Health care

Treasury Issues Comprehensive Health Savings Account Guidance

Last week the Treasury Department and the IRS issued comprehensive guidance on Health Savings Accounts that will help providers to establish HSAs and consumers to enjoy their benefits. The guidance answers questions on a wide range of issues that the public has brought to the Treasury Department since the creation of HSAs.

Grocery Chain Makes Workers the Watchdogs Over Rising Health Costs

If employees feel a financial pinch every time they go to the doctor, get an MRI or replace a crown, they will be more conscious of slowing the growth of medical costs.At least that’s the theory behind a new health plan offered by the Whole Foods Market Inc. grocery chain, one of the companies turning to so-called "consumer-driven" medical coverage to save money, the Wall Street Journal reported.The upside is no premiums. After a few months on the job, employees are covered. The downside is high deductibles — $500 for prescriptions and $1,000 for all other medical costs.
A&A

Business Survey Finds Health Care Costs 'Out of Control'

In a survey of health care decision-makers at 200 area employers, 92 percent said health care costs are out of control, but only 35 percent are considering taking any additional action to address the situation. Harvard Pilgrim Health Care CEO Charlie Baker discussed the results of the survey during a speech to business leaders at the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce today.
Tax

Embattled HealthSouth Names New Chief Operating Officer

HealthSouth Corp. announced this week the appointment of Mike Snow, age 49, to the position of Chief Operating Officer (COO), effective June 30, 2004. Snow, who most recently served as the President of the Gulf Coast Division of HCA, will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company on an ongoing basis. Snow has an extensive background in the healthcare industry.
Practice Management

Companies Offering Cash Incentives to Healthy Workers

A slimmer waistline may mean a fatter wallet at some companies looking to contain their health-care costs.Companies have long encouraged healthy lifestyles with the idea that more fit employees are more productive and more satisfied employees, but now they’re offering an incentive — cash."A few years ago, companies might have offered T-shirts or mugs," says Seth Serxner, a principal at Mercer Human Resource Consulting, according to CFO magazine.
Practice Management

Become Fully Accountable For Your Success: Expose Your Diversionary Tactics

By Keith Rosen, MCC - - Have you ever done something that you know is not in your best interest? Have you ever avoided doing something that is in your best interest? In either of these scenarios you were probably able to justify your behavior as well as your line of thinking and most of all; avoid being accountable. While that may sting a little bit, allow me to introduce to you a new definition for this type of behavior.

Companies Form Alliance to Seek Group Insurance

Embracing the old adage that there’s "strength in numbers," more than 50 of the country’s largest employers are banding together to find affordable health insurance for more than 4 million of their currently uninsured employees, the Washington Post reported.The companies, which include McDonald's, Marriott, Sears and Lockheed Martin, are looking for a single insurer to cover part-time employees, contractors and others who don’t qualify for traditional company plans.
Tax

Treasury, IRS Clarify Health Savings Accounts

This week the Treasury and the IRS issued Revenue Ruling 2004-45 which clarifies how health Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs) and Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) interact with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). The guidance provides a number of ways that individuals may have access to benefits from FSAs and HRAs and remain eligible to contribute to an HSA.
Community News

Survey: Tiered Benefits Packages Facilitate Employee Retention

One of the best ways to retain top employees is through competitive benefits packages. The best packages offerboth retirement and healthcare programs, according to a financial services industry report recently published by business intelligence firm Cutting Edge Information.Lately, as companies try to cut or control costs, benefits packages have repeatedly borne the brunt of budget slashes. "Long-term strains created by pension programs force executives to reconsider retirement planning's impacton company cost structures.
A&A

Small Businesses Ripe for Insurance Fraud: What Your Company Needs to Know

Health insurance scams are a real threat for small business employers and employees. Insurance failures hurt real people – workers and their families – who are seldom equipped to absorb large dollar losses. Small-business owners are often the targets of such scams, which resulted in at least $252 million in unpaid medical claims from 2000 through 2002, says the GAO, an investigative arm of Congress.Health insurance scam artists steal from the most vulnerable consumers," Assistant Secretary of Labor, Ann Combs testified.
A&A

FASB Confirms Existing Rules on Medicare Accounting

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) on Wednesday cleared up some of the confusion surrounding accounting for the effects of the new Medicare law.The Medicare Act, signed into law in December, has sparked not only political arguments but also an accounting debate over how companies should book the amount of federal subsidy they expect to receive in their financial statements.FASB’s Wednesday vote confirmed that existing rules governing post-retirement benefit costs should be used.

GASB Issues Revised Exposure Draft on Employer Reporting of Other Postemployment Benefits

The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) has issued a revised Exposure Draft, Accounting and Financial Reporting by Employers for Postemployment Benefits Other Than Pensions. The Exposure Draft addresses how state and local governments should account for and report their costs and obligations related to postemployment healthcare and other non-pension benefits provided to retirees (collectively referred to as other postemployment benefits, or OPEB).

HealthSouth Probe Now Includes Possible Kickbacks

The Justice Department is now looking into whether HealthSouth officials offered bribes in an attempt to secure business in Saudi Arabia, which would be a violation of federal laws that prohibit such payments to secure business oversees.Specifically, federal prosecutors are investigating a deal signed in 2000 by HealthSouth to manage a 400-bed rehabilitative hospital outside of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Community News

Planning a Spring Get-Away or Partner Retreat? Think Spa

Every year, spas become more relevant to everyday Americans, as more and more people -- and more and more different types of people -- embrace spas to improve the way they look and feel. Spa Finder is at the very center of this unfolding story, representing the largest network of spas in the world and interacting with the largest audience of spa consumers.
Community News

Ernst & Young Sued in Medicare Billing Case

Ernst & Young is the subject if a civil lawsuit that contends the accounting firm’s advice led nine hospitals to overbill the federal Medicare program by nearly $1 million.The Associated Press reported that the suit, filed Monday by the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia, states that the firm’s incorrect advice in the early to mid-1990s caused the hospitals to submit more than 200,000 false claims for common blood tests. The hospital laboratories used equipment that automatically performed a more extensive number of blood tests than were necessary, the suit says.

SEC to Return $30 Million in Unspent Funds

Increasingly under fire for failing to properly regulate the mutual fund industry, the Securities and Exchange Commission was dealt another blow when Congress moved to return $120 million in unspent funds to the U.S. Treasury, $30 million of which the SEC will not get back.The money had been appropriated to expand the financial industry watchdog’s staff and when new employees weren’t hired fast enough in fiscal year 2003, the money was returned to the Treasury. Next week, Congress is expected to approve the agency’s $811 million spending bill for fiscal year 2004, which began Oct. 1.
A&A

Survey Finds Workers Coping With Financial Strain of Health Care Costs

American Express Financial Advisors Inc. today released results from a 2003 national survey measuring the impact of recent health care cost increases on workers’ financial health.The survey found a significant number of employees are concerned about the financial effect of health care increases on their retirement future. The majority (73 percent) of workers responded they were either somewhat or very concerned about how rising health care costs might impact their ability to fund their retirement and other financial goals.
Tax

Debit Cards Facilitate Use of Flexible-Spending Accounts

Flexible spending plans offered by some corporations just got a whole lot easier to use with new rules allowing debit cards to track the use of pretax dollars employees put away to pay for medical expenses not covered by health plans. The IRS recently permitted the use of debit cards to cut down on the paperwork usually involved in taking advantage of these flexible-spending plans offered by many employers. These plans allow employees to put a portion of their pretax salary away for anticipated medical expenses during the year.

Free Report - Questions and Answers on Hot HIPAA Issues

Signed into law August 21, 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was designed to simplify the administration of health care and health benefit payments. But the Act has exploded with new regulations and guidelines in the last couple of years, making it anything but simple.Straight from the pages of AHI's FAQs On HIPAA, this free report gives you a plain-English summary of the complex regulations of HIPAA, along with a detailed Q&A section that will help keep your HIPAA initiatives compliant.
Community News

HIPAA Privacy Rule Takes Effect April 14, 2003 - Reminder

The HIPAA "Privacy Rule" goes into effect April 14 for group health plans with annual premium or claims of $5 million or more. HIPAA requires employers to separate protected health information from employment-relation functions. If you are a company who sponsors an employee health care plan, be prepared for the Privacy Rules of The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

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