Monday, August 20, 2018

You Should Expect an Unstable 2019 Health Insurance Market

 Current broker insights project the health insurance market is set to become volatile as higher-income Americans react to increased ACA plan premiums. The Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute reports that federal policy shifts may force many people to abandon the individual health insurance market unless states start protecting their ACA exchanges.

Competition for Cheap Health Insurance

The report, which sought insights from insurance agents and brokers, states that have rising premiums are likely to drive healthier Americans to seek cheap health insurance elsewhere, in short-term health plans, for instance. This exodus is projected to only drive up the rates in the individual market, which in turn could force even more people to start looking at alternatives for their current healthcare insurance.

The brokers are pinpointing higher-income Americans as the ones to leave because that cohort makes too much money to qualify for government subsidies, like the one the ACA provides for those up to 400% of the federal poverty level.

The Healthcare Insurance Microscape

This report looked to six states –– Iowa, New Hampshire, Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, and Utah –– as a crucible of healthcare insurance activity, because these six states have what is deemed “fragile markets,” and higher-than-average premiums.

The report reveals that within health insurance landscapes like the ones in these states, narrow provider networks are leading people to drop ACA plans. Limited plan choices are also a factor projected to lead to health insurance market instability, and so people have been turning to small-group market plans and cheap health insurance with increasingly limited protections. The brokers also said people are considering direct primary care arrangements, which is a contract between patients and their primary care provider.

While it may be easy to write this report off as conjecture intended to seed the health insurance market with panic, bear in mind that this report relies on insights from brokers and insurance agents who are working in the field, directly in contact with Americans struggling to find cheap health insurance and health care plans they can afford. Americans with individual insurance are already struggling, and 2019 does not appear on track to alleviate that.

Consider the Impact To Your Company’s Health Insurance Offerings

As you look ahead to the implications of the current health insurance landscape on your company’s health care options, don’t be afraid to work ahead, too. It is not too soon to think about your ACA reporting. Come January, you’ll need to be focused on how to navigate the volatile 2019 health insurance market––don’t bury yourself unnecessarily in 2018 reporting while you’re already struggling under paperwork for the coming year.

Schedule an appointment with one of our ACAwise account managers today. ACAwise provides full-service ACA reporting designed to help you with efficient 1094 and 1095 Form distribution, so let us take this off your plate.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Team Building Activities People Will Actually Like

Team Building activities with sticky notes
You can only build so much of a coworker relationship out of water-cooler conversation and meetings, but in order to function its best your team needs to, well, be a team. Team building doesn’t have to make you cringe. It’s designed to do the opposite, and so we’ve rounded up a list of some team building activities for work that will keep the groaning to a minimum.

Team Building on a Budget

If your workplace doesn’t have a team building budget, then lavish rafting trips are kind of out of the question. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t team building activities you can do right in the breakroom.

Team Building Game 1: Identity Crisis

You may have seen variations of the following team building game, where people walk around with index cards bearing the name of a famous person or movie on their back and have to glean clues to what their index card says by going around the room and talking to their coworkers. It doesn’t matter who the last person remaining is, because the objective is to talk to new people and get your team to help each other out.

The twist in this version is that instead of pop culture references, you make the word or phrase written on the index cards something specific to your company: localities served, brands, services rendered, programs offered, etc. Is it a flashy team building exercise? Not necessarily, but it gets your staff talking to one another and eliminates the generation gaps discussing pop culture can sometimes expose.

Game 2: Campfire Stories

Corporate team building activities run the risk of seeming stuffy or too formal. A good way to combat that is by creating an atmosphere that puts people at ease, which “Campfire Stories,” a game we learned from Workamajig, achieves using only a whiteboard and some sticky notes.

Step 1: On the set of sticky notes, write some “trigger words” to start the storytelling session. Things like “work travel” “first day” “most awkward thing you’ve done in the office.”

Step 2: Divide a whiteboard into two sections. Post all sticky notes one section of the whiteboard.

Step 3: Gather your team and make sure they all have access to fresh sticky notes. Ask a participant to pick out one trigger word from the sticky notes and use it to share an experience (say, about his/her first day of work at the company). Shift the chosen sticky note to the other side of the whiteboard as the story is told.

Step 4: As this team member is describing their experience, ask the others to jot down words that remind them of similar work-related stories onto the extra sticky notes. Add these words to the whiteboard.

Step 5: Repeat this process until you have a word wall with interconnected stories.

Team Building Scavenger Hunt

This team building exercise requires a little bit of a budget because there are prizes. Hide a slip of paper (or a couple slips of paper) throughout the office building with either prizes written on each slip, or clues on each slip leading to another slip that ultimately leads to a prize.

If the scavenger hunt is too big of an undertaking, stick to hiding a few slips of paper with prizes written on them. Different levels of difficulty (how well these slips are hidden) dictate the prize. A slip taped to the tissue box might be for a free frozen yogurt, while the slip taped behind the work fridge in the secret storage room might be a $50 gift card.

Corporate team building activities

The team building part comes in by encouraging your team to hunt in groups. Have extra gift cards or coupons on hand to increase the reward accordingly if one of the slips is found by people working as a team.
Not all team building activities have to make people cringe. If you feel like your team could get to know each other better, give any of these team building exercises a go. At the end of the day, they’re your team and we know you’re looking out for them. We can help you look out for them when it comes to the IRS, too. ACAwise provides full-service ACA reporting designed to help you with efficient 1094 and 1095 distribution. To learn more about ACAwise, schedule an appointment today!

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Monday, August 13, 2018

How To Make The Most Out of an Employee Exit Interview

Losing a good employee, regardless of the circumstances, is never easy. You feel blindsided, caught off-guard, and confused. You’re juggling all of these feelings while trying to determine what could possibly cause them to quit. Conducting an employee exit interview can alleviate some of the confusion. While you may have received a resignation letter from the employee, most employees are hesitant to be transparent about why they have decided to leave the company. However, once an employee has left a company they feel more comfortable sharing insight on their experience now that they have less to lose.

We have gathered some information on how to make the most out of an employee exit interview and hope these resources can benefit you for years to come.

How To Make The Most Out of an Employee Exit Interview

Employee exit interviews can be very beneficial to a company and its management team if conducted and utilized properly. If you have never conducted an exit interview, follow these steps to effectively complete the process.

Scheduling an Exit Interview

1) Have the employee’s supervisor notify the HR department of the resignation. The supervisor should encourage the employee to complete a questionnaire and schedule a time for their exit interview. Relay this information in a kind way, so the employee feels comfortable and heard during the interview process.

2) The HR manager should then provide the employee with the questionnaire and confirm the exit interview. The responses to these questions will be discussed during the interview and should be confidentially placed in a department file.

Once an employee submits their resignation, they are only responsible for completing the questionnaire and conferring with the HR department a preferred time for the exit interview.

Exit Interview Tips for Success

Exit interviews can be conducted in a number of ways. Whether it is through a questionnaire, phone call, or traditional meeting, choose the interview style that would work best for the termed employee and your business. Here a few options to consider:

1) Give the employee room to expand. Exit interviews are less about having answers to every question and more about having quality information to work with. If during the interview the exiting employee has a lot to say about a particular question, allow them to spend a moment until they feel they have explained themselves fully.

2) Call the employee a few days after they exit to learn more about their experience. Phone calls tend to be less intimidating or confrontational due to the termed employee being in their own space.

3) Make the conversation POSITIVE! Ensure the employee that the information shared is confidential and will not be given to their manager.

What To Do After The Interview

Once you have conducted your employee exit interview, review the responses and look for any trends or patterns regarding the business, and compare this exit interviews with others if you can. Take note of what the employee enjoyed and disliked about the company as well as its strengths and weaknesses from their perspective. This process will help you gain a better understanding of the employees’ experience along with great insight on necessary improvements.

While we cannot administer the employee exit interview for you, we can help with another facet of taking care of your employees: your ACA reporting. ACAwise provides full-service ACA reporting designed to help you with efficient 1094 and 1095 distribution. To learn more about ACAwise, schedule an appointment today!

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Monday, July 16, 2018

How to Make the Most Out of Your New Hire

How to Make the Most Out of Your New Hire
The hiring process is a lengthy and tedious journey to say the very least. From the initial meetings to their first day, the application and recruiting process is fraught with peril. There are hundreds of decisions that need to be made that will impact not only your team but your company. Most HR professionals are very well aware of this, and there have been significant improvements in the past decade to streamline the onboarding process. We are collectively doing a much better job as a whole bringing in new team members, but there is always room for growth, so before their first day here is how to make the most out of your new hire. 

How to Make the Most Out of Your New Hire

Before your fresh-faced newbie lands in their cubicle, office, or workstation there is still a bit of work that needs to be done. Many organizations are welcoming new hires into the seams with nifty and new innovative ways. There are always those that suffer from confirmation bias that set up the new hire for failure before they ever walk in the door. This unintentional action will undermine the success of the new hire, repeating the hiring process, and wasted resources.

Change Your Mindset

  • “ The last two hires I brought into this department could not perform their job to our standards; I am sure that Sarah will be the same way.”
  • “Remember Jill who worked in the call center? We gave her a bonus after only six months and then she quit without notice.”
  • “His recommendations could have been better. I will need to keep a very careful eye on his work.”

Have you ever found yourself thinking this after filling a new position? If so you are likely setting both your new hire and yourself up for failure. If you felt the employee could not do the work required you would not have offered the position. Feel confident in your decision and approach the new hire as you would any other employee.

Here are five ways you might be setting yourself up for failure. These will signal to your new hire that you are expecting the worst or poor performance from your new hire.

How to Make the Most Out of Your New Hire
  • Calling the first 30 days a probationary period
  • Small or  single infractions result in a formal disciplinary report
  • Not allowing PTO eligibility until six months of employment 
  • “Proof” of illness or bereavement leave
  • Restricted access to required resources or information

At this point, a few of you might be saying that those types of policies are only there to ensure consistency or serves as financial protection. I am not saying that there are some aspects of these policies that are appropriate for your particular type of business.

However, now might be an excellent opportunity to revisit your current policies, especially if they were implemented more than five years ago.

Are your company’s practices and policies designed to bring out the best in your new hires?

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Monday, July 9, 2018

How to Avoid Feeling Burned Out at Work

How to Avoid Feeling Burned Out at WorkHave you ever felt overwhelmed at work? Intense pressure from your coworkers and/or boss? Feels like no one cares or acknowledges how hard you work? Chances are you have, and I understand where you are coming from because I have been there too. However, when you are going through it, you will feel very alone with this issue. Most people who experience burnout often don’t notice until it is too late. Most will go to great lengths to put on a brave face and remain silent. This is, unfortunately, one reason that by the time it is noticed it has developed into a critical problem. Here is how to avoid feeling burned out at work and what to look for in others. 

How to Avoid Feeling Burned Out at Work

There are more than a few causes for burnout but here are the top three reasons:
  • Political Climate
    • There is no denying that an unstable political climate can raise your stress levels. You find yourself worrying about how new government changes will not only affect the economy but your position at work or benefits. 
  • Social Overwhelm
    • On top of your work and family interactions, you are connected to people all around the world 24/7. This bombardment of information can cause stress and anxiety in your life. Especially if there is an unstable economy or government. 
  • Understaffing
    • This is simply doing more with fewer resources whether it is staff, equipment, or resources. When an organization scales back its workforce, your team's workload will increase at a staggering rate. This leaves your team feeling powerless and undervalued. 

Address The Issues Head on

Once you begin to understand the sources of your stress, immediately take action to limit your intake of negativity. If it is a particular individual or the political climate you need to be aware of the situation. Small doses are fine but know when you need to stay aware and be around people of stories with positive energy.

Create a boundary between you and the source of your stress. You would be surprised how many complain about social media or other sources of stress but never create a barrier. Boundaries are there to help yourself be more comfortable and protect yourself.

How to Avoid Feeling Burned Out at WorkBe open and honest with your higher-ups. It is likely that those in your office are feeling the same way about the lack of resources so a conversation will not be a surprise. Your first step to approaching this situation is to be open and honest. Don’t beat around the bush talking about the weather, simply cut to the heart of your concerns and where you are coming from. If you also come with suggestions, it will make solving the problem more manageable. If your boss does not take your concerns seriously or actively dismisses your concerns it might be time to consider other employment opportunities. No position is worth sacrificing your mental and emotional health.

The Take-Away

Find a company that will value the feeling of its employees and actively tries to prevent burnout. If you are currently looking for a position, be upfront with your interviewer and ask about the turnover, workload, pace, and how issues are handled. You will never get an entirely accurate picture of what you're getting into, but you will be able to pick up some critical clues to guide your decision.

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Monday, July 2, 2018

What Happens After I Receive IRS Letter 226-J?

What Happens After I Receive IRS Letter 226-J?
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is complicated. The ACA penalty process being initiated by the IRS is no exception. Employers receiving notifications (IRS letter 226-J) must respond within 30 days to avoid further action by the IRS. This year the IRS will begin collecting penalties from businesses that did not comply with the ACA Employer Mandate in 2015. Here is what happens after you receive IRS letter 226-J.

What Happens After I Receive IRS Letter 226-J?

Like I have already stated you will only have 30 days to respond to the IRS. However, depending on whether you agree with the assessment made the IRS you may need more time to review all of your information. If you request additional time within these 30 days, you may be granted an extension.

Strategizing Your Response

As an HR manager or a member of the benefits department, you should not handle this alone. Contact your CFO, owner, or any other internal experts that should be a part of the conversation. Depending on your organization it might be in your best interest to seek external or internal legal counsel.

Understand Your Liability

While your current 226-J letter is about your compliance in 2015, the penalty process will not only be limited to that year or specific payments. Work with your team to ensure you fully understand the scope of payment and penalties you may owe for any additional years.

Review Forms 1094-C and 1095-C

If you are in disagreement with the IRS, it is essential that you review your Form 1094-C and 1095-C. It could be that the inaccuracy was the cause of the incorrect penalty assessment. If you need to correct any information on these forms, do not resubmit an amended version to the IRS. You will need to make these corrections in your response to the IRS.

Respond to IRS Letter 226-J

What Happens After I Receive IRS Letter 226-J?It is critical that you respond to the IRS within 30 days. Responding is especially true if you do not agree with the IRS. You will need to complete Form 14764 to return to the IRS and indicate whether you agree with their assessment. If you agree with the penalties, you will need to include your organization's payment.

If you disagree with the assessment, you will need to explain your discrepancies. You will need to provide extensive information proving your claim as well as specific corrections that need to be made to your previously filed forms. 

Wait For Confirmation by The IRS

Once you have submitted Form 14764, you will receive IRS letter 227. This letter will contain what steps your organization must take next. If you disputed the penalty payment, your letter might request more information or even a new amount. If you disagreed with the penalty, you could then ask for a Pre-Assessment Conference with the IRS Office of Appeals. This, however, must be completed within 30 days of receiving IRS letter 227.

2018 ACA Compliance and Reporting

Are you looking for a full-service ACA compliance and reporting software? Well, look no further! ACAwise is an all-inclusive online software with secure and reliable ACA compliance tracking year round. With our ACA solution, you won’t have to worry about receiving another 226-J letter from the IRS again. Contact our 100% US-based support team for more information.

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Monday, June 25, 2018

What Employers Need to Know About 2018 ACA Compliance

Employer researches changes in the Affordable Care Act for 2018 ACA Compliance This time last year we were all watching anxiously as Washington discussed the possible “repeal and replace” of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). No matter what side of the debate you were on, the thought of having to start from scratch with a new set of rules was a daunting thought for all HR managers and employers. However, as we currently stand, the ACA is holding steady which means you are now moving forward with planned compliance with current regulations. Here is what employers need to know about 2018 ACA compliance.

What Employers Need to Know About 2018 ACA Compliance

This past year did see the end of the individual mandate. Now individuals will no longer be penalized if they do not carry insurance under the ACA. However, on the other hand, the employer mandate is still holding steady.

The most significant development we have seen this year is employers receiving enforcement notices concerning 2016 ACA compliance (IRS letter 226J). Approximately 30,000 notices have already been sent out to employers in 2018.

Employers and HR manager get together to plan 2018 ACA compliance for the employer mandate Congress is still currently considering a bipartisan bill that would make several small technical modifications to the ACA. The Commonsense Reporting Act (H.R. 3919 and S.1908) which was proposed this year would ease some of the regulatory burdens on applicable businesses. It would help to reduce cases where new employees get an individual ACA subsidy after being added to the business’s healthcare plan. This would reduce the costs for both the employees and the employer.

Currently, employers and HR should continue to keep a close eye on regulation changes if they offer wellness benefits to employees. Even if the ACA does not change regulations on wellness plans are supposed to be updated. However, filing issues for regulatory boards have delayed the updates.

2018 ACA Compliance and Reporting

ACAwise is an all-inclusive online software with secure and reliable ACA compliance tracking year round. Simply upload your employee information each day to ensure your full-time employees are receiving the ACA required minimum coverage. From your dashboard, you can see compliance tracking the form of reports like Eligibility & Affordability, Monitoring & Forecasting Compliance, and even Penalty Calculations.

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