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HR Elements – Retirement Woes

While a company’s workers may differ in age, gender and in a range of other categories, new research suggests they share at least one common attribute – a lack of confidence about retirement savings.

Ancillary Products Survey Deliverables

UBA released the first installment of its deliverables from the 2013 Ancillary Products Survey on Nov. 25. Thank you for all your efforts to make our first biannual national Ancillary Products Survey such a remarkable success!

January Employer Webinar and Updates

January’s Employer Webinar will be held Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 at 2 p.m. ET and will focus on HRAs, HSAs and FSAs under PPACA. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for other details, including webinar presenter information.

If PPACA Were the Joneses, “Keeping Up” Would Be Hard to Do

health care reformDelay, delay, delay … Error, delay, repeal. That seems to be the trend with health care reform, but it doesn’t mean employers are exempt from compliance in 2015 or the requirements that remain in effect for 2014 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). 

Under PPACA, employers still have varying degrees of responsibility, based on number of employees, for providing health coverage that is both affordable and offers a minimum standard of coverage. 

Tunnel vision on PPACA compliance, however, is not an optimal long-term employee benefits strategy. Moving beyond compliance to achieve greater control over health care benefits costs requires a broad-view approach coupled with in-depth analysis using benchmark data relevant to size, industry and region. Weighing your funding options, benefits packages and employee needs is no easy task, but the right tools can certainly get you started in the right direction. 

United Benefit Advisors is hosting a webinar for HR professionals and employers titled “Health Care Reform: Options, Obligations and Opportunities” on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013 at 2 p.m. ET. To register for this webinar, visit https://webinars.ubabenefits.com/tabid/1932/Default.aspx?wid=114 and enter code “UBAPOP” to receive the $149 discount. This webinar has been submitted to the Human Resource Certification Institute to qualify for 1.50 recertification credit hours. 

The webinar will cover: 

  • Budgeting for potential penalties associated with PPACA’s “Play or Pay” mandate
  • Building a total compensation strategy to avoid the 40 percent excise tax on health plans
  • Moving beyond PPACA compliance to achieve greater control over health care benefits costs
  • Offering a greater range of benefit options to employees, including the new health FSA carryover option
  • Establishing employee eligibility for federal insurance subsidies and tax credits
  • Reviewing a timeline of the new federal regulations
  • Maximizing opportunities presented by health care reform 

Presenters will be Terriann Procida, President of Innovative Benefit Planning, and Mike Tate, Director of Business Development for Hanna Global. Both are experts working on the front lines of health care reform, private exchanges and health care cost strategies.

Best-In-Class Portfolio Adds Wellness Inc.

United Benefit Advisors (UBA) announced on Dec. 2 the addition of Wellness Inc. as the latest UBA Certified Solution.

How I Found a Surprisingly Good Plan

I have been trying to get a sense of what I am buying, of how many options I have to consider, of how much it will cost and of how I can explain my choices to my workers. This has been extraordinarily complex.

The Transit Parity Roller Coaster

transit benefit parityBy Josie Martinez, Senior Partner and Legal Counsel 
EBS Capstone, A UBA Partner Firm

In the words of Yogi Berra, it’s like déjà vu all over again: Here we are, again almost at the end of the calendar year, and we still do not know where things stand with transit benefit parity. Will transit parity ever be permanent? Possibly, but for now it remains an open question whether transit parity will extend into 2014. Once again, employers are wondering how to handle the transit/parking limit issue and await guidance for next year and beyond.

Just to recap, in February 2009, Congress amended Code §132(f)(2) to make the aggregate monthly limit for transit passes and vanpooling the same as the inflation-adjusted monthly limit for parking beginning in March 2009. This parity rule for transit passes and vanpooling was set to expire at the end of 2010, but it was extended for one year. Then, transit parity was allowed to expire after 2011, but in early 2013, it was restored retroactively for 2012 and extended until the end of 2013 (a logistical nightmare for many employers). Now we are faced with the same issue: Unless Congress once again extends transit parity or makes it permanent, transit parity will expire at the end of 2013 and the combined limit for transit passes and vanpooling expenses will return to a lower inflation-adjusted amount for 2014.

Employers are getting increasingly frustrated with the up and down cycle of this benefit, which may be the catalyst for a bill currently in the works that would make transit parity permanent (as well as include bike-share as a form of transit). The proposed amount is $220.

According to the backers of the bill, on Jan. 1, 2014, almost 3 million of America’s commuters will face a tax increase unless Congress acts. For many families, transportation is the second largest household expense, and currently Congress provides a tax credit to commuters to help reduce parking and transit costs. However, without congressional action, on Jan. 2, 2014, the cost for those who use the transit benefit will practically double. While the parking benefit will remain at $245 a year, the transit benefit will drop to $125, leaving families and commuters with up to $1,440 a year in additional post-tax expense.

Hardly seems fair, does it? Shouldn’t we be encouraging and incentivizing the use of publictransportation, especially in light of increasing environmental costs? The transit parity benefit saves consumers real money, allows business to continue to enjoy a tax break and decreases congestion on overcrowded roads – a win-win across the board. Stay tuned…