Thursday, August 22, 2013

Happiness Comes to Those Who _____

Want to be happier? Read this article in Fast Company -- 10 Simple, Science-Backed Ways To Be Happier Today  by Belle Beth Cooper -- and practice the simple things that have been scientifically proven to lead to greater happiness. For a sneak peek and to fill in the blank, flip through the slide deck below. 

Sometimes you run across something that's just too good not to share. Thanks to Fran Melmed for pointing this article out. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

ASHA Recognized as One of Greater Washington's Healthiest Employers

We're honored to be included in the Washington Business Journals' list of the areas healthiest employers again this year. The award honors companies whose policies and initiatives promote the health and well-being of their employees. The Washington Business Journal partnered with Healthiest Employer, LLC to select the areas 50 healthiest employers. This is the third year the award has been given in our area and ASHA has been recognized each time. 

Healthiest Employer, LLC uses an online assessment tool and measures wellness programming in six key categories to select the winners -- culture and leadership commitment, foundational components, strategic planning, communication and marketing, programming and interventions, and reporting and analysis. 

They'll announce the ranking of each company during an event on Thursday, September 19. Last year we were ranked #4 in the 250-499 category. It looks like they shifted the categories a bit this year. 

I live in Reston, Virginia so I'm especially happy to see Reston Association being recognized again this year. Congratulations to all the other winners! 

2013 Honorees

(2-99) Employees

American Society of Landscape Architects
Audax Health Inc.
Corporate Network Services Inc.
Destination D.C.
Dynaxys LLC
Herren Associates
Mental Health Association of Montgomery County
Reston Association
Sigal Construction Corp.
Wellness Corporate Solutions LLC
(100-499) Employees
Airlines Reporting Corp.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Ashby Ponds
Continental Realty Corp.
IntelliDyne LLC
Nova Medical Group
Van Metre Cos.
Washington Real Estate Investment Trust
(500-1,499) Employees
Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC
CapitalSource Inc.
Choice Hotels International Inc.
City of Rockville
Crowell & Moring LLP
Duke Realty
Radio One Inc.
Unity Health Care
(1,500-4,999) Employees
CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield
The City of Alexandria
Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center
The Liaison Capitol Hill, An A finia Hotel
Lockton Cos.
MedImmune LLC
Neustar Inc.
Orbital Sciences Corp.
Ryan LLC
USI Insurance Services LLC
(5,000+) Employees
AOL Inc.
BAE Systems
Capital One Financial Corp.
Jones Lang LaSalle
Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States
Loudoun County Public Schools
Northrop Grumman Corp.
Quest Diagnostics Nichols Institute
SRA International Inc.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Health Insurance Premium Rebate Might Buy You a Cup of Coffee

Many ASHA staff received a letter from UnitedHealthcare informing us that ASHA will be receiving a rebate check. I heard some folks were pretty excited and ready to go shopping. Before you break out your credit card, you might want to read this. 

The Affordable Care Act essentially limits health insurance companies to spending no more than 15 percent of premiums on administrative costs like salaries, sales and advertising. Employers are not reviewed individually, we're lumped into a group based on our size and the state our plan is written. 

Last year, UHC collected 0.4% over this allowed amount from its' policy holders in Maryland. The Affordable Care Act requires that they refund this money by August 1 of the following year. ASHA received a check for $12,329. 

ASHA covers 87% of our premium, so 13% or $1,632 of the refund is due to employees and retirees participating in the plan. We will distribute this money by reducing employee premiums. We have 251 participants, so each participant will receive a premium credit of $6.50. In after tax dollars, that might just buy you a nice cup of coffee. 

In Q&A form:

  • Q. How much of a rebate did ASHA receive? A. 0.4% or $12,329 
  • Q. What percentage of the premium for our health insurance do staff members and retirees contribute? A. 13% 
  • Q. How much of the refund will ASHA distribute back to the staff? A. 13% or $1,632 
  • Q. How many employees (and retirees) participate in the plan? A. 251 
  • Q. How much of the refund will each participant receive? A. $6.50 
  • Q. How will this money be distributed? A. Active employees in our health plan will receive a premium credit which will reduce the amount owed for coverage. 
  • Q. When will participants receive this credit? A. In the check we receive on August 23. (Retirees will be mailed a check.) 
On the off chance you find all this fascinating and want to learn more, you can start with this information from the IRS on Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) FAQs

I heard a staff member express the expectation that our costs would not increase in 2014 if the insurance company is making so much money they have to issue refunds. Unfortunately, that's not the case at all. Our claims are very high right now and claims represent 85% of the cost of our coverage. There are also new taxes related to the Affordable Care Act going into effect in 2014 that will increase our costs. We're carefully reviewing our situation and the broader landscape and considering all the things we can do to provide affordable, comprehensive coverage to our staff, their families and our retirees. Stay tuned. 

Update 8/7/13: We had three people leave in the last pay period, so the rebates will be $6.58. Gary Dunham says that $6.58 will buy a beer during Happy Hour at That's Amore. A cold beer sure sounds good after all this hassle. I'd hate to calculate what it is actually costing ASHA to distribute this rebate.