admin

Benefits 101 Video Series

Attracting and retaining employees is a constant struggle for organizations of any size. That’s why it’s critical for employers to tailor their benefits offerings in a way that attracts and retains the most employees.

Whether your business is getting started offering benefits or has a program in place we can help you better fit your offerings to your team’s needs.

Stay tuned for more helpful videos and let Employee Benefits Management Group help ensure your benefits offering is the best it can be. 

Video 4: Introduction to Group Health Insurance

Play Video

Video 3: How to Read a Medical Bill

Play Video

Video 2: Employee Assistance Program Basics

Play Video

Video 1: The Benefits of Health Insurance

Play Video

Balancing Work and Kids Going Back to School

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic makes it a school year like no other. Parents have had to make difficult decisions about whether to send their children back to school in person, enroll in virtual learning or opt for a combination of the two. Whether students are learning in a classroom or virtually, parents may find themselves having to balance work responsibilities with virtual learning or child care responsibilities at the same time.

Parents face a unique set of challenges as they attempt to balance the needs of their children—especially schooling—with their own concerns about work, finances and health. This article explores how to navigate pandemic stress and uncertainty, and how to build resilience throughout the school year.

Read the full article here.

BCBS Settlement of Antitrust Litigation

Blue Cross Blue Shield Association has reached a settlement in a class action antitrust lawsuit.

Many companies and/or their employees have or will receive either mailers or emails concerning the settlement. The total settlement is $2.67 billion, which will certainly catch anyone’s attention.

The class action lawsuit charged that the 36 independent and locally operated BCBS companies in the US had violated antitrust laws by entering into an agreement with each other to limit competition amongst themselves in selling health insurance and administrative services for health insurance. The BCBS companies have denied any wrongdoing.

Note that there are 36 BCBS companies nationwide and that the BCBS companies provide health insurance to 1 in 3 Americans across all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.  BCBS NC is just one of the 36 companies. Of the $2.67 billion, it is expected that $667.5 million will be applied toward legal expenses and $100 million toward Administrative Costs. The expected Net Settlement Fund will be $1.9 billion. Affected persons and companies (plan sponsors) are;

  • Individuals and fully insured groups (and their covered employees) with coverage (at any time) from February 7, 2008 through October 16, 2020 (12.5 years),
  • Self-funded groups and their employees with coverage (at any time) from September 1, 2015 through October 16, 2020 (5 years).

The court must still approve the Settlement but is expected to do so.

Please download from below the Long Form for action items and deadlines between today and November 2021. You may also download the full Settlement Agreement for review. Visit www.BCBSsettlement.com for more information and to file a claim.

Downloads:

Settlement Agreement (1.9mb)

BCBS Long Form (295kb)

Springtime HSA Eligible Expenses

Spring brings more sunshine, longer days and for many people, allergy problems. We’ve posted a list of HSA eligible expenses that you might be able to take advantage of now that Spring is in the air. 

Download the brochure here and let us know if we can help with any questions. 

 

Live Well, Work Well

You already know that what you eat and drink has a significant impact on your health but at some point we all could use some help deciding what’s best for our bodies.

Check out the latest Live Well, Work Well to grab some quick tips and a healthy recipe.

Download the pdf here.

COVID-19 vaccines are being administered nationwide

North Carolina is now permitting Group 3 vaccinations. 

You may want to develop a company policy at your firm.

We have secured a number of documents targeted to answer your questions and communicate your policy to your employees.
Note that the mandatory compliance letters are samples only and we are not advocating for any particular position on the vaccines.

Please review the attached and let us know if you have any questions.

COVID-19 FAQ’s For Employers – pdf (94kb)

Facts About COVID-19 Vaccinations – pdf (500kb)

Facts About COVID-19 Vaccinations (Spanish) – pdf (500kb)

Employer’s Mandatory Vaccine Letter – Word DOCX – (23kb)

Employer’s Mandatory Vaccination Policy – Word DOCX – (41kb)

Employer’s Overview Of COVID-19 Vaccines – Word DOCX – (300kb)

Are you feeling late payment anxiety?

We hope everyone is doing well and staying safe.

During the past 2 or 3 months many of our clients have experienced late payment status and even near-termination of their benefit plans because their premium payments were delayed by the USPS. 

We have been able to work through the issues but it has caused a great anxiety for the clients.

You may want to consider one of the following as we do not expect the performance at USPS to improve any time soon.

  • Mail your premium payments earlier to ensure they arrive on time
  • For online banking, set the delivery date earlier than normal
  • Make a direct payment through the insurer’s portal
  • Set up auto pay with the insurer

Please feel free call, e-mail or use the form below to contact us with any questions.

Can Employers Require Workers to get a Covid Vaccine?

As health and political leaders craft strategies for distributing Covid-19 vaccines nationwide, questions about workforce implications of the rollout are top of mind for many employers.

The first and perhaps most obvious of these questions: Can I require my employees to get vaccinated? According to Diane Hoffmann, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Law, the answer is yes.

A vaccination is legally considered a medical procedure, which employers can require their employees to receive if deemed necessary to perform their jobs safely and successfully, said Hoffmann, who serves as director of the school’s Law and Health Care Program. Given the highly infectious nature of Covid-19, a vaccine mandate may be considered particularly in workplaces where employees must work on site and in close proximity to one another, or in those where they interact extensively with the public.

But just because employers can legally mandate getting a coronavirus vaccination doesn’t mean they all will.

There is some precedent for large-scale vaccine mandates, Hoffmann said. For example, most K-12 schools across the country require children to provide proof of certain immunizations before they can attend, and health-care organizations such as hospitals and nursing homes often require their employees to get several vaccinations, including an annual flu shot.

However, vaccine mandates in other areas of private industry are relatively unprecedented.

Hoffmann said some employers may worry about the legal repercussions of mandating a vaccination, including exposing themselves to a lawsuit if an employee has an adverse reaction to the vaccine. Additionally, employers who do opt to require their employees to be vaccinated will have to allow exceptions for people with a religious belief or medical condition that legally precludes them from receiving vaccines. Employers may have to make special accommodations for those who cannot be vaccinated if they establish a mandate.

However, there is also a risk that employees will sue if they are required to come back to a workplace without a vaccine mandate,and they end up contracting Covid-19, Hoffmann pointed out.

“For a lot of businesses, this will be uncharted territory,” Hoffmann said. “I expect lots of employers will be talking to their lawyers about the legal frameworks here.”

The vaccine formulations being brought to market are reported to be more than 90% effective, and are cleared for use under the U.S Food and Drug Administration’s “emergency use authorization,” a system that expedites the availability of certain health interventions during public health emergencies. Hoffmann said employers may want to wait until the vaccines have received full standard FDA approval before they consider making vaccination a job requirement.

That seems to be the route that Maryland-based health system MedStar Health is taking. MedStar CEO Kenneth Samet said although his was one of the first health systems in the country to mandate flu vaccinations for its workers, it is not requiring Covid vaccinations for now.

At this point, MedStar leaders are strongly encouraging employees to get the vaccine if they can. Samet said he would be “first in line” if he were among the essential workers at the front of the distribution hierarchy, but he understands some people may be nervous about the vaccines and will want to wait until more data is in.

While employers mull their options with counsel, human resources expert Amy E. Polefrone said every employer should at least be developing a game plan for when vaccines are widely available.

“These vaccines have big implications for everyone getting back to work,” said Polefrone, who is CEO of Ellicott City’s HR Strategy Group. “Employers should be preparing, and doing everything they can to encourage employees to get the vaccine.”

Polefrone said for many companies, the Covid vaccines represent a path to getting truly back to business. She said business owners should be laying plans for how a phased return-to-work strategy might go, and maintaining open communication with their employees. She recommended employers share educational materials about vaccines and invite science and health experts to speak to workers about any questions or concerns they may have.

She also advised that business owners make the process of getting vaccinated as burden-free as possible for employees. Health insurers are expected to cover the costs of Covid vaccinations for their individual and group policy holders. But for those businesses that do not offer health benefits, Polefrone said employers may want to consider subsidizing or covering the costs of vaccinations.

Polefrone said it will take many more months before we have mostly vaccinated workforces, but she is excited to see the first steps in that direction happening. In the meantime, she said companies should expect to continue operating with mask and social-distancing requirements, as well as increased cleaning schedules for the foreseeable future.

From the Triangle Business Journal:
https://www.bizjournals.com/triangle/news/2020/12/10/employers-may-require-workers-get-covid-vaccine.html

Morgan Eichensehr
Reporter
Baltimore Business Journal

LabCorp Has At-home Covid-19 Testing Kit – No Prescription Required

LabCorp, a leading global life sciences company, has announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the use of its Covid-19 home test.

The Pixel by LabCorp Covid-19 Test Home Collection Kit will be the first to be available over-the-counter without requiring a prescription. The RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) test does not detect antibodies or immunity.

“With the first over-the-counter at-home collection kit ever authorized by the FDA for Covid-19, we are empowering people to learn about their health and make confident decisions,” said Dr. Brian Caveney, chief medical officer and president of LabCorp Diagnostics.

“With this authorization, we can help more people get tested, reduce the spread of the virus and improve the health of our communities.”

The kit is currently available through the Pixel by LabCorp website and this approval will enable LabCorp to potentially distribute the kit through retail channels.

The kit can be billed to insurance or covered by federal funds if uninsured. For those who choose not to have the test covered by an insurance company, the cost is $119.

The kit allows consumers to self-collect their sample in the privacy of their own home, which helps minimize transmission of the virus. Users then send the sample for processing at LabCorp.

Upon purchase, users register their Pixel by LabCorp Covid-19 collection kit at the Pixel by LabCorp website and follow the instructions included.

The at-home test has a five-step process:

Complete a short eligibility survey
Choose a billing option
Receive sample collection kit via FedEx
Collect and send sample back to laboratory for testing
Access results online via Pixel by LabCorp portal

Test results are securely delivered to the consumer via the Pixel by LabCorp portal. A healthcare provider will counsel consumers who test positive to assist with healthcare treatment and further actions.

The Pixel by LabCorp Covid-19 collection kit is not a substitute for visits to a healthcare professional and is for use by adults 18 and older.

Although LabCorp’s Covid-19 PCR test has not been FDA cleared or approved, it has been authorized by FDA under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and has been authorized only for the detection of nucleic acid from SARS-CoV-2, not for any other viruses or pathogens.

The test is only authorized for the duration of the emergency declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use of in vitro diagnostic tests for detection and/or diagnosis of Covid-19, unless the authorization is terminated or revoked sooner.

Retailers interested in selling Pixel by LabCorp Covid-19 collection kits can contact the company.

From the Triangle Business Journal:
https://www.bizjournals.com/triangle/news/2020/12/10/labcorp-at-home-covid-testing-no-prescription.html

Trajan Warren
Reporter
Triad Business Journal

How much will your visit to the doctor cost? UNC Health app lets you know.

One of the largest health care systems in the state has released an online “cost estimator” tool it says will provide greater price transparency in the murky world of medical billing.

On Wednesday, UNC Health unveiled its new online tool, saying the goal is to “improve transparency for consumers who struggle with rising medical costs, and provide more information to help inform their medical care and decisions.”

“UNC Health is a leader in providing innovative care and services for our patients,” CEO Dr. Wesley Burks said in a statement. “We understand the importance of price transparency in health care. This estimator is about improving our patients’ experience and giving them more control in managing their health.”

According to the system, the estimator is, for now, designed for “services such as office visits, simple procedures and some inpatient services.” Inpatient services include some at UNC Rex Health Care in Raleigh and UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill.

The company says future plans include expanding the services covered and adding more hospitals and clinics affiliated with UNC Health across the state.

At release, the service can provide estimates for out-of-pocket costs for 50 services, including cardiology, orthopedics, rehabilitation, sleep studies and some office visits.

The tool works through the system’s “My UNC Chart” application and website and automatically takes into account insurance benefits and other factors from a patient’s account to generate a cost estimate.

The service comes amid years of national and international concern about the inadequacies of health care billing in the U.S. with many complaining that its system leaves patients with no way to understand how much they’ll be billed until after the fact.

Price transparency also became a central topic after North Carolina Treasurer Dale Folwell launched a redesign of the state’s employee insurance plan following complaints about a lack of transparency with the major health systems in the state.

From the Triangle Business Journal:
https://www.bizjournals.com/triangle/news/2020/12/10/unchealth-cost-estimator-health-care-bill.html

Seth Thomas Gulledge
Staff Writer
Triangle Business Journal

Scroll to Top