Monthly Archives:
April 2018

The IRS Has Issued Another Change to 2018 HSA Contribution Limits

 

04/27/2018

 

And the saga continues—yesterday the IRS issued its second amendment this year to the 2018 health savings account (HSA) contribution limit.

After announcing in March that it would reduce the maximum amount that a family can contribute to an HSA to $6,850, due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, it has now returned to the original $6,900 contribution limit for family coverage.

What’s the big deal about $50? A Forbes.com article explains, “In the world of tax-advantaged savings accounts, excess contributions come with a price. In this case, a 6% excise tax—or $3. Really. So, taxpayers were stuck with the quandary: Do I leave the extra $50 in the account, and pay the $3 (and apply that $50 towards 2019 funding), or do I deal with pulling out the excess contribution? Enough people complained, that the IRS came up with a common-sense solution to go back to the $6,900 limit for 2018.”

The Treasury Department and the IRS determined that it is in the “best interest of sound and efficient tax administration” to allow taxpayers to treat $6,900 as their annual limitation. All other HSA/HDHP dollar limits for the calendar year 2018 remain the same, including the HSA contribution limit for single coverage for 2018, which is $3,450.

 

Want to know more about HSAs? Read our blog post with frequently asked questions about these triple-tax advantaged accounts.

What to Expect at Partner Conference Next Week

04/23/2018

by Jeff Young

 

Around the WEX Health offices, we’ve got all hands on deck to prepare for next week, when our go-to industry event Partner Conference 2018 will be held in Scottsdale, Arizona, from April 30 – May 2. Once again, we anticipate record-breaking attendance from our WEX Health Partners.

 

As our Partners, you help us connect WEX Health to more than 300,000 employers and more than 25 million consumers across the U.S. and Canada. Because you work tirelessly with us to reduce costs and simplify the business of healthcare, we’re committed to providing a superior value proposition for you in multiple ways. One of these is through Partner Conference, which gives our Partners the opportunity to come together for an intense agenda of learning, networking and celebrating. Here are some of the good things to look forward to this year:

 

A motivational keynote message will be delivered by two-time New York Times best-selling author Sally Hogshead, the creator of Fascination Advantage®, the first communication assessment that measures how others perceive you.

 

I’ll also be speaking at the conference, as will these keynote speakers:

  • Jeff Bakke, chief strategy officer, WEX Health
  • Chris Byrd, executive vice president and corporate development officer, WEX Health
  • Matt Dallahan, senior vice president, WEX Health
  • Sarah Gordon, chief strategy officer, Center for Financial Services Innovation
  • Brad Holmes, managing vice president, Gartner

 

This year’s conference will also include concurrent breakout sessions, innovation demo stage presentations, spotlight sessions, hands-on labs and partner panels. Additionally, there will be numerous networking opportunities, a sponsor expo and the annual Partner Awards dinner and program.

 

And as Partners, you will get a sneak peek of the exciting new features and functionality in the upcoming WEX Health Cloud June 2018 release, which will include user interface refreshes and mobile payments for COBRA.

 

You will also hear about upcoming WEX Health 2018 Marketing & Sales Bootcamps planned for June 12-13 in Buffalo, New York, and July 17-18 in Boston, Massachusetts.

 

Find the full agenda here.

 

We look forward to hosting you, and encourage you to share your Partner Conference 2018 experience in real time via Twitter #WEXPC2018.


Jeff Young

President, Health | WEX Inc.

Jeff joined WEX in 2014 when the company acquired Evolution1 to expand its healthcare payments business. He spearheads the company’s efforts to simplify the business of consumer-driven healthcare and is responsible for WEX’s growing healthcare business, with a focus on industry-leading technology and a strong partner network. Before joining Evolution 1 as CEO and chairman in 2008, Jeff was the vice president of business applications at Microsoft Corporation in the U.S., and prior to that, he held senior leadership positions at Great Plains Software, helping lead Great Plains through its successful IPO and eventual sale to Microsoft for more than $1 billion. A graduate of the University of Jamestown (N.D.), Jeff serves on the boards of Bell Bank in Fargo and West Fargo (N.D.) Baseball.

Must-Listen Podcast: Opportunities for Banks in the HSA Market

Must-Listen Podcast: Opportunities for Banks in the HSA Market

04/23/2018

 

It’s been only 15 years since the first health savings account (HSA) hit the market, but by the end of 2017, there were 22 million open HSAs, totaling $45.2 billion in assets. The trajectory of HSAs continues to climb rapidly: By the end of January 2018, HSA assets had risen to almost $50 billion and are expected to surpass $60 billion by 2019.

 

WEX Health sponsored the most recent episode of the ABA Banking Journal Podcast, through which two experts explore the breadth of opportunities that all banks have with HSAs, including account and revenue growth, interchange, account stickiness, and greater engagement with commercial customers.

 

We invite you to take a listen:

Our Top Takeaways from the State Healthcare IT Connect Summit

4/16/2018

by Christopher Breining and Patrick Forman

 

As part of our ongoing effort to listen to and engage with leaders in healthcare IT, WEX Health attended the 9th Annual State Healthcare IT Connect Summit in Baltimore last week. We joined more than 700 fellow attendees, including public and private sector thought leaders, to share ideas and benchmark implementation strategies for state health IT systems as they move forward with diverse health and human services transformation programs. We were recently sharing our key takeaways from the summit with colleagues and thought WEX Health Trends & Insights readers may be interested in them, too. Here are some of the most interesting things we heard:

 

1. “Health data is our data”: Don Rucker, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, delivered the opening keynote, in which he spoke about the 21st Century Cures Act and the Trump administration’s focus on interoperability. The 21st Century Cures Act, of course, has allotted more than $6 billion to federal agencies and states for research and development of healthcare and medical device innovation. Rucker stated that “health data is our data,” and asserted that information blocking can no longer be accepted. He also challenged the healthcare community from vendors to providers to work collaboratively toward developing and using “Open API’s without special effort”.

 

2. The necessity of a Medicaid-centered platform: A panel on “State Readiness for the Next Phase of Marketplace Reform” offered recommendations and best practices for engaging with the Department of Health and Human Services to design state-based coverage solutions. (That’s something WEX Health has been working with Project Poplin on as we bring our government and commercial experience together to define the open architecture for financial management to the Medicaid Enterprise.) The panel included comments from Jessica Kahn, former director of data and systems for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and emphasized that, as states explore new technology initiatives or the potential to move from the federally facilitated marketplaces (FFM), the marketplaces should start with Medicaid and then connect programs for sustainability, transitions and better health engagement. The focus was on unlocking health data to empower more informed decisions as much as it was on creating a unified marketplace and Medicaid-centered platform that would enable states’ flexibility in designing affordable programs that empower members/consumers to plan for health expenses and pay premiums. Panelists also indicated that the CMS budget allocates less money for Navigators to assist in enrollment so enrollment on FFM is expected to decline; FFM enrollment during 2018 Open Enrollment declined (-10.5 percent) while SBM enrollment increased (+1.5 percent).

Finally, the discussion turned to the use of 1332 Waivers and how the administration wants to give states flexibility with enrollment and benefit design. Panelists explained how both FFM and state-based marketplace (SBM) states should look to 1332/1115 Waiver programs and design integrated/interoperable systems between Medicaid, Marketplace and Locality so that program innovations provide 360-degree connections across populations. Systems should look to maximize Medicaid funding and use data to foster greater collaboration between State, Plan, Provider and Member. Medicaid Plans and Medicaid Buy-in on the Exchange is a direction being explored by states with SBMs.

 

3. States are open to a modular approach to Medicaid: In a session on “Integrating the Modular Medicaid Enterprise: Definitions, Expansion and Traction in the Vendor Marketplace,” panelists discussed the challenges (from the vendor perspective) of selling into a state marketplace that’s difficult for best-of-breed point solutions to penetrate. CSG Government Solutions’ Healthcare and Human Services presented the results of a survey of vendors of how best to decompose the various business processes into a truly modular solution. Financial management, per the survey results, was seen as a loosely coupled solution set. The panel talked through the interoperability demands that a modular approach will impose, and Project Poplin was mentioned as a way to define inputs and outputs for loosely coupled modules. Ultimately, the panel reflected the state community’s openness to a modular approach to Medicaid and financial management, with the key challenges being procurement and interoperability.

 

For more insights from the leaders at WEX Health, explore our Capitol Commentary video series.

 

 


Patrick Forman

Vice President of Healthcare Vertical Sales, Billing and Public Sector at WEX Health

WEX Health is an organization with a mission to simplify the business of paying for healthcare. Patrick is responsible for WEX Health growth in the State and Local government market.

 


 

Christopher Breining

Vice President of Vertical Sales, Billing and Public Sector at WEX Health

Chris Breining Vice President of Vertical Sales, Billing and Public Sector at WEX Health, a leading payments technology company in the healthcare industry.  Chris is an experienced executive with a demonstrated history of consulting and sales in the Global Public Sector focused primarily on Health, Social and Human Services as well as the financial services industry developed during his career at Oracle, Cúram Software, and IBM Watson Health.

Chris led sales of many Integrated Eligibility and State-based Exchanges during the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  Chris was global sales leader for IBM Watson Health Care Manager leveraging his 20+ years of progressive experience in the government healthcare space.  Chris brings expertise in government relations, Medicaid/Medicare/Exchange policy, MCO and ACO models, MITA, value-based purchasing, population health management, whole person-centered care, social determinants, care management and consumer engagement with the underserved and vulnerable populations to WEX Health.



3 Ways to Help Your Employees Manage Their Healthcare Expenses

3 Ways to Help Your Employees Manage Their Healthcare Expenses

03/30/2018

 

The United States now spends almost twice as much on healthcare as other advanced industrialized countries, even though just a few decades ago our healthcare spend was closely aligned to that of other countries. As a result of the rising cost of healthcare, changes to employment and benefits laws and the availability of new benefits options, the employee benefits landscape in the U.S. has also been dramatically altered. One in four Americans now report that the cost of healthcare is the biggest concern facing their family, according to a Monmouth University poll. This makes it more important than ever for employers to offer their employees the guidance and tools they need to manage their healthcare plans and costs. Here are three approaches that can be used alone or in combination:

 

  1. Educate your employees about the financial benefits of HSAs, HRAs and FSAs.

Consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) are the lowest overall cost option for employees in 65 percent of companies that offer them. They are typically paired with a triple-tax-advantaged health savings account (HSA), a health reimbursement account or a flexible spending account that allows employees to save for out-of-pocket expenses. The National Bureau of Economic Research reports that employees save an average of more than $500 per year by selecting a high-deductible health plan.

The HSA contribution limit for 2018 is $3,450 for singles and $6,850 for families, but employees just getting started with an HSA can be encouraged to save as little as one to three percent of their salaries into their HSA. By building a small amount of health savings, they won’t “feel” incremental healthcare costs as sharply and will be better prepared to handle both expected and unexpected medical expenses in the future. Want more information about HSAs and how to communicate their value to your employees? Read our blog post.

 

  1. Provide your employees with benefits-based incentives related to their health and wellness.

Incentivizing employees to take an active role in improving their poor health behaviors can reduce their health risks and subsequently their healthcare costs. One WellSteps study, for example, found that post-implementation of a corporate employee wellness program there was a dramatic difference in the cost of medical care between program participants and non-participants ($3,280 versus $6,177).

Employers can also help their employees save money by offering them benefits-based incentives for participating in a workplace wellness program. Such incentives may include lower office copays, reduced deductibles or monthly premium discounts in exchange for health risk assessment completion, participation in weight-loss or smoking cessation programs or other workplace wellness activities.

 

  1. Give your employees tools to manage and plan for their healthcare expenses.

Analytics programs such as the WEX Health Cloud Consumer Dashboard make it easy for employees to get an aggregate view of all their healthcare claims, debit card transactions, distributions and expenses. Expenses can be viewed by category, individual or provider, and employees can initiate payments for expenses including reimbursements, pay the provider and bill pay.

A corresponding mobile app also lets employees view, budget, plan, analyze and manage their healthcare-related accounts and expenses, helping them more wisely manage their healthcare spending.

Employers and HR managers who facilitate healthcare consumerism among their employees will help them save money on healthcare costs. As a result, employers stand to gain a real competitive advantage over others in their industry—a workforce that is not only easier to hire and retain but also perhaps better informed and even healthier because of the tools you’ve provided.

 

Related Posts:

Employers, These Are the Current Benefits Issues You Need to Know About

What You Need to Know About Data Security and Wearable Devices in the Workplace

Employers, This Is the Comparative Data You Should Use to Evaluate Your Benefit Plans