With the news changing so quickly every day, every hour even, we decided to start a discussion-based webinar series that tackles the latest topics and questions you may be having in in these trying times.
We wanted to create a space for HR/benefits professionals to be able to ask us anything and have a sounding board to help develop strategies for moving forward.
The first discussion in our Freshly Brewed series on Wednesday, April 8, tackled offboarding questions with two of our experts, Bruce Gillis, Compliance Lead, and Sherri Bockhorst, SVP of Innovation and Strategy. Here are some highlights.
What are other employers doing? Furloughs? Terminations? Other?
We’ve been seeing a wide array of all of the above. More employers are furloughing employees than in the 2008 economic downturn. A few questions to keep in mind when furloughing employees:
- What are your collectively bargained obligations?
- What about your obligations to carriers?
- What do you need to do to include a furloughed population in your plan?
- What guidance has your state offered to you in regard to furloughing employees?
How can I best take care of my affected employees?
Communication is going to be key to help your employees through this difficult time. Many will be confused about their options for benefits and medical coverage if they are let go. Furloughed employees may be confused about what that means for them and their families. Additionally, employers may see an uptick in dependent verifications as spouses of employees lose their coverage. The more you can communicate the better!
In regard to benefits continuation support, there is never a one-size-fits-all solution. There are multiple options available to employers, but we must stress not to assume one solution will make sense for all your employees. Here are a few options to keep in mind.
- COBRA – the most recognizable option for employees, COBRA is a great option to those that have reached their deductible or out-of-pocket maximum. Although it is important to note, COBRA was put in place to be limited to a specific time period, a stop gap until the employee could get another job. We are in a unique situation where the future of employment is vastly unknown. Since COBRA can be on the higher end of the expense spectrum for employees, it’s important for employers to communicate the long-term consequences of not being able to afford COBRA over a longer period of time. Especially if the employer is offering a subsidy and COBRA appears to be the least expensive option with that subsidy. If employees miss the 60-day window to enroll in the public market, they will have limited options for medical coverage.
- Individual Insured Coverage ACA plans – great longer-term option for employees who have been offboarded. The key here is communicating with employees that they have a 60-day window to sign up for an individual plan. It’s also important to note that failure to pay a COBRA premium is not a qualifying event to get coverage on the public market. If they miss their window, they can’t enroll in these plans.
- Post-employment HRA – instead of offering a COBRA subsidy, employers could consider funding a post-employment HRA for employees to use to buy coverage in the public or private marketplaces.
- Short-term limited duration plans – These plans have very limited coverage and can leave employees at risk if they have a medical emergency. That is why communication is key so that employees can either elect COBRA or get the right coverage with an individual plan on the public or a private marketplace.
If you’d like to hear the entire conversation you can listen to the on-demand webinar here. Or, sign up to join our next discussion topic surrounding communication. Register below.