CBIZ Webinar – FLSA Overtime Regulatory Changes

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By:          Zack Pace, SVP, Benefits Consulting

Last week, Stephen Miller of SHRM interviewed me regarding the probable impact of the new FLSA overtime regulations on employee benefit eligibility terms. In short, I don’t foresee a major impact. The resulting article is available, here: Overtime Pay Changes Will Affect Employee Benefits, Too.

On the other hand, as many of you have already fervently explained to me, the impact to cash compensation structures could be sweeping. Fortunately, my colleagues in CBIZ Compensation, Ed Rataj and Amber Duncan, have closely followed these proposed and final regulations since the beginning. Along with Karen McLeese, JD, they will share what they’ve learned and what to do next in upcoming webinars on:

  • May 25th at 11:30 AM EDT
  • June 14th at 11:30 AM EDT

Which date and time is more convenient for you?

Agenda for the webinar:

  • Overview the new regulations
  • Review the ramifications, potential unintended consequences, and long-term implications
  • Discuss creative implementation strategies
  • Review illustrative examples

The full invitation is available here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/5803185362686746370

I hope you can join us.

You can reach me on zpace@cbiz.com or via Twitter.

Do your employees know that your health plan is self-funded?

By:          Zack Pace, SVP, Benefits Consulting

I’m always enchanted when someone shows me the obvious, hiding in plain sight. For example, I’ll never forget when my college professor shared that E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was Steven Spielberg’s way of telling the Wizard of Oz story from the eyes of the lion, scarecrow and tin man. He reinforced this point by displaying the famous image of Elliott and E.T. flying their bike across the twilight sky. He asked, “Does this image remind of you anything?”

“Yes, it does. Good grief, how could I have missed that?”

My friends who work for large companies have a similar reaction when I tell them that their health plans don’t have health insurers, only health plan administrators. The knowledge that their employers are paying the claims of the plans dramatically changes their entire outlook on their health benefits and total compensation.

In my recent essay for Employee Benefit News, I make the case that employers sponsoring self-funded health plan should tell their employees that the health plan is self-funded: Why plan sponsors should be upfront with workers about self-funding.

I hope you enjoy it. The full article is available here: Why plan sponsors should be upfront with workers about self-funding.

You can reach me on zpace@cbiz.com or via Twitter. My collection of LinkedIn essays is located here, and my Employee Benefit News articles are available here.

Rising group health care plan costs among small employers: A comparison.

By: Neil Model

It doesn’t come as a surprise that group health care plan costs are expected to rise in the coming years. The question becomes how much the costs will rise and for whom. While larger companies may be looking at a modest rise in costs, increases for small size employers could be quite significant.

I came across an article last week, Group health care plan costs expected to rise modestly.  And while it’s true that costs are expected to rise for all employers across the board, I feel it’s important to mention the continued double digit increases many small employers are still facing.

The factors determining business size vary according to number of employees and an average of annual receipts. Often, business size classification is also determined by industry as well.  In my experience, most employers with less than 100 employees have already made many of the moves to mitigate cost increases in the past. It’s also important to take a look at resources available in implementing cost saving healthcare trends among both large and small employers.

Where large employers have the luxury of centers of excellence and/or near-site health centers, it is often not feasible for many small-sized employers to offer these same benefits. Telemedicine and additional wellness initiatives may indeed be available for small businesses, but these employers are limited in the ways they can actually effect cost.

The primary method for effecting cost in small business group health plans is actually by shifting expenses to employees either by plan design or contributions. Many fail to overlook this unfortunate reality for small businesses.

The above article highlights the options available to larger employers, therefore giving a false impression to most of the smaller US employers. I think it’s important to remember these differentiations when examining the effects of rising group health plan costs. Size of company and resources available will affect every employer differently based on many of the factors mentioned here.

Neil Model is the President of CBIZ Model Consulting, and  Vice President of Development for CBIZ Benefits & Insurance Services, Inc. He can be reached at nmodel@CBIZmodel.com. He can also be found on Twitter.

Have You Considered Introducing Audiobooks as a New Employee Benefit?

By:          Zack Pace, SVP, Benefits Consulting

Last year, inspired by The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, I isolated my poor business habits, replaced them with productive activities and made several exciting discoveries along the way. One was the replacement of dead driving time with college-level lectures from The Great Courses. I shared these discoveries in Business Habits, Time Management, & Label Makers.

Recently, I read that Twilio buys a Kindle for each of their employees and funds $30 a month for book purchases. I then pondered if Twilio’s initiative will increase employee productivity & wellbeing for the average employer. In my latest essay for Employee Benefit News, I make the case that it should: The value of audiobooks as a new employee benefit.

I am interested in your thoughts on this idea.

Speaking of Charles Duhigg, I just finished reading his latest – Smarter Faster Better. It summarizes the latest research and case studies in the ongoing quest to improve the productivity of business teams. I highly recommend this book.

You can reach me on zpace@cbiz.com or via Twitter. My collection of LinkedIn essays is located here, and my Employee Benefit News articles are available here.

The Easy Button Approach to ACA Shared Responsibility

By:          Zack Pace, SVP, Benefits Consulting

Historically, the best practice in employee benefit design has been to offer benefits employees desire at a price the employer can afford. The initial mistake I made upon the advent of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was viewing ACA Employer Shared Responsibility through this best practice lens. It was a local ERISA attorney that corrected my vision. At a regional meeting of human resources professionals, he provided this advice to the attendees: “Look, all of this is really easy – all you need to do is introduce a plan that meets minimum value that you can afford to offer at the FPL safe harbor rate. You can keep your current plans. If no one enrolls in the new plan, who cares?”

In my latest essay for Employee Benefit News, A simple approach to eliminating ACA shared responsibility penalty risks, I make the case for implementing this attorney’s advice and share a quick case study. When I saw the image EBN selected for this post, I couldn’t help but chuckle – while I’m delighted to share what I’ve learned about ACA penalty risk elimination techniques, I probably won’t be found leading a rally to promote this easy button approach. . .

The full article is available here: A simple approach to eliminating ACA shared responsibility penalty risks.

What other benefit topics, trends, and challenges are on your mind? Please let me know, and I’ll write about them in future Employee Benefit News essays.

You can reach me on zpace@cbiz.com or via Twitter. My collection of LinkedIn essays is located here, and my Employee Benefit News articles are available here.

Please join us: March 10th Pharmacy Benefit Management Seminar

By: Zack Pace, SVP, Benefits Consulting

Twelve years ago, pharmacy claims were the least of our worries. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for an individual on a specialty medication to accrue $100,000 in annual claims. CBIZ’s National Pharmacy Practice Leader, Mike Zucarelli, PharmD, and I wrote about these emerging claim risks in our recent Employee Benefit News essay What frogs and boiling water have in common with stop-loss and prescription drugs.

On March 10th in our Columbia, Maryland office, Mike will be on-site to describe the current pharmacy cost drivers, forecast the approaching challenges, and share cost mitigation techniques.

Pharmacy Benefit Management Seminar Invitation

If our Plymouth Meeting, PA area office (just outside Philadelphia) is more convenient for you, we are hosting the same webinar there on March 9th. Sue Roberts is taking reservations for the Plymouth Meeting event: sroberts@cbiz.com.

You can reach me on zpace@cbiz.com  or via Twitter. My collection of LinkedIn essays is located here,and my Employee Benefit News articles are available here.

Tangier Island Corn Pudding: A Culinary Memoir

By:          Zack Pace, SVP, Benefits Consulting

In 1608, Captain John Smith explored Tangier Island. About 350 years later, my grandparents did the same. During my grandparents’ visit, one of the residents introduced my grandmother to a delicious corn pudding recipe. It was rich, savory, and slightly sweet – the perfect side for a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. And, long before I was born, it became as part of our family holiday cuisine as pickled peaches and oyster stuffing.

Green chile corn pudding DSC7583Photo Credit: Lisa Fain

In my latest LinkedIn essay, Corn Pudding, Oyster Stuffing, & Exceeding Expectations, I share the story of how this recipe remained intact for another fifty years before I unceremoniously threw it overboard this past Christmas day. It’s a story of cuisine, exceeding expectations, and remembering how trust is created and kept. I hope you enjoy it.

The full essay is available here: Corn Pudding, Oyster Stuffing, & Exceeding Expectations.

You can reach me on zpace@cbiz.com or via Twitter. My collection of LinkedIn essays is located here, and my Employee Benefit News articles are available here.

My 2016 ACA To Do List

By:          Zack Pace, SVP, Benefits Consulting

As we’ve discussed, the federal government made sweeping legislative and regulatory changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) during the fourth quarter of 2015. In early January, I began making a list of the key items that have been repealed or delayed and those that we should continue to keep a keen eye on. Realizing that others might find this list of value, it became my latest essay for Employee Benefit News: The ACA: What’s been repealed, delayed or retained.

With the Cadillac Tax delayed until at least 2020, ACA reporting almost complete, and ACA Shared Responsibility penalty elimination strategies in place, dare I say that we can see the light at the end of the ACA compliance tunnel? Hope springs eternal.

The full article is available here: The ACA: What’s been repealed, delayed or retained.

What other ACA and benefit topics are on your mind? Please let me know, and I’ll write about them in future Employee Benefit News essays.

You can reach me on zpace@cbiz.com or via Twitter. My collection of LinkedIn essays is located here, and my Employee Benefit News articles are available here.

8 Long-term Disability Optimization Considerations

By:          Zack Pace, SVP, Benefits Consulting

The financial security long-term disability insurance (LTD) provides is extraordinary as compared to most other nonmedical benefits. However, given the time and attention required by our medical plans nowadays and the higher value employees often place on those nonmedical benefits that feature higher claim frequency (e.g., dental, vision), it’s not uncommon for benefit professionals to allow LTD plans to stay the course, without critical review.

My latest essay for Employee Benefit News outlines 8 practical ways to optimize LTD plan benefits & design. The full article is available here: 8 ways to optimize your LTD plan for 2016. As you’ve heard, the Cadillac Tax effective date was recently pushed back another two years to 2020. Thus, one idea would be to redirect 5 hours of Cadillac Tax mitigation efforts towards LTD TLC in early 2016.

What other ACA and benefit topics are on your mind? Please let me know, and I’ll write about them in future Employee Benefit News essays.

You can reach me on zpace@cbiz.com or via Twitter. My collection of LinkedIn essays is located here, and my Employee Benefit News articles are available here.

What Inspires Me: Professional Excellence & Grace

By: Zack Pace, SVP, Benefits Consulting

After drafting the below narrative, I wondered how the heroine would feel about me sharing her story with you. So, I emailed her the draft and promised to scrap it if she didn’t like it. Much to my delight, she quickly wrote back, told me how much this story meant to her, and how my inspiration caused her to be further inspired. A few days later, LinkedIn Pulse featured her story on their Entertainment channel: New York City, Electric Guitars, & Professional Excellence. This story has continued to resonate with readers, so I’d like to share it with you, here:

ZdanLast weekend, my wife and I took a northbound train to New York City for a quick get-away. We saw four inspiring musical acts, ate at the restaurants of two of our favorite chefs, and enjoyed a morning jog in Central Park. The restaurants were packed, and three of the musical venues were standing room only.

As a business professional, aren’t you energized and motivated to provide your best work when you know your speech will be to a packed crowd or when a company’s Board of Trustees is eagerly awaiting your report? But, what about when you fly across the country to give a speech and no one shows? Or when you’re writing a report that only a few will ever read? Do you still give it all you’ve got?

On Friday night, I found new inspiration. The singer / songwriter was from one of our favorite bands – she had a solo gig at a concert hall at 11:30 PM. We arrived in town that evening, had dinner at Lisa Fain’s new place – El Original1 – and made our way over to the venue. We knew something seemed odd when the hostess asked for our ticket reservation by first name and quickly found it in the utter darkness. Have you ever noticed how dark everywhere is in New York City at night?

As the bar began to fill, suspense for the musician’s show built, and we eagerly waited for the concert hall’s gates to open. But, when we descended into the hall, the folks in the bar stayed. Once our eyes adjusted to the increasing darkness, we could count the number of folks that had bought a ticket on two hands. Half of those were members of her band.

As a business professional, has this situation ever happened to you? What did you do next? Go through the motions? Cut your speech short? It’s tempting, isn’t it?

When the musician realized the situation, the look of mild disappointment dashed across her eyes. But, it was gone quicker than the flash of a shooting star in the early autumn sky. With confidence and grace she smiled and announced, “Tonight is about quality, not quantity – thank you so much for coming to my show!”

She then turned on her amp and, as Paul Simon might describe, “blew that room away”2. I mean, she just slayed it. Just her, her electric guitar, and her songs. It was flat out inspiring. She gave us the same show that she would have given to a crowd of 500. It was professional excellence at a level I might never see again.

On the train ride home my wife asked me what my favorite memory was from our weekend. Despite catching an incredible show the next afternoon from my favorite band, enjoying the culinary delights of two of my favorite chefs, and sampling Central Park on an autumn day right out of a Sara Bareilles song, it was an easy choice.

What I saw that Friday night was true professional excellence and grace. And, the next time I find myself in the same situation, I’ll be inspired to go and do the same.

(By the way, if you like rock and roll music, you might want to check out Brandy Zdan)

Footnotes:

  1. Coincidentally, a few days later, Lisa announced that she was ending her relationship with this restaurant, so our timing was excellent!
  2. Paul Simon, “Late in the Evening.” One-Trick Pony. (Warner Brothers, 1980).
  3. Photo Credit: Dave Hensley. (Flickr, February 2, 2013).

 

You can reach me on zpace@cbiz.com or via Twitter. My collection of LinkedIn essays is located here. My Employee Benefit News articles are available here.