Posts Tagged ‘employers’

Slower Growth in Healthcare Spending: Will Employers See Improved Medical Renewals as a Result?

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

The post below is a guest blog from Mike Beck, GBA who serves as Principal, Health & Welfare Consultant  for CAI’s employee benefits partner, HCW Employee Benefit Services.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers recently released the results of their 2013 PwC Health Research Institute report.  The report finds that the expected increase in cost of medical services also known as “medical trend” is expected to be 7.5% which is consistent with 2012 figures.  Medical trend is a primary metric in helping insurers and employers estimate future plan costs.

According to PwC, four factors lowering or “deflating” trend include:

  1. Reduced costs of medical supplies and equipment cost being driven by market competition over the past two years;
  2. Alternative forms of primary care such convenience clinics and telemedicine ;
  3. Initiatives by many states to enforce price transparency of insurers;
  4. More brand name drugs coming off patent which are resulting in lower cost generic alternatives.

Two factors responsible for an uptick in trend is an expected increase in healthcare services utilization.  Most experts believe as the American economy turns around we will see increased healthcare utilization due to a pent up demand of care that has been put off during the recession.  Additionally, medical advances are resulting in costlier treatments and doctors are now able to prolong life and treat diseases more effectively with new and improved techniques that come with a high price tag.

While each employer groups circumstances are unique, in general, the premium increases being passed on by insurers in 2012 seem to be more favorable than the past two years.  The slower spending nationally for healthcare services has been reflected in the decreased utilization in services, which translates into lower claims costs.  An additional wild card in the mix is the highly competitive landscape between the large commercial carriers.  The majority of health insurers are working very hard to grow their market share heading into 2014.  The result of this has been competitive pricing and competitive renewals in many cases.

It is important to understand how medical trend directly impacts your renewal and what trend your specific carrier is utilizing.  More importantly, employers should continue to work as aggressively as possible to manage their costs through a combination of plan design, wellness, incentives and communication. That’s exactly what we help our clients do at Hill, Chesson & Woody – contact us today to help your business contain costs.

Informative, Engaging and Entertaining: CAI’s 2011 Employment and Labor Law Update Conference

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Three hundred and seventy-two executives and HR professionals traveled to the McKimmon Center in Raleigh on May 17 and May 18 to attend CAI’s 2011 Employment and Labor Law Update Conference. CAI’s annual two-day event is designed to inform employers on the challenging and ever-changing legislative and regulatory environment companies are up against.

During the conference, lawyers from Ogletree Deakins and CAI staff members updated conference attendees on pertinent information ranging from a variety of topics, including health reform, NLRB changes and tips for creating effective company documents.

First-time conference goers, like Joan Inman, human resources director of SouthData, explored the 2011 conference to get professional expertise and vital information related to employers’ issues.

“I’m just seeking knowledge, and I want well-informed people telling me what I need to know,” Joan said on why she attended.

Each year CAI works with Ogletree Deakins to develop educational and engaging program sessions for the attendees. Those participating at the conference also receive notebooks packed with PowerPoint slides, white papers and several case studies that all further explain recent legal changes. Not only are the legal and regulatory updates a huge draw for conference attendees, but HR professionals like Yolanda Dejesus, director of human resources for the Office of Strategy and HR at AICPA, said the conference is “well worth the value” because of the information provided and the opportunity to network with others, including attorneys and company leaders from the Triangle, Triad and Eastern North Carolina.

“[CAI] always has great training and conferences. I always learn something new,” said Erika Koteff, HR manager at District Distributors when asked about the updates supplied at the conference.

Participants also have the opportunity to receive legal counsel on their own employment issues during the conference’s panel discussion. Featuring lawyers and HR specialists, the panel gives expert solutions to questions raised by audience members. Popular topics addressed during this year’s session included questions about FMLA guidelines and staying compliant with government instructions regarding I-9s.

Entertaining the audience members was a must at this year’s conference as well, and during the lively Wild and Wacky Cases session, guests learned about unbelievable cases that occurred in 2010. This year, the popular session highlighted information on crazy bathroom break policies, jaw-dropping workplace fraternizing and outlandish professional dress. Another fun and highly interactive part of the conference was the trivia game. Once the final informative session ended, Matt Keen of Ogletree Deakins asked participants to test their knowledge on the information presented at the conference by using electronic devices to answer the game’s yes or no questions.

The 2011 conference evaluations revealed that attendees found this year’s topics relevant and applicable to the many issues they are facing in their HR departments. CAI members, such as the Director of HR at Haven House Jennifer Boyler, return to the conference every year to stay up to date on news affecting employers.

“It’s a can’t-be-missed conference,” she said when describing the valuable event.

Please see the Employment and Labor Law Update web page at http://www.capital.org/lawupdate for additional information on the topics covered.  The 2012 conference will take place on May 2 and May 3 at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh.

An Analysis of Our Social Media in the Workplace Survey

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

From July 29 through Aug. 29, 2010, CAI conducted a survey on “Social Media in the Workplace” with 227 member organizations. The results have been compiled and include some of the following observations:

  • Social media policies in member organizations vary widely. While 24 percent have formal policies in place, 33 percent have only guidelines and 43 percent have none.
  • Depending on job role, 41 percent allow employees to access social media during work hours. Fewer (25 percent) allow access regardless of job role, while 35 percent do not allow access at all.

  • More than a third of respondents reported obstacles to using social media in their organizations. They included lack of policies or guidelines in place (47 percent); impact on employee productivity (46 percent); concern about legal issues (46 percent); and lack of knowledge in using tools (44 percent).
  • Nearly half of all organizations surveyed use social media for networking/relationship building and branding/marketing. Another 20 percent are considering using social media for these initiatives.
  • Some 30 to 41 percent use social media for external communication, reaching new customers, recruiting and sales.
  • A large majority (84 percent) of organizations believe their use of social media for business purposes will increase over the next one to three years.

The results indicate that while most respondents believe social media will be part of the business world in the near future, if not already in their current activities, they are not necessarily setting any guidelines or policy on its use. Legal experts are warning that an absence of such rules can result in  situations of employees using social media that put employers at risk, including:

  • Revealing confidential or proprietary information via social media that can be viewed by millions.
  • Making discriminatory or other critical comments regarding the company, its employees and/or its clients.
  • Promoting the company’s services or products without disclosing the employment relationship.

CAI can provide your company with guidelines in developing a social media policy that satisfies any goals you and your organization have regarding using social media effectively for recruiting, sales and/or networking while providing you with adequate legal coverage for employees who abuse the privilege.

For information on how to create this policy or to discuss related issues to this item, including more survey results, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo Source: Liako

Is Massachusetts Law Banning Criminal History Questions on Applications a Trend?

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

A new law that takes effect in Massachusetts Nov. 4 prohibits employers in that state from asking any criminal history questions on their initial application forms. However, it does not prevent employers from asking certain criminal history questions during an interview, requiring applicants to complete a criminal history questionnaire after an interview or performing a criminal background check on applicants.

The theory is that the law will put applicants with criminal histories on equal footing with other candidates so that such applicants will now have a chance to explain their criminal histories in person during an interview. The state is the second to do what has been called “ban the box,” prohibiting both public and private employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history until after a conditional offer of employment has been made. Hawaii was the first in 1998.

In 2009, Minnesota enacted similar “ban-the-box” legislation proscribing public employers from asking a job applicant about criminal records or conducting a criminal record check until after an applicant has been selected for an interview. New Mexico and Connecticut followed in 2010, passing comparable legislation applicable to public employers, but as with Minnesota’s law, private ones are exempt.

While no such “ban the box” law has been proposed in the North Carolina General Assembly yet, the legislation has passed in the legislatures of California, Connecticut, New Mexico and New Jersey to apply for state employers only. It was not passed in Maryland and postponed in Nebraska.

Even though Hawaii is the only state with long enough experience with the law to measure its impact on the employment and recidivism of ex-offenders, such a study has not occurred to date. Therefore it is hard to conclude at this point the impact this law would have if it took effect on private employers in North Carolina.

It is known that as far as Massachusetts is involved, one legal firm specializing in labor, employment and benefits says the law creates new obligations for private employers with respect to the state’s Criminal Offender Record Information, CORI, record-keeping policies and procedures while it protects employers from liability surrounding the use of CORI records in making hiring decisions. These recommendations could of course vary greatly depending what form if any kind of “ban the box” law passes in North Carolina.

For additional information on this issue, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo Source: Armigeress