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Showing posts from 2023

Navigating the rising tide of drug costs: Effective strategies for employers

The increasing cost of prescription drugs in the United States is a major burden on employers and employees alike. With expenditures expected to reach $355 billion by 2022 and the relentless upward trend showing no signs of abating, now is the time for employers to critically assess their drug cost-saving options.   The Benefits Toolkit, Lowering Drug Costs offers insight into generic drugs, cost-saving programs, saving on specialty drugs and more. Dive in to learn how your organization can mitigate the impact of escalating pharmaceutical expenses on its bottom line and help employees save. For more information about employee benefits,our services and products , contact HANYS Benefit Services by  email  or call 800.388.1963. This Benefits Toolkit is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as professional advice. © 2017, 2023 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

Benefits Insights - Prescription Drug Pricing Trends

As prescription drug costs continue to increase, it’s important that employers understand the trends behind that rise and how they can better manage their expenses. Prescription drug cost drivers According to CMS, the U.S. spent over $348 billion on prescription drugs in 2020. Although prescription drug spending has historically been a small proportion of national healthcare costs compared to hospital and physician services, it’s grown rapidly in recent years. Let’s explore some of the key factors that have led to this steady rise in prescription drug costs and examine cost-cutting solutions for employers. Influx of specialty drugs Specialty medications account for a smaller portion of U.S. prescriptions than nonspecialty drugs; yet they now command over half of the pharmaceutical market — 53% of prescription drug spending in 2021 was for specialty drugs, according to a report by The Segal Group. Specialty medications often require special handling and administration and can be more co

Benefits Buzz - March 2023

  White House announces end of COVID-19 emergency On Jan. 30, the Biden administration announced it plans to end the COVID-19 public health emergency and national emergency on May 11 . The COVID-19 PHE and national emergency were declared in early 2020 and have been extended numerous times. The Biden administration plans to extend the emergency periods one last time until May 11. According to the White House, this timeline supports an orderly wind-down of emergency measures and aligns with its commitment to give at least 60 days’ notice before the termination of the PHE. The end of the COVID-19 emergency triggers the end of many emergency measures related to the federal government’s pandemic response, including some requirements for employer-sponsored health plans. When the PHE ends, health plans will no longer be required to cover COVID-19 diagnostic tests and related services without cost sharing. Non-grandfathered health plans will still be required to cover recommended preventive

What is telemedicine and what are its advantages?

Technology has advanced to overcome the traditional communication barriers of time and distance. The practice of telemedicine is a step forward in healthcare, using telecommunication to bridge the gap of time, distance and affordability to reach patients who need medical attention. What is telemedicine? Telemedicine uses technology to facilitate communication, whether real-time or delayed, between a doctor and patient who are not in the same physical location, for the purpose of medical evaluation, diagnosis and treatment. Advances in telecommunication allow the exchange of medical information from one site to another to serve patients in a clinical setting. Telemedicine advantages Telemedicine offers numerous benefits for both doctors and patients. Advantages of using telemedicine include: Remote access Communicating remotely with a doctor is a primary function of telemedicine. With this technology, doctors can reach patients in remote, rural and underserved areas where there might no

Benefits Breakdown - February 2023

  The Trendiest Benefits for 2023 There’s no denying that employees’ needs have changed in recent years. Employers are striving to offer benefits to meet evolving worker needs shaped by the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, a tight labor market and rising inflation.   Benefits have always been crucial for attracting and retaining top performers. In 2023, many employers are looking to offer more than just a healthcare plan. With workers paying more attention to their benefits and wondering how to stretch their dollars further, the following benefits could be popular offerings in 2023: voluntary benefits, such as accident and critical illness insurance; financial wellness benefits, including health savings and flexible spending account contributions and financial planning assistance; healthcare full premium coverage; and family-friendly benefits. Organizations can start optimizing benefits packages by evaluating employee preferences through surveys and thinking about ways to im

Benefits Buzz - February 2023

  Congress Extends Telehealth Relief for HDHPs The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 (CAA) extends the ability of high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) to provide benefits for telehealth or other remote care services before plan deductibles have been met ─ without jeopardizing health savings account eligibility. This extension applies for plan years beginning after Dec. 31, 2022, and before Jan. 1, 2025. Background In general, telehealth programs that provide free or reduced-cost medical benefits before the HDHP deductible is satisfied are considered disqualifying coverage for purposes of HSA eligibility. However, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act allowed HDHPs to provide benefits for telehealth or other remote care services before plan deductibles were met, effective for plan years beginning before Jan. 1, 2022. A spending bill extended this relief to telehealth services provided in months beginning after March 31, 2022, and before Jan. 1, 2023. The CAA further

SECURE 2.0 Discussion Series: Session One

SECURE 2.0 provisions: What we know and what’s still up in the air The SECURE 2.0 Act, signed into law in late December 2022, has factored heavily in retirement industry discourse since the final legislation was published. As with any legislation of this depth and breadth, there’s a lot to digest and the industry takes time to adjust. Our team of experienced advisors recently met to discuss some of the more nuanced provisions of the legislation, such as changes to Roth contributions, and what they could mean for plan sponsors. Panel participants included the following HBS team members: Noah Buck, Christina Bauer-Dobias, Sean Bayne, Vincent Bocchinfuso and Kathleen Coonan. Highlights of our panel’s conversation below should serve to help guide plan sponsor thinking. On Roth employer contributions NB – In addition to deferring pre-tax or Roth, plan sponsors can now allow employer contributions to be classified as Roth, is that right? VB – Correct. This is immediately available to plan s

Attraction & Retention Newsletter - Q1 2023

Each quarter, the  Attraction and Retention Newsletter  offers statistics about the employment market, suggestions on securing top talent and insight to attract and retain workers. The  first quarter edition explores: how employee quits and job openings are trending, and what employers should prepare for in 2023; how to identify and retain key employees; and how to retain employees amid the “quick quitting” trend. In 2022, the employment landscape saw record-high employee quit rates and job openings as employers struggled to attract and retain workers. Some of these numbers have eased heading into 2023, but they are still considered high against historical standards, which indicates that the labor market remains competitive for employers. As quick quitting emerges as the latest trend, the importance of retaining new hires is even more apparent. Attraction and retention challenges remain and employers need to continue exploring strategies to better meet the desires of today’s workforce

Answers to your top five ACA IRS reporting questions

Are you ready for 2022 Affordable Care Act-required reporting to the IRS? Do you need to verify the accuracy of prior year forms? With "transitional good faith relief" in the rear-view mirror, the industry is anticipating an increase in penalty letters, which will likely lead to more audits. Employers cannot afford to get their 1094s and 1095s wrong. Check out the top five pressing questions from clients on ACA IRS reporting and the answers from our benefits experts. Q1. We didn’t know about ACA reporting before now. What if we did not file in prior years? The best course of action is to retroactively file for prior years. You should also contact legal counsel. Q2. What if we discover a mistake made in a prior year filing, such as missing a newly eligible employee? The best practice is to file retroactively. You'll need to carefully recalculate the employee’s eligibility based on whatever measurement periods your organization selected. You should also contact legal counse

Understanding the Employer Shared Responsibility Rules

The Affordable Care Act requires applicable large employers (ALEs) to offer affordable, minimum-value health coverage to their full-time employees or pay a penalty. This provision is also known as the “employer shared responsibility” or “pay or play” mandate. ALEs need to understand how this mandate works to avoid costly penalties and ensure compliance with the ACA. Determining if an ALE is liable for a pay or play penalty An ALE is only liable for a pay or play penalty if one or more of its full-time employees receive a subsidy for coverage under an ACA exchange. If the health coverage offered by an ALE meets certain requirements, then it will be considered affordable and compliant with the pay or play rules. Specifically, under the pay or play rules, an ALE’s health coverage is considered affordable if the employee’s required contribution to the plan does not exceed 9.5% (as adjusted) of the employee’s household income for the taxable year. For plan years beginning in 2023, this affo

What You Need to Know About the ACA Section 6055 and 6056 Reporting Requirements

The Affordable Care Act requires employers with 50 or more full-time employees (or full-time equivalents) to report information about the health coverage they offer or don’t offer their employees to satisfy Internal Revenue Code Sections 6055 and 6056. To comply with these requirements, employers need to be familiar with two documents: the Section 6055 Reporting Workbook and the Section 6056 Reporting Workbook . But what exactly are these documents, and how can employers use them? Let’s take a closer look. What is Section 6055 and 6056 reporting? Under IRC Section 6055, entities that provide minimum essential coverage must report details of health insurance coverage offered or not offered during a calendar year. This includes details such as which employees were covered under an employer-sponsored plan, when coverage began and ended, whether any minimum essential coverage was offered, etc. The requirements in IRC Section 6056 cover larger employers classified as Applicable Large Emplo

Benefits Buzz - January 2023

  IRS finalizes deadline extension for furnishing ACA statements On Dec. 12, the Internal Revenue Service released a final rule that extends the annual statement furnishing deadlines for reporting under the Affordable Care Act’s Sections 6055 and 6056. This rule finalizes guidance that was proposed by the IRS in December 2021, with minor clarifications. Specifically, the rule: finalizes the 30-day automatic extension to the due date for furnishing statements to individuals under Sections 6055 and 6056; and confirms the availability of an alternate method for furnishing statements to individuals under Section 6055 for every year in which the individual mandate penalty is zero. The due date for filing forms with the IRS under Sections 6055 and 6056 remains unchanged. This means that forms must generally be filed with the IRS each year by Feb. 28 (or March 31, if filing electronically). Due to the 30-day automatic extension, employers have until March 2 (or March 1 in a leap year) to furn