QSEHRA Revives Employer Payment Plans For 2017

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On December 13, 2016, President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act into law. Called “the most important bill of the year,” the bipartisan Act makes changes to a wide range of healthcare issues. These include allocating billions for cancer research, easing the FDA drug approval process, and allowing doctors to test medical devices without a patient’s informed consent in certain situations. One item that will be of interest to finance and human resource professionals at small employers ...

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Madison area providers explore partnerships

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Two health systems and their affiliated insurance companies are exploring a strategic partnership in Wisconsin. This is yet another example of the trend of consolidation among health care providers and insurance companies.

UW Health and UnityPoint Health announced two non-binding letters of intent regarding a future joint operating agreement last month. One letter describes a plan to “create an integrated clinical enterprise with a shared strategic direction.” The second letter describes a possible combination of ...

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DOL proposes changes to Form 5500

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The U.S. Department of Labor plans to revise Form 5500 to require insurers and health plans to report more information. The proposed changes focus on five broad goals: modernizing financial reporting, providing greater information regarding group health plans, enhancing data mineability, improving service provider fee information, and enhancing compliance with ERISA and the tax code. One element that is sure to attract the attention of smaller employers is a proposal to eliminate the exemption ...

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Carrier megamerger now in doubt

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Eleven months ago four of the country’s largest health insurance companies announced two merger plans to consolidate in what would be among the largest transactions in U.S. history. In early July 2015, Aetna agreed to purchase Humana for more than $37 billion. Later that month, Anthem agreed to purchase Cigna for more than $54 billion.

The merger agreements must be approved by state insurance officials and federal anti-trust regulators. ...

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Study finds Wisconsin has high healthcare prices

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A study released this month by the nonprofit Health Care Cost Institute found that Wisconsin has the second highest healthcare prices among the 41 states it surveyed. The study was based on claims data from UnitedHealthcare, Aetna, and Humana, which the Institute said represents 34% of total commercial claims in Wisconsin. The study found that prices in Wisconsin for over 200 common medical services were on average 81% higher than the national average, and that the ...

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New Provider-Carrier Partnerships Expand Across Wisconsin

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The first four months of 2016 have already seen three new partnerships announced between Wisconsin health systems and insurance companies. Looking down the road, it appears that provider-led health plans may soon become a major force in Wisconsin health insurance.

In January, Aspirus and WPS Health Solutions announced that they are forming a new health insurance company in north-central Wisconsin that will be called Aspirus Arise Health Plan of Wisconsin. In April, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue ...

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Drug Costs Continue To Rise

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Although the rate at which overall health costs are rising is historically low, employers, experts, and politicians are expressing alarm at the rising cost of prescription drugs. According to a recent Aon analysis, the average health care rate increase for mid-size and large companies in 2015 was 3.2%. Prescription drug costs, however, jumped by 10% last year according to a report by Truveris that was publicized by the Business Health Care Group.

In general, hospital expenses account ...

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ThedaCare to Leave Network Health

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ThedaCare announced last week that it will leave Network Health on December 31, 2016. The Appleton-based health system first informed the Menasha-based health insurer last month that it would not continue the five year partnership that was due to expire at the end of July. The new extension will give Network Health employer groups and members extra time to adapt to the change, but will still result in significant disruption in the Northeast Wisconsin health insurance market.

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ACA Reporting Deadlines Delayed

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Yesterday the IRS released Notice 2016-4, which delays the ACA reporting due dates for both furnishing forms to individuals and filing forms with the IRS. This is welcome news to many employers who are scrambling to complete their first effort at reporting, which must cover the 2015 plan year.

The delay gives employers an extra two months to furnish forms to individuals by changing the deadline from February 1, 2016 to March 31, 2016. Employers have an extra three months ...

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Spending deal would delay Cadillac Tax

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Earlier this month, the Senate approved a bill to repeal many core elements of Obamacare, including the “Cadillac tax” on high cost health plans. At the time the vote was seen as a symbolic act because the bill’s supporters lacked the votes necessary to overcome President Obama’s veto. Although Senate Democrats are opposed to repealing the President’s health reform law, there is bi-partisan support for modifying, delaying, or eliminating the Cadillac tax. Under a Continue Reading →

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