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Posts Tagged ‘employee benefit plans’

Employee benefits for same-sex couples changing as states legalize marriage

June 25, 2015 1 comment

same-sex_marriageAs the number of states with legal same-sex marriage climbs to 37 plus the District of Columbia, some employers are informing their staff that they must wed in order to continue providing health-care coverage for their partners. According to a federal tally, approximately one-third of public- and private-sector employees in the U.S. have access to benefits for unmarried same-sex partners. However, a Supreme Court ruling that legalizes same-sex marriage in all 50 states will likely cause more employers to drop same-sex partner benefits in favor of spousal benefits.

Over the past decade, more and more companies offered coverage for employees and their partners as a way to provide equal benefits for couples who could not wed legally. However, some employers who offer benefit coverage for same-sex partners are now saying it is only fair to require these couples to marry, where legal, in order to extend coverage. Read more…

Is Telehealth becoming the new norm in patient care?

The traditional trip to the doctor’s office may quickly become a thing of the past, as front-line employees struggle to find time to fit it into their schedules. Some think that they have to scramble for an urgent care center or spend an inordinate amount of time in a hospital ER waiting room when a situation requiring medical attention occurs on a weekend or in the late hours of the night.

Employees at Cleveland Metroparks, a park district in Ohio, have been offered an alternative solution via their employer’s telehealth benefit. One call to Teladoc, Metroparks’ telehealth provider, can diagnose urgent yet treatable ailments, or issue a prescription to a local pharmacy. Rather than being stuck in a waiting room for an extensive period of time, employees can get Read more…

DOL looking to redefine term “fiduciary” – what that means for employer responsibilities

Vicarious-Liability-employment-contract-426x272Am I a fiduciary? I never like to answer a question with a question but do you make decisions for the 401(k) plan on behalf of the company? If you answered yes then you are in fact a plan fiduciary. There is no hotter topic in the 401(k) industry than the Department of Labor’s effort to redefine the term “fiduciary.” Yet with all the buzz surrounding the DOL’s proposal, many employers who offer a retirement plan are not aware of their fiduciary responsibilities and the liability that comes along with making 401(k) plan level decisions.

What is a fiduciary and who established the rules? Fiduciary responsibilities were instituted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and are monitored by DOL. To ensure that fiduciaries are doing what is best for their employees and satisfying the DOL requirements ERISA has implemented standards of conduct, including:

Mental health care in the workplace & how employers can help

emp_talkingIn the wake of the devastating tragedy in the French Alps this month where one man’s struggle with depression brought down a 144-passenger Germanwings plane, concerns and questions arise across all industries about measures companies can take to manage the mental health of their employees. In situations where the employee’s mental instability threatens the safety of others, as in the Lufthansa crash, the employer could face unlimited liability.

According to research by All One Health, in any given year, nearly 30 million American adults suffer from depression and twice that many from anxiety disorders. These numbers are costing U.S. employers billions of dollars per year in lost productivity. Read more…

Got it covered? Navigating the complexities of international emergency medical policies

March 16, 2015 Leave a comment

steth_globe2Most U.S. employers assume that when sending employees overseas for work, they will be covered for international emergency medical under a domestic (U.S.) plan. For example, if the U.S. employee were to have a slip and fall accident while in Germany and needed to go to the hospital or a doctor for treatment, the U.S. plan would cover the treatment. But what many employes may not realize is that under these policies, they are required to pay the expenses out of pocket first, and then get reimbursed by the U.S. carrier after submitting a claim along with verification of payment. Fortunately, there are international travel medical policies that are primary (meaning they pay first) that relieves employees of this problem. Read more…

Blue Cross of MA expands pay-per-performance system to PPO markets

dr_patientThe spotlight in local health care news this week shines on Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and its continued efforts toward performance-based payment reform for doctors. This system that pays doctors based on how well they care for patients will expand to include more than one million members. For patients, this should mean a decrease in office visits and unnecessary testing, and an increase in individualized health management and post-procedural care.

Currently, a fee-for-service system accounts for 66 percent of the Massachusetts market. Specialists agree, this traditional practice – one where doctors are paid per patient visit, needle prick and procedure – encourages unnecessary testing and overbooking appointments, often under prioritizing patient health. Read more…

House votes to repeal Affordable Care Act

obamacare_repealSince the law originally passed in 2010, many Americans have been closely watching the changing political environment to see what changes happen with the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare). Employers are watching Washington with an invested interest to see what rules they will need to comply with and which rules might change.

The most recent midterm election resulted in a swing of control to the GOP. Clients are asking what impact this change might have on attempts to repeal the ACA. Regardless of the GOP’s dominance in Congress and in the House of Representatives, WGA believes that Obamacare is not going away anytime soon. Read more…