This article was orginally published in San Francisco Business Times.
After a record-breaking year of funding in 2017, 2018 is off to a promising start for digital health companies due to a flurry of changes in the healthcare industry. The biggest question for digital health companies: how will these changes impact your business?
Berkshire Hathaway, Amazon and JP Morgan Chase Join Forces
Over the past ten years, healthcare costs have been rising at or above the rate of wage increases, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. On January 30th, Berkshire Hathaway, Amazon and JP Morgan Chase announced that they will join forces by creating a company designed to provide more affordable healthcare to all of their employees. The joint effort represents a major paradigm shift in how medicine is delivered – by the employer itself.
What we have learned and where we are going next
Worksite wellness programs are not a new concept. After all, Hershey Foods built a rec center with a swimming pool for employees in the 1930s. But the goal of these programs and the coinciding way of measuring their value has changed over the years. With each generation of employees, employers have reassessed and refined their programs. Looking back on the evolution gives us a better idea of what works and what doesn’t and suggests best practices for moving into the future.
The Early 1900s – The Beginnings of the Wellness Industry
Before the information age, work was much more physical in nature. Stronger, more physically fit employees could work faster, more efficiently, and longer. Employers realized this and in the early 1900’s, the National Cash Register built an employee gym and instituted twice-daily exercise breaks. In 1911, they added a 325-acre recreation park for its workers. The goal was clear. Keep the employees physically strong to match the demands of often physical work.
1950 to 1990 – Focus on Overall Health & Safety
Employers in the 50s continued to recognize the value of physically fit employees. Progressive firms like Texas Instruments and Xerox instituted fitness programs. Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) were also established during this time. First created to help employees with alcohol addiction, EAP grew to address other work-life issues. In 1970, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) was established with an emphasis on preventing accidents and illness. Both EAP and OSHA were aimed at improving productivity and reducing costs.
Are you ready to make 2018 the year your company delivers the most effective and engaging employee benefits communication materials possible? If your answer is YES, then keep on reading.
With support from your MMA team, you can knock out these four steps and really wow your employees.
1. CONDUCT AN OPEN ENROLLMENT REVIEW
Open Enrollment is one time each year you REALLY expect your employees to pay attention and think about their benefits decision for the upcoming plan year. As you reflect on if your open enrollment was a success (and hopefully not a complete flop), consider asking yourself the following questions:
- How well did we utilize technology to deliver our open enrollment message?
- Did we effectively spotlight important new topics for employees, such as our new wellness program, new plan options, or new voluntary benefits?
- Were our employees well-informed on the enrollment process and have minimal issues?
- Did we set attendance goals for our Open Enrollment Meetings? If so, were they met?
After reviewing your most recent Open Enrollment, you’ll be better equipped to modify your process for the upcoming year to yield better results.
2017 came to a close as the costliest wildfire season in California history. The Thomas fire burned into 2018, leaving in its wake 281,000 acres of charred earth and solidifying itself as the largest recorded wildfire in the state’s modern history. A year that started with the encouraging end of a four-year drought transitioned to one marred by destruction, displacement, and loss of life.
Currently, Cal Fire has totaled the acres burned in 2017 at over 1.4 million and the structures lost at over ten thousand. These staggering numbers remind us that no one is immune to catastrophe. Communities that in the past had been safe from wildfire were forced to flee and in some cases were left with no homes to come back to. In spite of our best plans, natural disasters can impact our lives in ways we never imagined.
Families often have good homeowners policies in place. But what many people don’t know is that there are additional features available that—if disaster strikes—can make a critical difference in both the overall impact of the wildfire and the experience for the family during and after the event.
As we begin 2018, there are three areas to keep an eye on due to the uptick of claims and changing landscape: property, cyber and data security, and employment practices liability.
In 2017, the US experienced many natural disasters. Damages from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and California fires are expected to result in record property losses. We can anticipate an increase in premium for all property, including vehicles. Auto premiums are already through the roof because of an increase in claims and expenses due to distracted driving and expensive technology. With almost 1 million cars lost during the hurricanes, the rates are bound to increase further.
Takeaway: 2017 losses were at a record high, but there is ample surplus in the insurance marketplace to absorb these claims. This year, we expect insurance companies to increase rates. If you have a favorable claims history, work with your broker to maintain your current pricing.
With the ever-changing landscape of the many compliance related requirements imposed on employers, it can feel like a full-time job to keep up with the many legal obligations and deadlines related to their health plans. To help employers stay on track, our in-house ERISA Attorneys have developed two step-by-step tools to assist with benefits plan administration in 2018.
2018 COMPLIANCE CALENDAR
The Compliance Calendar includes specific health plan deadlines that your company may need to meet during the 2018 calendar year. Although this calendar is intended for calendar year plans, it also contains some important deadlines for non-calendar year plans.
2017 FORM 1094-C AND FORM 1095-C CHEAT SHEET
Understanding how to complete the 1094-C and 1095-C Forms can be complicated and time consuming. To make the process more efficient and to assist employers with their general questions, we developed a line-by-line explanation of Forms 1094-C and 1095-C. Please note: As of December 22, 2017 the IRS has provided a thirty (30) day extension for employers/insurers to furnish Forms 1095-C and Form 1095-B to employees and insureds.
The 2018 Compliance Planning toolkit includes the 2018 Welfare Plan Compliance Calendar and 1094-C/1095-C Forms Cheat Sheet. Download your toolkit below.
If you have any questions, please reach out to your broker.
Marsh & McLennan Agency (MMA) is committed to giving back to the community and we fulfill this commitment though the work of the Barney & Barney Foundation. Since 2009, the foundation has awarded more than $2.8 million to over 80 nonprofits.
Each year, the Barney & Barney Foundation holds three events in order to raise awareness and provide grants to local nonprofits. In total, the Barney & Barney Foundation awarded $260,000 in grants to nine nonprofits in California this year.
Rock the Foundation Benefit Concert
On September 29, 2017, MMA hosted the 8th Annual Rock the Foundation benefit concert featuring cover band Liquid Blue. Attendees also enjoyed great food, drinks, a fun green screen photo booth and much more at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Home Start and Alzheimer’s San Diego each received $35,000 and Foundation of the Children of the Californias and Access Youth Academy both received $20,000 to further their mission.
The holidays are a time for family, food, and fun. A house fire is the last thing on our minds. So, it’s easy to overlook the potential fire risk from common holiday items such as candles, indoor trees, and twinkle lights. According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost 47,000 fires take place during the holiday season and, tragically, one in thirty-one Christmas tree fires result in death.