Restyling & Truck Accessories - May '15

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46 Restyling & tRuck AccessoRies | May 2015 employers have not taken advantage of them as much as anticipated. "Again, I think this is due to the learning curve," Bromley says. "Employers are confused about how to calculate the tax credit. They do not see a penalty for not pro- viding insurance so it's hard for them to look further down the road." And perhaps the program's benefits need to be adjusted. "My feeling is that the tax credits were not of sufficient size, and the fact that they expire in two years doesn't help," Eastaugh says. "Maybe the carrot needs to be made bigger: Perhaps the tax credits should be 80 percent and they should go on for five years." He adds that a more generous tax credit policy might also allow employers to offer plans with lower deductibles. Private exchanges While the SHOP exchanges and its attendant tax credits are poten- tially valuable resources for smaller employers, businesses large and small can take advantage of an unexpected offshoot of the ACA: private health insurance exchanges. These are set up by private sector companies such as insurers, brokers or consultants. Like their SHOP counterparts, the private exchanges offer a variety of plans to employers and opportunities to reduce administrative overhead. Basic human resource functions (such as tracking which employees are signed up with which polices) are done auto- matically by the organization running the private exchange. But there are also differences. Private exchanges offer more choice and plan customization than SHOP. They also provide the opportunity for employers to contribute toward premiums in the form of a fixed amount rather than a percentage. That can help reduce costs as premiums rise. "Private exchanges are growing like wildfire," says Larry S. Boress, presi- dent and CEO of the Midwest Busi- ness Group on Health, a Chicago- based consortium of more than 120 employers. "Our surveys show that 40 KeePing emPloyees Well Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employer-sponsored health insur- ance plans may reward employees who participate in wellness programs with premium reductions of up to 30 percent. Such programs benefit employers in the form of healthier workers, and employees in the form of lower premiums. "I think one of the best parts of the ACA is its wellness initiative," says Adam C. Solander, an associate at the law firm of Epstein Becker Green in Washington, D.C. "Wellness programs help keep minor conditions, such as high blood pressure, from escalating into expensive problems." As valuable as wellness programs, says Solander, are the ACA's mandate that all insurance policies include prevention benefits such as regular physicals with no cost sharing. "Again, people will be able to deal with minor health issues before they become worse," he says. "Employers are starting to see that this can save a lot of money." for Health Insurance Costs

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