March Madness has begun. Is the same true for your office pool? Have brackets been circulated encouraging both the avid and casual sport enthusiastic to predict the ultimate winners. Even Warren Buffet has gotten into the act with his offer to give $1 billion for a perfect March Madness bracket.
Betting on the games – it’s all good fun and great for office morale, right? But is it really?
Gambling – and yes, office pools are gambling – is illegal in 38 states. In a number of those states, it can actually result in felony charges.
If it doesn’t elevate to the point of legal action, what harm might that “harmless” office pool being doing? The answer might surprise you.
Safety and production are too often adversarial. Production supervisors jealously guard their turf. The safety department is perceived as an invasive weed that makes production less efficient.
In some industrial and construction atmospheres safety and production are like Republicans and democrats, union and non-union, or the Yankees and any other baseball team.
In my 40 years in the safety field I have witnessed this type of competition/behavior in many companies. In my role as a safety consultant I have experienced the receiving end of this behavior.
Affordability under the health care reform means that an employee’s portion of the monthly health insurance premium cannot exceed 9.5% of the employee’s total household income. Alternatively, it means that the employee’s share of the monthly health insurance premium does not exceed 40% of the total health insurance premium, the other portion being paid by the employer.
Many experiences with the ACA and the health care exchanges are beginning to pour in and be seen in testimonials on the cable TV news shows. A few things jump out. First, premiums on www.healthcare.gov are relatively low, although they have gone up in absolute terms compared to premiums prior to January 1. Consumers who buy health insurance over the Exchanges pay less premium for more things, but at the cost of significantly higher out-of-pocket costs. Let’s look at the deductible, which is the first part of a health plan that must be paid by the consumer before any insurance starts to cover medical bills. Deductibles on the Exchanges are at astronomical levels. That’s how insurance companies, in part, get to charge relatively lower monthly premiums.
We have so much technology at our fingertips today. We can read and respond to news faster than ever. As an insurance broker, this allows you to offer value added services to your clients. Facebook, LinkedIn, and email offer ways to network and connect but at what cost?
These communication tools are part of today’s world. But an awesome email response time or fun iPhone app doesn’t sell products or services. . Clients buy from you because of the value you bring to their company. And, the most important part of that value is the rapport and trust you have developed with your client.
A recent Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index survey tells us that while still below pre-recession level, employer optimism score is the highest since the third quarter of 2008. This translates into a forecasted up click in hiring in 2014. This is good news!
Being in a position to add employees is a real plus. However, we must remember that the recruitment/hiring process – if not done well – can lead to a legal land mine. All EEOC complaints are costly to the employer. Even if you are 100% in the right, legal fees begin to add up from day one of the complaint. A few reminders can help secure the talent you need and avoid costly missteps.
Last year employers did not see a slew of new employee benefit laws, although there were a few. What we did see was a burgeoning body of regulations affecting various employee benefits and the effects of health care reform on existing health and welfare benefits.
This Smartcast will provide details on various legislative enactments, new and changed regulatory rules and new court cases that are tantamount to new legislation as the common law trail ever expands. To get our arms around this large topic, we will limit our presentation to legislative matters from 2013.
What you will learn:
- Examination and impact of new FMLA regulations
- Examination and impact of changed FSA rules
- Examination and impact of changes to ERISA rules
- Examination and impact of changes to Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act
- Examination and impact of June, 2013 SCOTUS rulings on DOMA and domestic partner issues in general, and more.
Register today for one of our free webinars on Tuesday, February 18 at 10:00 AM (CST) or 1:00 PM (CST).
This posting looks at murky new ACA liabilities for your benefits agency. These potential liabilities lie with insurance protection coverage that you may need. Hint: Walk wary with the terms you use in advising on the ACA or buy more insurance and take your chances.
The dust settles ever slowly and clarity emerges around the far-reaching impact of the ACA. Put a review of your commercial insurance on the docket. Look at lines that cover you, your producers and your benefits agency in the health benefit sales process.
Words Have Meaning
Producers and their agencies must tread carefully with words used in advising clients on the ACA. Courts have ruled that some D&O policies do not cover terms like “professional services.” Here is another potential no-no – use of the word “expert” or “specialist” as an ACA adviser. Using these terms in a sale raise the stakes of legal liability for agency owners. Have you or other producers in your agency passed a legitimate certification process or other testing program to use those titles? Common sense says those titles may be questioned hard when attorneys get involved and an E&O or D&O claim arises.
In my household when it comes to dinner time, we often have a debate about which Mexican place we want to go to: Taco Bell or Qdoba. My fiancé loves a deal, and he loves Taco Bell. He enjoys getting a big meal for an affordable amount. Me? I prefer Qdoba; sure I am dropping $8 on one burrito but I feel I get a better quality of food and therefore my satisfaction level is higher as well. At Taco Bell we can both eat dinner for $10 but I won’t feel satisfied. I’d rather spend the $17 at Qdoba and feel full for the rest of the evening.
I prefer to take the same approach with sales. Sure it’s fun to do a demo and flash some goods, but I have found it is more productive to not only show the client features but to elaborate on how they are helpful. Investing a little more in a well rounded presentation will leave your audience more satisfied.
Were you waiting for the other shoe to drop with the Affordable Care Act? It did today with the announcement by the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate on the effect of the ACA on jobs. They hullabaloo about employers cutting the long-held standard 40-hour workweek to beat costs of the ACA has now hit the fan. According to the CBO, those lost work hours due to the ACA will amount to job losses equivalent to more than two million jobs by 2017. Previous reports from the CBO estimated job losses due to the ACA at approximately 800,000 jobs.
Total hours worked will drop as much as 2% from 2017 to 2024 because of the ACA. A strange irony in this politically-charged drama is that the CBO expects less work hours to fall almost entirely on low-wage employees, a group that the ACA was designed, in large part, to help.
Today’s CBO report is one more piece of bad news for the President’s troubled signature legislation that continues to spew a negative narrative and bad public relations.