Tag Archives: National

The effect of high deductible health plans on your finances

The high deductible plans so prevalent since the advent of ObamaCare are having a dramatic impact on Americans.  The concept that you have to have health insurance, that has a deductible so high you cannot really use it, has been written about alot.

Less than half of all households above the poverty level have enough assets to cover an out-of-pocket maximum of $3,000 to $6,000, considered a moderate level, according to a March analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Does a high deductible health plan cause people to bypass medically needed care?  Read this article from the Charlotte Observer and learn more.

What is my job as your broker?

My role as your broker has changed my thirty years in the industry, and never more than in the last 5 years.  Some of this is related to the Affordable Care Act, of course, but some of it isn’t.  It used to be all about price;  that has changed alot – when everyone has the same price and the same product, how does your broker differentiate themselves?  And the single hardest thing to do these days is keep up with all the changes.

So who should your broker be, and how should they behave? 

  1.  You must have a broker that you feel comfortable turning to with question and concerns, give you an education, and show you your options.
  2.  When their is a problem (usually with medical insurance), the broker should be there to help you navigate through the craziness of the insurance world.
  3.  A broker should keep you informed and updated.  While they cannot do things that are your responsibility, you should be aware that you have that obligation.
  4. Your broker must be abreast of all the changes in the regulations, making you aware of them and providing guidance on how to comply.
  5. Your broker should be starting to work on your renewals well in advance, so that you don’t have to make last minute, pressured decisions.
  6. Your broker should be bringing you all the products available to you, not just their favorites.  You may have a different opinion.
  7. They should work with your employees and staff easily and willingly to provide support, education and guidance.

What can’t they do:

  1.  Handle your billing problems.  Generally insurance carriers will not let us interact on billing problems, and we don’t have access to your financial records.
  2.  Take on unusual tasks without additional compensation. Broker compensation has been cut by more than 50% over the last 5 years, so this is no longer an option.

Warning Signs that you have the wrong broker:

  1.  Your calls or emails aren’t returned for several days, or not at all.
  2. Everything is always being done under time pressure.
  3. They are not familiar with the new regulations and rules as they apply to your company.

Your relationship with your broker is critical.  Many people shop for the “cheapest” product not understanding that, for the most part, everyone has the same product and pricing.  Instead, you should be interviewing Brokers like you would a high-end employee.  Find the best fit for you, and hire them to do their job.

Check your Credit Report

Credit Reports
Checking your credit report is important, and should be done annually in my opinion.  It is simple –  go to www.annualcreditreport.com.   Make sure you recognize all of the items on your report and that they are accurate.  Since challenges and corrections have to be done in writing in most cases, it takes a while – you don’t want to discover a problem on your report while you are sitting at the dealership trying to get a new car.
You are entitled to a free report from each of the big three reporting agencies once every twelve months.I recommend checking one of your reports every four months.  This way you can spread out the free reports while keeping an eye out for anything suspicious.  Lastly, for those of you not using credit or worried about identity theft, you can always put a freeze on your credit through these agencies and that would make it much harder for someone to steal your credit.
Need help reading your report?  Just give us a call…

Human Resources for 2016 – Changes to be aware of

What should you be watching for this year:

.  Remember that these changes in some cases will need to be reflected in your employee manual:

Overtime exemptions. The Department of Labor, pushed by the administration, issued a proposed rule that would raise the required minimum salary for most FLSA exemptions from $455 to $970 per week ($23,660 to $50,440 annually). The final ruling is not likely to release the rule until late in 2016, probably after the presidential election.

Minimum wage increases. The trend towards increased state and city minimum wage laws continues in  2016. In addition, on all contracts entered into on or after Jan. 1, 2016, federal contractors must pay workers a minimum wage of $10.15 per hour. Certainly, employers should ensure that these new minimum wage rates are correctly paid.

Continued challenges to mandatory arbitration agreements.  Earlier this month, in DirecTV, Inc. v. Imburgia, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) allows federal courts to police state rulings to ensure that they uphold the federal policy favoring arbitration. While not an employment case, the Court looked at whether an arbitration clause was scrutinized “on equal footing” with other agreements. Accordingly, it is likely that claimants will challenge agreements to arbitrate employment disputes with their employer.

However, the decision makes it clear that the FAA preempts state-law rules barring enforcement of an arbitration agreement if the agreement does not permit the parties to utilize class procedures in arbitration or in court. Additionally, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) continues to take the position that mandatory arbitration agreements containing class action waivers violate employees’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act, despite multiple federal court decisions rejecting this position.

Joint employer liability. The NLRB issued a decision that could significantly affect employers utilizing alternative workforce arrangements, such as staffing firms and professional employer organizations (PEOs). In Browning-Ferris Industries of California, Inc., v. Sanitary Truck Drivers and Helpers Local 350, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the NLRB deviated from established precedent to hold that a staffing firm may be considered a joint employer of its client even where it did not actually exercise any direction and control over the workers — the right to do so is now sufficient.

Accordingly, two or more entities would be deemed joint employers of the same employee if they “share or codetermine those matters governing the essential terms and conditions of employment.”  It remains to be seen whether the NLRB’s test will be adopted in other contexts, such as under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or other employment laws outside of the NLRB’s jurisdiction.

Ban-the-box legislation. States and local jurisdictions have been adopting ban-the-box legislation designed to prevent employers from initially using arrest or conviction records to deny job applicants employment. Instead these laws require the employer to consider the applicant’s skill and experience first and delay criminal background checks until later in the hiring process. Over the past few years, more states have been banning employers from asking questions about prior criminal convictions on job applications.  At last count 19 had passed ban-the-box legislation. In addition, several of these states have also removed the conviction history question on job applications for private employers only. Expect more states to pass similar legislation.

Coverage might be cheaper than the penalty in 2016

image: http://media.philly.com/designimages/partnerIcon-Phillycom-2014.jpg

Are you among the shrinking number of Americans without health insurance? If so, you could face a hefty penalty in 2016. The cost of going without coverage is $695 or 2.5% of your income, whichever is greater. It will be added to the amount you owe in federal income tax when you file your return for the year.

That’s a lot of money to pay when you get nothing in return. Many people choose to accept the penalty because they think it’s cheaper than the cost of coverage. But a lot of them may be wrong.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/health-cents/Uninsured-in-2016-Coverage-might-be-cheaper-than-the-penalty.html#bqFUoulEt3ge9wKA.99

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Reeve Conover is a Registered Representative. Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/dealer member FINRA/SPIC. Cambridge and Conover Consulting are not affiliated. Licensed in SC, NC, NY, CT, NJ, and CA.
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