health insurance

Open Enrollment: Rising insurance costs and increased compliance among the challenges faced by employers.

It's open enrollment season, a time where many employees start to get a handle on their health insurance costs for the upcoming year. And evidence suggests that costs continue to inch upward. According to The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Education Trust 2016 Employer Health Benefits Survey, employer health premiums rose three percent this year.

With any premium increase comes a potential increased burden on companies, who might be compelled to pass some of the cost to their employees.

The push-and-pull of the cost-sharing that defines the modern employer-sponsored health insurance system is something that doesn't figure to go away any time soon. For starters, the "individual mandate" requires the majority of adults to buy health insurance. Secondly, employers with 50 or more full-time employees must offer health insurance to those workers under the Affordable Care Act.

Focus on compliance

Moreover, these applicable large employers must file IRS Forms 1094-1095 to prove they have complied with federal regulations. The forms were first filed earlier this year for Tax Year 2015, and companies will soon have to undertake their preparations for Tax Year 2016

ACA compliance adds a new layer of complexity and responsibility for employers. For businesses, these changing rules can also put an even greater strain on an already overtaxed staff.

Companies facing the IRS ACA compliance burden can go it alone, but the filing and preparation process for Forms 1094-1095 can be laborious. And then there are the risks of incorrect or incomplete filings, which can lead to headaches down the road.

Let Plexus lend a hand

The Plexus Groupe offers a full suite of services for the preparation of IRS Forms 1094 and 1095. From gathering employee data to highlighting audit risks to filing, Plexus can do it all.  In addition, our employee benefits experts will work to ensure your benefits spend is reasonable. In a time of rising costs and increased compliance, you need strategic, client-focused advocates who have your back.

For more information, contact a client executive at 847-307-6100 (Deer Park, Ill.), 312-606-4800 (Chicago), 972-770-5010 (Dallas) or 405-840-3033 (Oklahoma City), or contact us via the Web.

Private Exchanges: A Closer Look

insuranceWith companies always looking for ways to reduce their benefits spend and with employees wanting the freedom of choice when it comes to health insurance, a private insurance exchange is an option to consider.

With a private exchange, employers give employees a set amount of money to use at an online benefits marketplace, and it’s up to the employees on how to make their benefits choices. These exchanges can take a number of forms, with consumers having the chance to purchase a variety of insurance products from just one carrier or a variety of insurance offerings from multiple carriers.

Here are among the reasons employers might consider an exchange:

-- Cost certainty. For starters, it’s a defined contribution plan, which gives employers certainty in terms of how much they spend.

-- Time savings. Administrative time can decrease with a private exchange, given that employees are making their elections electronically.

-- Increased benefit options. This reportedly was the driving force behind Starbucks’ much-publicized decision to move to a private exchange earlier this summer. “People intuitively like choice,” said Ron Crawford, Starbucks vice president of global benefits, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Whether a private exchange is the right move for a company depends on a variety of factors, including cost and employee population size and demographics. Some firms might explore exchanges and find the cost savings aren’t what they expected — or that they don’t get many more benefit options by joining one. Furthermore, companies joining exchanges must know their benefit costs can be affected by the costs incurred by other groups on the exchange. In short, if other exchange participants prove costly for the insurer, it could result in higher premiums for all groups.

There is some evidence that the adoption of exchanges has slowed somewhat, but by now, they are an established option for companies considering their benefits strategies, with hundreds of exchanges now available. For more information on private exchanges, contact a Plexus employee benefits client service team member at 847-307-6100 (Deer Park, Ill.), 312-606-4800 (Chicago), 972-770-5010 (Dallas) or 405-840-3033 (Oklahoma City), or contact us via the Web.