Aurora Reports Higher Profits, New Projects

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Milwaukee’s Aurora Health Care saw its operating income and profits rise in 2014, beating expectations. This is largely due to the Affordable Care Act’s public exchanges and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s Medicaid expansion plan. In addition, the non-profit health system recently announced plans to make significant investments in a number of health facilities throughout Wisconsin.

As Aurora CFO Gail Hanson told the Milwaukee Business Journal’s Rich Kirchen, the gains in operating income were primarily driven by its strategic approach ...

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EEOC Issues Proposed Wellness Rules

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today that it will publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on April 20 that addresses how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to employee wellness programs. To read the EEOC’s proposed rules in full, click here.

As past Mueller QAAS blog posts have detailed, the EEOC has been at odds with some employers about how incentives can be used to persuade employees to participate in wellness programs. Last ...

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Broker, Insurer Revenues Rise as Uninsured Rate and Wages Fall

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With tax day just one week away, many Americans are being reminded that 2014 was the first year they will have to pay a penalty for not having health insurance. The requirement to get health coverage is leading more and more people to sign up for health insurance and helping to reduce the rate of the uninsured. At the same time, these new customers are helping to bolster profits at the largest brokerages and insurance companies. The cost ...

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HR Awards Winners Announced!

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The Milwaukee Business Journal has announced the winners of its inaugural HR Awards!

The HR Awards program is intended to recognize the best human resources programs or practices that have had a positive impact on employees and the overall organization. In addition to receiving cash prizes provided by Mueller QAAS CEO Jim Mueller, the winners will be celebrated at an awards ceremony during MRA’s HR Conference at the Hilton City Center in Milwaukee on May 19.

Please join ...

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SPD v. SBC

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First things first, summary plan descriptions (SPD) and a summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) are NOT the same.  They serve a similar function, but are separate compliance obligations for an employer.

Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC)

As of September 23, 2012, a SBC, which is a written summary that describes the health plan’s benefits and coverages, must be given to each participant, spouse, dependent, and prospective enrollee in a group health plan.  The insurer and employer are responsible for distributing ...

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Local Carrier to Stop Paying Commission on New Business

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Assurant Health, headquartered in Milwaukee, WI, will no longer be paying agent commission on individual health insurance policies sold in Florida, Nevada, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Texas, and Pennsylvania.

Assurant claims this change is not related to the medical loss ratio requirements within the Affordable Care Act which requires insurance companies to spend 80-85% of premiums collected on claims.  This ratio includes agent compensation making it more difficult for insurance carriers to continue payments to agents with a defined profit margin.

75% of brokers ...

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Combating Mental Health Stigma

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Even though it is estimated that nearly one in five adults in the U.S. will experience a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year, there remains significant stigma around this type of health condition. In fact, a 2014 survey of employers by the Disability Management Employer Coalition found that stigma surrounding mental and behavioral health issues in the workplace has never been higher. In 2012, 7% of employer respondents believed stigma surrounding mental health disorders was ...

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10 Days until all Same-Sex Marriages Recognized by FMLA

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As announced by the U.S. Department of Labor on February 25, 2015, employers must extend benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to all legally-wed same-sex couples as of March 27, 2015. Although some employers fear the burden of additional leave requests, many multi-state employers are welcoming the uniformity provided by the new rule.

The DOL’s announcement of the new FMLA rule follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 decision that a section of the Defense of Marriage ...

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Gamification of Work and Wellness

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The concept behind “gamification,” the process of turning a typically mundane activity into an engaging game, is not new. As far back as the 1970s, management consultants have promoted “fun at work” techniques to improve employee morale, teamwork, and productivity. What is relatively new, however, is using technology to track and monitor employee behavior both on the job and away from work.

For work-related activities, web-based services such as Bunchball, Badgeville, and IActionable ...

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Public Exchange enrollment up 59% in Wisconsin

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As of February 22, a total of 207,349 Wisconsinites have enrolled in private health insurance through the public exchange, www.healthcare.gov. This total is up slightly from an estimate released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shortly after the close of the annual open enrollment period in February. The total also represents a 59% increase in enrollment over last year, when approximately 130,000 people in Wisconsin signed up on the public exchange during open enrollment.

Nearly a third ...

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