Category Archives: Benefits

Employee Benefits News & Trends

Employers Still Unsure Of Health Care Costs.

The Supreme Court’s landmark 5-4 ruling yesterday upholding the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s health-care law eliminated at least one level of uncertainty hanging over America’s businesses since the law was enacted in 2010.

Still, there are plenty of other issues that are unresolved as the work to put key provisions of the law in place remains ongoing.

“For us, there is still tremendous uncertainty,” said Jamie Richardson, vice president of government and shareholder relations for White Castle. “It will be a cost burden for employers and negatively impact job creation.”

Some aspects of the law already have been implemented, including provisions allowing young adults to remain on a parent’s policy and providing preventative care at no cost to employees.

Next will be a requirement that employers with at least 50 full-time workers provide birth-control coverage. In 2014, companies are facing penalties if they don’t offer coverage or if they offer plans deemed unaffordable to employees or skimpy when it comes to coverage.  Read more by Mark Williams for the Columbus Dispatch here.

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Top Employees Looking To Pink-Slip Employers.

Despite national economic and employment uncertainty, many American workers who identify themselves as top performers are thinking about changing jobs. In line with research showing the recent uptick of voluntary turnover in the workplace, the 2012 Aflac WorkForces Report revealed nearly half of U.S. workers (49%) are at least somewhat likely to look for a job this year. More troubling for employers, a majority of those who say they are extremely or very likely to leave their jobs describe themselves as the kind of workers companies need to retain to remain competitive in a tight economy.

Benefits appear to be a factor in employees’ assessment of whether an employer is taking care of them. Workers who are extremely or very satisfied with their benefits program are nine times more likely to stay with their employer than those workers who are dissatisfied with their benefits program. In fact, 76% of employees believe they’d be at least somewhat likely to accept a job with a more robust benefits package but lower compensation.

“Employers should be concerned that after several years of recession and a very slow recovery, their top talent has a pent-up desire to leave for what they believe to be greener pastures,” says Audrey Boone Tillman, executive vice president of corporate services at Aflac.

Eighty-four percent of workers say benefits are at least somewhat important in the decision to leave a current employer, and 50% say they’re very or extremely influential. Thirty-five percent of workers who don’t believe their company has a reputation as a great place to work say they are extremely likely to leave in the next 12 months.

One-third of workers who don’t believe retaining employees is an important priority for their employer say they are likely to leave. Workers who say they are stressed out are nearly twice as likely (43% vs. 25%) to leave their job compared to workers who are not stressed. Another 28% of employees who are extremely likely to leave their job in the next 12 months say they don’t have peace of mind.

“It’s been an employer-driven market for a number of years and businesses watching their bottom lines may not have taken care of employees as well as they did before the recession. However, demonstrating they care and showing appreciation in ways that are meaningful to their employees are the most important actions company leaders and HR executives can take to prevent their best workers from walking out the door,” says Tillman.

According to Tillman, employers need to assess the workforce often to hear what’s on their minds and what’s important to them; regularly recognize employees’ efforts; create programs and tailor benefits to address your employees’ current needs; communicate often about benefits to drive participation and demonstrate that you support employees and their families.

BLR~ Will Supreme Court Affirm Health Care Reform Law?

By Martin Simon, J.D., BLR Senior Legal Editor

The United States Supreme Court is expected to announce its ruling regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) this month. Will the Court uphold the law? Will it deem the the mandate on individuals to obtain health insurance to be unconstitutional? Will it invalidate the entire law? What should employers do while they await the ruling on the health care reform law?

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The individual mandate is a key provision of the law. So prognosticators and Supreme Court watchers are now trying to figure which way the court will go. If the Court strikes down this provision, it could also rule that the whole complex law is compromised and, in effect void. If the Court strikes down the individual mandate, it more likely will leave the rest of the ACA intact, leaving it to Congress to pick up the pieces.

The high court could also uphold the law and its provisions will continue to roll out leading to 2014 when the individual mandate and the employer play-or pay provisions go into effect.

What Should Employers Do as They Await ACA Ruling?

It’s going to be a close call between ACA being upheld or just the individual mandate being struck down. Voiding the whole of the ACA appears much less likely.

It’s this writer’s opinion that employers should continue to plan for full implementation of the ACA. If the individual mandate is tossed, it’s unlikely that Congress will do anything to fill in the gap before the November elections. The shape of the new Congress and the outcome of the Presidential race will then determine the fate of the ACA.

In fact, the ACA is shaping-up to be one of the top issues in the election, no matter what the Supreme Court does. And if the race is between President Obama and Mitt Romney, the debate over healthcare should be very interesting, as the individual mandate and the employer-or-pay provisions of the ACA are very similar to the Massachusetts healthcare reform law which was the central accomplishment of Romney’s term as governor of Massachusetts.

Additional ACA Resources:

BLR’s Healthcare Reform Resource Center offers guidance, tools, and information to help employers understand and comply with the major changes to the U.S. healthcare system brought about by the enactment of the ACA.

Martin Simon, J.D. is a Senior Legal Editor for BLR’s human resources and employment law publications. Mr. Simon has worked in legal publishing for over 20 years. He worked for 7 years as a legal editor for Prentice Hall, where he wrote and edited for the Pension and Profit Sharing and the Plan Administrators Compliance Manual looseleaf services. He has been a legal editor for BLR for more than 17 years. Mr. Simon has been on the Board of the Hartford Chapter of Working in Employee Benefits for 4 years. Mr. Simon has a B.A. degree with Honors from the University of Connecticut, where he was a member of the Honors Program and Phi Beta Kappa. He received his law degree from the University of Connecticut and is a member of the Connecticut Bar.

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