6 Answers To Your Health Care Reform Questions

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How are health insurance rates being affected by health care reform? Now that the notices have been sent and exchanges have launched, what's next for employers? Here are six (6) answers to commonly asked questions on health care reform currently.

1. How are health insurance rates being affected by health care reform?

Currently, health insurance rates have been only modestly affected by health care reform, although this trend is not expected to continue. A 2013 survey conducted by Towers Watson reports that the average total cost of health care is projected to rise by 5.2% in 2014, while a survey by PriceWaterhouseCoopers shows an expected 6.5% increase. Most national surveys have been reporting stable costs (if not slightly lower) from 2012, and our surveys of local employers have also seen stable and slightly lower average premium increases from the last few years.
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4 Important Workplace Wellness Trends You Need to Know

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Employee wellness continues to expand and change in the workplace as organizations use wellness programs to combat rising health care costs and support the development of healthy lifestyles in their workforce. Here's an overview of the state of employee wellness, and specifically 4 important wellness trends you need to know including an analysis of employer programs and practices, incentives, return on investment and drivers of effectiveness, and new things employers are doing in the area of wellness.

1. Programs & Practices

Health and wellness program offerings are expanding in the workplace, according to a few local and national surveys.

The Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) 2013 Employee Benefits Survey shows that when compared to 2009, more employers are offering health and lifestyle coaching and onsite fitness classes. In addition, the most common wellness options in which more than half of respondents offered were wellness resources and information, wellness programs, onsite seasonal flu vaccines, wellness publications, a 24-hour nurse line, and health screening programs.
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E-Cigarettes: Implications for the Workplace

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Electronic cigarettes, otherwise known as "e-cigarettes," are becoming a hot issue in the workplace these days.

Increased usage of e-cigarettes, is leading employers to review their policies with regard to smoking in the workplace. According to Crain's Cleveland Business, the rise in usage of these devices and expected increase in demand for these devices is causing local companies in Northeast Ohio to have concerns over how to handle these devices with their employees.

Experts suggest that employers should include e-cigarettes among tobacco-use products, as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not consider them to be tobacco cessation devices, and they aren't regulated.
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3 Strategies for Managing Your Healthcare Costs

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Rising healthcare costs are consistently cited in ERC’s research as a top concern among employers in Northeast Ohio. Interestingly, data from sources ranging from local (ERC) to national (Kaiser Family Foundation) have shown more moderate percent increases in health insurance premiums in 2013. The reasons for these increases, no matter how large or small, are multi-faceted and difficult to measure, but for a glimpse at how many area organizations managing these increases, we turn to the 2013 ERC Wellness Practices Survey.

1) Empowering employees

Much like in 2011, when the Wellness Survey was last conducted, the 2013 results suggest that organizations are still largely focusing on methods of cost control that empower employees to make better decisions related to their overall health. In particular, the top two methods of cost control, “educating employees to be better health consumers” and “creating wellness programs” (both used by about two-thirds of employers) rely heavily on employees to make well informed choices. It is also worth noting that while both of these options rely heavily on employees, they also give employers the opportunity to influence and structure the various programs that fall under these categories in order to fit the organization’s workforce demographics and culture to maximize the effectiveness of the programs.
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The Importance of Vaccinations

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Unless we can eliminate vaccine-preventable disease, it is important to continue immunizing. Even if there are only a few cases of disease today, if we take away the protection given by vaccination, more and more people will become infected and will spread disease to others. Soon we will undo the progress we have made over the years.

In our mobile society, over a million people each day people travel to and from other countries, where many vaccine-preventable diseases remain relatively common. Without vaccines, epidemics of many preventable diseases could return, resulting in increased - and unnecessary - illness, disability, and death among children and adults.
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Jackie Mueckenheim Joins ERC’s Training Practice

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ERC is pleased to announce that Jackie Mueckenheim has joined ERC’s Training Practice as a Learning & Development Instructor. In this role, Jackie will partner with clients to improve overall organizational performance by helping their staff members – executive teams, managers/supervisors, and individual contributors alike – to build and strengthen core leadership, communication, and interpersonal relationship skills. Her topic areas include:

  • Leadership Development
  • Communication & Business Etiquette
  • Customer Service
  • Workplace Respect & Diversity
  • Critical Thinking
  • Business Writing

Jackie has over 23 years experience in developing, designing, and facilitating workshops and seminars, executive retreats, and strategic planning initiatives for corporate, nonprofit, and academic groups.
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10 Things Successful Supervisors Do Differently

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how to be an effective supervisor how to be a supervisor becoming a supervisor 10 Things Successful Supervisors Do Differently

We've all had good supervisors and bad ones, and chances are we remember the characteristics of both pretty vividly. The good ones probably stick out as people who have made a positive impact on our work lives and who made us more successful in our careers. The bad ones probably showed us the type of supervisors that we don't want to be and the mistakes we don't want to make.

Outstanding supervisors can create a profound ripple effect in their organizations. Their behavior, integrity, and treatment rubs off on others for the better. Not only do supervisors directly impact their team members, but they indirectly affect others. The people they supervise and manage frequently move on to lead others, often in a way that emulates how they were supervised.

Here are ten things that successful supervisors do differently.
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Government Shutdown: What Employers Need to Know About E-Verify

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The government shutdown has resulted in not only the suspension of E-Verify, but also the temporary closure and reduced capacity of many key employment-related agencies on which organizations rely.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will remain open, however, E-Verify has been suspended until the shutdown culminates. Employers will be unable to access E-Verify accounts, but while E-Verify is shutdown, the I-9 process should continue as usual, and employers must still complete the I-9 by no later than the third business day after an employee starts work. But, employers will not need to verify all new hires within three days of hire during the shutdown.
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10 Employment Laws that Supervisors Need to Know

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10 Employment Laws that Supervisors Need to Know

Supervisors and managers have a shared responsibility with HR in making sure that their interactions and relations with employees are compliant with federal and state employment laws. Here are ten (10) of the most important employment laws that supervisors need to be aware of and the major responsibilities that supervisors typically are responsible for in ensuring compliance.

1. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

Purpose:

To prohibit job discrimination in the workplace

Overview:

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act covers an employer who has fifteen (15) or more employees and prohibits discrimination against any individual on the bases of race, religion, color, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), sexual orientation, parental status, national origin, age, disability, family medical history or genetic information, political affiliation, military service, or any other non-merit based factor. The law also protects individuals from harassment in the workplace.

Supervisor Responsibilities:  

Supervisors must treat all employees and applicants consistently and equally, without regard to their race, color, religion, gender, national origin or any other characteristics that are protected under law. Supervisors are not to base any employment decisions on these protected characteristics, cannot deny opportunities to an individual because of their characteristics, and cannot retaliate against an employee. Supervisors are to treat all employees respectfully and avoid unwanted/unwelcomed behavior that constitutes harassment.
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Health Care Exchanges Launched Oct. 1

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Health Care Exchanges Launched October 1; Government Shutdown Doesn’t Stop Implementation

October 1, marked the launch of the federal and state health insurance exchanges under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The exchanges are now live for individuals. Employers should be aware of the following important updates:

  1. The government shutdown is not affecting the launch of the health insurance exchanges.
  2. The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) will be delayed until November.
  3. The effective date of coverage will be January 1, 2014 for those small business employers (with fewer than 50 employees) and employees who enroll in the exchanges by December 15th, however, small business employers and employees can enroll in the exchanges by March 31st to receive coverage in 2014.
  4. Organizations subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) were required to provide all employees notices describing the health care exchanges by today, October 1, however the Department of Labor (DOL) said that no penalty will be imposed on employers that fail to provide exchange notices to employees.
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