Health care

Lawmakers consider employer role in controlling obesity

As American waistlines expand, there's little surprise that this public health issue poses a challenge to the nation's employers. In some states, including New York and California, government regulators are stepping in to urge businesses to take action.At a special meeting of the California Legislative Task Force on Diabetes and Obesity on Wednesday, October 8, chaired by California State Assemblyman Joe Coto, experts discussed the benefits of workplace wellness programs, the role of the employer, and the economic impact of this serious public health threat.
A&A

Small Business Administration promotes benefits of Health Savings Accounts

President George W. Bush and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Acting Administrator Sandy K. Baruah met in Oklahoma City earlier this month with women small business owners to discuss the benefits of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), which can be used to obtain affordable healthcare coverage.An HSA is a tax-preferred account owned by an individual and used to pay for current and future medical expenses, including deductibles, co-payments and other forms of cost-sharing.
A&A

SurePayroll offers health insurance to small businesses

Online payroll provider SurePayroll has announced that it is offering small businesses and individuals a simplified way to acquire health insurance and other related benefits. The service supplements SurePayroll's full-service online payroll offering, retirement solutions and workers' compensation plans.

New estimates published on retiree savings needs for health care

The nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) has published a new, more comprehensive set of estimates of the amount of money individuals and couples will need to cover certain health care expenses in retirement.

Health insurance keeping potential retirees on the payroll

Older workers without other health care insurance options are more likely to defer retirement to stay covered under their employer's plan, according to an analysis by Watson Wyatt Worldwide, a global consulting firm. Other factors, such as whether an employee has a pension, also contribute to decisions on when to retire.

Onsite health clinics and wellness centers provide health and savings

Some big-name companies are offering convenient, low-cost health care services in their offices and are cutting costs as a result.Pepsi Bottling Group, Florida Power and Light, Toyota, Sprint Nextel, and Credit Suisse, for example, offer onsite health services, which are proving to be cost-effective for the employers and employees alike. The clinics offer flu shots, check-ups, allergy shots, or maintenance programs for chronic diseases like asthma and diabetes.

Supreme Court won't hear case that would have required higher retiree benefits

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review a decision made by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia in AARP vs. EEOC that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) rule permitting employers to coordinate their health benefits for retirees with Medicare was "legal and reasonable." The Appeals Court said that "over time, it will likely benefit all retirees," the LA Times reports.
A&A

NFIB to launch national healthcare campaign

For more than 20 years, small businesses have said healthcare costs are their No. 1 issue. Premium increases are placing an overwhelming burden on small business owners while their employees struggle with large deductibles and diminished access to care. The small business community needs comprehensive healthcare reform to address its unique concerns. In 1994, a healthcare reform package was introduced that did not sufficiently address the needs of all Americans.

HSAs pave way for first-dollar preventive care coverage

Most health savings account plans cover recommended preventive benefits on a first-dollar basis, according to a new survey released this week by America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). "HSA plans have been a valuable new coverage option - especially for those who had been uninsured previously - and are providing consumers with access to important preventive health care services," said Karen Ignagni, President and CEO of AHIP.

Making the right health care choices during open enrollment

The benefits packages have been delivered and may still be lying on your desk at home or in the office along with the cover letter saying that if you do nothing you will have the same health benefits as last year.

High health-care costs may result in fewer doctor's visits

As health care costs go nowhere but up, workers can expect employers to shift more of the burden on them — again.Costs are expected to increase in two ways: in the amount deducted from paychecks for monthly premiums (an 8.7 percent increase is projected by Hewitt Associates) and in out-of-pocket expenses as deductibles rise. Many employees are getting this bad news now, during open enrollment season for next year’s benefits elections.Higher costs are changing how consumers use the health care system.
Education & Careers

Workers may see new insurance option: HSAs

While the end of the year brings a flurry of shopping decisions (Can I get away with buying Uncle Charlie another tie?), some choices are even more daunting: health care plans.Fall is usually open-enrollment time, and workers may see an option called a Health Savings Account, or HSA, for the first time. It’s an alternative to traditional health insurance that gives consumers a way to pay for their own health care while reaping tax benefits.These HSAs allow consumers to save money in an interest-bearing savings account set aside for health care expenses.

Wellness programs: Well-intentioned, but too intrusive for some

Wellness programs have been popular with companies looking to lower their health care costs for years, but some observers are starting to question just how far these programs should go.As health care costs continue spiraling every year, some companies are taking a more assertive role in their quest for employee wellness.

Health insurance premiums rising faster than wages and inflation

Premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose an average of 6.1 percent in 2007, less than the 7.7 percent increase reported last year but still higher than the increase in workers' wages (3.7 percent) or the overall inflation rate (2.6 percent), according to the 2007 Employer Health Benefits Survey recently released by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust.

IBM study paves way for the future of health care plans

A new report released by IBM paints a emerging picture of the future for U.S. health insurers. IBM is one of the largest self-insured U.S. employers, bearing financial risk for the health of more than 350,000 employees and their dependants. Healthcare 2015 and U.S. Health Plans: New Roles, New Competencies asserts that as consumers take on more financial responsibility for their healthcare, they will demand more flexible products, better customer service, more accountability from health insurers and providers, and greater transparency in costs and quality.

Financial executives indicate plans to shift healthcare costs to employees

Ninety-nine percent of financial executives polled at a professional conference are concerned about rising employee healthcare costs. Eighty one percent of the respondents said their employee healthcare costs have risen in the past year, from as little as 5 percent to more than 20 percent.While most of the executives said their organizations do not plan to reduce benefits, nearly a quarter indicated that employees would have to shoulder increased costs. Other tactics include offering high-deductible consumer driven plans and changing healthcare providers.

Help Wanted: Doctors and Nurses

There are more doctors and nurses today than ever before, but they are not being trained, distributed or deployed efficiently, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers' Health Research Institute in an analysis of the changing medical workforce and how it will affect the quality and delivery of health care in coming years.
A&A

Consumers slow to accept health savings plans

The number of U.S. workers enrolled in consumer-directed health plans with tax-free health savings accounts grew only slightly from 2005 to 2006, from 2.4 million to 2.7 million, according to a survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, The Wall Street Journal reports. Low satisfaction among workers who have enrolled in these plans also suggests that employers may need to make a greater effort to contribute to these plans and add coverage to make them more appealing.
Technology

IRS rules hospitals may assist physicians with healthcare IT

Not-for-profit hospitals may provide financial assistance to staff physicians to “acquire and implement software that is used predominantly for creating, maintaining, transmitting or receiving electronic health records (EHRs) for their patients,” according to a directive issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) last week. The provision of this IT assistance will not violate section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, the agency concluded in a two-page memo.
AccountingWEB Life

A Conversation With Barry Goldwater: Are You Recommending Long-Term Care Insurance?

Who is the largest payer of long-term care assistance? It’s the general public who fund long-term care from personal savings and through public assistance programs. But the numbers bear out that CPAs and advisors are doing a poor job of referring their clients to asset protection long-term care programs. Why is this?

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