07 Aug 2018
HR & Benefits (2)

Benefits & HR Brief - August 2018

It turns out 60 percent of older employees feel discriminated against due to their age, according to a report from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

However, only 3 percent of those employees say they submitted a formal complaint about age discrimination. The EEOC report says this indicates under-reporting of the issue.

Ageism: Are Your Employees Affected?


What is Ageism?

Ageism is stereotyping and discrimination based on age, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Much like racism or sexism, ageism takes many forms. In the workplace, this kind of discrimination could mean overlooking older employees for promotions or favoring younger employees’ help on projects.

Impact in the Workplace

In addition to negatively impacting individuals’ careers, the WHO says ageism can affect employee health directly.

Conditions like high blood pressure and anxiety can be caused by age discrimination in the workplace, according to the WHO.

How to Combat It

The first step to countering ageism is examining company culture, according to the EEOC. The EEOC says company culture determines whether employees feel valued.

Another method is simply recognizing ageism and rejecting its stereotypes. For instance, if you find yourself routinely tapping younger workers, consider including older employees in tasks.

Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut way to dissolve ageist attitudes, but awareness is a good first step. If you notice these trends among employees or managers, speak up before the issue persists.


2019 HSA Limits Announced

The IRS recently announced that limits for health savings account (HSA) contributions will increase for 2019. The high deductible health plan (HDHP) maximum out-of-pocket limits will also increase for 2019. The HSA contribution limits will increase effective Jan. 1, 2019, while the HDHP limits will increase effective for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2019. Download Compliance Guide

These limits vary based on whether an individual has self-only or family coverage under an HDHP.    

Because the cost-sharing limits for HDHPs will change for 2019, employers that sponsor these plans may need to make plan design changes for plan years beginning in 2019.

Also, if an employer communicates the HSA contribution limits to employees as part of the enrollment process, these enrollment materials should be updated to reflect the increased limits that apply for 2019...Read More HERE.


Can’t We All Be Civil?

Google recently announced its new policy on civility in the workplace. The announcement came after workers reported feeling harassed in internal communication forums.

The new guidelines explain what behavior qualifies as harassment and provide clarity on acceptable communication practices.

Employer Takeaway

This situation offers an opportunity to revisit your organization’s own internal communication policies—especially if employees have already reported feeling harassed by co-workers.

However, there is a fine line between setting communication policies and infringing on employees’ other rights.



Association Health Plans Expansion

The Department of Labor (DOL) recently released a final rule that gives small businesses more freedom to join as a single group to purchase health insurance in the large group market or to self-insure. These arrangements are called association health plans (AHPs).

By forming AHPs, small employers can avoid certain Affordable Care Act (ACA) reforms that apply to the small group market. According to the DOL, this will provide small employers with more affordable health insurance options. 

However, in exchange for lower premiums, AHPs may cover fewer benefits. Most AHPs will not be subject to the ACA’s essential health benefits reform, which requires that small group plans cover a core set of items and services, like mental health care and newborn care. 

Employer Considerations

Small employers may want to consider banding together to form an AHP as a more affordable health insurance option. Employers should carefully review the AHP’s benefit design to make sure it is appropriate for their workforce. Because AHPs are regulated at the federal and state level, the availability of these plans will also depend on a state’s regulatory approach. 


The final rule allows employers to form an AHP together that is a single ERISA plan if either of the following requirements is satisfied: 

  • The employers are in the same trade, industry, line of business or profession; or
  • The employers have a principal place of business within a region that does not exceed boundaries of the same state or the same metropolitan area.

Speak with Montoya & Associates for more information.


Critical HIPAA Compliance Gaps Exposed by HHS

Over the last couple of years, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) conducted “desk audits” of 166 covered entities and 41 business associates.

These audits focused on select HIPAA privacy, security and breach notification requirements. HHS has not released its official findings from the audits yet, but it has identified serious compliance gaps in the following areas:

  • Security risk analysisiStock-815517216
  • Security risk management
  • Right of access to protected health information (PHI)

Employers that sponsor group health plans should periodically review their compliance with HIPAA rules, including whether their security analysis and risk management for electronic PHI are up to date. Employers should also watch for more guidance from HHS on these compliance requirements.



Amazon announced it will be purchasing the online pharmacy PillPack. The deal is expected to close before the end of the year. With PillPack, an online pharmacy startup that earned more than $100 million in revenue last year, Amazon is now able to enter the prescription market.

Other large mergers, like CVS-Aetna, indicate that industry giants are already trying to lower health care costs. Amazon’s latest acquisition will likely pressure the industry to continue that trend.


CLICK HERE for the Benefits & HR Brief - August 2018 DOWNLOADABLE VERSION.

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