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The Healthcare Alphabet Soup - "NO SOUP FOR YOU!"

Let's be serious, when it comes to healthcare in the workplace, there are just too many abbreviations to stay on top of them all. After reading this article whenever a healthcare related abbreviation is thrown at you, you can say "NO SOUP FOR YOU!" like your favorite Seinfeld episode as you will no longer need to play the healthcare alphabet soup game.

Healthcare Alphabet Soup

Health Benefits are confusing enough. With frequent federal and state changes and updates it can be difficult staying on top of the current abbreviations related to workplace healthcare benefits from hire to retire. It can feel like a good old fashioned game of alphabet soup. We break down the different types of healthcare benefit programs so you can say "NO SOUP FOR YOU" like your favorite Seinfeld episode next time someone references them.

What is COBRA? COBRA stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985. In short, it is a federal law that ensures that employees can maintain Healthcare coverage that they might otherwise lose after something like resigning from a job or filing for unemployment. COBRA guarantees employees the right to keep their group health care coverage for up to 18 months after leaving their job. Unless they were fired for “gross misconduct,” it generally covers any employees who were terminated. While employees are guaranteed the option of continuing on with their previous health care coverage, they have to pay for it themselves. The employer does not have to subsidize any of the payments, so employees should understand that the cost can be expensive. In order to secure COBRA coverage, employees should contact their HR department and HR is required to take the necessary steps to offer COBRA coverage. If an employer elects to take COBRA coverage, the payments will be made through either your company or through their healthcare provider. Your HR Shield Advisor can offer assistance in setting up insurance plans and managing COBRA coverage. Contact us today for more information. What is HIPAA? You may have heard the term “HIPAA Compliant” but aren’t really sure what HIPAA is or what exactly that term means.

HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which is about health insurance and the importance of privacy when it comes to medical information online. Privacy laws tend to make businesses anxious because it creates anxiety about the dangers of non-compliance. But HIPAA just exists to make personal medical information more private and inaccessible online, which is ultimately a good thing.

So who has to comply with HIPAA standards? The Privacy Rule applies to anyone who is involved with these medical records to have certain administrative, physical and technical safeguards in place that meet the standards of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. If you work in the health care industry, you most likely need to adhere to HIPAA standards, particularly if you store health information or medical records online. Basically, what this means is that your company has to be able to prove that this information is secure in a variety of ways, including:

  • Workstations and servers having up-to-date antivirus software

  • Secured Printing Stations with key card access for picking up printed documents

  • Encrypted email and messaging

  • Screen lock password for phones and tablets that access sensitive email accounts

  • Complete migration from Windows XP and other security measures.

If you have any questions about meeting compliance standards, don’t hesitate ask HR Shield for advice. We can help you implement changes to ensure that your business stays HIPAA compliant.

ACA Updates If you own a small business, you’re already aware of how the Affordable Care Act has changed the healthcare landscape in America. But what exactly do you need to know about what you need to tell your employees about Affordable Care?

You can preview the available plans and rates before you apply to get better acquainted with what your options will be or contact your HR Advisor at HR Shield to see what your best options are. It’s important to keep your employees advised of changes to their healthcare plans and options.

HSA Enrollment is Increasing

An HSA is a Health Savings Account, and more and more people are signing up for them as of late. Before now, many people weren’t signing up for HSAs because they can be confusing on top of already confusing insurance policies, but HSA enrollment has been increasing because they are a great way to get tax savings on medical expenses.

HSAs are savings accounts that cover your medical expenses. You can contribute to them throughout the year in order to have excess money to cover any planned or unforeseen medical bills. You can deduct HSA expenses from your taxes or else employer’s take contributions directly from employee’s paychecks.

For example, if you contribute $3,000/year to and HSA and have fairly average tax rates in your state, you could save up to $750 per year on your taxes. You can also earn interest on the money you put into an HSA and you can take it with you when you change jobs so you never have to worry about losing money. Employers can also make contributions on their employees’ behalf.

However, in order to contribute to an HSA, you have to be on a specific type of insurance plan which involves a High Deductible. This is usually at least $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for families. This scares people away sometimes, but the good news is that with an HSA the money continues to earn interest and act as a savings account which you can have set aside for medical expenses when you’re older.

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