Preparing Your Brewery and Staff for Healthcare Open Enrollment Season

Fall and the upcoming holiday season is a busy time at your brewery. For many of you, it is also open enrollment time for employee benefits. That rolls out a barrel full of work.

The busy season makes it easy to become distracted from open enrollment preparation. We put together a few quick reminders to help you with preparation. Choose the scenario below that best fits your current situation for reminders suited to you.

We are participants in the California Craft Brewers Association’s (CCBA) Employee Benefits Trust…

If you are a CCBA Employee Benefits Trust member, you have access to many resources. The following are a few examples of the support you’ll receive for your company’s open enrollment season.

  • Communications strategy – includes a timeline and benefits communication plan that fits your workforce and culture
  • Compliance help – expert compliance assistance with benefits-related regulations and distribution of required notices
  • Administrative support – professional assistance from CCBA’s associated advisors with onsite or online employee benefits enrollment presentations or meetings
  • Technology platform –online enrollment access for employees and supporting enrollment data reporting for HR

Trust membership ensures you receive preferential rates, custom-designed packages, and full open enrollment support. Look for communication from the CCBA Trust regarding your renewal and upcoming open enrollment.

We Offer Employee Benefits, Just Not Through the CCBA Trust…

If you offer employee benefits, but are not a member of the CCBA Employee Benefits Trust, make sure you know when your plan renews. Check with the individual who handles your employee benefits for plan effective dates, premium rate renewals, and any changes to the plan.

Generally, you want to begin planning communication strategy 8-10 weeks before open enrollment starts. Ideally, your first employee communication should be four weeks before the first day of open enrollment.

While you want employees to be well-informed, there are also critical compliance issues. Missed compliance dates or requirements could result in costly penalties. The following is a brief list of requirements.

Health Reform (Affordable Care Act)

The flurry of reform activities has confused many employers. Some of the Affordable Care Act’s requirements still require your attention and include the following.

  • Employer mandate – Certain businesses must offer health insurance to at least 95% of their full-time employees – or pay a penalty. There are also minimum standards for the type of coverage and affordability. Do you know if the mandate applies to your business, and, if so, how?
  • Affordable Care Act reporting – The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is moving forward with ACA reporting forms required for the 2017 tax year. Be sure you comply with the correct forms and deadlines that apply to your business.
  • Summary of Benefits Coverage (SBC) – Typically, the insurance carrier or administrator will provide this required notice to your employees. However, depending on your administrative arrangement, the responsibility could fall on your shoulders.

Other Compliance Issues

Additional regulations may affect your employee benefits administrations.

  • Wellness program – Do you offer a wellness program to your employees? Multiple regulatory agencies have wellness program rules. Be sure you understand how the rules affect your administration.
  • Cafeteria Plan benefits – A cafeteria plan is a reimbursement plan, subject to IRS Section 125. There are different plan types (like a Flexible Spending Account) where pre-tax benefits may be used. If you have a cafeteria plan, do your communications clearly define which benefits are pre-tax or post-tax?
  • Disability claims procedures – In 2018, new disability claim procedures become effective. You will need to amend your plan documents. Insurance carriers must also add new appeals processes. Be sure to ask your insurance representative what you need to do to comply.

Of course, you can also ask for a plan and rate comparison from the CCBA Employee Benefits Trust…

We Do Not Offer Health Coverage…

Finally, if you do not currently offer health coverage to your employees, you may want to remind them about open enrollment at the federal or state insurance marketplaces. Dates for open enrollment at runs from November 1, 2017 to December 15, 2017.

Some state marketplaces extended the open enrollment period. For example, Covered California runs from November 1, 2017 to January 31, 2018.

You can ask for a no-obligation quote for coverage through the CCBA Employee Benefits Trust. Due to the purchasing power of our combined breweries, coverage may be more affordable than you think. There is still time to check it out.

Content provided by HUB International, CCBA allied trade member and partner on CCBA Employee Benefits Trust