qualify for an HSA. 
  3. Utilizing HRAs (Health reimbursement accounts): Now, where does the employer fit into all of this? Employers can utilize HRAs (Health Reimbursement Accounts) to help with their employees out of pocket medical expenses. An HRA is similar to an HSA, with the main difference being the contributor. An HRA allows employers to set aside money to reimburse employees for their qualified out of pocket medical expenses. Like an HSA, unused HRA funds can rolled over from one year to the next. 
  4. Start a wellness program: You will likely be able to avoid a lot of future claims by promoting health consciousness in the workplace. This could be as simple as providing healthy snacks for the office kitchen or paying for every employee to have a gym membership. It’s easy to forget about things like diet and exercise. So a wellness program could help employees reach their health goals and help employers avoid costly future claims. 
  5. Ask your broker if they have a nurse on staff: Having access to a nurse through your broker can be very advantageous for you and your employees. A nurse can help you price shop prescriptions to ensure that you’re not overspending. They can also help advise employees on the maintenance of their health, which can help you avoid future claims. 

Don’t be afraid to ask your broker a strategy change. A new strategy could help your company save big on next year’s plan.

Bernard Health has over a decade of experience with helping employers consider all of their health plan options. Click below if you would like to speak with one of our advisors.

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Tags: employer digest, group plan, employee benefits

How to choose your health insurance broker

Posted by Chase Ballard on Tue, Jul 03, 2018 @ 06:07

How to compare brokers

Choosing a health insurance broker is a tedious task. You want a broker who is helpful in keeping your benefits spend down without sacrificing any benefits that help you with employee recruitment and retention.

Guess what? There are brokers who care about your business and your employees just as much as you do!

Here are some steps that you can follow to make sure you’re choosing the right broker:

  1. Be sure to consider all of your options: You can never consider too many brokerages. There are lots of brokerages out there, some will go above and beyond to keep your costs low without sacrificing benefits, most will just follow market trends.
  2. Don't be afraid to ask questions: A good broker will be able to field all of your questions about alternate financing, plan administration, and compliance. Here’s a link to some questions you should ask your broker.
  3. Talk to your friends: If you’ve noticed that other businesses are keeping the cost of their health plan down, don’t hesitate to ask how they’re doing it.
  4. Ask about the broker’s clientele: If the broker is having a hard time holding on to clients, chances are they’re not a good fit for you.
  5. Don’t be afraid to make a change: You’ve got to do what’s best for your business. Shopping around could save you a lot of money!
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Tags: employer digest, group plan, employee benefits

Small business owners concerned about group health costs

Posted by Chase Ballard on Tue, Jun 19, 2018 @ 06:06

Ways to address rising costs

We all know that group health plans are becoming more and more expensive. But who’s taking the biggest hit from these rising costs? The answer: small business owners.

A recent study conducted by ehealth concluded that the average per-person premium for small business coverage is continuing to trend upwards. They reported an 8 percent increase in coverage costs between 2016 and 2017. Eighty percent of small business owners are concerned about this trend, with 6 in 10 saying that they would be unable to afford a 15 percent hike in prices.

What if there was a way to keep, or even improve, your group health plan while avoiding the pitfalls of this costly trend?

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Tags: employer digest, group plan, employee benefits

Effective date for FMLA forms extended for employers

Posted by Emily Kubis on Mon, Jun 18, 2018 @ 08:06

Implement new FMLA forms

Employers now have until June 30, 2018 to implement the U.S. Department of Labor’s new Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) forms.

If your organization has not updated its forms with the new versions or where not aware of the change, the deadline has been extended through June 30.

What are these forms? The Department of Labor is required to submit FMLA forms to the Office of Management and Budget for approval every three years. The current forms were set to expire May 31, 2018. No other changes have been made to these notices, aside from the effective date.

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Tags: employer digest, BernieHR, HR, BerniePortal

Group benefits for nonprofits

Posted by Emily Kubis on Mon, Jun 11, 2018 @ 08:06

Nonprofits face challenges in building benefits plans

Do you have the right strategy for your group health plan? Nonprofits face particular challenges when it comes to finding the right approach to building a sustainable benefits package.

Bernard Health has a decade of experience working with nonprofits, and we offer a suite of innovative products and services to help your employees make the best choices when it comes to healthcare.

Here are three areas of need that nonprofits face when it comes to benefits. To learn more about this approach, click here to download the “Benefits Guide for Nonprofits."

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Tags: employer digest, health insurance small employers, group benefits

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