Newsroom

Shining a Spotlight On…Gary Slowik, National Sales Director

To strengthen our expertise in Commercial Group Benefits and to support continual client growth in the industry, Gary Slowik has joined ClaimLinx as our National Sales Director.  He has specialized in Group Health Benefits for over 26 years.  His experience includes being a Sales Executive for UnitedHealthcare of Ohio, Standard Insurance, John Alden Life and Colonial Life.  At UnitedHealthcare, he additionally served as a member of their Leadership Council for internal corporate guidance.

Over his years, Gary has earned numerous awards and has been recognized nationally for sales and service performance. According to Gary, ” Today’s ever changing dynamics in Group Health benefits is a challenge.  ClaimLinx offers a clear and proven solution for employers to control costs without sacrificing benefits to their employees”.

To find out more about ClaimLinx products and services, please feel free to email or call Gary at 513-677-6262.

Small Business Outlook for 2014

A recent poll by Gallup and Wells Fargo shows mixed feelings on the small business outlook for 2014. About 1/4 (23%) of small business owners have a positive outlook on the future, whereas 28% are worried about the year ahead. Nearly half feel the same as they did at the end of 2013.

The survey was conducted with over 600 employers having less than $20 million in revenue. Coincidentally, the survey’s outcome is nearly identical to one conducted two years ago.

Major concerns of small business owners include:

  • Overall strength of the economy (12%)
  • Obamacare (11%)
  • Federal government policy issues (11%)

“The reality is that small businesses are struggling to survive,” says Cap Wiley, owner of a small accounting firm in Rhode Island. Adding, “We need a consistent and dependable environment in which to operate that helps them grow and create jobs.”

Other small business challenges include finding new customers and business opportunities, and securing cash flow.

On the bright side, small business owners report having easier access to funding needed to start or expand their businesses.

You can read the full article by J.D. Harrison here.

2014 Tax Changes Checklist

Now that we have turned over a new year, you can be sure that there will be changes to the current tax laws. From health savings accounts to retirement contributions, our tax partner, Dave Toney from AccounTax, offers a checklist of tax changes to help you plan the year ahead.

Filing Season Delayed by 10 Days

Taxpayers should note that the 2014 tax season opens on Jan. 31 instead of Jan. 21, 2014, due to the government shutdown that took place in October 2013. The April 15 tax deadline is set by statute and will remain in place, although taxpayers can request an automatic six-month extension to file their tax return.

Individuals

– For 2014, more than 40 tax provisions are affected by inflation adjustments.

– For 2014, the tax rate structure, ranging from 10 to 39.6 percent, remains the same as in 2013, but tax-bracket thresholds increase for each filing status.

–  Standard deductions and the personal exemption have also been adjusted upward to reflect inflation.

“Kiddie Tax” 

This tax is applied to your child’s unearned income of more than $2,000 ( Unearned income meaning investments, such as interest, dividends and capital gains, not income from wages or self-employment). For taxable years beginning in 2014, the amount that can be used to reduce the net unearned income reported on the child’s return that is subject to the “kiddie tax,” is $1,000 (same as 2013).

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) 

In conjunction with a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP), contributions to a Health Savings Account (HSA) are used to pay current or future medical expenses of the account owner, his or her spouse, and any qualified dependent. For 2014, a qualifying HDHP must have a deductible of at least $1,250 for self-only coverage or $2,500 for family coverage (unchanged from 2013) and must limit annual out-of-pocket expenses of the beneficiary to $6,350 for self-only coverage (up $100 from 2013) and $12,700 for family coverage (up $200 from 2013).

Self-only coverage

For taxable years beginning in 2014, the term “high deductible health plan” means, for self-only coverage, a health plan that has an annual deductible that is not less than $2,200 (up $50 from 2013) and not more than $3,250 (up $50 from 2013), and under which the annual out-of-pocket expenses required to be paid (other than for premiums) for covered benefits do not exceed $4,350 (up $50 from 2013).

Family coverage

For taxable years beginning in 2014, the term “high deductible health plan” means, for family coverage, a health plan that has an annual deductible that is not less than $4,350 (up $50 from 2013) and not more than $6,550 (up $100 from 2013), and under which the annual out-of-pocket expenses required to be paid (other than for premiums) for covered benefits do not exceed $8,000 (up $150 from 2013).

AGI Limit for Deductible Medical Expenses

In 2014, the deduction threshold for deductible medical expenses remains at 10 percent (same as 2013, but up from 7.5 percent in 2012) of adjusted gross income (AGI); however, if either you or your spouse were age 65 or older as of December 31, 2013, the new 10 percent of AGI threshold will not take effect until 2017.

If you have questions about the tax changes for 2014, please contact Dave at dat.accountax@fuse.net or 513-528-5566. You can view the 2014 Tax checklist in its entirety here.

Americans are Paying More for Employer-based Insurance under Obamacare

According to Bankrate.com, 47% of Americans with employer-based health insurance say more money is being taken out of their paychecks each month for health insurance than a year ago, and 44% have higher out-of-pocket expenses. These statistics affect upper middle income families the most, and they feel hardest hit by Obamacare.

The good news is that most families who feared losing coverage resulting from the Affordable Care Act have not. “Since so much of the Obamacare conversation has focused on uninsured Americans and the government-run exchanges, it’s easy to forget most Americans – about 150 million – get their health insurance from an employer,” said Bankrate.com insurance analyst Doug Whiteman. “People covered under these plans should watch for changes and discuss with their employers how Obamacare may affect their coverage and costs.  In some cases, getting insurance through the health exchanges could be more cost-effective, so it is important to research all possibilities.”

Additional findings:

  • 52% of females with employer-based coverage report higher out-of-pocket expenses, compared to only 35% of males.
  • 48% of Americans want to repeal Obamacare, while only 38% want to keep it.
  • Americans who feel more negative about the law outnumber those feeling more positive by a two-to-one margin (31% to 15%).

The survey results come from Bankrate.com’s Health Insurance Pulse, a monthly survey that tracks how Americans are feeling about health care and their finances. You can read the survey in its entirety here.

If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact us at 513-677-6262; (800) 858-1772 or service@claimlinx.com – we would be happy to help.

US Health Spending Expected to Grow 5.8% Annually

Estimates project aggregate health care spending in the U.S. will grow at an average rate of 5.8% for 2012-2022, according to data released from the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

The increase is one percentage point faster than expected in the gross domestic product so that the health care share of the GDP in 2022 is projected to reach 19.9%, up from 17.9% in 2011.

These projections reflect a combination of factors affecting health care spending, including forecasted changes in the nation’s economy and provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

For 2013 health care spending was projected to remain under 4% because of the sluggish economic recovery, slowed growth in Medicare and Medicaid spending, and continued cost-sharing requirements for the privately insured.

But starting in 2014, growth in national health spending is expected to accelerate to 6.1 percent. The sharp rise in the coming  year is mainly due to the expanded insurance coverage as a result of the ACA, though either Medicaid or other marketplaces.

The use of medical services and goods, especially prescription drugs and physician services, among the newly insured is expected to contribute significantly to spending increases in Medicaid and private health insurance. In addition, out-of-pocket spending is expected to decline 1.5% in 2014 because of new overages and lower cost sharing for those with better coverage.

Further analysis may indicate these increases may not be cause for alarm, however. The Office of the Actuary also studied the relationship between economic growth and health spending over the past 50 years. It suggests that health spending growth is likely to accelerate once economic conditions improve markedly.

“Although projected growth is faster than in the recent past, it is still slower than the growth experienced over the long term,” Gigi Cuckler, lead author of the study, said.

To learn more about the reasons for the spending increase, read the press release provided by Health Affairs.