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Thousands of multi-employer and public employee benefit plan representatives gathered in San Diego in October for the annual International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) conference. Panelists covered dozens of topics related to employee benefits, and keynote speeches included topics such as mental health stigmas, the future of health care and the psychology of money.

Representatives from Winston attended the conference to learn about changes and trends in employee benefits. Here’s what we learned.

Preventive Care and the Opioid Crisis

One topic that frequently resurfaces is preventive health care. Focusing on maintaining wellness — as opposed to treating illness — is better for both employees and employers. One easy way to help your employees stay well is by offering flu shots. Having flu shots available on campus during the workday lets your employees take care of themselves without spending large amounts of time or money.

Another hot topic in employee benefits is the opioid crisis. The IFEBP conference offered daily panels on opioid identification, prevention, intervention and treatment. It’s important to understand the differences between opioid and alcohol addictions, the cost of therapies and treatments for opioid addiction and the crucial roles that effective intervention and therapy play in saving lives affected by the opioid crisis. Programs and benefits to aid employees affected by the crisis are in development.

Uncovering and Preventing Fraudulent Activity

Another daily panel was devoted to finding and fighting fraud and abuse in health care plans. There are three main areas to watch out for: health and pharmacy fraud, fraud related to billing errors or misclassification, and medical identity theft.

Panelists demonstrated some common schemes that have been used by providers, participants and administrative staff to game the health care system. The issue has become widespread enough that there are techniques for uncovering fraud, as well as established steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of fraudulent activity occurring in your plan.

Legislative Updates

Legislation governing employee benefits and health care is constantly in flux, especially from state to state. The IFEBP conference devoted multiple panels to upcoming and potential legislative changes, including in child health care coverage, insurance code changes and air ambulance coverage.

ACA compliance is always a hot topic. Potential changes include exemptions for contraceptives and concerns surrounding short-term and association plans. Beyond the ACA, we’re keeping tabs on HRA regulations, drug pricing, opioid lawsuits and HIPAA activities.

The best way to maintain compliance is by seeking legal counsel with your organization’s compliance officer. They can help you understand proposed changes and how they will affect your employee benefits. Changes in state legislation are particularly important to keep an eye on.

Attending the IFEBP conference was informative and rewarding. Our continuing education allows us to provide the high-quality benefits administration and support you have come to expect from Winston.

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