From Our Readers: Top Employee Benefits Topics of 2020

We can all agree that this year was surely an unusual one! The COVID-19 pandemic and public health crisis had quite an impact on the employee benefits space. As we wind down 2020, the Employee Benefits Management Group (EBMG) at Rose & Kiernan, Inc. is providing our readers with a recap on the range of resources available to inform and assist our clients and friends. Here are some of the most-read employee benefits blog posts and topics from 2020.

1. Maintaining your mental well-being during COVID-19 quarantine

Social distancing was one of TIME‘s words that defined 2020. Indeed, throughout the year, this was recommended to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Our blog post that shared tips on maintaining your mental wellbeing during COVID-19 quarantine was this year’s most read. As social distancing protocols stay in place heading into 2021, keep these five suggestions in mind and prioritize your mental well-being.

2. Fully insured plans vs. self-insured (self-funded) health plans

An article from SHRM earlier this year talked about how U.S. employers could see healthcare benefit costs jump as a result of both the spreading coronavirus and recent legislation – (the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) – requiring health plans to cover testing and related costs related to COVID-19. Based on these events, we were not surprised that our readers were interested in a blog post from last year that compares the two types of health plans.

3. The coronavirus, leave programs and legal obligations

Back in March, as the number of COVID-19 cases first rose, employers were confronted with the possibility of increased absences in the workplace. While some absences were due to illness itself, others may be precautionary measures to reduce any exposure. Therefore, we put together a series of blog posts on how these decisions handled alongside various leave programs and other legal obligations:

4. What New York state employers need to know about FMLA and Paid Family Leave (PFL)

New York state’s paid family leave (PFL) program continues to be a topic that our readers search for and want to know more about. Earlier this year, we wrote a blog post about some of the key elements and differentiators of both New York State Paid Family Leave (PFL) and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to help employers better understand both programs and how they work together. A blog post on NYS PFL FAQs continues to be popular with R&K’s blog readers.

5. Virtual benefits fairs for 2020 open enrollment

This year’s open enrollment looked very different due to COVID-19. Employers and employee benefits professionals looked at taking open enrollment fairs online for safety and to limit in-person contact. We put together a blog post sharing tips for supporting a virtual benefits fair.

6. New DOL guidance has a big impact on COBRA administration

Back in April, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01 to provide “guidance and relief” for employee benefits plans due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This notice impacts a wide range of compliance requirements and deadlines under ERISA. We wrote a blog post on one of the key considerations of this relief notice – additional time to comply with certain deadlines affecting COBRA continuation.

7. Tips for employers and employees working from home during COVID-19

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers sent their employees home to work. We put together a blog post with a checklist to help you and your employees with working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. This content is still relevant as we head into 2021 and many workplaces are still remote.

8. Cost-sharing requirements and COVID-19

Costsharing is the split of costs covered by health insurance that the consumer pays out of their own pocket. Back in March, our readers wanted to know more about requirements for New York State health insurers to waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing. Check out this blog post.

9. Notes on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) out-of-pocket (OOP) maximums and affordability limits for 2021

We always try to provide our readers with any updates to the ACA and what that would mean for employers. Back in August, the Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2021 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) went into effect. This notice provides adjustment factors that determine cost-sharing limits for the Affordable Care Act’s out-of-pocket maximums, among other things. We broke it all down in a blog post.

10. The effects of COVID-19 on 2021 benefits planning

Data from Mercer’s Global Survey #5 confirms that one-fifth of employers said they need to update their employee benefits programs to better meet employee needs. With this in mind, we put together a blog post outlining some common changes that were made for the 2021 open enrollment season. We will continue to follow the impact of COVID-19 on employee benefits and strategic benefits planning into 2021.

What topics would you like to see us talk about in 2021? Contact us here or by calling (800) 242-4433.

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