Ashton-Blog

The Four HR Portal “Must Haves”

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How much time do you spend managing your company’s employee benefits?  Imagine an HR System where everything you need is at your fingertips in one beautiful dashboard. But the system is also robust, able to handle complex plan designs and rate structures.  HR Systems are changing the way companies work.

When vetting a new HR Portal there are four main features we consider “Must Haves.”  Check them out below or download our free E-Book, “Reinventing the Enrollment Experience”

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Topics: benefits technology, employee benefits, HR, HR Portal, hris

5 Reasons Your Group Medical Plan Needs a Health Advocate

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A Health Advocate can be a godsend for anyone dealing with a huge bureaucratic insurance company. No matter what insurance company your group uses to provide medical insurance as part of your employee benefits program, someone is destined to run into an issue with a denied claim, confusing medical bill or trouble understanding what the plan covers. We’ve heard it time and time again, “you need a masters degree in insurance just to understand this stuff!” Well, then why not provide each employee with an expert who can help navigate the complexities of the insurance market? Here are the top 5 reasons your group medical plans needs a health advocate:

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Topics: employee benefits, health advocate, hris

IRS’s Guide to ACA Compliance for Applicable Large Employers

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In 2016, the Affordable Care Act has issued reporting requirements for applicable large employers. Because of
special circumstances, the IRS recently drafted a guideline for employers to clear up any questions in order to remain in compliance.

Applicable large employers are classified as employers with 50 or more full-time employees or full-time equivalent employees. These employers must report if a full time employee was offered minimum essential coverage providing minimum value and if they accepted minimum essential coverage. The ACA has required applicable large employers (ALEs) to use Form 1094-C, Transmittal of Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Information Returns, and Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage for its reporting requirements.

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Topics: 2016, aca compliance, applicable, benefits technology, compliance, forms, healthcare reform, IRS, large employers, reporting

Open Enrollment: your employees have no Idea what they are doing

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Electing benefits during open enrollment can be a daunting and confusing task for employees. With multiple plans and types of coverage offered, most employees feel overwhelmed and are unable to consult with an expert in the insurance field to help in the decision making process. Employees end up enrolling in the same benefits year after year without knowing which plans are best tailored to their needs. As stated by a recent article from INC.com, employees surveyed are generally confused in these three broad areas:

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Topics: aca, benefits technology, coverage, enrollment

Understanding Retirement Plan Fiduciary Responsibility

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When administering a retirement plan and managing its assets, it is important for employers and plan sponsors to know their specific responsibilities. Learning the standards of 401(k) and fiduciary responsibility can be a headache after keeping track of all the rules and regulations ERISA provides. Thus, 401(k) plan sponsors are seeking answers to help better understand their roles.

Here are some quick facts that can help you better understand your role and fiduciary responsibilities:

  1. A plan fiduciary is anyone who exercises discretion in relation to one’s 401(k) plan or employed by a plan sponsor who acts in a fiduciary role with respect to the retirement plan. For example, all 401(k) plan sponsors and every member of the investment committee is a fiduciary.
  1. A fiduciary has the ability to appoint a fiduciary. Resigning from the investment committee and missing investment Committee meetings will not relieve you of your responsibilities and will not affect your status.
  1. It is recommended that your adviser is a fiduciary. Determine if your adviser is a fiduciary by looking at your signed contract by looking at ERISA Section 3(38) or 3(21) fiduciary.
  1. A plan sponsor can only welcome and appoint more fiduciaries, but never relieve its fiduciary responsibility.
  1. Neither your plan’s record-keeper nor attorney are likely to be fiduciaries since they do not have discretionary authority.
  1. Fiduciaries are not responsible for insuring investment option performance.
  1. If proper due diligence was not exercised in choosing an investment option by prior fiduciaries, existing fiduciaries are not exempt from responsibility/liability if they decide to continue to offer the fund.
  1. Existing fiduciaries are not exempt from responsibility/liability if they continue to offer the fund recommendation made by an expert.
  1. Employers should have fiduciary liability insurance and your plan should also have an ERISA fidelity bond. You can contract for co-fiduciary services and elect to comply with a number of the safe harbors the regulations offer.

HERE’S HOW WE CAN HELP

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Topics: 401(k), ERISA, fiduciary responsibility, plan sponsors, retirement plan

Comply with the ACA’s Employer Shared Responsibility Rules

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Is your business prepared to handle the Affordable Care Act’s biggest requirement for business’?

The employer shared responsibility provision went into effect this 2015 calendar year. Constant coordination and communication between HR managers and payroll is needed in order to ensure accuracy in reporting requirements and payroll data.Here are five ways to ensure accuracy in order to avoid penalties:

  1. Keep track of reporting time periods
    • Choose a look-back period of three months to one year
  1. Coordinate with HR for accurate reporting
    • Complete Forms 1094C and 1095C for end of the year reporting for the 2015 tax year. Get information for employer status, coverage affordability, and eligible employees.
  2. Provide correct information for hours worked
    • Employee service hours are used to determine the full time status for the stability period, and ensure data provided covers the time period. Determine employer status and full time employees. Take note of personnel changes that affect employee’s full time status.
  3. Offer the right health care coverage
    • Make sure affordable coverage is offered to full time employees and dependents in order to avoid penalties.
  4. Determine affordability
    • Affordable health care under employer shared responsibility is coverage that does not cost over 9.5% of employee’s annual household income. Determine affordability through Form W-2, employee salary, or hourly rate information.

HOW ASHTON CAN HELP YOU

With Ashton Benefits’ free online platform, gathering accurate data for reporting requirements can be made easy. Ashton clients receive our system that tracks the correct information. Manually tracking information about your employees without it would be a nightmare. Your company can easily access and update data from your payroll, health insurance, and HR systems all online, in one place. Ashton Benefits is here to help you to remain compliant.

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Topics: aca, aca compliance, employer shared responsibility, healthcare reform, HR, hris, payroll, Technology

Employer Reporting Guide for Large Employers

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INTRODUCTION:

Beginning with calendar year 2015, an applicable large employer (ALE or “large employer,” as referenced in this summary) must use Forms 1094-C and 1095-C to report the information required under Internal Revenue Code sections 6055 and 6056 about offers of health coverage to full-time employees’ (FTEs) and individuals’ enrollment in health coverage.

Ashton Benefits’ free software includes the data and reports that you need to make these new requirements a breeze.

The most difficult part of the entire process is compiling the data!  Once you have the data, the rest is simply transposing it to the proper form!  But what will you do if there is no system in place to track your employee demographics, month by month coverage, and eligibility dates?  The free Ashton portal takes care of all of this!

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Topics: aca, benefits technology, compliance, employee benefits, healthcare reform, hris

The Basics of Self Funding

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IS A SELF-FUNDED MEDICAL PLAN THE RIGHT MOVE FOR MY COMPANY?

To control spiraling healthcare costs, today’s employers are constantly examining ways to economize and improve cash flow without sacrificing employee health coverage.

More than ever, employer health plans have become a major contributor to the financial well being of companies. As such, the one size fits all approach to health benefit plan design has become obsolete, and the need for data-intelligent, customer-centric solutions is on the rise.

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Topics: employee benefits, self-funding, self-insurance

Top 5 Pitfalls of Employee Health Plans – Part III

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One of the most challenging human capital decisions employers are faced with is how to combat the rising costs of employee benefits. Employers need to weigh cost, network of physicians, and the employee out of pocket expenses against one another when vetting employee health plans.

More often than not HR Managers must consider changing insurance plans and possibly insurance companies. By the time your employees learn and understand their health plan, it’s time for that pesky renewal and all the changes that come along with it.

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Topics: employee benefits, health advocate, medical bills, preventive care, wellness

Top 5 Pitfalls of Employee Health Plans – Part II

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One of the key provisions of the Affordable Care Act otherwise known as “Obamacare” allows men, women, and children to seek routine care at no charge.

You may be wondering what “routine care” encompasses. There are dozens of services that could be considered preventive under a standard employee benefits plan if you know the tricks of the trade.

In the second part of our series, we will discuss some of the most common issues your employees deal with when using their health insurance plan for routine care.

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Topics: employee benefits, health advocate, medical bills, preventive care, wellness