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Benefits

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In the Dark
Although storing and sharing important information about benefits spending has become easier and more affordable through cloud technology, a new survey finds benefit managers at global companies remain in the dark about employee-benefit spending regarding core insurance plans.
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Class Appeal
Although Starbucks is getting a lot of attention for the new tuition-assistance program it offers employees, at least one other company offers even-more-generous educational benefits.
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Same-Sex Benefits
Don't look now, but same-sex benefits just went from "cutting edge" to "needed yesterday." As a result, employers across the country must make immediate -- and in some cases, retroactive -- changes on a number of fronts, including tax withholding and eligibility for employee benefits.
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There's More to Wellness Program ROI than Medical-Cost Savings
The value conversation about wellness programs needs to encompass factors beyond medical savings, driving the health-management industry to find new ways to show employers the return on investment.
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What's Missing from Health and Wellness Programs?
Employees may be participating, but are they really engaged? Are they just going along to get the incentive? Many programs offer information and guidance, but not the kind of help employees really need to make lasting, healthy changes.
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More Than Money?
New reports highlight the need for HR leaders to shift their thinking on how to gauge return on investment for wellness programs.
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Employer, Can You Spare a Dime?
With the ongoing credit crunch, many employees are finding it hard to get short-term loans. But employers that are considering filling that void via workplace loans should tread carefully, experts caution.
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Private-Exchange Impact
For now, private healthcare exchanges are a blip on the employer-provided healthcare screen, but, within the next few years, that could change dramatically. And employers should pay attention.
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Helping at Home
With the recent rise in the number of children diagnosed with some form of autism, an increasing number of employees now face overwhelming challenges at home. But experts say employers can -- and should -- help their workers who care for special-needs children to better balance home life and work life.
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The Flexibility Bias
A new study shows workplace bias against those who use flexible-work arrangements -- often for child-care needs -- may increase employee dissatisfaction even among those who don't have children. But can HR help to eradicate such bias within an organization?
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Taking a New Route
After California recently enacted a law mandating that larger employers in San Francisco offer commuter benefits, legal experts say other metro areas may not be far behind.
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Financial Wellness as Recruiting Tool
If healthcare coverage is no longer dependent on one's job status or place of work -- thanks to the Affordable Care Act -- how can businesses establish a competitive edge in the benefits arena?
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HBLC Opens in Vegas
From a history lesson on the origins of employee benefits to updates on how Washington's latest legislative efforts involving the Affordable Care Act may affect both employers and employees, the opening day of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference offered something for everyone.
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Mobility and the ACA
With the individual and employer mandates approaching, new concerns are emerging around the healthcare-reform law's potential impact on globally mobile workers and their organizations.
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EAPs Not Covered By ACA Umbrella
At least through the end of the year, many employee-assistance programs are now considered exempt from regulations under the Affordable Care Act, thanks to a set of proposed rules set forth by three federal agencies. Experts say the move should free employers to continue offering an important add-on benefit.
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Study: PepsiCo's Wellness Program Falls Flat
A new study of the soft-drink giant's wellness program finds it costs more money than it saves in reduced healthcare costs, but experts say such programs can still provide value apart from financial considerations.
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Changing the Menu
Transparency regulations and lawsuits are leading many defined-contribution plan sponsors to not only cut costs, but alter their plans' investment offerings. However, experts recommend they tread carefully.
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Redefining the 'Spouse'
After the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down, it created elation in some circles and consternation in others. While the ruling may ease some administrative burdens, it also creates some new HR challenges and yet-to-be answered questions.
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Benefits Column

According to a May 2015 Federal Reserve survey, approximately half of Americans cannot afford a $400 emergency expense without selling something or borrowing money. How should employers consider their role in helping employees during times of financial hardship?
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