Page 30 - Wire Rope News & Sling Technology - June 2019
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continued from page 28             average deductible has risen from $735   “For  smaller  employers  in  many
         are glad that everyone is covered, and   ten years ago to $1,573 today. That’s a   states, SHOP is a great resource,” says
         they  like  the  coverage  for  pre-existing   much faster pace than the time frame’s   Steven Eastaugh, a Washington, D.C.,-
         conditions and for employees’ children   corresponding  26 percent increase  in   based health economist, speaker and
         up to age 26. These provisions help their   wages and 17 percent inflation. “Over   consultant   (eaglestalent.com/Steven-
         employees have peace of mind.”     26 percent of workers have deductibles   Eastaugh). “It allows them to get the
           On the negative side, many employers   of at least $2,000 a year, with higher   pricing that only larger employers en-
         are still incurring premium increases,   ones  more  common  at  small  firms,”   joyed before.” Another benefit is flexibil-
         and  they  believe  the  ACA’s  coverage   says Kaiser researcher Matthew Ray.   ity. “Small business can enroll in SHOP
         mandates have precluded cheaper alter-                                coverage any time of the year,” says
         natives. The Trump administration has   MANDATED COVERAGE             Eastaugh. “And if you add one or two
         responded to these concerns by promot-  The 2017 tax reform act reduced the   new people during the year you can cov-
         ing new categories of plans with lower   penalty to zero dollars for individu-  er them by locking in new start times.”
         premiums (More on this below.)     als who failed to meet their individual   Also, take advantage of the tax credits
                                            mandate. But that change in the law   available for SHOP participants if you
         KEEPING INSURANCE                  did not affect businesses  with  50 or   have fewer than 25 FTEs, with average
           Despite the hassles and expense re-  more people who are deemed to be full-  annual wages of less than $50,000.
         quired  to  compare competing plans   time equivalent employees (FTEs). “If   Some awkward sign up procedures
         and manage paperwork, employers as   you do not provide coverage you will be   and a lack of sufficient publicity, says
         a whole do not want to drop health in-  charged  a  penalty,” says  Stich.  “And   Eastaugh, has kept the program from
         surance as a benefit. Some 57 percent   the IRS has already been sending out   expanding very quickly.  “Today just
         of all firms offer some health benefits,   penalty letters.”          under  30 states are  offering  SHOP
         according to Kaiser. The figures are 98   Employers with fewer than 50 FTEs   programs, and even there the program
         percent for businesses  with over 200   are not required to offer any coverage   covers only two of every 100 employees.
         workers; 70 percent for those with from   at all. Does your own business qualify   But I estimate that by the end of 2019
         10 to 199 workers, and 47 percent for   for an exemption? The answer can be   SHOP  will  be covering  about 190,000
         those with three to nine workers.   elusive.  “In many cases it can be dif-  Americans, and maybe 250,000 by the
           The  fact  that  all  those  figures  have   ficult  to  determine  who  is  a  full-time   end of the following year.”
         remained fairly steady over the past   employee,” says Ryan Moulder, a part-  For  more information  about SHOP,
         couple of decades testifies to the sticky   ner at HealthCare-Attorneys.Com, a   go to healthcare.gov/small-businesses/.
         quality of the benefit: Employers who   nationwide consultancy based in San-
         offer health insurance  are reluctant   ta Monica, CA (healthcare-attorneys.  PRIVATE EXCHANGES
         to  let  it  go.  The  reason’s  not  hard  to   com). “A lot depends on how good your   Not thrilled with the SHOP  selec-
         figure: Quality employees expect good   internal data is.” For help in calculat-  tion? Investigate the offerings  of any
         health  insurance  and may jump  ship   ing  your  own  FTE,  go  to healthcare.  private health  insurance  exchanges
         for  a  competing  firm  if  the  benefit  is   gov/shop-calculators-fte. You may also   that have sprung up in your state.
         dropped. That’s a particularly believ-  want to consult with your accountant.  These are often set up by insurers, bro-
         able threat given the nation’s low un-                                kers  or  consulting  firms.  Like  SHOP,
         employment numbers.  “We  have  a   SHOPPING AROUND                   these exchanges take care of the ba-
         shortage of labor right now,” says Clax-  So how can you reduce your own   sic human resource functions (such as
         ton. “Employers have to provide com-  health insurance costs? Start by mak-            continued on page 32
         petitive  wages  and  attractive  benefits   ing sure you compare all of the avail-
         or people will go somewhere else.”  able plans in your region. “It’s impor-
                                            tant for smaller employers to go out to
         SHARING COSTS                      bid for plans,” says Larson.
           Rising health care  costs,  of course,   Does shopping around really make
         can erode the bottom line.  Employers   a difference?  Apparently so,  judging
         are  stemming the  tide by asking  em-  from the Kaiser numbers. “There is a
         ployees to shoulder more of the premi-  substantial variation in the average
         ums. “Today’s employees experience a   amount that people pay for premiums,”
         significant dent in their take-home pay   says Claxton. “Fifteen percent of work-
         as a result of health insurance premi-  ers are in plans that have premiums of
         ums,”  says  Drew  Altman, president   more  than $24,000, and nine  percent
         and CEO of the Kaiser Family Founda-  are in plans with premiums of less than
         tion. “Their cost sharing has been ris-  $14,000.” While the variance may stem
         ing much faster than their wages.”  from many causes (including regional
           Of the total premiums of $19,616 for   variances),  the  experts say employers
         family coverage in 2018, employers paid   who  spend the time comparing offers
         an average of $14,069, with employees   can snag better deals.
         kicking in $5,547, according to Kaiser.   If you employ fewer than 50 full-time
         The average employee  premium  cost   workers  your  first  stop  should  be  to
         sharing varied from 26 percent at large   The Small Business  Health Options
         firms to 38 percent at smaller ones.  Program, or SHOP, the ACA-sponsored
           Employers are also asking  their   Internet-based insurance marketplace.
         workers  to accept higher  deductibles   SHOP  policies  are  available through
         when they go to the doctor’s office. The   insurance brokers.

         30     Wire Rope News & Sling Technology   June 2019
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