rising costs

5 Ways to Control Rising Benefit Costs

Healthcare costs in America have risen significantly since the 1970s, leading many employers to expect modest yearly cost increases in the benefits they offer. However, the combination of current economic conditions, increased costs related to managing chronic conditions, and an aging population are leading to less manageable increases for many employers. Here are five ways TPAs can help employers continue offering high-value benefits while working to control rising benefits costs. #1 Ask Participants What They Need

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one workforce

Four Generations, One Workforce: Creating a Benefits Program for All

Americans live and work longer, leading to a four-generation workforce in different life stages and with differing needs. Creating a benefits package that satisfies their varied needs can prove challenging. Diverse Needs In its latest Workplace Wellness Survey, the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI) examined financial stressors as well as overall financial, emotional, and physical well-being. Financial Well-Being Financial well-being is of moderate to high concern for 28% of younger workers, 37% of middle-aged workers, and

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FSA rules

IRS Confirms Claim Substantiation Requirements

In a recent memorandum (TAM 202317020) from the Office of Chief Counsel, the IRS addressed claims substantiation requirements for reimbursement of medical and dependent care expenses from FSA accounts. The memo also described the tax consequences of not complying with claims substantiation requirements. This memo is vital for FSA administrators because it confirms the IRS’s position that ALL medical and dependent care claims must be substantiated in order to avoid major tax penalties resulting from

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Employer-Sponsored Insurance: Still Number One

The Commonwealth Fund recently issued a brief on “What Employers Say About the Future of Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance.” American employers have had ties to health insurance since World War II, but programs like the Affordable Care Act and Inflation Reduction Act could shift that bond. The Fund interviewed over two dozen benefits executives. Highlights are presented here as food for thought. Impact of the Affordable Care Act Enacted in March 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) sought

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Status Change

FSAs, Status Changes, and Contributions

Changes in family status can change health insurance eligibility. But they can also affect consumer-directed healthcare accounts, prompting questions about mid-year status changes. Here’s how family status changes can affect FSA and Dependent Care account elections. Can I change my health FSA contributions? Employees enroll in FSA accounts during open enrollment each year. At that time, they must decide on a contribution amount up to the IRS-mandated maximum ($3,050 for 2023). FSA accounts can be used

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online shopping

Shopping for FSA Products Online

Consumers have been shopping for everything from clothing to groceries to furniture through online retailers for years. It’s convenient, and prices may be lower than those at brick-and-mortar retail stores. More and more, people are turning to the web to buy healthcare products. Many retailers sell FSA-eligible products online, and Flexible Spending Account (FSA) participants can use their account-linked debit cards as payment. What to Know When FSA Shopping Online Before shopping online with your

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healthcare consumerism

Healthcare Consumerism Continues to Rise

Healthcare consumerism is a movement to make healthcare services more efficient and cost-effective. It transforms an employer’s health benefit plan, putting the economic purchasing power and decision-making in participants’ hands. Consumerism aims to enable patients to become wholly involved in their healthcare decisions. What drives healthcare consumerism? Customers can access features, benefits, and cost comparisons in most industries to guide their purchasing decisions. In contrast, the healthcare industry presents many choices, contact points, and service

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COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Extended Again

On January 11, 2023, the COVID-19 National Public Health Emergency (PHE) was extended for 90 days. The PHE was scheduled to expire on April 11, 2023. Update: On January 31, 2023, the Biden Administration announced their intent to end the Public Health Emergency on May 11. Effects of the PHE Extension With the extension, the temporary rule changes regarding COBRA, HIPAA, and group health plans (including FSAs and HSAs) continue. (Click here for more detailed

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New Year, New Benefits

Welcome to 2023! The new year brings a renewed focus on losing weight, staying healthy, and becoming financially healthier. Across the country, millions of us have set goals of increasing our health and wealth. However, inflation, supply chain issues, continued mental health challenges, and more can make tackling these goals even harder than usual. Financial Health Resolutions Many Americans are examining their spending and saving habits. Fidelity Investment found that when asked about financial concerns,

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What is an FSA or LPFSA?

Rising healthcare costs have people more actively managing their healthcare expenses. Many are doing so with the help of consumer-directed healthcare (CDH) resources like Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) and Limited Purpose Flexible Spending Accounts (LPFSA). To increase employee utilization of these accounts, it’s important to provide education on FSA and LPFSA basics regularly throughout the year.Flexible Spending Account BasicsA standard FSA is a health benefits account to which participants contribute money deducted from their paychecks

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Compliance Priorities for 2023

A new year is upon us, and with it, the end of many temporary, COVID-related regulatory and legislative provisions. Mercer’s U.S. Health Law and Policy team has selected the top healthcare compliance priorities for 2023. Below are highlights of 10 areas considered most likely to impact employee benefits plans. For more context and discussion, see the Mercer site and consult your qualified benefits counsel. Prescription Drugs In light of recent presidential directives, Congress and federal

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New Year’s Resolutions and Mental Health

With the holidays upon us and a New Year approaching, many Americans are preparing to make resolutions regarding exercise, weight, smoking, and overall physical health, among others. Having survived many life changes over the last couple of years, many people are also looking specifically to enhance their mental health and well-being. Mental Health Resolutions In a recent Forbes poll, 45% of all respondents ranked achieving better mental health among their top resolutions. By age group, 50%

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employee benefits

Benefit Accounts Address Economic Challenges

A recent article in Employee Benefits News outlined the three economic challenges to American workers: inflation, market volatility, and rising interest rates. Employers can use benefit accounts to help employees address these concerns. Challenge #1: Inflation The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 7.7% overall between October 2021 and October 2022. Increases occurred year over year (YOY) in every category the CPI measures, including fuel oil (68.5%), natural gas (20.0%), gasoline (17.5%), transportation services (15.2%), and

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Employer-Sponsored Debit Cards Make Life Easier

In today’s fast-paced world, debit cards provide an efficient payment method for consumers everywhere. Providers can automatically track purchases, and the cardholder can easily view and manage activity online. Additionally, debit cards are accepted all over the world. For Third-Party Administrators (TPAs), account-linked debit cards can help control costs through more efficient benefits administration. Many TPA clients are savvy employers who incorporate them into their employee benefits offerings. This option allows companies to attract and

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Whitepaper: Getting Creative in a Post-Pandemic Enrollment Season

Always an intense and stressful time for brokers, TPAs, and employers alike, enrollment season for the 2023 plan year promises to be even more so. As COVID-19 gradually transitions from pandemic to endemic, its impact on Americans cannot be denied. By mid-2022, more than 90 million had contracted COVID-19, with over a million confirmed deaths. How can we successfully address the past two years’ influence on our workplaces and workforce? It will take more than

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