The best employee absences are the ones that never happen

A 2012 study showed half (48%) of a company’s employees experience business or personal legal-related issues each year, spending an average of 51 hours to resolve them.

Compared to the average, these employees:

  • Are absent five times more
  • Use medical benefits four times more
  • Use sick leave twice as often

A range of employee assistance services (EAP) to complement core benefits programs and meet any employer’s needs and budget is available, i.e. Long Term Disability contract also comes with optional ID Theft Recovery Services, for additional peace of mind.

Contact me to learn more.

Medical Tourism

The Medical Tourism Association is helping employers and hospitals connect with companies to save millions in medical expenses. It’s popularity will grow as healthcare reform (Obamacare) is expected to create backlogs for medical services.

Medical tourism (MT) is the patient travelling from highly developed nations to other areas of the world for medical care, usually to find treatment at a lower cost. Medical tourism is different from the traditional model of international medical travel where patients usually seek care travelling from less developed nations to major medical centers in highly developed countries for treatment that may not be available in their own communities.

Services typically sought include elective procedures as well as complex specialized surgeries such as joint replacement (knee/hip), cardiac surgery, dental surgery, and cosmetic surgeries. Individuals with rare genetic disorders may travel to another country where treatment of these conditions is better understood. However, virtually every type of health care, including psychiatry, alternative treatments, convalescent care and even burial services are available.

Over 50 countries have identified medical tourism as a national industry.

The Eyes, a Window to Health – Part 2

Employers and employees aren’t seeing the health and productivity boosts that would be possible if more employees took advantage of their vision benefit, especially in an aging workforce. According to Transitions Optical, Inc., nearly half of employees aren’t taking advantage of their vision benefit, by either not enrolling (24%) or by not using their benefit to receive an eye exam (32%). Transitions Optical offers four reasons why employers should take eye education seriously.

1. If you can’t see well, you can’t work well. – 1 in 4 employees, age 45 or older, has to take breaks to rest their eyes at work, because they hurt or feel tired. Unfortunately, even slightly miscorrected vision — so slight an employee may not even notice — can reduce productivity by up to 20%.

2. Mental health and eye vision are connected – Vision problems can worsen mental decline and depression – issues that are already a heavy burden on today’s workforce. Older employees with poor vision are 5 times more likely to develop cognitive decline without dementia than their peers with very good or excellent vision. Untreated poor vision in the elderly is also linked to actual dementia. For instance, older adults with poor vision without intervention (such as eyecare visits and cataract surgery) are almost 10 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

3. Eighty percent are bothered by glare – Almost all Americans say glare affects their vision outdoors, and 7 out of 10 agree that their eyes are sensitive to light. The right eyewear can help employees counter their issues with light and glare sensitivity.

4. Employees think vision benefits are important – More than 90 percent of employees agree their vision benefit will be more important to them as they age. Nearly all employees say it’s very important to them that their vision benefit offers the latest lens technologies.

Employees have an overall low awareness of the eye/overall health connection. For instance, half don’t know that smoking can affect their eyes. Many diseases can be detected by an eye exam at an early stage, when preventive steps can still be taken to avoid the disease or minimize its impact., sponsored by EyeMed, is a complimentary resource employees can access anytime, anywhere. Featuring useful tools, including customizable Wellness Calendar and Wellness Library, the site makes it easy to keep informed and aware of the importance of regular vision care.

The Eyes, a Window to Health – Part 1

The eyes are the only place in your whole body that offer a clear view of the blood vessels, without invasive techniques. That’s why with every exam, an eye doctor can gain deeper insight into a patient’s overall health and wellness.

Vision disorders account for more than $8 billion in lost productivity every year. However, regular eye exams can address and correct vision issues that may hamper performance. They can also help identify early signs of certain chronic health conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, before they become costly long-term medical issues., sponsored by EyeMed, is a complimentary resource employees can access anytime, anywhere. Featuring useful tools, including customizable Wellness Calendar and Wellness Library, the site makes it easy to keep informed and aware of the importance of regular vision care.

Useful App – Healthspek (Personal & Family Health Record)

Healthspek is your own personal health record. And your family’s too as you can add each family member for a complete record. Healthspek allows users to see their own personal health care information.

The home screen is the customizable ‘myDashboard’. – Select any member to track their conditions, refill meds, track lab results, record immunizations, allergies, supplements, procedures, and family history. Records reside on your iPad and is stored securely on Healthspek’s cloud-based servers. Lose your iPad, you’ll never lose your chart.

  • myProfile – A section for reference information – personal profiles.  Add personal information, doctors, insurance and emergency
  • Medications – store entire medications list, current and past. Manage medications with med reminders and automated refill alerts.
  • ChartNow – Portability, readily accessible, displayable on any browser (real time access for you, your doctor), email records, etc…

Recognized by Health Informatics Nurse Blog as a Top Pick and Tab Times as a 5 best iPad apps for medical and health care.

New features are being added regularly.


National Flood Insurance Program Provides Crystal Ball into Obamacare

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is in deep financial trouble. Rates have not been calculated based on sound actuarial principals. – The solution (according to FEMA), stop subsidizing premiums on flood-prone properties that file the kind of large claims — sometimes repeatedly — that have left the National Flood Insurance Program in the red.

Obamacare, The Affordable Care Act (ACA), is headed for deep financial trouble. Rates have not been calculated based on the true actuarial assumptions which healthcare costs will be subjected; i.e. underwriting is limited to age, geography, family size and tobacco. – The solution, stop subsidizing premiums for attainable health measures. – How? Allow underwriting based on “wellness,” i.e. Are you controlling your controllables; blood pressure, cholesterol, BMI, smoking/nonsmoking, blood sugar levels?

Healthcare Reform Update – ‘Pay or Play’ Delayed Until 2016

Large employers with fewer than 100 Full-Time Employees got some good news. The rules for employers with at least 50 full-time employees provide transition relief with respect to all of 2015 and, for non-calendar plan years that begin in 2015, for the portion of that 2015 plan year that falls in 2016.

Key points to the ruling include:

  • Employers with fewer than 100 workers won’t have to provide health insurance until 2016
  • Larger firms have to cover at least 70 percent of the workforce starting next year.
  • Employers with fewer than 100 workers will have to certify to the government that they haven’t fired workers to get under the threshold and qualify for the delay until 2016. They also must certify they won’t drop health plans they already offer.
  • Among other exemptions, employers won’t have to cover seasonal workers, those employed less than six months.

These regulations phase in the standards in an attempt to ensure that larger employers either offer quality, affordable coverage or pay a penalty starting in 2015 to help offset the cost to taxpayers of coverage or subsidies to their employees.

Stay tuned, I’m sure we’ll see more changes.

Useful App – 3in4 Need More

Odds are that more than a few of us have had to deal with a family member, immediate or extended, who has required assisted living needs. Maybe they had to research specialty doctors, care centers or care providers; possibly for a member living hundreds of miles away.

The 3in4 Need More is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of planning for ones long term care needs. It is exclusively dedicated to promoting the importance of planning for long term care needs. The website has an information center with informational websites, telephone hotlines, calculators, information about long-term care coverage, a planning guide and finding a senior living community.


3in4 iPhone demo

PPACA’s ‘Shared Responsibility’ – Time to Revisit FTE Worksheet

Even though the employer shared responsibility provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) were delayed and will not take effect until January 1, 2015, employers should have prepared for their compliance strategies in 2013. However, if you were a procrastinator now is the time to review.

Business owners and payroll personnel will want to determine if the employer mandate will apply to their company. If PPACA’s ‘shared responsibility’ provisions do apply, employers need to prepare in 2014 to ensure a smooth transition in 2015. Several issues need to be addressed to mitigate any potential challenges, covering issues such as how the baseline measurement period is calculated and the adequacy of coverage requirements are met.

Here are some of the most common questions employers have:

  • Will my company have to comply with employer-shared responsibility provisions?
  • What kind of insurance will my company have to provide?
  • To whom will I have to provide insurance?
  • What about seasonal, per diem, or part-time employees?

Employee Benefit Advisors has a FTE Worksheet to help companies determine these answers. Contact us if you’re interested in using it to help evaluate your course of action.

2014 – Key Health Reform Provisions taking effect this year

• Health Benefit Exchanges – state exchanges move from enrollment to covered phase
• Individual Mandate – requires each person to have minimum essential coverage
• Essential Health Benefits – requires new plans to cover 10 essential health benefits
• No Pre-Existing Conditions – prevents plans from limiting benefits on pre-existing conditions
• Clinical Trials – plans cannot limit routine costs for those in clinical trials
• Dollar Limits on Essential Health Benefits – PPACA ends annual limits on essential health benefits
• Guaranteed Availability/Renewability – carriers must accept all groups or individuals that apply for coverage
• Waiting Periods –reform requires waiting periods to be no more than 90 days
• Auto Enrollment – large employers enroll full-time employees in a health plan
• Health Care Excise Taxes – new taxes for health insurance and pharmaceutical companies, plus medical devices

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