Employee Benefits

December 1, 2017
open enrollment

Managing Open Enrollment for Your 2018 Health Insurance Coverage

Whether you receive health benefits from your job, the marketplace or an association, you have probably been hearing a lot of urgent messages about open enrollment. It is this time of year where individuals and businesses alike have to make important decisions about their health insurance coverage. It is also the only opportunity to make changes to your plans without a qualifying event. Below we offer some items to consider as you make your way through open enrollment for your 2018 health insurance coverage. Individuals: With the Affordable Care Act in disarray, Indiana residents who were relying on the heath insurance marketplace for coverage are having to look for other options. Many have received notification from their 2017 insurer of a discontinuation of coverage. There is still one option for individual policies in Indiana’s health insurance exchange though AmBetter. We suggest you begin your search by assessing your current plan and looking for a new policy that will offer you the same or better coverage. Be prepared to provide employment, gender, home county and smoker status information to obtain a quote. Also be careful to note deadlines to sign up and when coverage will begin. Employees: Your employer received rate increases and plan changes in early fall and may have faced some hard decisions about the bottom line impact of offering health benefits. Open enrollment is the time where employees may have to make some decisions as well. It is important to read through information provided and to take advantage of any information sessions or assistance by the insurer. At Wharton Insurance and Financial Services (WIFS), we hold open enrollment meetings for all of our clients’ employees to ensure everyone understands the plans and what changes can be made. It may be that you will have to assess which offered plan works for you and your family in 2018, or you may have new circumstances that need to be addressed. Even if you have no personal changes, we suggest you review your company plans carefully so you will know what to expect for the coming year. Association Members: Many associations offer access to health insurance coverage as a benefit to membership. Similar to companies, these organizations have an open enrollment period to allow participants to assess their plan choices and costs, as well as account for life changes. This time of year is also when new members may enroll, so if you are looking for health coverage, it may be worthwhile to investigate membership in an applicable local association. For example, WIFS manages the health insurance plan for the Builder’s Association of Indianapolis, an organization focused on the local home improvement sector. It may be that your work or other affiliations could help provide you with quality health insurance coverage. Wharton Insurance and Financial Services has helped individuals, businesses and associations work their way throughout the rapidly changing world that is health insurance. If you have questions or are looking for coverage for yourself or your employees, send us an […]
November 2, 2017
employee health insurance

My Employees and I Are Losing Individual Health Coverage. What Are My Options?

With the demise of the individual health insurance market in Indiana, many small business owners are losing their health insurance right along with their employees. If you were relying on the ACA Exchange to cover you and your employees, you are well aware that option is now questionable. With your employees scrambling, you risk losing your workers to competitors by not offering health benefits. Besides, you and your family need them too! BAGI Group Health Insurance Plan As a BAGI contractor member in good standing, your company may be eligible to participate in the BAGI Group Health Insurance Plan. By pooling the employees from each member company into the coverage, the BAGI plan is able to offer large-company benefits to small businesses. Brokered by BAGI member Scott Wharton, and managed by Anthem, participants have 12 plan choices from benefit-rich and low out-of-pocket options, all the way up to plans with the maximum-allowed federal out-of-pocket limits. With BAGI’s program, you and your employees get affordability, quality and choice in their health insurance coverage. Small Employer Case Study Wharton Insurance had a small business owner reach out to them because she was losing her individual health insurance. She had not offered an employee plan in the past and was paying $12,000 a year out of pocket just to cover herself on the individual market. The Wharton Team suggested she look at offering a group plan that would include coverage for herself and her employees. The price tag could be the same for better coverage, and she would get the added bonus of making her employees happy. The BAGI plan could provide the same benefit to your company. Take Action Before It Is Too Late Open enrollment started November 1 for AmBetter, the only Affordable Care Act (ACA) approved individual plan available in our state. For many people, that lack of competition could mean lower-quality benefits for higher costs. Fortunately, there are other options if you are a business owner interested in providing coverage to your employees as well as yourself. However, you must act before the December 15th deadline to ensure coverage beginning January 1, 2018! As long as you have 2 or more employees, the BAGI plan may be the right choice for your business. As an independent insurance broker, Scott can also look into other options if the BAGI plan does not fit your situation. There is no cost to explore your options and it only takes about a day to complete. For more information about how you can find the coverage you need and offer your employees the health benefits they are looking for, email Scott or give him a call at 317.663.4138.      
October 26, 2017
Employee Health Benefits

Your Employees Want Health Insurance. There Are Ways to Give It to Them.

Are you like many other Indiana employers who are struggling with attracting and retaining employees? The corrosion of the individual healthcare market coupled with low unemployment means that one way to deal with this issue is to offer group health insurance. However, smaller businesses do not always feel they have the resources to compete on that level. Below, we offer two case studies on how we were able to offer our businesses clients affordable and high-quality options to help them achieve that goal. Case #1: Small Business Owner Needs Individual Coverage A small business owner with five employees had not previously offered a group health plan and was not sure she wanted to move in that direction. She had been paying $12,000 a year out of pocket just to cover herself on the individual market. The current dearth of individual plan options led her to us for help. We suggested that she explore a community-rated group plan, where she would be covered as well as her employees. The price tag could be the same for better coverage, and she would get the added bonus of making her employees happy. With Wharton Insurance, there is no charge to explore your options with us and it only takes about a day to complete. The final result could end up serving your needs better! Case #2: Manufacturing Company Needs to Compete for Employees A manufacturing company in Indiana came to us exasperated with the current state of their human resources activities. With 130 employees operating in five states, they did not have the formal HR structure that size of organization needs—they did not even have an employee handbook. In addition, they were struggling with attracting and retaining employees because of their current health insurance plan. Offering a competitive plan with multiple choices had been a problem, and they needed to figure out an option that would allow them to challenge the larger competitors attracting their workforce. WorkSmart Solutions, an Indiana-based Professional Employer Organization or PEO, was the best solution for their issues. PEOs allow small businesses to work like Fortune 500 organizations through the power of pooling. Their employees join the over 7,000 others managed under the PEO umbrella, allowing the business to offer their employees a rich benefit package with many plan choices. The HR Admin services included with PEO partnership also helped the management team get their HR needs under control. Health insurance is not what it used to be. If it has been a while since you explored your options, you may be surprised by what is possible. The Wharton Insurance Team would be happy to help. Send us an email, or give us a call at 317.663.4138.  
September 27, 2017
employee health insurance

Don’t Lose Your Workforce Over Employee Health Insurance Benefits

The individual health insurance market has essentially collapsed in Indiana. With the largest insurers no longer participating in the exchange set up under the Affordable Care Act, people without access to a group plan through an employer find themselves in a difficult place. If you are a business owner who relied on grossing up wages to help your employees purchase their own quality health insurance plans, it is important to know what they no longer have that option. Your business is now at risk of losing employees to competitors that provide health benefits. Fortunately, there is another employee health insurance option available to small businesses. Organizations classified as MEWAs, or Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements, have always been exempt from the ACA and therefore exist outside of the exchange. This exemption allows Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs) like Indiana-based WorkSmart Systems to offer private group health insurance plans to its members. Partnering with a PEO allows small businesses to harness the power of pooling, by joining their employees with those of the other PEO members. Being a part of this larger group affords your employees the health benefits of a Fortune 500 firm at a reasonable cost. It may be that you were relying on the individual market for your health insurance as well and are now looking at your options. If you have at least five full-time employees, including yourself, WorkSmart is an option for your business. However, don’t let that number scare you off if it appears that you have fewer FTEs. There may be relationships within your business that qualify as employees that you have not considered. At Worksmart we can help you clearly define your workforce, which may open up the opportunity for PEO membership. While the fate of the individual health insurance market is uncertain, the fact is that you still need to run your business. Now more than ever, offering employee health insurance is a key factor in attracting and retaining a quality workforce. WorkSmart serves as the co-employer for over 7,000 Indiana employees, and medically underwrites their health insurance plan offering multiple benefit options. Their self-funded, trust-based model has allowed them to craft a balanced health benefits program that can help protect their partners from the policies coming out of Washington, today and beyond. To discover whether your business qualifies to participate in a PEO, send me an email or give me a call at 317.663.4138.    
September 10, 2015
ACA employer reporting requirements

Assuming Your Small Business is Free From Affordable Care Act Requirements? Think Again!

Let’s say you own a business with over 50, but under 100 employees, and you offer an affordable group health insurance plan. You’re clear from any responsibilities under the Affordable Care Act, right? Think again. Starting January 1, 2016, you will be subject to the same reporting requirements employers of over 100 people are currently managing. What do the ACA reporting requirements mean for your business? With the adoption of the ACA came additional paperwork that is tied to payroll reporting requirements. Now, employers have to send information to the Internal Revenue Service about their employee group health benefits, and they have to provide the value of that program to their employees. Formulas for determining full-time employee status have also changed and can have a great effect on determining accountability under the ACA. The penalties for miscommunicating this information are substantial, making it important that your Human Resources Administrator fully understand the complexities of these new reporting requirements. (Click here to learn more about the penalty structure that will affect businesses with 50+ employees 1/1/16). There is no need to figure out this new world all on your own! Wharton Insurance and Financial Services has many options to help ensure all of your bases are covered. We can guide you through the decisions surrounding offering affordable group health care coverage. We can help your employees find individual coverage if you want to disband your program. And, we can provide resources for managing the new intricacies of being an employer under the ACA. Send us an email, or give us a call at 317.663.4138 for more information.
March 11, 2015

Did Your Employee Group Health Insurance Rates Skyrocket? You Have Options.

Our clients who renewed their employee group health insurance plans for December 1, 2014 saw an average of a 12-15% rate increase. In 2013, we were closer to 7-8%. With the drastic changes in health insurance over the past two years, no one knows when this upward trend will level off. Fortunately, Wharton Insurance & Financial Services has access to unique options for employers of 50+ full-time employees to reduce their benefit costs sooner rather than later. 1) PEO Program Professional Employer Organizations offer large employers an efficient way to manage all of their human resource efforts. By entering into a co-employment contract with the PEO, all HR services are taken care of while the employer retains overall management of their employees’ work. The PEO’s group health insurance plans allow access to large-group programs and pricing, shielding employers from the volatility of the group health insurance market. As the Indiana Broker of Record for local PEO, Worksmart, the WIFS Team is in the unique position to present this option. 2) BAGI Group Health Insurance Program Builder members of the Builder’s Association of Greater Indianapolis have access to the organizations’ employee group health program. By pooling the buying power of their members, BAGI’s program allows for a more even spread of risk, less rate volatility, and a viable answer to the double-digit rate increases we are seeing this year. With 12 different plans, from benefit-rich and low out-of-pocket plans, all the way up to plans with the maximum allowed federal out-of-pocket limits, there is an option for everyone. WIFS is the sole administrator of the program, offering local, personalized service to all BAGI members. There may be no need to just accept the huge increases for your employee group health insurance rates, or to wait until the next renewal cycle. Send us an email, or give us a call at 317.663.4138 to learn more about your options to lower your costs now.
February 18, 2015
ACA employer reporting requirements

Managing the New Affordable Care Act Employer Reporting Requirements

As of January 1st, 2015, businesses with 100+ full-time employees must be in compliance with the Affordable Care Act mandate to provide affordable employee health benefits or be subject to penalties. (Click here to read our blog post about what this change means for your business.) Along with the benefits mandate came a whole new layer of employer reporting requirements. The costs of non-compliance are now stiff, making it worthwhile to find a viable option to fulfill your obligations under the law. Human Resources Administration is becoming more complex and expensive to mismanage. Beyond the ACA, it seems the world of human resources is getting more and more complex, and expensive to mishandle. The reporting requirements for employers are also becoming more intricate. With the adoption of the ACA came additional paperwork that is tied to current payroll reporting requirements: employers may now have to report the value of employee health benefits on the employee’s W-2. With the cost of miscommunicating this information becoming more substantial, it is important that your HR Administrator fully understand the complexities of this new structure. PEOs Offer Employer Solutions As the HR landscape changes, how are you as a business owner meant to keep up? One way to insure that you are following the law is to contract with a Professional Employer Organization, or PEO. These entities offer employers a way to outsource their human resources needs, including payroll, employee benefits, and workers’ compensation insurance. PEOs are experts in their field. They allow the reporting process to be consolidated into one place, alleviating employers of the stress of trying to understand and abide by the new laws. Wharton Insurance & Financial Services has partnered with Worksmart, a local PEO with a 17 year history of satisfied clients. When you enter into a co-employment relationship with Worksmart, they become the employer of record for tax and insurance purposes while you retain the management of your employees’ overall work. Worksmart manages your payroll reporting requirements, which with the ACA is now tied to your health insurance obligations. As a co-employer with the expertise in dealing with HR administration on a daily basis, partnering with Worksmart provides a layer of protection from potential compliance and reporting issues. PEOs serve as a smart choice for one-stop shopping for your compliance reporting needs. For more information on how to manage the new Affordable Care Act employer reporting requirements using Worksmart, send us an email, or give us a call at 317.663.4138.
December 3, 2014

Health Savings Accounts: A Benefit Employees Love

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are a valuable part of an employee benefits package. To keep group medical plans costs under control, many employers are offering high deductible health plans. Combining those plans with an HSA offers employees a tax-benefical way to save for those high-deductibles, as well as other qualified medical expenses. HSAs are funded with pre-tax dollars by either an employee, an employer or a mixture of both. The employee has control over how the money is spent, and unused funds can roll over into the next year. It is up to the insured to understand the rules of HSAs to make sure the funds are used appropriately. LifeHealthPro recently published a blog post covering the ins and outs of HSAs in great detail for those who would like to know the specifics of the accounts. Understanding exactly what constitutes a “qualified expense” can help employees make the most out of their HSA.  LifeHealthPro uncovered some often overlooked HSA qualified expenses, including: over-the-counter drugs; vitamins and nutritional supplements; over-the-counter non-drug supplies; gym memberships, weight-loss programs, and stress reduction services; cost of travel for medical treatment; certain cosmetic surgeries; accessibility-related modifications to your home; and long-term care insurance, COBRA premiums and other insurance coverages. If you are faced with offering a high deductible health plan for your employees, you may want to consider implementing an HSA as well. Send us an email or give us a call for more information on the process and the benefits of these programs.  
November 7, 2014
Millennial Disability Insurance

Millennials: Consider Holding A Disability Policy Outside of Your Employer’s Plan

Millennials, you truly live in the new world of employment. Long gone are the days of staying at one company for your whole career – or even for five years! With each job change comes a new benefits package to decipher and supplement. With all of this expected change in mind, you may want to consider buying short and long-term disability policies outside of your current employer’s plan. Disability insurance protects you from losing all of your income if you were to become incapable of working – either for a short or long term basis. Short-term policies kick in after you have exhausted any sick leave offered by your employer. Depending on the policy, terms can run from 9 to 52 weeks. Long-term disability pays you a portion of your income after you have exhausted sick leave and your short-term policy. Again, terms depend upon your policy, but most run until age 65. Unexpected injuries or illnesses that keep you form working can place a financial strain on you and your family. Disability insurance helps provide peace of mind during an already stressful time. Send us an email or give us call at 317.663.4138 to discuss your disability insurance options.
October 24, 2014
employee benefits

Employee Benefits: New Studies Show Travel Enhances Creativity

Taking time away from the office is difficult to accomplish, especially as a business owner. And, although you want them to be happy, it can be especially challenging to have your key employees take a little R & R. However, some newly released findings link improved creativity and productivity to travel. There have been numerous studies that confirm the value of vacation time to an organization. Now it looks like traveling away from home during those extended off-hours enhances problem-solving skills and creative thinking. Click here to learn more. Do you have a vacation policy within your employee benefits program? If so, what aspects of it seem to work best for you and your employees?      
October 22, 2014
employee health insurance

Facing a Large Rate Increase on Your Employee Health Insurance Plan?

The WIFS Team has been preparing for the release of group health insurance policy renewals rates over the past year. Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, we have gained a lot of experience guiding our clients through the changing employee benefits landscape. Our clients look to us for expertise in managing the challenges presented by large rate increases. It is during these times of upheaval that they are fortunate to have an experienced insurance broker on their side. Facing a large rate increase on your employee health insurance plan? There are options: 1) Stay with your current plan. The benefit of accepting the rate increase with no changes to your plan is that your policy is not subject to community rating* for 2015. If you have a healthy workforce, staying out of the general pool will most likely save you money. Altering the percentages paid by employees can help your company’s bottom line manage the rate increases. 2) Partner with a PEO. Professional Employer Organizations offer access to employee benefits programs similar to large companies, providing you with protection from large jumps in premiums as well as a wide variety of plans. WIFS is the Indiana Broker of Record for Indianapolis-based Worksmart Systems, placing us in a unique position to offer you this creative solution. 3) Access an Association Program. Many industry associations offer private group health insurance plans. Locally, the Builder’s Association of Greater Indianapolis (BAGI) has partnered with the WIFS Team to offer a cost-effective, fully-insured insurance plan. Members in good standing may take advantage of the benefits of this plan, such as staying out of the community-based rating model. 4) Drop your employee health insurance benefits. In some rare cases employers are facing such large jumps in their health insurance premiums that they are eliminating their plans altogether. In this case, we can help create a plan to supplement the employees’ costs for individual plans on the federal exchange. The days of price shopping for insurance brokers are gone. Today, you need a broker with solutions. The WIFS Team works with clients every day to find creative solutions for their group health insurance issues. We can help you too. Send us an email, or give us a call at 317.663.4138 for more information. *Community rating refers to the manner in which health risks are managed. In this model, the lower costs of covering healthy employees are balanced by the higher costs of covering unhealthy employees. The risks associated with each are leveled over the entire coverage base, and charged to all.
October 8, 2014
Employee Benefits from Wharton Insurance

Avoid the Suck: Why Are YOU Spending Time on Employee Health Benefits?

Most likely you chose to be in your business because you are an expert at what you do. Your customers value that expertise, and spending your time building on that value is what allows your business to grow. So why spend your valuable time figuring out the ever-changing world of employee health benefits? Save time and money by bringing in experts like us to guide you and your employees through the entire process. Why use an employee benefits expert? Knowledge: Employee benefits and insurance is our world. Why should you take the time to sift through all of the choices? Over the past 25 years we have built relationships with carriers that allow us to provide the best options for your business. We have the expertise to help you balance budget with benefits, providing you with a plan you can be comfortable offering. Process: With the Affordable Care Act came mandates, for individuals as well as businesses. We understand these requirements, and ensure that all of your bases are covered. For example, part of our process is to create a concise spreadsheet of the elements of your plan. Not only does this allow you and your employees to understand the coverage, it fulfills the ACA mandate to provide a Summary of Benefits & Coverage. We see it as our job to make offering employee benefits a high-quality, affordable and easily manageable process. Simplification: Health insurance plans are complex. Covered expenses, deductibles, co-pays, maximum out-of-pocket expenses, available networks…the list of particulars goes on and on. We know how to minimize the complexities by creating clear, plain-English tools for you and your employees. We prepare an employee packet, outlining the elements of your plan and addressing items that worry employees most. We also hold yearly meetings with your employees to explain the plan and to answer questions. Finally, we are always just a phone call or email away to address individual concerns. Guidance: Even within one health insurance plan, employees can be faced with many choices about their health care. We offer individualized advice for your employees, helping them find the lowest-cost, highest care options within their plan. If available, we can advise them on HSA strategies. We answer questions like how to handle chronic disease considerations, or how to access widely available interest-free credit programs. Complete Service: Employee benefits go beyond group health insurance. As industry experts, we can help you manage all of your human resources administration needs. Short- and long-term disability insurance, COBRA, dental and supplemental insurance, life insurance, workers’ compensation and HR admin services – we can do it all, and keep you compliant. You wear a lot of hats as a business leader, but there are times when it makes sense to hand one off to an expert you trust. The WIFSInc Team is ready to use our experience, knowledge and tools to successfully guide you through the complexities of employee health benefits. Give us a call at 317.663.4138 or send us an email to set an […]
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