Boon Debuts New Corporate Identity To Address Simplified Solutions To A Complicated Industry

Austin, TX – September 3, 2019 – Boon debuts its new corporate identity today with the release of its new logo and website. The new brand reflects the company’s vision of being the leading provider of employee benefits for the government contracting industry.

Boon’s new corporate identity was developed to provide a more simplified and engaging presence in the marketplace. The company has moved away from The Boon Group to simply, Boon. This simplified approach, speaks to the new identity, website and the solutions Boon provides.

“Our goal was to refresh the brand in a manner that leveraged our strong brand awareness and delivered on the need for clear and concise content. The government contracting industry is complicated — providing digestible and valuable content is critical.” says Marisol Valdez, Director of Marketing. “Our new identity is fresh, modern, concise, and continues to push us ahead of our competitors.” Since 2012, Boon’s marketing efforts have gained traction by leading the brand with a clean and modern identity, in an otherwise conventional industry.

The new logo pays homage to the previous logo by incorporating the logo mark to speak to the “connect the dots” philosophy in grasping our client’s complex pain points and delivering compliant, cost-effective and competitive solutions. The new website, boongroup.com, delivers a streamlined, user-friendly experience to illustrate the unique products, services and solutions Boon offers.

“For almost 40 years Boon has been dedicated to the government contracting industry. Our goal is to continually improve the way we do business to ensure our contractor and broker clients have the best of the market at their disposal. Our rebrand is just one of many planned improvements to our delivery, programs and services we market.” says Taylor Boon, President.

Posted in compliance, cost savings, Davis-Bacon Act, employee benefits, fringe benefits, government contractors, health care, health insurance | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Price Transparency in Healthcare

What is Price Transparency and How Does it Relate to Healthcare?

Price transparency is exactly what it sounds like: a push for information on the prices of certain healthcare services to be made available to consumers. As healthcare in the U.S. becomes more and more expensive, and as patients find themselves contributing a larger share to that cost, each year, the demand for price transparency in the healthcare industry is mounting quickly.

Additionally, price transparency is widely thought of as a cure for the disease of inefficiency and inequity that plagues the healthcare industry. Some believe that price transparency will promote price competition which will hopefully promote some reduced prices and, by further extension, improve access to healthcare.

The two areas people fixate on, when discussing price transparency in healthcare, is Pharmaceuticals and Hospitals.

The Issue of Price Transparency in Healthcare

On the whole, healthcare in America is a hotly debated issue, but what are the major problems? First off, the U.S. spends twice as much on healthcare as other high-income nations, according to a recent study. Our healthcare costs are sky-high across the board – from insurers to hospitals to drug companies.

But it’s not just that our healthcare costs are high. The same study revealed that America had the worst population health outcomes and worst overall health coverage. The big concern: Are Americans really getting what they’re paying for, when it comes to healthcare?

It’s debatable whether our high healthcare expenditures are actually improving patient care and health. Variations in price, for the same procedure, can differ by thousands of dollars. That’s even true for hospitals in the same area, not just across the country. All that green has consumers seeing red.

In addition, there have recently been several high-profile cases that reveal price gouging and have turned a harsh light on what many view as arbitrary pricing in the healthcare industry. Not good. Some providers have even utilized non-disclosure agreements and “gag” clauses as a means of keeping healthcare prices opaque and hidden from the consumer.

The Public and Price Transparency, At a Glance

Here are some numbers and stats for you. Healthcare costs are expected to increase by more than 85% over the next 20 years. In 2011, national healthcare spending amounted to a whopping $2.7 trillion. If this trend persists, healthcare spending will account for 20% of the total Gross Domestic Product by 2020.

Dollars aren’t the only trend on the rise. More and more people are becoming savvy about their spending and they want more information on the cost of their care! 82% of people are making a habit out of comparing healthcare prices. 69% of people want insurance companies to disclose what they’re paying for procedures, so that consumers can understand what they’re paying for and make more informed decisions.

Price transparency does not only serve an educational purpose to consumers. Price transparency in the healthcare industry has a number of positive consequences; like the fact that it can actually lower the cost of healthcare.

Both price transparency and reference pricing have helped reduce costs in the long run. Reference pricing refers to the cost that consumers can anticipate paying for a given health service. When pricing is vague and unclear, it can inhibit the efficiency of a delivery system. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation expands on this with the claim that “Experts are convinced that significant cost containment cannot occur without widespread and sustained transparency in provider prices.”

Healthcare is one of the largest industries in the U.S., boasting total costs of $3.3 trillion in 2016. That’s about $10,348 per person per year. That number gets even more impressive once you compare healthcare costs from the past and present. As of 2016, healthcare equaled 17.9% of gross domestic product. In 1960, it only accounted for 5%. These increases mean that the cost of healthcare is eating up more and more of the American citizen’s average income.

Why is this happening?

What is causing these sky high healthcare costs? Experts place the blame in two areas:

  1. Government Policy
  2. Lifestyle

Government Policy

Though government programs like Medicare and Medicaid exist to help those without insurance, on the whole, our country relies on company-sponsored private health insurance. That doesn’t mean that those government programs didn’t have significant impact. Medicare and Medicaid cover more people and allow them to use more healthcare services.

Like with anything, once the demand increased the prices soon followed. Since then, gaining control over healthcare costs has been a tug-of-war between the government and health insurance companies. This over-reliance on corporate health insurance has driven many people to more expensive hospitals because, without a primary care physician, it was the only place they could go to for healthcare.

Lifestyle

Here are the Top 4 leading causes of death in the U.S.:

  1. Heart disease
  2. Cancer
  3. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder
  4. Stroke

What do these things have in common? They’re chronic conditions. Furthermore, they are escalated by lifestyle factors such as poor nutrition, obesity, and smoking.

The “Big 4” are often considered preventable or, at least, easily treatable if caught early on. These diseases cost, on average, an extra $7900 per patient. Five times the healthcare costs of a healthy person, annually.

What can be done to address price transparency?

One solution is to involve state governments. By giving providers and insurance personnel the tools and support to openly discuss pricing, and incentivize those providers to guide people toward reliable price information and explain varying costs across providers, we can assure peace of mind and transparency. The Catalyst for Payment Reform suggests that states combat price opacity through legislation.

Additionally, increasing frustrations with the lack of price transparency has led to local governments and advocacy groups establishing online databases and passing the legislation that applies pressure on providers to disclose prices.

The Boon Blog is your source for the latest in industry updates and all things Boon! Give us a follow and get the highlights, direct to your inbox.

You can also keep up with Boon on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

Posted in Affordable Care Act, cost savings, employee benefits, health care, health care costs, health care price transparency, health insurance, pay transparency, prescription drug prices, preventive health care, wellness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Boon Buzz: Compliance Deadlines for Quarter 3 2019

Throughout the year, employers must comply with multiple reporting and disclosure requirements that are connected with their group health plans. As with everything else, when it comes to benefits, compliance is crucial. The third quarter of 2019 is no exception and marks another chapter of requirements and deadlines.

Check out our breakdown!

1. The PCORI Fee

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute Fee (or PCORI Fee) is a fee imposed on issuers of specified health insurance policies and plan sponsors of applicable self-insured plans by the Affordable Care Act, for funding purposes. The fee is only required to be reported once a year via Form 720, by July 31.

Employers with self-insured health plans must pay the PCORI Fee. Self-insured health plans that are subject to PCORI fees include self-funded medical plans, as well as HRA’s offered in conjunction with fully insured group medical plans. If an HRA is offered with a self-insured medical plan, it is not subject to a separate PCORI fee if that HRA and medical plan have the same plan sponsor and plan year.

2. Form 5500

Employers with ERISA-covered welfare benefit plans are required to file a Form 5500, annually. As this form must be filed by the last day of the seventh month following the end of the year, July 31 is the deadline for all calendar year plans. There is an exemption to filing Form 5500 for small health plans with fewer than 100 participants that are either fully insured, unfunded, or a combination of the two.

You can check out this blog post to learn even more!

3. Medical Loss Ratio Rebates

This compliance requirement applies to employers with fully insured health plans that receive MLR rebates. Issuers must spend a minimum percentage of their premium dollars (this is the MLR) on medical and health care. If an issuer does not meet the requirement, the applicable MLR must pay rebates to the group health plan if the plan sponsor is a government contractor.  If the plan sponsor is not a government contractor then the rebate may be paid to the plan sponsor

These rebates must be provided to plan sponsors or the group health plan by September 30, following the end of the MLR reporting year, for the benefit of the employees. If you receive a rebate, be mindful of some of the rules and legalities surrounding use of the rebate; if you are a government contractor then the rebate will be sent to The Boon Group and we will deposit it in trust to provide benefits for your employees.

It’s also a general rule of thumb that plan sponsors should use the rebate within 3 months of receiving it, to avoid ERISA’s trust requirements.

You can learn more about ERISA compliance and Boon’s related administrative services by clicking here.

4. Summary Annual Report

Employers that are required to file a Form 5500 must provide participants with a summary annual report. This report contains a summary of all the information found in Form 5500. Plan administrators must provide the SAR within nine months of the close of the plan year.

For calendar plans, the deadline is Sept. 30, 2019.

For plan administrators that requested an extension to file the Form 5500, the summary annual report must be furnished within two months after the close of that extension period.

Plans that are exempt from the annual 5500 filing requirement are not required to provide a summary annual report.

Compliance is Key

Compliance is a theme that comes up over and over again, when talking benefits in 2019. At Boon, compliance is a cornerstone of our fringe benefit solutions for government contractors.

The Boon Blog is your source for the latest in industry updates and all things Boon! Give us a follow and get the highlights, direct to your inbox.

You can also keep up with Boon on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

Posted in ACA, ACA reporting, Affordable Care Act, compliance, employee benefits, employer-sponsored group health plans, ERISA, federal contractors, fringe benefits, government contractors, health insurance | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2019/2020 SCA Fringe Rates Issued

New Fringe Rates for SCA Contracts

The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor has released the new fringe rates for 2019/2020 for all contracts and contractors under the Service Contract Act.

 

Per All Agency Memorandum 230, the rate for any prevailing health and welfare fringe benefits issued under the SCA will increased to $4.54 per hour. This is a modest increase from last year’s fringe benefit rate of $4.48 per hour. The new fringe rate is effective as of July 5, 2019.

 

This information can be found on the Wage Determination and WHD websites.

Grandfathered Benefit Continues

In 2004, the WHD announced in All Agency Memorandum 197 that it would increase the fringe benefit rate for all wage determinations and retain the two different methods for determining compliance. That policy will continue this year.

Both the employee-by-employee benefit and average cost fringe benefit rates will be $4.54 per hour, up to 40 hours per week (which is $181.60 per week, or $786.93 per month). Consistent with longstanding policy, the average cost fringe benefit wage determination will be issued only contracts in which the formerly grandfathered benefit rate would have applied

 

Don’t Forget EO 13706

Executive Order 13706, Establishing Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors, requires that employers that contract with the federal government provide their employees with up to 56 hours of paid sick leave annually; this comes out to seven days paid sick leave. This rule applies to “new” government contracts entered into on or after the Executive Order’s effective date, January 1, 2017. This paid leave can also be applied to family care and any employee absences that occur as a result of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

Compliance. We got this.

At Boon, we understand that compliance is crucial and it’s our job to navigate the changing landscape so that you don’t have to. Click here to learn more about our comprehensive compliance services.

Our ability to create flexible plans that are customized to the fringe keeps you compliant and covered in the most cost-efficient way. Check out this post to learn more!

The Boon Blog is your resource for the latest in industry updates. You can also catch up with Boon on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn!

Posted in compliance, employee benefits, Executive Orders, federal contractors, fringe benefits, government contractors, paid sick leave, prevailing wage, Service Contract Act | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You Just Won Your First Government Contract. Now What?

A common question that arises when speaking with contractors around the country:

“Now that we’ve won this contract, what should we do next?”

Let’s take a look at the factors that should be considered after a successful bid to ensure a profitable contract.  An example of a typical scenario:

A new company with twenty employees receives notice that they’ve been awarded a contract on a bid submitted months ago. The pre-solicitation process and hard work is finally paying off. However, the initial excitement often leads to questions about payroll, compliance, administration and fringe rates. And that’s just the beginning!

Benefits as a Foundation for Success

How will health and welfare dollars be applied to the employees working on the contract? Good question. And it’s a question your employees will have, as well.

A top priority should be to establish a solid foundation on which a contractor or employer can grow. Second priority is to be aware of any considerations that arise within the regulations and specifications of a particular contract, such as state and local regulations. Finally, the employer or contractor should educate its employees on the benefit options being made available to them.

So, what’s the advantage to putting the fringe dollars into bona fide benefits?

By putting those additional fringe dollars toward bona fide benefits – versus simply paying cash to its employees – the contractor would receive recurring payroll savings.

Fringe dollars can be applied toward a medical benefit plan – whether that be fixed indemnity or major medical – ancillary benefits, a retirement contribution, or a combination of these options.

The unique position for the contractor is they have the option to spend those fringe dollars for bona fide benefits – depending on the contract – at its discretion, with some exceptions. It can be a win-win for the contractor and the employee. The contractor saves money, and the employee receives employer provided benefits.

How can employers lay that foundation?

Start off by establishing a precedent on how the company handles fringe dollars. Will you pay the fringe dollars out in cash or through a bona fide fringe benefit? If you offer a combination of cash, medical benefits, and retirement contributions, for example, that can result in an inconsistent message and can cause confusion with employees.

Plus, it creates additional administrative work for your team to track both cash and benefit options. It is important to make the decision, communicate it clearly to your team, and have a straightforward plan in place for managing fringe dollars.

By streamlining the process and setting clear expectations from the outset, you set the precedent with employees and staff. Offering benefits keeps your employees in the know regarding fringe dollars and saves you money — a perfect formula for growth and sustainability.

Administration, Compliance and Cost

Another key component that must be addressed with the new award is how to handle benefit administration. It takes a lot of time and energy to account for and maintain an accurate record of the hours worked by these employees, and to ensure that those details are handled in compliance with the ruling legal and local obligations and requirements.

You never know what may come up and it pays to be prepared.

Not anticipating that this amount of work might cause unexpected burdens on a contractor can be a harsh reality. We’re talking additional hours in the office, new employees to manage the workload, and meticulous tracking of employee hours.

However, as a benefit provider, The Boon Group’s product offerings include providing benefits on an hourly basis and Boon’s services are a functional component that helps you document and achieve compliance. At Boon, our partnership philosophy with our carriers and plan benefit providers position us perfectly to be a benefit to your business.

Path to Success

A contractor that understands their obligations under the specific wage determination and is aware of how different options can benefit their company is a contractor that is better equipped to win contracts.

The road to a win can sometimes be long and full of challenges. The path to success is to clearly define your game plan, this will propel that award into action for you and your employees!

The Boon Blog is your source for the latest updates in wellness, benefits, and healthcare. Be sure to give us a follow so that you don’t miss a single post!

You can also keep up with Boon on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in cost savings, Davis-Bacon Act, employee benefits, federal contractors, fringe benefits, government contractors, health care, health care costs, paid sick leave, prevailing wage, Service Contract Act | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Form 5500: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

If you’re an employer that provides benefits to your employees, staying on the up and up with the big government institutions is imperative. The Department of Labor (DOL), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), to name a few, are examples that require a host of forms to ensure compliance with their reporting requirements.

But did you know that there is a form that touches all of these agencies? The Form 5500 Series is one of the most diversely used forms that you’ll ever file. Know the ins-and-outs? Read on to find out more:

A Form 5500 is required when a plan has 100 or more employee participants or when a plan is funded through a trust (regardless of the number of participants). The form is due on the last day of the seventh month following the plan year end. However, a one-time two-and-a-half month extension can be requested when filing using Form 5558.

The Basics of Form 5500

Let’s break down the basics of Form 5500.

The form is an annual report of the information in an employee benefit plan, prepared for the use of the Department of Labor.  Under the requirements of ERISA, the form must be filed every year. Examples of plans that are subject to ERISA and, therefore, must file aForm 5500 include:

  • Profit sharing plans and 401(k) plans
  • Church pension plans that elect to be covered by ERISA
  • Individual retirement arrangements
  • Welfare benefits plans that provide benefits including medical, dental, and life insurance

To file, insured benefits are required to attach a Schedule A for each contract, other schedule attachments are required if the plan is self-funded through a trust. A “Schedule A” contains insurance information and must be filed with a Form 5500 if a pension, group health plan, or welfare plan has insurance contracts.

You may have also heard of a “Schedule C”, which contain Service Provider Information. If a service provider failed to provide information necessary for the completion of Part I, Part II must now also be completed. Part I refers to any information concerning insurance contract coverage, fees, and commissions. For Part II, you must enter the current value of the plan’s interest at year end in the contract, along with any investment and annuity contract information.

In more extreme cases, where an accountant or actuary was terminated, Part III is also required. These “Schedule C” rules do not apply to small pension and welfare plans. Determining whether you are a small or large plan filer is quite simple: If the participant count is 99 or less, you can file as a small plan. If you have 100 or more participants, you’re considered a large plan.

Form 5500 comes with some pretty steep penalties for late filers and non-filers, with some penalties going as high as $30,000 per year for non-filers, until the Form 5500 is filed.

How to File Form 5500

If the plan is considered a “funded” self-funded plan, and has 100 or more employee participants then an audit is required and must be attached to the Form 5500. A “funded” plan is one where funds are set aside in a trust fund or custodial account for the exclusive benefit of the plan participants. This keeps it separate from the general assets of the employer.

Form 5500 must be filed electronically using either a third-party software or the DOL website. The DOL, IRS, and PBGC all endeavored to develop the Form 5500 series so that employee benefit plans could satisfy the annual reporting requirements under ERISA and the IRS.

The Form 5500 series is an integral part of ERISA’s overall reporting and disclosure network. The form is widely used across agencies. The DOL utilizes it as a research tool and also as a means of gauging compliance. Federal agencies view the Form 5500 a comprehensive disclosure document for plan participants and beneficiaries, as well as a source of information and data.

Compliance. It’s what we do.

Want to learn more about staying compliant and competitive? Contact Boon!

The Boon Blog is your source for the latest updates in government contracting, benefits, and healthcare. Be sure to give us a follow so that you don’t miss a single post!

You can also keep up with Boon on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

Posted in compliance, DOL, DOL audits, employee benefits, employer-sponsored group health plans, ERISA, federal contractors, government contractors, health care, health care costs, health insurance, health insurance claims | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Health-Related Productivity Costs to Government Contractors

Offering health coverage and benefits to employees and their dependents is a major expense. In government contracting, there’s an interest in keeping costs low and bids competitive. It can be tempting for government contractors to take the required fringe and pay it out in cash but, ultimately, putting those fringe benefit dollars into healthcare for their employees can be the greatest cash saver. Lost employee productivity due to health problems can be more costly for employers.

We classify lost productivity in two ways: presenteeism and absenteeism. Absenteeism is what happens when the employee is not physically at work, while presenteeism is when poor health impacts the employee’s work quality and quantity while they are at the workplace. Did you know that employers spend two to three dollars on medical-related productivity costs for every dollar they spend on pharmacy and healthcare costs?

A study by the AdvancePCS Center for Work and Health revealed that 71% of the 29,000 employees involved in the study lost productivity time in direct relation to deficient performance of the job. Only 23% felt that they had lost productivity as a result of actual absences from work.

Here are some negative effects of presenteeism on the workforce:

  • Spending unneeded additional time on tasks
  • Decreased quality of work
  • Spreading an illness to other employees
  • Decreased work quantity
  • Impaired ability to perform at the high level

If you do not address the healthcare needs of your employees, you workplace is likely to suffer for it and bring your competitiveness in competing for contracts down.

These are examples of how some workplaces decrease health-related productivity costs:

  • Integrate your health benefit strategies with your health management and wellness initiatives.
  • Design your benefits package to support the behaviors you want to see at your organization.
  • Partner with a healthcare company that takes an innovative approach to wellness and offers resources like telemedicine and other solutions that focus on preventative care and empower our workers to take control of their health.

By this point you may be asking yourself what you can be doing now to reduce your healthcare productivity costs. Our answer? Create and maintain meaningful benefits for your employees that fit within the designated hourly fringe rate. Maximize your fringe dollars and trim down your costs by putting the fringe into healthcare benefits for your employees.

Want to learn more about staying compliant and competitive? Contact Boon!

The Boon Blog is your source for the latest updates in wellness, benefits, and healthcare. Be sure to give us a follow so that you don’t miss a single post!

You can also keep up with Boon on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

Posted in compliance, cost savings, employee benefits, employer-sponsored group health plans, federal contractors, fringe benefits, government contractors, health care, health care costs, health insurance, preventive health care, wellness | Leave a comment