Managing Your Employee Benefits Program

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Did you see the February edition of “Healthy Living with Business Health Trust“?

Our monthly newsletter offers small employers in Washington the information and tools they need to design and manage a competitive employee benefits program, help their employees make good use of medical and wellness benefits, and keep up-to-date on policy issues that affect small businesses in the state.

Subscribe today to stay up-to-date with Business Health Trust!

 

Keeping Up with Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave

Source: Archbright

Beginning January 1, 2020, family and medical leave will be available through a state-administered plan to all employees employed by an employer in Washington state. Funded by premiums paid by both employers and employees, family and medical leave insurance benefits will be payable by the Employment Security Department to employees during a period in which they are unable to perform their regular or customary work because of the need for family and medical leave.

Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave (WPFML) is funded by premiums paid by both employers and employees. Premium assessment began on January 1, 2019. The law sets the initial premium rate at 0.4 percent of wages. Medical leave benefits equal 2/3 of the premium rate and family leave benefits equal the remaining 1/3.

  • Employers are responsible for 55 percent of the medical leave premium.
  • Employees are responsible for 45 percent of the medical leave premium and up to 100 percent of the premiums due for the family leave.

Employers may elect to pay all of the premiums or deduct the employee portion of the assessment from employee’s paychecks. The amount of wages subject to a premium assessment is capped at the maximum wages subject to social security tax.

Employers with less than 50 employees working in Washington state are exempt from paying the employer portion of the premium; however, their employees must still pay the employee share.

An eligible employer with an approved “voluntary plan” may “opt out” of the state program provided the employer’s plan allows the employee the same or more generous benefits. Voluntary plans are paid family and medical leave benefits offered by employers directly to their employees, outside of the state plan. Voluntary plan applications must be submitted through the state’s online portal and approved by the state. If approved, voluntary plans can only take effect at the start of a calendar quarter and must stay in effect for one year.

The state is in the rulemaking process of this law, which means it is still developing the scope and content of the rules for the Paid Family and Medical insurance program. Archbright will continue to monitor the rules and update members as information is available.

As an online member of Archbright through Business Health Trust, you have 24/7 access to the HR Toolkit, a collection of hundreds of documents including policies, forms, templates, letters and guidance. This library also includes our comprehensive WPFML KeyNote and FAQ resource to help members like you navigate this complex new law.

You are also invited to attend our upcoming Virtual CoffeeTalk where Erin Jacobson, Staff Counsel, and Joy Sturgis, HR Advisor, will explore WPFML. Join us at this free event as our experts review the legislation and the scope and content of the rules that the State is scheduled to roll out.

When: March 18 | 9 – 10:30 a.m.
Where: Virtual CoffeeTalk – WebEx
Cost: Free

Visit Archbright.com to register today!

Choosing the right plan for you

You have choices when selecting a health plan during open enrollment. That’s a good thing, but it does mean you need to take action to find the right options for you and your family.

Try these 3 strategies to make sure you get the right coverage for you:

  • Call your favorite family doctors. Do they work with the plan you are considering? If not, are you willing to choose a new doctor?
  • Compare the different types of plans. One way to help you compare them is to look for a summary of benefits, which highlight plan differences.
  • Consider prescription coverage. Are your regular medications covered? Can you save on generic versions or by receiving prescriptions by mail?

 Tip: Sleep on it. If possible, allow yourself at least one night to mull over your choices. That way, you’ll be more confident you made the right call.

Premera Blue Cross

BHT Partners with Economic Alliance Snohomish County

Economic Alliance Snohomish County (EASC) has entered into a partnership with Business Health Trust to offer comprehensive, affordable employee benefits to small and mid-sized businesses and non-profits in the state. The Business Health Trust (BHT) program is available to companies with two employees or more. This program can help organizations create a benefits program that attracts talent and keeps your employees healthy and productive – at a budget you can afford.

The BHT program is one of many pivotal partnerships and programs offered through EASC to help support companies of all sizes in Snohomish County to grow and flourish.

Health and Wellness Benefits through Business Health Trust

BHT’s comprehensive offerings give employers a choice of over 20 affordable medical plans from some of the largest and most respected carriers in the state, as well as a wide range of additional employee benefits. BHT members also receive free access to HR resources through an online Archbright membership with the ability to access other services.

Your choices include:

  • Medical (5-199 enrolled employees): Premera Blue Cross
  • Medical (up to 50 employees): Kaiser Permanente
  • Dental: Delta Dental of Washington
  • Vision: VSP Vision Care Inc.
  • Employee Assistance Program: Wellspring EAP
  • Life/AD&D/Voluntary Life/Disability: LifeMap
  • Voluntary Personal Accident: AIG

Business Health Trust makes it easy for companies of any size to offer robust benefits packages to employees, including comprehensive plan administration, consolidated billing, online payment and access to benefits from their phone, PC or tablet for easy enrollment throughout the year.

Business Health Trust is a valued resource for small employers in Washington State providing the information and tools they need to design and manage a competitive employee benefits program, help their employees make good use of medical and wellness benefits and keep up-to-date on policy issues that affect small businesses in the state.

In line with the advocacy efforts of EASC, Business Health Trust also advocates for small business insurance needs in Washington. Business Health Trust was founded so small businesses and non-profits could offer their employees the health benefits they need to stay competitive, providing health insurance for groups whom might not otherwise be able to afford coverage.

For more information

To request a Business Health Trust quote, please contact your insurance producer or broker. If you do not have a broker, contact BHT at (206) 602-3558 or info@businesshealthtrust.com.

About Economic Alliance Snohomish County

Economic Alliance Snohomish County (EASC) is the countywide economic development organization and chamber of commerce in Snohomish County. EASC brings together private-public partners to create a unified voice for Snohomish County. EASC is committed to growing and nurturing a vital regional economy that is globally competitive. This is achieved by expanding partnerships, developing key resources and building the infrastructure systems creating local and regional employment centers. For more information about EASC, visit www.economicalliancesc.org.

Flexible Spending Accounts—a Great Way to Set Aside Money for Certain Expenses

There are two types of FSAs:
1. Healthcare: For eligible medical, dental, and vision expenses, such as plan deductibles, copays, and coinsurance.
2. Dependent care: For eligible dependent care expenses, such as daycare for a child.

With an FSA, you:

  • Save on taxes: You can automatically deposit funds from your paycheck pre-tax into your FSA.
  • Pay for eligible expenses: These may include medical, dental, and vision care costs, copays, coinsurance, prescriptions, and some over-the-counter medications.

Paying for eligible expenses is simple

  • Use your healthcare payment card like you would a debit card to pay for qualified out-of-pocket medical costs.
  • Or pay with your own credit card, cash, or check. Then sign in at SIMON and file the claim for reimbursement by check or direct deposit.

Tip: To manage your FSA online, sign in at SIMON

Great news! All BHT members can take advantage of the tax-savings associated with a Flexible Spending Account. Our Administrator, Vimly, provides FSAs as an additional service. Contact bht@vimly.com.

 

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Common Health Plan Terms

Health plans can be confusing. But they make a lot more sense when you know a few basic terms.

Deductible
A deductible is the amount you pay each year for covered healthcare services before your health plan starts to pay. For example, if your plan has a $2,000 deductible: You pay the first $2,000 of covered services. After you meet the deductible, you and the plan each pay part of the cost of healthcare services. Your part of the cost is called either coinsurance or copayment.

Coinsurance
A coinsurance is the percentage of covered expenses you pay after you have paid your deductible. For example, if your health plan has a 20% coinsurance and the cost for an office visit is $100: You pay $20 and your health plan covers the rest.

Copayment/Copay
A copayment is a fixed amount you pay for each healthcare service. Copays can vary for different services, and they do not count toward meeting your deductible.

Out-of-pocket maximum
The out-of-pocket maximum is the most you would have to pay for covered services in a plan year. Your out-of-pocket maximum includes the amounts you spend on deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments. When you reach your out-of-pocket maximum, the plan pays 100% for the rest of the plan year.

Tip
You will generally pay less when you receive healthcare services from an in-network provider.

Communicating About Health Care Benefits With Your Employees Has Never Been Easier!

Premera’s communication center, B’link, provides information that supports your employees in getting the most out of their healthcare benefits. This convenient employer resource features ready-to-use, downloadable content that helps your employees better understand their health plan and costs.
How to get the most out of B’link
B’link offers on-demand content that best suits you and your employees’ needs throughout the year.

For each topic, we provide:

  • Flyers/poster that you can customize with your logo and plan details
  • Email templates – simply open and send
  • Content 3 ways: messages you can copy, paste, and share — long, medium, and, short versions are available 

Ready to get started?
Visit B’link today to find the right communications for your employees’ seasonal needs. Download your preferred materials (email, flyer, and/or messaging), and you are all set!