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Trion Group, a Marsh & McLennan Agency, LLC Company
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Congratulations Anthony Carlozo on being nominated for HR Consultant of the Year by Delaware Valley HR Person of the Year Awards! The Delaware Valley HR Person of the Year Award was developed in 2001 to celebrate the Human Resources industry and to recognize those in the HR profession who exemplify outstanding achievement within our local human resources community.

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Did you know? 1 pint of blood can save up to 3 lives. Red Cross Donor Bus will be on-site at Trion’s King of Prussia location for our Annual Summer Blood Drive 6/14 8:30 am-2:30 pm

Is there value to employers in offering health benefits to employees? Trion's Marybeth Gray responds:

It is clear that healthcare benefits are a burning issue with the healthcare reform legislation just narrowly passing the House with just 2 votes to spare. 20 Republicans voted no, and after much pressure and last minute changes negotiated by President Trump, the US House of Representatives passed 217 to 213 the American Health Care Act. Now the Senate will take up the measure. Passage in the Senate is unclear and if a bill passes, it is likely going to be different from the House bill. If the Senate bill is different, it will require both Houses to come together to vote on a joint bill before it would be sent to the President’s desk for signature. It may be several months before the Senate is ready to vote on a bill. Meanwhile, proposed budget cuts to Medicaid made front page news this week!

What is so concerning for employers? Why is no one in our government asking why we pay so much and have little correlation with the level of quality in the US Healthcare system? Healthcare cost for most employers is second only to payroll. Employers offer health insurance for several reasons:

1. To remain competitive as an employer, to attract and retain talent to run their businesses.
2. Healthcare benefits (today) remain tax deductable to employers. This is critical within the cost analysis in helping employers offer benefits to employees.
3. Absenteeism within the disability programs have a direct correlation and employers need a healthy workforce that is present to run their businesses.

National surveys show employers remain confident they will continue to offer healthcare benefits for at least the next 5 years. With 55 million millennials in the workforce today, the importance of data and decision support tools coupled with consumerism (consumer directed health plans “CDHP”) is changing the face of “how” and “what” we offer employees today in employer-sponsored health care benefits packages.

Employers are struggling with the cost of healthcare benefits, rising pharmacy costs and the cost of new technology/tools. New resources to empower employees and their families to make better healthcare decisions are the prevailing strategy in our industry today. Some companies have even implemented strategies to lower cost and increase quality such as mandatory second opinions prior to authorizing surgery and limiting coverage for those who don't follow that process. It is clear that employers are facing more and more challenges with offering health care benefits today than ever before.

To learn more about this important issue or to speak with Marybeth Gray directly, contact her at 610-207-8985,

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Congrats Meredith Bulgarelli and Sam Pearce, GUTS (Group consulting Uncovered Tales of Success) award, celebrating and communicating Trion's accomplishments.

From Meredith and Sam's nomination:
Meredith and Sam took it upon themselves to not only enhance the CSR/AM internship, but also improve the UW internship in that they have completely revamped and massively improved the intern final project. Instead of having interns present solo on one project that each worked on, the new project takes a holistic approach that allows the interns to not only work on some real life consulting problems and see a renewal process end-to-end, but to work in teams just as we do. It will also allow the interns to get exposure to consulting colleagues other than their mentors and outside their practice. Importantly, it will expose interns to the executive team, which is crucial in their pursuit of a full time position here at Trion. This also benefits the executive team as they will get first-hand experience with the new talent being brought into the organization.

I cannot over-emphasize how impressed I am with Meredith and Sam’s vision and with the hard work they put in to make it reality. We have such creative, determined and dedicated people all over Trion working to improve things not for themselves, but for those around them.

Thank you for your efforts Meredith and Sam!

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Before you head home for the weekend, don't forget your $2 donation to Prevent Child Abuse America

Reminder: PCORI Fees Due By July 31, 2017

Employers that sponsor self-insured group health plans, including health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) should keep in mind the upcoming July 31, 2017 deadline for paying fees that fund the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). As background, PCORI was established as part of health care reform to conduct research to evaluate the effectiveness of medical treatments, procedures and strategies that treat, manage, diagnose or prevent illness or injury.
Employer plan sponsors and insurers are required to pay annual fees for a 7-year period beginning with the plan year that ended on or after October 1, 2012. Fees are due by July 31st of the calendar year following the end of the plan year to which the fee applies (or the next business day if July 31st falls on a weekend or Federal holiday). This means fees are due no later than July 31, 2017 for plan years that ended in 2016.

An insurance carrier is responsible for paying the PCORI fee on behalf of a fully insured plan and an employer sponsor is responsible for paying the fee on behalf of a self-insured plan. In addition to medical/prescription drug plans (including COBRA and retiree coverage), applicable self-insured health plans include prescription drug carve-outs, HRAs and non-excepted dental, vision, or health care FSA plans, unless integrated with another self-funded major medical plan from the same plan sponsor with the same plan year. Excepted benefits, health savings accounts (HSAs), expatriate plans, stop loss coverage, Medicare supplement policies, and most EAPs are not subject to the fee.

The amount of PCORI fees due by employer sponsors and insurers is based upon the number of covered lives (i.e., enrollees and covered dependents) under each applicable self-insured health plan or specified health insurance policy and the plan or policy year end date.

Employers that sponsor self-insured group health plans must report and pay PCORI fees using IRS Form 720, Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return, which is an existing form used for a variety of Federal excise taxes. Although it is a “quarterly” form, if an employer plan sponsor has no other excise taxes to report via Form 720, it need only file the form once per year.

Note: Because the PCORI fee is assessed on the sponsor of a self-insured plan and not on the plan itself, the fee may not be paid from plan assets. Therefore, the fee should not be included in the premium equivalent rate developed for a self-insured plan if the plan is funded entirely by employee contributions and/or employer contributions placed in a trust (including COBRA premium equivalents, which are entirely participant-paid). However, an employer’s payment of PCORI fees is tax deductible as an ordinary and necessary business expense.

Counting Methods for Self-Insured Plans
Self-insured plan sponsors may choose from four methods when determining the average number of lives covered by their plans.

Actual Count Method. Calculate the sum of the number of lives covered for each day in the plan year and then divide that sum by the number of days in the year.
Snapshot Method. Calculate the sum of the number of lives covered on one date in each quarter of the plan year (or an equal number of dates in each quarter) and then divide that number by the number of days on which a count was made. Note: Each date used for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th quarters must be within 3 days of the date in that quarter that corresponds to the date used for the 1st quarter, and all dates used must fall within the same plan year.

Snapshot Factor Method. Similar to the Snapshot Method, except the number of covered lives on each date is determined by treating those with self-only coverage as one life and those with coverage other than self-only as 2.35 lives.

Form 5500 Method. Add the number of employees covered at the beginning of the plan year to the number of employees covered at the end of the plan year, as reported on the most recently filed Form 5500. If the plan offers only self-only coverage, divide the result by 2. Note: Method cannot be used if Form 5500 is for a “wrap plan” that includes coverage other than the self-insured health coverage for which PCORI fees are due (e.g., insured medical, life, disability, etc.)

Special rule for HRAs. The plan sponsor of an HRA may treat each participant’s HRA as covering a single covered life for counting purposes, and therefore, the plan sponsor is not required to count any spouse, dependent or other beneficiary of the participant.

Self-funded health plan sponsors that have not already done so for their plan year that ended in 2016 should:

Determine which plans are subject to the fee;
Determine the method by which you will determine the average number of covered lives under the plan(s);
Gather necessary data and calculate average number of covered lives and fee amount due for the year; and
File Form 720 and remit payment to IRS no later than July 31, 2017.

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As part of the Employee Benefits Compliance Webinar Series offered through our parent organization, Marsh & McLennan Agency, Trion is pleased to invite you to Back to Basics Series - COBRA Fundamentals, an overview of COBRA's continuation requirements, including the COBRA notice and election rules.
HR Directors and Managers, CFO’s, Benefits Managers, Senior Executives
This session has been approved for 1.0 general recertification credit hour through the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI) and 1 professional development credit hour through the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

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NOW HIRING! Senior Underwriter-Consulting
The primary role of the Senior Underwriter is to work with the Account Teams, exercising discretion and independent judgment, providing financial analysis and utilizing modeling tools to evaluate benefit programs and their impact on overall business objectives, including the management and control of client risks and losses. This role includes the additional responsibility of providing guidance and mentoring to the Underwriters and Underwriting Associates.
For more details click here:

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Collectively, our employees donated over 100 hours during National Volunteer Week. Here are some at Cradles to Crayons Philadelphia, where we created Welcome Back to School cards for children entering school in the fall and sorted through bags of donated clothing, organizing them based on gender, size and clothing category.

Great job Amy Griffiths, Darlene Young, Marilyn Parsons, Lisa Suarez, Liz Mattox, Michelle Anderson, Kristen Schmitt, Chrissy Jahn, Jaymi Crowding, Catherine von Hoyer, Karey Kelly, Kimberly Seltzer and Michella Ehrhart.

IRS Announces Reduced ACA Health Plan Affordability Threshold For 2018

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced in Revenue Procedure 2017-36 that the employee contribution affordability threshold used to determine whether an individual is eligible for an Affordable Care Act (ACA) premium tax credit will decrease from 9.69% of income in 2017 to 9.56% of income in 2018. This same percentage will apply in determining whether an employer could be subject to an ACA shared responsibility (“employer mandate”) penalty for 2018.

Under the ACA, an individual is not eligible for a Marketplace premium tax credit if the individual is offered coverage under an eligible employer-sponsored plan that is “affordable”, which is defined as having a required employee contribution for self-only coverage that does not exceed the designated percent of income, based on total household income. However, because employers’ lack of information about employee household income would make planning difficult for employers, the final employer mandate regulations grant employers “safe harbor” from potential penalty on the basis of affordability if the required employee contribution for self-only coverage in the lowest-cost eligible employer-sponsored plan does not exceed the designated percent of income, based on: a) an employee’s W-2 income, b) a figure calculated using an employee’s rate of pay, or c) the mainland U.S. Federal Poverty Level for an individual.

The ACA statute set the initial affordability threshold at 9.50% for 2014 and provided a formula for annual indexing adjustments for plan years thereafter. In general, annual adjustments to the affordability threshold are based on 2-year change in per capita cost for employer-sponsored health plans, divided by 2-year change in per capita U.S. Gross Domestic Product.

Although ongoing Republican efforts to “repeal and replace” the ACA leave its future in question, for now, it is still the law of the land and employers should continue to execute their compliance plans. Accordingly, employers that are subject to the employer mandate should keep these adjusted affordability thresholds in mind as they develop their contribution strategies for the 2018 plan year.
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