Health care

Practice Management

Why Every Business Needs a Cafeteria…Plan, That Is

They’ve been called one of the most under-used employee benefits for small businesses. Not only do they allow employees to set aside a portion of their pre-tax salary for qualifying insurance premiums, medical expenses and even child-care expenses, they also reduce employer payroll tax liability by eliminating matching FICA taxes of 7.65 percent and, depending on the state the business is operating in, possibly also workers compensation. What are they?
A&A

High Deductible Health Care Plans Off to Slow Start with Small Businesses

Health care plans with high deductibles that can offer Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) grew only 2 percent among small businesses this year, according to a survey by Mercer Health and Benefits consultants reported on by USA Today. The high deductible plans are more popular among employers of more than 20,000, 22 percent of whom will offer some form of the plan this year.
Community News

States Launch Plans to Expand Health Coverage

As the healthcare debate in Washington, D.C. fizzles out, the states are taking on ambitious proposals to expand insurance coverage."The lack of action in Washington is not because of the lack of a problem,” Alan R. Weil, executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy, told the Los Angeles Times. “It's because of a lack of agreement and, frankly, a lack of consequences for failing to address the issue.

New Blue-branded Healthcare Debit Card Introduced

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) has teamed up with Visa USA in an agreement to offer co-branded debit cards to members of participating Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.

New Medicare Drug Benefit Open for Enrollment Today

Seniors can begin enrolling in the new Medicare prescription drug plan starting today, but many are finding the wealth of options confusing.Selecting the best plan may be difficult, but President Bush touted it in his weekly radio address as “the greatest advance in health care for seniors and Americans with disabilities since the creation of Medicare 40 years ago.”Some of the country's 40 million Medicare beneficiaries have felt stymied by the system in the past.
A&A

Drug Program Choices: Employer Paid Benefits or Pharmaceuticals’ Charity Programs

Retirees currently covered by employer-sponsored health plans will receive letters by November 15 that tell how their coverage compares with the new Medicare Part D, and how their current health benefits may change, a requirement of the federal government, says the New York Times.
A&A

HIPAA Privacy Concerns

Although it was not fully implemented until 2003, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 was enacted to insure that people between jobs would have access to quality health care coverage. Changing insurance carriers before HIPAA was difficult or impossible without facing lowered coverage or exorbitant premiums. The Act was also intended to guard private health care information and create a uniform rules for dispersing personal information.Under HIPAA, the U.S.

Florida to Launch Model Medicaid Program

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced their approval for Florida to launch an “unprecedented demonstration” Medicaid program starting in July 2006 reports the Senior Journal. The program will be phased in starting in Broward (Fort Lauderdale) and Duval (Jacksonville) counties with a statewide implementation to follow.
A&A

Employees to Mull New Trade-offs in 2006 Health Care Options

An array of new health care benefits have become available that may help employees plan for ever-increasing medical costs.Advertisement

Medicare Prescription Drug Plans Rolling Out This Week

Beginning this week, Medicare beneficiaries should expect to receive mailings, emails and calls from telemarketers representing private insurers and health care companies, marketing their Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. In California, Medicare enrollees will choose from 47 stand-alone Medicare Prescription Drug Plans, including the 10 approved national plans, and another 113 Medicare Advantage Plans, InsideBayArea.com reports.
A&A

Small Business Owners Can Reduce Health Benefits Costs

Rate increases for employee health insurance, which rose again in 2005 – 9.8 percent as opposed to the whopping 11.2 percent in 2004, present business owners with grim choices, according to the SmartMoney.com. Small businesses considering dropping coverage could lose talented employees, as well as normal access to a pool of potential employees.

Medicare Premiums Increasing in 2006

In 2006, seniors and disabled citizens will be paying another $10.30 over the $78.20 that they are already pay this year. This represents a 13.2 percent increase for Medicare Part B premiums.
A&A

Employer Health Costs Increase 9.2 Percent in 2005

The latest Kaiser/HRET survey states that for the first time in five years, employer health costs have not increased in double digits. It is good news, to a point. The 9.2 percent growth rate was more than three times the average growth rate of worker wages as well as inflation. Workers also paid more for their health benefits. On average, the amount paid for family coverage increased from $149 in 2001 to $226 in 2005 -- an increase of almost 52 percent. The current cost dip is not considered a strong indication of future slowdowns in health coverage costs.

Few Options for Medicare Part D Drug Benefit

Although several details of the new Medicare Part D drug benefit plan are yet to be set, seniors who don’t enroll for the prescription drug coverage will be penalized 12 percent for each year they delay in signing up for the program. Some seniors wouldn’t need to enroll in the program because they have no current drug bills or small drug bills at least.
A&A

House Passes Small Business Health Fairness Act

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Small Business Health Fairness Act on Tuesday, July 26, legislation that would permit small businesses to join together across state lines to purchase health insurance for their workers through Association Health Plans (AHPs). The bill allows small businesses to purchase healthcare through trade associations and professional organizations.
Community News

Harsh Criticism for the Mayo Foundation's Accounting Practices

Court documents pertaining to a suit brought against the Mayo Foundation by a former accounting employee under the False Claims Act and settled in May for $6.5 million, were released Monday to the Rochester, Minnesota, Post-Bulletin, according to the Associated Press. The documents had been under seal until the Post-Bulletin challenged the settlement order, according to the Associated Press.These documents show that federal investigators alleged that the Mayo Clinic had serious problems accounting for research grants, according to the Associated Press.
A&A

Health Care Spending Races Ahead of Income Increases

Spending on health care rose by 8.2 percent last year, outpacing spending increases in other areas and outstripping average growth in income, a new study says.The spending increase was slower than in past years - it peaked at 11.3 percent in 2001, for example - but it outpaced gross domestic product, which increased by 5.6 percent, Forbes.com reported. In the most recent 12-month period, prices for health care rose by 4.3 percent, compared with 2.8 percent for prices overall, according to the U.S.

Draft Guide to Medicare Benefits Called Confusing

A government guide designed to educate Medicare recipients about their benefits is getting a rewrite after many statements were determined to be incorrect, misleading or confusing.A preliminary draft of the 2006 Medicare handbook will be reworked after members of Congress, insurers, state insurance regulators and advocates for beneficiaries criticized the handbook, the New York Times reported.One major problem is the new prescription drug benefit – which will be confusing under the best of circumstances because it is new – is not fully explained.

Flexible Spending Accounts: More Time to Spend

The U.S. Treasury announced last week that millions of workers who use flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to set aside pre-tax dollars for health-care expenses will have until two and one-half months to spend the set-aside funds. Previous rules required that funds deposited in an FSA be spent by the end of the plan year. Any unspent funds were lost.The use it or lose it rule isn’t changing but savers are being given an additional 2½ months in which to spend it. If the plan year ends with the calendar year, spending can now continue until March 15.
Practice Management

Companies Urge Employees to Escape Cubicles and Get Active

Companies around the country are marking National Employee Health & Fitness Day today with new wellness programs, discounts or simple encouragment for workers to get moving.CEOs are leading their employees on walks through downtowns, others are making accommodations for bicycle commuting, and some are offering discounts on gym memberships to keep their employees healthy and active.

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