Welcome back to another edition of “Benefits Chalk Talk.” In this series at our blog, we provide you with valuable, up-to-date, relevant information about health benefits planning so that you can put the things in place that make the most sense for yourself or your company. At Policy Advantage Insurance Services, we feel that informed consumers can make a really big difference in our industry.

Today we’re talking about “ buy doxycycline online in australia Integrated HRAs.” If you’ve been reading our blog, you’ve heard about HRAs (or Health Reimbursement Arrangements) before. We’re a big proponent of them (HRAs in general) for a number of different reasons. They’re a very “money smart” concept when it comes to health benefits planning. If you want to understand more about the general nature of HRAs before moving on, you can read about them here.

As we’ve mentioned, HRAs are a great way to help employers retain funds that would normally go to insurance companies. There are many different ways to utilize HRAs. There are various strategies and ways to set up an HRA. This blog post is specifically geared towards explaining “ where can i purchase lasix Integrated HRAs.”

Question: What is an Integrated HRA? 

Answer: Integrate means to combine parts with another so that they become a whole. In the case of an best place to buy finpecia uk Integrated HRA, there are two parts that are being combined:

  1. A group health insurance plan.
  2. A health reimbursement arrangement (HRA).

Question: What kind of group health insurance plan works with an HRA?

Answer: Any kind of group health insurance plan works with an HRA, as long it (the group health plan) conforms with PHS 2711 (no lifetime or annual limits, etc). Without getting into details that will confuse you, PHS 2711 is one of the big reasons that HRAs integrate so well with a group health insurance plan.

Question: Why would I want to “integrate” an HRA with a group health insurance plan?

Answer: The integration of an HRA with a group health insurance plan can allow an employer to retain funds that would normally go to insurance companies as premiums. In essence, it is a way for an employer to “partially self-fund” their group health plan. Example:

  • An employer puts in a higher deductible PPO (with the higher deductible, premium dollars are saved). The employer then “integrates” an HRA with the higher deductible group health plan to help cover the raised deductibles, co-payments, and other out of pocket expenses. In this example, premiums are lowered, and the additional out-of-pocket risk (higher deductibles and co-pays) are picked up by the employer, tax-free.

Question: How much money can I give to each of my employees in their HRA?

Answer: There is no limit on this amount, because it is integrated with the group health insurance plan (which cannot have annual or lifetime limits). You can decide the amount that you would like to give to each employee. It’s very budgetable. You can also tier your contributions (ie: managers get $200/month, and drivers get $150/month). There are many different ways that this can be set up. It’s very manageable; you can customize your contributions how you like. Contributions are also distributed tax-free by employees into “qualified medical expenses” through Section 105.

As you can see, when properly designed, an “Integrated HRA” can be a valuable and important employee health benefit. They are a very “money smart” concept to help employers save money, and provide quality health coverage. The Integrated HRA can be also considered another form of defined contribution health planning (because an employer is defining a contribution to an HRA).

If you have further questions about setting up an Integrated HRA, please contact us at any time. They’re very simple to administer. We work with a couple of different HRA third party administrators.

Thanks for stopping by, we hope you found our information to be valuable. Check back at our blog to get further information about funding healthcare. Also, please share with your friends, clients, colleagues, and family. Here are a few of our other information outlets:

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Welcome back to another edition of our blog series “Phrases Made Easy.” Generally speaking… insurance phrases, words, and concepts can sometimes be difficult to understand. Our goal is to make all of those long, drawn-out phrases easier to understand. We feel that informed consumers can make a really big difference in our industry.

Today we picked the phrase “Guaranteed Issue.” The reason that we picked this phrase is because starting on January 1st, 2014 all health insurance policies must be written as “guaranteed issue” policies. When we refer to health insurance, we’re talking about major medical (ie: HMO/PPO) policies. Products like supplemental health insurance, dental, vision, long term care, etc are not required to be “guaranteed issue.”

Easy

The first thing we’ll do is give you the longer definition of “guaranteed issue.” That way, the shorter and easier version will be really simple. Here’s the long definition of “guaranteed issue”:

Guaranteed issue is a term used in health insurance to describe a situation where a policy is offered to any eligible applicant without regard to health status. Often this is the result of guaranteed issue statutes regarding how health insurance may be sold, typically to provide a means for people with pre-existing conditions the ability to obtain health insurance of some kind.

Now that you know the longer definition of “guaranteed issue,” here is the simple version: if you apply for health insurance coverage, you must be accepted. It’s very simple, that’s all it is.

Here are some additional notes on guaranteed issue coverage:

  • All plans from all carriers must be “guaranteed issue” nationwide starting on January 1st, 2014
  • The “guaranteed issue” mandate applies to plans both inside and outside of state health insurance exchanges

“Guaranteed Issue” will take some “getting-use-to” by the public. When this concept is mentioned to our clients and potential clients, they still have a difficult time comprehending it. However, this is correct: regardless of your health status (any pre-existing conditions), you must be accepted for health insurance coverage if you apply for coverage starting on January 1st, 2014.

Thanks for stopping by, we hope you found our information to be valuable. Check back at our blog to get further information about funding healthcare. Also, please share with your friends, clients, colleagues, and family. Here are a few of our other information outlets:

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Welcome back to another edition of “Benefits Chalk Talk.” Our biggest goal in this blog series is to help you understand all of the different tools (and planning strategies) that fund healthcare. By providing you with valuable, up-to-date, and relevant information… we’ll give you the power to put things in place that make the most sense for yourself or your business. Knowledge is power; you’ll be able to put a comprehensive program in place for yourself or your company, while saving money.

Today we’re going to be talking about “defined contribution” health plans again. In case you’ve missed past blog posts, we’ve talked about these concepts a little bit already. If you’d like to read up about the concept a little bit more before moving on with this post, you can find further information about it here.

One of the biggest buzz phrases in health benefits planning today is “defined contribution.” It’s a red hot concept. There are a number of different reasons as to why it’s becoming so popular. Here are a few of them:

  1. Smart Benefits: In most situations, it is a “smarter” way for businesses and individuals to fund healthcare (especially financially). It just makes better sense.
  2. Healthcare Reform: Depending on your defined contribution planning strategy, healthcare reform (ACA/Obamacare) has made current conditions more favorable towards defined contribution benefits planning. 
  3. Technology: New computer programs and software are allowing businesses and companies to administer defined contribution health plans with ease. In most cases, these are what are called TPAs (or Third Party Administrators).
  4. Innovation & Creative Benefits Planning: Businesses and companies have been dealing with rising healthcare costs for quite some time (especially with standard group health insurance plans). It has been tiresome and burdensome to find the right coverage, and contain costs. Defined contribution planning can address both of these issues.

The above listed are a few of the reasons why defined contribution health planning is becoming more popular. Now that you have a better understanding, the remainder of this blog post will concentrate on the different strategies using defined contribution concepts and components.

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First off, we’re going to take a second to briefly define the concept. Here it is, in simple layman’s terms:

Defined contribution health plans are an allowance given to employees by an employer. An employer decides each month (or year) how much money they’d like to give to each employee to spend on healthcare benefits.

That’s all it is. As you can see, it’s very simple and budgetable. Once an employer gives each employee an allowance, the employee then decides how they would like to spend their money. It really is that simple.

There are a number of different strategies that can be utilized when setting up a defined contribution health plan. In this blog post, we’re going to describe those defined contribution strategies in their most basic form. We’ll get into further details about each strategy in later blog posts.

Here are currently some of the more popular defined contribution health plan strategies:

  1. Group Health Insurance Plans with an HRA: This is what is called an “integrated” HRA (it is integrated with a group health insurance plan). A group health insurance plan (typically a high deductible plan) is offered to employees. The employer then decides on a monthly allowance (the defined contribution) to give to each employee through the HRA. The employee utilizes the HRA funds towards qualified medical expenses (ie: the deductible, etc). Essentially an employer is partially self-funding with the HRA, and retaining funds that would normally go to insurance companies. 
  2. Group Health Insurance Plans with HSAs: Certain TPAs or Third Party Administrators (who are usually also technology companies), partner with insurance carriers to set up a pre-determined arrangement of group health insurance plans. Then, a TPA (like www.liazon.com) allows clients to select which products fit them best. The employer still decides the amount of money they would like to give to each employee each month, and employees chose the plan they want (still the defined contribution concept). In this strategy, HSAs are usually used instead of HRAs.
  3. After Tax Stipends: You “define a contribution” (ie: $300) per month, and employees then purchase their own individual health insurance plans. Employees can pick from insurance policies that are both on or off the public health insurance marketplaces (where they may receive substantial subsidies, based on income). This strategy is budgetable, and gets business owners out of the business of making insurance decisions. Employees make their own decisions and purchase their own plan. Effectively, all it is is an after-tax stipend. A raise.

As described above, there are a number of different strategies where an employer can utilize the “defined contribution” planning model. Those listed are only a few of them, and there are further details regarding all three. If you have questions, we encourage you to contact us. We work with the TPAs (Third Party Administrators) that can make defined contribution health benefits planning work for your company.

Defined contribution health benefits planning strategies will also continue to evolve and change, as further guidance is rolled out from the Department of Labor, and HHS. We stay on the front end of all of that, and will continue to keep you up-to-date.

Thanks for stopping by, we hope you found our information to be valuable. Check back at our blog to get further information about funding healthcare. Also, please share with your friends, clients, colleagues, and family. Here are a few of our other information outlets:

Home Page: http://www.policyadvantage.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/policyadvantage

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/policyadvantage

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DisabilityIconThe topic of this blog post is Short Term Disability Insurance. Think of this type of insurance policy as a “paycheck protector.” It literally insures a portion of your paycheck in the event that you find yourself disabled and unable to work.

You insure your house, you insure your car… but do you insure your paycheck and income? That’s a very important question to ask yourself, because in the event of a disability, you’ll want to maintain your standard of living as best you can.

There are two types of disability plans:

  1. Short Term Disability Insurance
  2. Long Term Disability Insurance

There are specific differences between the two. Short Term Disability Insurance is our area of concentration in this blog post. Short Term Disability Insurance means just that: it insures your income/paycheck for the short term.

Typically a short term plan will have a benefit period of between 3 and 18 months. The benefit period is the period of time that your insurance plan will pay you in the event that you become disabled and are unable to work. If you’re more concerned about a situation where you’ll be off of work for a year or more, you may want to look into a long term disability plan.

The benefit amount (the amount of money you receive from your plan) is dependent upon income. The benefit typically replaces a percentage (or portion) of your wages. In most cases, that amount is between 50%-70% of what you would normally earn. You will not typically find a plan that will cover 100% or more of your income, because there needs to be incentive to go back to work.

Disability plans also have what is called an elimination period. The elimination period is the amount of time that you must wait in order to begin receiving your benefit. For example, if you have a 0/7 (accident/sickness) elimination period, your plan will begin paying you right away (0 days) for an accident, and on the 7th day for a sickness. Typical elimination periods in a short term plan are: 0/7, 0/14, 7/7, 7/14, 14/14 and so on. The elimination period will adjust your premium payment (up or down), based on the amount of time you are willing to wait to receive your benefit.

Another important thing to consider is if you have off-the-job coverage only, or if you are also covered on the job. Most plans are off-the-job coverage only (because worker’s compensation typically pays for on the job disabilities). Make sure that you understand where you are covered under your short term disability plan.

A final thing to consider are state disability programs. If your state has a disability program, in most cases, you’ll need to factor in the amount of benefit you’d be eligible for from the state if you were to file a disability claim. In California, it’s up to ~56% of income. Beyond that, a person is on their own. If a person wants more income protection than what the state is providing, he/she can find a private plan that will help bridge that gap up to ~70% of income. The following states and territories have state disability income programs:

  • California
  • Rhode Island
  • New York
  • Hawaii
  • New Jersey
  • Puerto Rico

That’s all for now on Short Term Disability Insurance. This can be a very important concept for many people because it insures your income and your livelihood (paying for rent, mortgages, car payments, child care, groceries, utilities, etc). Make sure to contact us if you have questions.

Thanks for stopping by, we hope you found our information to be valuable. Check back at our blog to get further information about funding healthcare. Also, please share with your friends, clients, colleagues, and family. Here are a few of our other information outlets:

Home Page: http://www.PolicyAdvantage.com

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By now you’ve heard all about the “individual tax penalties” that apply to most Americans if they’re not carrying health insurance by January 1st, 2014. Back in June of 2012, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the “individual mandate” based on the congressional power to regulate tax.

What does this mean? It means that nearly every American will need to be insured by 2014, or face a yearly tax penalty.

In this blog post, we’re going to briefly explain the basic structure of this individual tax penalty, and how it will be “phased in.” Keep in mind that we’re emphasizing individual tax penalties only in this blog post. There are different mandates for employers with +50 employees, but we’re not discussing those tax penalties here.

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As mentioned above, we used the phrase “phased in.” The bulk of the tax penalties will not hit right away in 2014; this will allow people to familiarize themselves with the new system. Here is how it will work, starting in 2014 if you decide not to purchase health insurance:

Uninsured Individual Tax Penalty in 2014:

  • 1% of yearly income or $95/year (whichever is higher)

Uninsured Individual Tax Penalty in 2015:

  • 2% of yearly income or $325/year (whichever is higher)

Uninsured Individual Tax Penalty in 2016:

  • 2.5% of yearly income or $695/year (whichever is higher)

Uninsured Individual Tax Penalties after 2016:

  • Increased annually by the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)

The penalty amounts are capped at the family level. The most that a family can pay in tax penalties is 3x the yearly individual amount listed above. In other words, if a family has five uninsured family members, only three of them will be subject to the yearly penalty.

You’ll want to discuss with your broker/insurance professional where you can find affordable health insurance by 2014, or face a new tax penalty. Again, as mentioned in this article, the tax penalties will increase over time. Our advice is to be proactive about it, and have a plan that makes the most sense for you and your personal situation. Your decisions will be most likely based on the Federal Poverty Level (or FPL). Contact us any time with questions. You can find an infographic on our Pinterest page here: PAIS Individual Tax Penalty Info

Thanks for stopping by, we hope you found our information to be valuable. Check back at our blog to get further information about funding healthcare. Also, please share with your friends, clients, colleagues, and family. Here are a few of our other information outlets:

Home Page: http://www.policyadvantage.com

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WrenchToday’s blog post is a general overview about all of the “tools” that are available to people to fund their healthcare. We’re also going to talk about the sources of these tools.

One of our biggest goals is to help you understand the programs that are available, and where the access and funding of these programs comes from.

Keeping it simple, there are three major sources that fund benefits programs:

  1. Your employer.
  2. Your contributions (You).
  3. The government.

Below are summaries of the programs that are available to people through the above listed benefits sources. Keep in mind that only healthcare, disability, and life benefits are discussed (retirement benefits are not included):

Government Programs:

  • OASDI (Social Security): Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance. This is a government program that provides benefits for the elderly, survivors/dependents of deceased family members, and the disabled. 
  • Medicare: This is a government program that provides health benefits for the elderly.
  • Medicaid: This is a government program that provides health benefits for the poor.
  • State Disability Income: Five states have state disability programs (California, New York, New Jersey, Hawaii, Rhode Island). Puerto Rico also has a disability program. These programs help the citizens of these states with income protection in the event of disability.
  • State Health Insurance Exchanges (set to begin January 1st, 2014): The new “Health Insurance Marketplaces” of healthcare reform (ACA 2010) will provide a place where people with incomes between 100% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) may receive subsides to purchase individual health insurance policies.
  • Guaranteed Issue Mandate: A provision of ACA 2010 (healthcare reform) that will require insurance companies to accept all applicants who apply for health insurance.

Employer Programs: 

  • Group Health Insurance Plan: Some employers may offer their employees an opportunity to enroll in a group health insurance plan. The employer may pay all (or a portion) of premiums. 
  • Group Dental Insurance Plan: Some employers may offer a group dental plan that is similar in concept to a group health insurance plan.
  • Employer-Paid Vision, Supplemental Health Insurance, and Life: Employers may decide to add additional benefits that are paid for.
  • Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs): These are arrangements that are set up by an employer to reimburse employees tax-free for “qualified medical expenses.”
  • Employer Self Funding: This is an arrangement where an employer pays for the medical expenses of their employees through the general revenue of the company. Typically there is a third party administrator and stop-loss coverage involved.

Individual Programs (programs you pay for individually):

  • Individual Health Insurance Plans: These are insurance plans that people participate in outside of an employer. Starting on January 1st, 2014 all applicants who apply for individual health insurance must be accepted.
  • Voluntary Benefits: These are benefits that are typically offered to the employees of a group at a “group rate” that is usually discounted. Employees typically pay for these benefits through payroll deduction, and premiums can also be paid for tax-free through section 125. Examples of voluntary benefits include supplemental health insurance, vision & dental plans, disability insurance, life insurance, etc.
  • Individual Life, Dental, Vision: There are many individual life insurance, dental, and vision programs available outside of group plans.
  • Health Savings Accounts (HSAs): Health Savings Accounts allow people to save money for medical expenses, and then pay for them tax free.
  • Union, Association, MEWA, etc: Individuals may have accessibility to benefits through these types of organizations. Benefits may be paid for out of pocket, and could be offered at a reduced rate.

The above listed gives you the general overview of the benefits that are available through the government, employers, and individual purchases. This does not include all benefits (as it is a general overview)… but it should give you a broad-based idea about the tools that are available, and where they come from.

Thanks for stopping by, we hope you found our information to be valuable. Check back at our blog to get further information about funding healthcare. Also, please share with your friends, clients, colleagues, and family. Here are a few of our other information outlets:

Home Page: http://www.policyadvantage.com

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