Covered California’s fourth annual open enrollment started November 1. CHCF’s ACA 411 data center provides the 2017 premiums for the second-lowest cost Silver plan in each of Covered California’s 19 pricing regions. While Covered California consumers can choose from a variety of plans, the second-lowest cost Silver plan is particularly important because it’s the benchmark by which federal premium subsidies are determined. It ranges from a low of $258 in Los Angeles to a high of $450 in Contra Costa in 2017. The example is based on a consumer earning 150% FPL or about $17,820, for a one-person household. (Premiums also vary based on age, although the Affordable Care Act limits the amount of variation. The premium figures used in ACA 411 are for a 40 year-old.) However, most Covered California consumers pay less than the total monthly premium. Almost 90% earn less than 400% of the federal poverty level (FPL), making them eligible for federal premium subsidies. The amount they are required to contribute towards premiums is capped at a percentage of income (individual share) with the premium subsidy (government share) covering the rest.
There has already been intense scrutiny and discussion of the proposed 2017 Covered California premiums, which are set to rise an average of13.2%. Keep in mind the following:
- The 13.2% average premium increase masks the wide variation in premium costs and in the rate of increase by region.
- Premiums vary widely by insurer. Covered California’s plan book (http://www.coveredca.com/news/pdfs/CoveredCA-2017-rate-booklet.pdf) shows how insurers compare.
- The 13.2% average increase is before premium subsidies are taken into account. Federal premium subsidies can significantly lower what consumers have to actually pay toward premiums. The subsidies will play a crucial role in shielding most consumers from having to absorb the full brunt of premium increases in 2017. (Notice that the amount the individual pays is often rather flat while the government share and the total premium rise.
For the full analysis, see http://www.chcf.org/aca-411/insights/consumers-premiums-2017]
Covered California Launches Open Enrollment
Covered Californians kicked off its fourth annual open enrollment last week for 2017. More than 92% of consumers will have three or more health plans to choose from, and none will have fewer than two. For 2017, most consumers will see a lower copay for their primary care visits. Urgent care costs in every plan will be the same as the primary care visit, helping consumers save up to $55 per visit. Consumers in Silver, Gold, and Platinum plans will pay a flat copay for emergency room visits in 2017 without having to satisfy a deductible. Most outpatient services in Silver, Gold and Platinum plans are not subject to a deductible, including primary care visits, specialist visits, lab tests, X-rays and imaging.
Even consumers in Covered California’s most affordable Bronze plans can see their doctor or a specialist three times before the visits are subject to the deductible.
Three of Covered California’s 11 health plans are expanding their coverage areas. Molina Healthcare is moving into Orange County, Kaiser Permanente will be available in Santa Cruz County, and Oscar Health Plan of California will be offering coverage in San Francisco County. The other plans continuing to offer coverage for 2017 are Anthem Blue Cross of California, Blue Shield of California, Chinese Community Health Plan, Health Net, L.A. Care Health Plan, Sharp Health Plan, Valley Health Plan and Western Health Advantage. Covered California is also adding two new family dental plans, Liberty Dental Plan and California Dental Network. They will join Access Dental Plan, Anthem Blue Cross, Delta Dental of California, Dental Health Services and Premier Access. Liberty Dental Plan will offer coverage in all ZIP codes in 2017, and California Dental Network will offer very competitive rates in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Orange counties, and in parts of Sacramento, the north Bay Area, the Central Valley, the Inland Empire and San Diego.
An upgraded online shopping tool enables consumers to see 12 plan options on a page and filter their choices by plan, plan type, price, out-of-pocket costs, quality rating and metal tier, among other features. Consumers can also select their preferred plan and the information will be transferred to the application automatically. Another feature is the ability to shop for health or dental insurance and switch between the two offerings. Consumers who want assistance by phone can leave their number for a call back from the Covered California Service Center.
Starting in 2017, Covered California enrollees who don’t have a doctor will be matched to a primary care physician. They can designate a different physician at any time.
Suit Seeks to Block Anthem From Terminating Individual PPO Health Plans
A California class-action suit targets Anthem for characterizing and marketing its 2017 individual and family health plan contracts as a renewal of its 2016 plans despite changing the plans from PPO plans, which offer out-of-network benefits, into Exclusive Provider Organizations (EPOs), which provide no out-of-network benefits. The premiums for the new plans are also going up. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Anthem enrollees by attorneys for Shernoff Bidart Echeverria LLP and Consumer Watchdog
Anthem Blue Cross is claiming to renew coverage for 2017 when in fact it is not adequately informing consumers that the new plans provide no coverage if a physician is not participating in Anthem’s network, according to Consumer Watchdog. “Anthem is breaking the law and its promises to consumers by attempting to automatically renew its 2016 members for 2017 in coverage that actually provides no out-of-network care whatsoever. In an effort to retain its market share, Anthem is failing to adequately inform its members that they are losing out-of-network benefits for 2017,” said Laura Antonini, staff attorney for Consumer Watchdog. The group says that this change leaves customers potentially facing thousands of dollars or more in medical bills that their existing plan covered, without them knowing it. Many consumers likely face loss of access to their physicians altogether, a prospect particularly harmful for those in the midst of treatment, as paying full cost of out-of-network care is untenable for all but the wealthiest. (Click here to download the new class action lawsuit: http://tinyurl.com/hlsf4zk.)
Consumers who renew their Anthem coverage by the December 15 deadline will be locked into those plans for all of 2017. The lawsuit announced today alleges that Anthem violated federal and state laws by doing the following:
- Breaching its health plan contracts with its 2016 members by failing to provide guaranteed renewal of existing coverage as required under the contract.
- Attempting to automatically renew members currently enrolled in PPO plans into EPO plans as of January 1, 2017, rather than correctly disclosing to consumers that Anthem is discontinuing their 2016 coverage. (The lawsuit alleges that the transformation of the plans into EPO plans renders the 2016 PPO plans discontinued.)
- Sending out misleading renewal notices rather than discontinuation notices that would inform 2016 members of the loss of out-of-network benefits for 2017.
“We believe that Anthem is trying to take advantage of consumers during the Open Enrollment Period,” said Travis Corby of Shernoff Bidart Echeverria LLP. “They are selling 2017 Affordable Care Act health plans as being the same as their 2016 products. But they are not adequately informing consumers that the new plans provide no coverage if a physician is not participating in Anthem’s network. Existing customers are being completely misled, and will potentially face thousands of dollars or more in medical bills that would have been covered under their existing plan. Many consumers likely face loss of access to their doctors altogether.”
Leslie Burkes, an affected Anthem consumer said, “We are caught in a double bind. Many of my family member’s doctors are specialists that are out-of-network under our current Anthem PPO plan, which is why we purchased a PPO in the first place. Under a PPO, Anthem pays for out-of-network doctors. If Anthem is allowed to convert these plans to EPO plans we will have no coverage for the doctors we need. Furthermore, we cannot switch to another health insurer because Anthem’s care management team has been managing my family members complicated health needs for the last year. Changing companies now would severely impact my family members health because a new team of staff would have to learn about my family members complex needs and history.”
Anthem Blue Cross ACOs Save $70.4 Million Over 12 Months
Anthem Blue Cross and its 17 Accountable Care Organization (ACO) partners saved $70.4 million over 12 months for each medical group, according to Anthem’s Medical Director for Provider Enablement Dr. Michael Belman. ACOs that participate in Anthem’s Enhanced Personal Health Care program are part of Anthem’s Provider Collaboration strategy, which includes a suite of programs that reward doctors and hospitals for providing better care as opposed to more care. The $70.4 million in savings are calculated by comparing an ACOs cost trend during the 12 month measurement period to the same groups cost trend for the prior 12 months. While each measurement period lasted 12 months, the ACOs had staggered launches throughout 2014 and don’t cover the same 12 calendar months. The most recent results in this announcement are from a medical group whose 12 month measurement period ended September 30, 2015. Through the 17 ACOs, more than 450,000 Anthem PPO members had access to this patient-centered, value-based care during the measurement period.
Workers Are Dissatisfied With the Healthcare System
A study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and Greenwald & Associates finds that workers generally are not satisfied with the health care system. When asked to rate the U.S. health care system, many workers describe it as poor (27%) or fair (33%) and only a small minority rate it as excellent (3%) or very good (12%). Dissatisfaction with the health care system is focused primarily on cost: Just 17% are extremely or very satisfied with the cost of their health insurance plan, and only 15% are satisfied with the costs of health care services not covered by insurance.
Workers tend to be more favorable about their own health plans than they are about the health care system. One-half of those with health insurance coverage are extremely or very satisfied with their coverage while only 12% are not satisfied with their current health plan. Forty-five percent of workers are extremely or very satisfied with the quality of the medical care they have gotten in the past two years; 33% are somewhat satisfied; and 15% are not too (9%) or not at all (6%) satisfied. One-half of workers have experienced a health care cost increase in the past year, down from 61% in 2013. Those experiencing an increase are changing the way they use the health care system, such as trying to take better care of themselves, choosing generic drugs, or delaying going to the doctor.
Of the workers reporting cost increases in their plans in the past year, 28% have reduced their contributions to retirement plans, and 48% have reduced their contributions to other savings as a result. Workers tend to be confident that their employers and unions will continue to offer health coverage, but they are generally pessimistic about the future. Twenty-five percent of workers are extremely confident that their employers or unions will continue to offer health coverage; 38% are very confident; and 28% are somewhat confident. While 48% of workers are extremely or very confident about their ability to get the treatments they need, only 34% are confident about their ability to get needed treatments during the next 10 years, and just 29% are confident about this once they are eligible for Medicare. Forty-two percent are confident that they have enough choices about who provides their medical care, but only 31% are confident about this aspect of the health care system over the next 10 years, and just 26% are confident that they will have enough choices once they are eligible for Medicare. Thirty-two percent of workers are confident that they can afford health care without financial hardship, but this percentage decreases to 25% when they look out over the next 10 years and when they consider the Medicare years.
IRS Guide to Health Care Information Reporting
The IRS released the following Health Care Tax Tips on October 26:
If your organization is an applicable large employer, you must report information about the health care coverage you offered to your full-time employees. As an employer, its not too early to start thinking about these seven facts related to your information reporting responsibilities under the health care law.
- The health care law requires applicable-large employers (ALEs) to report information about health insurance coverage offered to its full-time employees to the IRS.
- ALEs must report information about themselves, the coverage they offered – if any – and the individuals covered under the policy.
- ALEs are required to furnish a statement to each full-time employee that includes the same information provided to the IRS by January 31, 2017.
- ALEs that file 250 or more information returns during the calendar year must file the returns electronically.
- ALEs must file Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage with the IRS annually, no later than February 28, 2017, or March 31, 2017, if filed electronically. Forms 1095-C are filed accompanied by the transmittal form, Form 1094-C.
- Self-insured employers that are applicable large employers, and therefore are also subject to the information reporting requirements for offers of employer-sponsored health insurance coverage, must combine reporting under the provisions by filing a single information return, Form 1095-C, and transmittal, Form 1094-C.
- The ACA Assurance Testing System opens November 7, 2016, for tax year 2016 testing. Software developers – including employers and issuers who passed AATS for tax year 2015 – will not have to retest for tax year 2016. The Tax Year Software Packages will be moved into Production status. New participants need to comply with test requirements for tax year 2016. For more information, see Publication 5165, Guide for Electronically Filing ACA Information Returns for Software Developers and Transmitters.
Applicable large employers can find a complete list of resources and the latest news at the Applicable Large Employer Information Center. https://www.irs.gov/affordable-care-act/employers/aca-information-center-for-applicable-large-employers-ales
Employer Premium Contributions Rose More Slowly From 2010 To 2015
Premium growth for single health insurance policies offered by employers slowed in the nation and in 33 states and the District of Columbia compared to the five years leading up to the ACA. There has been a similar slowdown in growth in the amounts employees contribute to health plan costs, according to a study by the Commonwealth Fund. Many families feel pinched by their health care costs. Despite a recent surge, income growth has not kept pace in many areas of the U.S. Employee contributions to premiums and deductibles amounted to 10.1% of U.S. median income in 2015, compared to 6.5% in 2006. These costs are higher relative to income in many southeastern and southern states, where incomes are below the national average.
Most of the conversation around health insurance costs has been focused on health plans sold through the Affordable Care Acts marketplaces, but far more Americans get their coverage through employers. In 2015, 57% of the U.S. population under age 65 had insurance through their own job or a family member’s job. In contrast, only about 10 million people are covered by a health plan purchased in the marketplaces.
Some ACA critics say that the ACA has increased the cost of health insurance, for businesses, and their workers. As evidence, they point to U.S. families being increasingly squeezed by their premiums and deductibles. The analysis finds a sustained slowdown in premium growth rates in a majority of states since the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010, likely reflecting the nationwide deceleration in health care costs. These findings also support the conclusion that the law’s employer requirements have been absorbed relatively easily by U.S. companies, including the coverage mandate for large companies, the provision that allows young adults to stay on parents’ policies, and the requirement that plans cover preventive care without cost-sharing.
But the findings also offer evidence as to why many insured Americans view their health care costs as unaffordable. While growth in employee premium contributions have slowed along with premiums, deductibles continue to proliferate and their annual growth rate exceeds premium growth by a wide margin. Compounding this trend, is that, despite a recent surge, growth in median family incomes has lagged health insurance cost growth. A particularly toxic combination is when employees have less generous health plans and lower median incomes. People with high deductibles, relative to income, are far more likely to avoid getting needed care than are those with more affordable out-of-pocket costs. For those who do get health care, large medical bills can quickly exceed assets. Continued income gains will help reduce the burden on low- and moderate-income families. But so too would innovations in health plan design that encourage, rather than dissuade, people from getting the care they need. In addition, public policy solutions, like fixing the family coverage glitch in the ACA, could address the problem of high consumer costs in private health plans. Finally, because the fundamental driver of premiums across all health insurance markets is the underlying growth rate in medical costs, ongoing system wide efforts to slow medical spending will be critical. For more information, visit http://www.commonwealthfund.org/
When It’s Worth It To Choose A Narrow Marketplace Plan
A report published in Health Affairs finds that narrow network plans on the health insurance marketplaces allow consumers to trade-off lower premiums for a more restricted choice of providers. With all else being equal, a consumer saves 6.7% of premiums, or $212 to $339 a year on a typical plan. The authors categorized network size into five groups, based on the percentage of physicians in a service area participating in the network: x-small (less than 10%), small (10%-25%), medium (25%-40%), large (40%-60%), and x-large (more than 60%).
The average network included 30% of physicians in the service area. Slightly fewer than half of the plans had small or extra-small networks while fewer than one-third had large or extra-large ones.
A plan with an extra-small network had a monthly premium that was 6.7% less than a plan with a large network. These premium differences translate to a savings of $212 annually for a 27-year-old single individual, $339 for a 50-year-old, and $692 for a young family of four. The authors didn’t find a significan’t difference in premiums among x-small, small, and medium-size networks, suggesting that very restrictive plans don’t tend to be cheaper than moderately restrictive plans.
The finding of a 6.7% reduction may not seem substantial, but it is based on the full premium, rather than the premium consumers pay after subsidies. For example, the average net premium after subsidy for a 27-year-old was $984 in 2014. Based on that amount, a $212 annual reduction in premiums translates to a 22% reduction. Thus, subsidies are likely to magnify consumers sensitivity to premium differences between plans with different size networks. If consumers in the Marketplace are fully informed about the networks tied to the plans in the Marketplace, many would still prefer the restrictions of a narrow network plan for the premiums they would save, according to the study. For more information contact Janet Weiner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why Healthcare Rate Hikes Hurt Everyone
Even people who get health benefits through work should be concerned about premiums rising 22% on public health exchanges, according to Dr. Hank Gardner, the CEO of HCMS Group. The following is a summary of his comments. The same dynamics cause costs to soar for private employers. The trend of 10% annual increases in medical costs drains compensation budgets and holds wage gains to 2%. Hidden economic incentives lead to healthcare waste. And waste accounts for 30% of healthcare spending – over-treatment by providers and unwitting over-utilization by consumers. In our current system, there are no incentives to reduce waste, and lots to increase it. Research showing how incentives shape behavior won the Nobel Prize in Economics this year for Harvard’s Oliver Hart and MIT’s Bengt Holmström. So costs climb, taking money out of everyone’s paychecks.
Encouraged by the insurance industry, many employers offer a private health exchange choice of medical plans. These typically include three to four levels of coverage, from low-premium, high-deductible policies to high-premium, low-deductible plans. People with greater health risk often pick high-premium, low-deductible plans, expecting to reap more in benefits than they pay. Additionally, in healthcare it is not uncommon for employers to face claims of $1 million or more in a year for one or more employees. Nobody has an incentive to reduce waste. This is an unsustainable system that can’t pay for itself.
Some employers have learned to realign the incentives to lower waste and cost by adopting HCMS Groups 5|50 Solution. First, they offer employees one choice. That puts the whole population from low to high risk in the same pool, paying the same premiums – and is designed to cover costs. They also use a high-deductible health plan with an employer-subsidized health savings account. That gives consumers a financial incentive to challenge over-treatment. Providing fully covered preventive care is another waste-fighting incentive. HCMS Group offers its KnovaSolutions clinical prevention service. For more information, visit http://www.hcmsgroup.com
Many Working Mothers Not Prepared to Pay Deductibles
Forty-nine percent of working mothers surveyed don’t have enough money to cover their health insurance deductible if they needed to do so today, according to a survey from Aflac and Working Mother magazine. Working mothers are often the lead decision-makers in their families when it comes to health care, yet the increasing popularity of high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) combined with stagnant wages is making it difficult for many to maintain their lifestyle when faced with a medical event. Sixty-two percent of working mothers who responded have never set aside money to save for their health insurance deductible, with 56% explaining that they don’t have extra cash on hand to save for anything. Fifty-four percent of working mothers surveyed have had to divert funds away from something else in order to pay medical expenses. Of those:
- 56% diverted funds away from family vacations.
- 49% from family activities such as date nights, sporting events,
- concerts or movies.
- 23% from children’s holiday or birthday gifts.
- 21% from children’s college funds.
This could be a result of the rise in families with HDHPs. Forty-three percent of respondents were enrolled in a health plan with a deductible of $1,000 or more. The higher the deductible, the harder it can be to pay it. Jennifer Owens, editorial director at Working Mother Media said, “This new data shows clearly the financial stress that working families are under as health insurance deductibles rise. We all know we should be saving for our retirement and our kids college funds, but the need to cover a health insurance deductible is a real concern for us, too, especially since the need to tap into our benefits can come as a surprise.”
Many employers understand the growing responsibility placed on their employees, especially mothers, and are offering resources to help mitigate financial risk when it comes to health care costs. The working mothers surveyed highlighted the following resources their employers provide to help them make better health care decisions:
- 45% Voluntary insurance.
- 35% Employer funding of health savings account (HSA) to help meet insurance deductibles.
- 33% One-on-one meetings with a benefits consultant during open enrollment.
Dental (78%), life (69%) and vision (64%) insurance are the most popular voluntary benefits among working mothers, but for those struggling to save for their deductible, it is important to also consider investing in additional voluntary products that assist in paying larger medical bills. For example, critical illness, accident and short-term disability insurance can help provide needed financial assistance if an unexpected injury or illness leaves a mother unable to work or with accumulating medical bills. To learn more about the Aflac + Working Mother Survey, visit aflac.com/workingmother or follow @aflac and @_workingmother_ on Twitter.
High Deductibles Delay Medical Care
Sixty-four percent consumers have delayed health care to avoid paying high deductibles, according to a national survey commissioned by Insurance.com. When asked about their ideal health plan preferences consumers said the following:
- 52% said low premiums and/or low deductibles were the most important factors.
- 23% said they chose their plan because of the preferred providers available in the plan.
- 13% selected breadth of services as their number one driver of choice.
- 4% chose not needing a referral, such as in a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) health plan, as what’s most important.
Consumers contribute the following to their HSAs annually:
- 38% $1,001 to $2,000
- 30% $500 to $1,000
- 14% $2,001 to $3,000
- 5% more than $3,000
Employers contribute the following to HSAs annually:
- 32% $500 and $1,000
- 31% $1,001 to $2,000
- 16% nothing
- 8% less than $500
- 3% more than $3,000
To see the full analysis, survey results, and methodology, visit:
Health Plans Often Stand in the Way of Obesity Care
Two separate studies, presented at ObesityWeek in New Orleans, demonstrates that health plans often stand in the way of obesity care. In one study, researchers from Harvard, ConscienHealth, and the Obesity Action Coalition found that most Americans don’t have health insurance that pays for the obesity care that’s recommended in evidence-based guidelines. These include dietary counseling, medical obesity treatment, and bariatric surgery. Even for people with employers that are targeting obesity in their wellness programs, more often than not, people don’t believe that their health insurance will even cover dietary counseling by a registered dietitian. Reported coverage for medical obesity treatment (43%), obesity medicines (37%), and bariatric surgery is even lower. According to research from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins, 57% of health professionals say that better insurance coverage for weight management services is important for providing better obesity care in clinical practice. Scott Kahan, director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness in Washington, DC, and a spokesman for the Obesity Society said, “While self-management strategies, such as following a commercial diet or increasing exercise, can help in some individuals, most people with obesity, especially those with severe obesity, can benefit from a comprehensive approach that includes healthcare professional support.” Joe Nadglowski, President and CEO of the Obesity Action Coalition, said, “Our members report heartbreaking struggles to obtain insurance coverage for services like bariatric surgeries and obesity medicines that are necessary to reduce and prevent the obesity from ravaging their health. Sometimes they are outright denied coverage. Sometimes they are presented with absurd hurdles that have the same effect.” Harvard Obesity Medicine Physician Fatima Cody Stanford said, “Without coverage, many people must go without good medical care for obesity. The irony is that untreated obesity leads to a host of chronic diseases – like diabetes and heart disease – that wind up costing health plans even more. The current situation makes little sense, financially or medically.” For more information, visit conscienhealth.org.
IRS Announces 2017 Pension Plan Limitations
The Internal Revenue Service announced cost-of-living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for tax year 2017. The IRS issued technical guidance detailing these items in Notice 2016-62. The income ranges for determining eligibility to make deductible contributions to traditional Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), to contribute to Roth IRAs, and to claim the savers credit all increased for 2017.
Taxpayers can deduct contributions to a traditional IRA if they meet certain conditions. If, during the year, the taxpayer or their spouse was covered by a retirement plan at work, the deduction may be reduced or phased out until it is eliminated, depending on filing status and income. (The phase-outs of the deduction don’t apply if the taxpayer and their spouse are not covered by a retirement plan at work.) Here are the phase-out ranges for 2017:
- For single taxpayers covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $62,000 to $72,000, up from $61,000 to $71,000.
- For married couples filing jointly, where the spouse making the IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $99,000 to $119,000, up from $98,000 to $118,000.
- For an IRA contributor who is not covered by a workplace retirement plan and is married to someone who is covered, the deduction is phased out if the couple’s income is between $186,000 and $196,000, up from $184,000 and $194,000.
- For a married individual filing a separate return who is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.
- The income phase-out range for taxpayers making contributions to a Roth IRA is $118,000 to $133,000 for singles and heads of household, up from $117,000 to $132,000. For married couples filing jointly, the income phase-out range is $186,000 to $196,000, up from $184,000 to $194,000. The phase-out range for a married individual filing a separate return who makes contributions to a Roth IRA is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.
- The income limit for the savers credit (also known as the retirement savings contributions credit) for low- and moderate-income workers is $62,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $61,500. $46,500 for heads of household, up from $46,125. and $31,000 for singles and married individuals filing separately, up from $30,750.
- The contribution limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal governments Thrift Savings Plan remains unchanged at $18,000.
- The catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 and over who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal governments Thrift Savings Plan remains unchanged at $6,000.
- The limit on annual contributions to an IRA remains unchanged at $5,500. The additional catch-up contribution limit for individuals aged 50 and over is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $1,000.
- Detailed description of adjusted and unchanged limitations
- Section 415 of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) provides for dollar limitations on benefits and contributions under qualified retirement plans. Section 415(d) requires that the Secretary of the Treasury annually adjust these limits for cost‑of‑living increases. Other limitations applicable to deferred compensation plans are also affected by these adjustments under Section 415. Under Section 415(d), the adjustments are to be made following adjustment procedures similar to those used to adjust benefit amounts under Section 215(i)(2)(A) of the Social Security Act.
Effective January 1, 2017, the limitation on the annual benefit under a defined benefit plan under Section 415(b)(1)(A) is increased from $210,000 to $215,000. For a participant who separated from service before January 1, 2017, the limitation for defined benefit plans under Section 415(b)(1)(B) is computed by multiplying the participants compensation limitation, as adjusted through 2016, by 1.0112.
Haven Life is offering the first quality term life insurance policy that can be purchased entirely online. When applying for Haven Term, customers get an immediate decision and coverage can begin right away. Haven Term, is available to customers up to age 65. Previously, only adults aged 18 to 45 were eligible. For more information, visit havenlife.com.
A new partnership between Colonial Life (http://www.coloniallife.com/) and EaseCentral (https://www.easecentral.com/) helps brokers deliver streamlined access to enrollment capabilities and services that can help their clients save time and money. EaseCentral is a cloud-based benefits enrollment software platform built for insurance brokers and employers. It makes it simple to set up and manage benefits, onboard new hires, stay compliant and offer employees one destination for all their human resources information. EaseCentral allows brokers to set up groups quickly using the platform’s plan and rate libraries, including state-specific age-banded rates for all major medical carriers. They’re also able to download census enrollment to speed up carrier underwriting. Both brokers and employers can quickly generate custom reports for initial binder check amounts, reconciled billing, payroll deductions, and more.
Anthem Blue Cross
Anthem Blue Cross Blue View Vision members now have access to the International Travel Solution (ITS), a service that helps members in 20 international destinations. From quick fixes like temporary glasses or getting members in contact with an eye doctor, ITS provides support and resources abroad at no cost to the member for the service. The service is available in the following 20 international locations: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Columbia, Ecuador, England, France, Germany, Hong Kong SAR, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Puerto Rico US, Spain and Switzerland. Blue View Vision members can find additional instructions on how to access ITS by logging into their account at www.anthem.com/ca