Midsized Employers Are Worried About Ongoing ACA Compliance Challenges

The Affordable Care Act and resulting ACA compliance challenges can be a tough labyrinth for employers to navigate. As an insurance agency focusing on group benefits management, Pontrelli, Timour & Associates understand the frustration of employers as they attempt to deal with the seemingly never-ending ACA compliance challenges. By focusing on compliance issues, business owners fail to do what they do best and really need to be doing – growing their bottom line. Luckily, PT Benefits can help your company overcome these difficulties, taking away unnecessary bureaucratic headaches.

Keeping Up With ACA Compliance Challenges

aca compliance challenges

Help with ACA Compliance Challenges

It’s hard to keep up with evolving regulations around the Affordable Care Act. As a result, employers are increasingly stressed about the volume of government regulation that often lead to fines and penalties for noncompliance. When it comes to senior level and C-suite executives at U.S. companies with 50-999 employees, two in five ranked the amount of government regulations as their top business concern in 2015. This is a significant spike when compared to previous years.

Business owners have less confidence in compliance with ACA regulations as compared to payroll tax laws and workforce regulations. When it comes to ACA compliance challenges, there are steps you can take to help your company avoid problems.

Three Basic ACA Compliance Steps That Can Help

  1. Seek expert help. Recognize that ACA compliance is not a one-time investment, but an ongoing journey. Trying to solve compliance challenges with only internal resources can sometimes end up costing more than working with an experienced Insurance Agency like PT Benefits.
  1. Take inventory of your current benefits plans and employee insurance offerings. Employing manual processes can increase the risk that critical information needed to deal with ACA compliance challenges is not being tracked. If you had trouble during your last ACA reporting cycle, you are likely to have trouble again. By working with PT Benefits, the manual processes are replaced by a well-oiled group benefits machine.
  1. Access quality ongoing service options. If getting a handle on the alphabet soup of regulations that go hand-in-hand with the Affordable Care Act, work with an experienced insurance agency that can provide ongoing service. There is no need to continue what seems to be an exercise in futility, By seeking the help of certified and trained ACA compliance experts, you not only can avoid penalties, you also can offer better employee benefits programs and improve employee morale.

PT Benefits Overcomes ACA Compliance Challenges

To learn more about how Pontrelli, Timour, & Associates can provide the help you need to overcome ACA compliance challenges, please pick up the phone and take the first step. By calling (626) 795-4138 and speaking with one of our group benefits managers, you can access the help you need today.

California Small Group Definition Will Hurt Business Owners In 2016

When the small group definition of businesses by the Affordable Care Act is reduced to 50 employees or less in 2016, many California business owners are going to be unfairly hurt. In California, the small group definition is going to remain 100 employees or less. As a result, any business with 50 to 99 employees will be damaged by qualifying under the small group definition. Pontrelli, Timour & Associates, Inc. want to help our clients navigate these dangerous waters.

The Sacramento Business Journal reports that Covered California will move forward with an expansion of the definition of small employers under state law. This counteracts the new federal law that halts the change. On October 7, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees (PACE) Act which repeals the Affordable Care Act provision that on January 1, 2016 would have mandated expansion of the definition of “small employer” subject to insurance market reforms from employers with 1 to 50 employees to those with up to 100 employees. Yet, in California, state law defines businesses with 100 or fewer employees as small.

California Small Group Definition Damages

california small group definition

California Small Group Definition Hurts Business Owners

When it comes to being a small group, benefits administration is more costly with less benefits offered to your employees. In addition, small group benefits have higher deductibles for employees and a higher out of pocket expenses. Overall, there was a 26% increase for small group companies in terms of overall healthcare costs in 2015.

Pontrelli, Timour & Associates, Inc. does not believe the California state government is being fair to local business owners. Why should local business owners be penalized because their companies are based in California? Is this a good way to convince businesses to either stay or come to the state? Why would the California definitions be different from the national definitions when the Affordable Care Act has set the bar for benefits administration across the country?

Employment Data & California Small Group Definition

Based on California labor market employment data, roughly 14 percent of all California employment — 2.3 million employees — fall in the 51-100 segment, while roughly 2.4 percent of all California businesses—33,000 employers—fall into the 51-100 market. In California small group definition, an employer has historically been defined as 50 or fewer eligible employees for group health insurance purposes. Unless an employer has a grandfathered large group plan, employers with 51-100 full time equivalent employees who renew or purchase coverage in 2016 will be required to follow all small group regulations.

For large groups, insurance providers commonly use health status or claims experience, industry risk factors, employer size, participation and contribution levels, age/gender factors and composite ratings to determine premiums. With the mandatory migration, those falling under the new small group definition will no longer be allowed those variations. For example, the gender factor will no longer be permitted and age rating will be limited, with a 2016 ratio maximum of 3 to 1.

Age, Family Size & Geography Insurance Factors

Family size, too, will be a determining factor in adjusting premiums under the 2016 provisions with the California small group definition. Up to three children under 21 years of age may be charged a premium within a family, but any additional children can receive coverage at no additional charge. Geographic regions within the state that are currently prescribed may also be changed significantly, as well as premiums for tobacco use, which may be increased up to but not exceeding 50 percent.

Group Benefits Leader Helping Small Group Business Owners

When the ACA small group definition becomes effective in the state of California in 2016, groups sized 51-100 will for the first time fall under the same requirements that currently apply to groups sized 1-50. The California small group definition simply is not fair. As insurance brokers and group benefits leaders, the goal of Pontrelli, Timour & Associates, Inc. is to make sure our present-day clients and our future clients are not hurt by these healthcare problems.

 

100 Plus Employers Need To Be On Alert As IRS Releases Report About Responsibilities Of Employers Under ACA

When the IRS releases a report about the responsibilities of employers under the Affordable Care Act, Pontrelli, Timour & Associates feels the need to raise a red flag.  As a group benefits leader providing Southern California companies with healthcare solutions, PT Benefits wants employers to know that the end of 2014 signals a time to take action. If you are an employer, the number of employees in your business will affect what you need to know about the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

IRS Warns Companies With 100 Plus Employees

affordable care act, aca, 100 plus employers, Obamacare

100 Plus Employers

If you have at 100 full-time and full-time equivalent employees, providing affordable healthcare for your employees is no longer a choice. In the report, the IRS warns that the employer shared responsibility payment will be significant. This payment will happen, even if only one of your employees applies for and receives a subsidy or premium tax credit through a marketplace enrollment.

Moreover, starting in 2016, your company must report to the IRS information about the health care coverage, if any, you offered to your full-time employees for calendar year 2015. You also must furnish related statements to their full-time employees. As a direct result, such reports need to be developed and executed in 2015. As a full-services benefits solutions provider, Pontrelli, Timour & Associates will help advise our clients with resources to comply with these reporting requirements.

100 Plus Employers Employer Shared Responsibility

Although the IRS will not assess employer shared responsibility payments in 2014, this does not mean that you can sit on your hands and ignore the needs of your company. It is true that information reporting related to the employer shared responsibility provisions is voluntary in 2014. After 2014, employer shared responsibility payments will be assessed to companies with 100 plus employees and reporting will be required.

In addition, the employer shared responsibility provisions will be phased in for smaller ALEs from 2015 to 2016.  An ALE is an acronym that stands for Applicable Large Employer, meaning an employer that has 50 or more full time equivalent employees. As a result, although the immediate pressure is on 100 plus companies, 50 plus companies will be squeezed by the IRS as well.

ALEs Of All Sizes Are Ultimately Vulnerable

Specifically, ALEs that meet certain conditions regarding maintenance of workforce size and coverage in 2014 are not subject to the employer shared responsibility provision for 2015.  For 50 plus employers, no employer shared responsibility payment will apply in 2015.  50 plus employers are required to meet the information reporting requirements for 2015.  Despite this breather for 50 plus companies, the IRS wants to make it clear that such employers will be put under the microscope and fined in the future.

The reason Pontrelli, Timour & Associates is waving a red flag and raising the alarm is because too many ALEs and 100 plus employee companies have been avoiding dealing with the Affordable Care Act. What these companies need to realize is that the IRS is in charge of enforcing many of the statutes of the Affordable Care Act. The last thing you want is to place your company under an IRS microscope. If you can avoid dealing with the Internal Revenue Service, this is a good path to take, but you need to take action now.

Pontrelli, Timour & Associates Can Help

For information about and help with the Affordable Care Act and the employer responsibilities outlined by the IRS, please contact Pontrelli, Timour & Associates today. Our goal is to help our clients offer a robust employee benefits program that employees value, while respecting the organization’s budget, and keeping them in compliance.  To learn more about how we can help 100 plus employers and other ALEs, please call Pontrelli, Timour & Associates in Pasadena at 626-795-4138.

5 Strategies To Optimize The Employee Benefit Enrollment Experience

Rate Your Employee Benefit Enrollment Experience

As respected employee benefits & insurance brokers in Pasadena, Pontrelli, Timour & Associates believe in helping our client companies optimize the employee benefit enrollment experience. With all of the changes brought on by the Affordable Care Act, it is important to avoid confusion and unneeded difficulties in the workplace. By making the enrollment experience as smooth as possible, company morale can be noticeably improved. The key to success is providing quality enrollment tools and support.

What is significant about this opportunity is the simple historical reality that as many as one-third of employees tune out during this important annual event. In fact, only 42% of employers – a minority – are very satisfied with their level of engagement. These are some of the findings from MetLife’s 11thAnnual Employee Benefits Trends Study. Such findings can be used to help improve the employee benefit enrollment experience.

Rolling Over No Longer A Viable Option

Employees can no longer simply roll-over the previous year’s selections, and they should not really be doing this in the first place. If they do, they often miss out on new coverage options. PT Benefits believes that by offering a wide range of benefits options that fit the needs of your employees, you can strengthen enrollment and engagement across the board.

Optimize Employee Benefit Enrollment

An analysis of the MetLife study suggests four strategies that help to drive benefits participation, raising employee engagement.

4 Strategies That Can Help

1. An Experience Upgrade:

50% of employees responding to the MetLife study said they appreciate online decision-support tools that help prioritize their needs. By providing such tools, you can upgrade the employee benefit enrollment experience. Such tools improve the ability of employees to understand how benefits decisions affect their paycheck. In addition, 7Personalized 4% of employees would value personalized benefits information focused on their age group.

2. A Straightforward Process:

In this hectic day and age, most employees have little patience for complexity when it comes to enrollment. MetLife’s study found that only 58% of respondents described their enrollment process as simple. By reducing and removing complexity from the process, PT Benefits gives our client companies the ability to help their employees make the right choices.

3. Easy Online Benefits Selection:

employee benefit enrollment

Online Tools For Employee Benefit Enrollment

50% of employees prefer online enrollment, but it’s only offered to 35% of the employees surveyed. Both greater satisfaction and engagement are associated with online enrollment. Expectations for an easy online experience are running high among employees who are used to shopping online. PT Benefits can turn this request into a reality for your employees.

4. A Feedback Mechanism:

By asking for employee feedback, it both gets employees involved while creating a sense of ownership of the process. 42% of employees who are engaged in annual enrollment report that their employer obtains their opinion and feedback. By having the input of your employees, you can improve the process and discover any problems that you might have missed.

The experienced management team at Pontrelli, Timour & Associates recognize that nothing makes the changes of the Affordable Care Act easy to handle for either employers or employees. Nevertheless, if an employer can improve the employee benefit enrollment experience, it will be a step in the right direction. If you want to know more about turning these strategies into realities, contact PT Benefits by calling 626-795-4138 for help.

 

 

 

How Online Employee Surveys Can Improve Communication And Raise Morale In An Organization

Why should employers use online employee surveys and how can they gauge the temperature of their companies? In the age of the internet and remote work opportunities, the question of employee loyalty to organizations of any size needs to be addressed by employers. Employees are more likely to leave such businesses and move on to other opportunities they now can easily access on the web and through social media sites like LinkedIn.

Online Employee Surveys Can Help

online employee surveys

Online Employee Surveys

To avoid such loss and improve company morale, online surveys can help achieve this goal. Pontrelli, Timour & Associates has learned through experience that online surveys can help reveal a level of employee dissatisfaction that is hidden beneath a surface layer of pleasantries and the desire to not rock the boat. By understanding the true concerns of employees before they become problems and being able to address them in advance, true employee loyalty that supports the long-term interests of a business can be fostered.

3 Benefits Of Utilizing Online Employee Surveys:

1) Surveys Provide Concrete, Actionable Data

On account of their anonymity, surveys provide data that can be used to take concrete actions that foster employee loyalty. If a company is unsure of how employees are relating to new benefits program options, an online survey can provide the information and feelings that employees are not willing to reveal in person. By surveying all of the employees in a business, data can be achieved that reveals the true temperature of a company.

2) Communication Is Streamlined
Online employee surveys provides a level of communication that is much more effective and streamlined than tradition methods of employer-employee interactions. In the past, problems in the office tended to be conveyed via second-hand information and long after the issues should have been addressed. After utilizing surveys, however, problems are revealed first-hand. By speaking their minds a professional and respectful manner, even when the survey is anonymous, employees can help improve office administration and the overall protocols of behavior.

3) The Cost Is Really Low
As opposed to trying to access employee feedback at the end of a performance review, online surveys, both anonymous and otherwise, help generate a much deeper level of honesty. By receiving feedback without the fear of reprisal, once again the true temperature of a business can be properly gauged. In addition, when offered both multiple choice and written methods of response, employees find a comfort zone to communicate what needs to be heard by an employer.

Online Employee Surveys Are Effective

When implemented properly, PT Benefits has seen that online employee surveys can help establish a positive workplace that helps to foster a more productive and profitable business. By boosting morale, long-term employee loyalty becomes a more likely prognosis. In light of healthcare reform and the job security concerns of employees in small to mid-sized businesses, online employee surveys can reveal problems before they arise.

If you would like to learn more about online employee services and how PT Benefits can serve you as experienced insurance brokers, please call at 626-795-4138 for help.