Category Archive - Group

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Boeing’s Health Insurance Plans Becoming Less Attractive To Employees

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Image: X-Ray Delta One under CC 3.0

In order to combat continually rising health care costs, many companies are changing their benefits packages to transfer more of the expense onto employees. Boeing is no different.

According to human resources senior VP Rick Stephens, co-payments, co-insurance percentages, and deductibles will go up next year. One of their health insurance plans will have its co-insurance percentages soar to 20% from 10% in 2012. About 90,000 employees will be affected.

Union employees are exempt, because they have their own negotiated contract. Many are speculating that the healthcare reform law has something to do with it, which the aircraft manufacturer denies.

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Employer-Based Health Insurance Plans Providing Less Care for More Money

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Image: RangerRick under CC 3.0

When employees look at their health insurance plans today, they see more responsibility (and cost) on their end with fewer benefits. That’s according to a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

In a struggling economy, companies look for different methods of saving money. One of them is shifting the cost of health coverage to employees. Unfortunately, workers must pay for those costs with the same or even smaller (for those who have taken pay cuts) incomes! Wages have not grown with the cost of health insurance for several decades now.

The average employee is paying 14% more for health care in 2010.

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Inflation of Health Insurance Plans Continued in 2009

Thursday, August 26th, 2010
health insurance plans
Image: Paolo Camera under CC 3.0

2009 had the American economy in the throes of recession. Inflation was very low, while the Federal Reserve cut the interest rate to almost zero. So why did the cost of health insurance plans continue to rise?

To be exact, United Benefit Advisors found that health insurance rates increased by an average of 7.3% for employers. That’s almost three times the inflation in general consumer prices.

Insurers tend to blame an increase in medical expenses. Meanwhile, companies are using consumer-directed health plans to pass more of the cost of group health insurance coverage onto their employees.

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Rhode Island Health Insurance Premiums To Increase

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Image: taberandrew under CC 3.0

Bad news for Rhode Island health insurance consumers: the insurance commissioner just approved several premium increases.

The health insurance rate hikes, which become effective next year, are as follows:

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island: 9.8% for small and large business health insurance
  • United HealthCare: 12.3% for firms with under 50 employees, and 8.4% for larger companies
  • Tufts: 11% and 10.2%, respectively

On the bright side, these rate hikes are lower than those originally requested.

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Your Group Health Insurance May Change

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Image: shiftstigma under CC 3.0

Contrary to President Obama’s proclamations that healthcare reform wouldn’t force people to give up existing employer-based health insurance they liked, there are indicators that employers may change those policies after all. Republicans are accusing him of lying to get the bill passed.

A leaked draft version of the regulations for group health insurance coverage states that plans that existed before the passage of the law must comply with some of its provisions, such as co-payment-free preventative care doctors’ visits, covering adult dependents until age 26, and an appeals process for disputed medical claims.

Most employees would consider these additional benefits a net positive (making good plans better), but companies are dreading the additional cost that any modifications to their health coverage entails. They may pass that cost onto employees, although the bill aims to discourage that.

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How Will CVS and Walgreens’ Beef Affect Your Prescription Health Insurance?

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

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Cutthroat rivals in the drugstore industry, Walgreen’s and CVS are now locked in a feud that has the potential to affect where many people with employer-sponsored defined benefit health insurance plans.

CVS Caremark, which runs prescription drug programs for many large corporations, recently forbade its members from filling their prescriptions at Walgreen’s locations. In response, Walgreen has stopped accepting patients with CVS plans. In other words, a pharmacy can now be considered out-of-network, and you may have to pay full price for your medications.

Due to this rivalry, companies that offer group health insurance with prescription coverage might switch to one of the outsiders (Walgreen has its own plans, though they are little used): Medco and Express Scripts are among them. As a result, you may have to switch pharmacists.

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Employers Audit Group Health Insurance Dependents

Friday, June 4th, 2010

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A large percentage of many employers’ costs consist of their benefits packages, including health insurance coverage. Even the partial cost of an individual employee or a family can be significant. Now, recent reforms force companies to further expand their family coverage to all adult dependents under the age of 26, regardless of whether or not they’re enrolled in college.

As a result, firms are looking to save money. Therefore, more of them are conducting audits–meant to find out if the non-employees they are paying for truly are related dependents of their workers. They will be dropped from your policy if you can’t prove that they are. You may even have to pay back the money spent on their health care. The worst part is that if you ignore the audit, legitimate dependents could be dropped, too!

Generally, nephews and nieces and ex-husbands or wives aren’t considered dependents by most companies. Experts believe that a business with 10,000 employees could save up to $1 million per year on its group health insurance expenses through auditing.

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Do Group Health Insurance Wellness Incentives Actually Work?

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

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An increasing number of companies are offering wellness incentives to their employees, in order to inspire them to maintain a healthy weight or quit smoking. Many of these benefits include the opportunity to have a higher portion of their health insurance premiums paid by the employer.

Tobacco use and obesity among the American workforce costs companies billions of dollars in increased health care costs, so it is a worthy goal. However, there are some doubts that the incentives are actually effective.

According to a study from Cornell University, the average weight loss in several of those employer programs was just one pound; too little to make a significant difference in health outcomes or group health insurance rates.

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Family Businesses Ineligible For Health Insurance Tax Credits

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

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Soon, tax credits will be provided to small businesses to help them afford group health insurance. However, those firms completely or mostly staffed by family members may not be able to take advantage of the 35% to 50% benefit.

Why? Family members have historically been exempt from business tax credit programs, because of the potential of unfairness and abuse of the system and nonrelated taxpayers.

Which employees won’t count towards the amount of tax credit received? According to the IRS, family members are considered to be:

  • A child or grandchild of the owner
  • a sibling or step-sibling
  • In-laws
  • Aunts and uncles
  • Parents, grandparents, and step-parents and step-grandparents
  • Nieces and nephews

The healthcare reform law will have little benefit for small businesses mostly staffed by relatives. However, those with relatively few family members employed will experience more positives.

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