Emma Cooper

New Products for an Evolving Landscape

With both the House and Senate passing budget reconciliation bills that include significant modifications to key financial elements of the Affordable Care Act, the repeal process has begun (learn more about our latest products here).

Committees in the House and Senate have been assigned the task of dismantling the specific elements of the ACA that can be affected within the limited authority of Budget Reconciliation.

Read More

Understanding The 13-Week Break-In-Service Rule

The ACA rules for calculating Full Time status make it difficult for staffing companies to determine how to treat employees that are off or in-between assignments.
If an employee is considered full time when they go off-assignment, do you consider them full time when they return or subject them to another waiting period?
The rules are complicated, but we’re here to make it simple. Please read our easy-to-understand guide to the 13–week break-in-service rule and keep yourself ACA-compliant!

Essential StaffCARE Service Metrics Keep Climbing

Some of our competitors claim to offer exemplary service without any facts or metrics to back it up. Maybe they just want you to take their word for it. At Essential StaffCARE, we measure our service to our customers and share the results with the industry. This defined process and concrete service metrics provide important markers that enable us to continually improve.

Read More

Important Updates for Implementing the Look-Back Rule for Variable Hour Employees

The American Staffing Association recently released an Issue Paper on understanding how the look-back rules work in regards to the Affordable Care Act. We thank ASA for allowing us to share this with you, but please consider joining the association if you are not currently a member.
The ASA promotes legal, ethical, and professional practices for the Staffing Industry, and there are many resources available to members. We encourage all Staffing Professionals to become members of the association to take advantage of the many services that ASA provides to the industry.
In this Issue Paper, Senior Counsel Ed Lenz explains how the look-back measurement period came into being, due to the difficulty for many staffing firms to classify employees as full-time. This issue arises from the transient nature of many Staffing Industry employees.  
In his paper, Lenz clarifies that in order to use a look-back-period to avoid penalties, an employer must have had a health plan in place for which for which the employee would have been eligible except for the fact that they were in a look-back period. To avoid the so-called “A” penalty, the plan must be at least a basic MEC plan. To avoid the “B” penalty, the plan must qualify as “minimum value” (MVP). Employers with only MEC plans will be subject to the “B” penalty in any month during which an employee worked full-time (i.e., at least 130 hours) and who received a tax subsidy from an ACA healthcare exchange, regardless of their variable hour status.
Lenz points out that most staffing firms offering only basic MEC plans do not use a look-back period to defer the offer of coverage. That’s in part due to the risk that the IRS could later rule that the employees should have been classified as full-time at the start, which could result in an “a” penalty assessment for every employee who worked at least 130 hours in a month. Instead, Lenz advises as follows: 

“To avoid “A” penalties, the best practice for staffing firms, in ASA’s view, is to offer at least a basic MEC plan to all new full-time employees either at the time of application, the start of an assignment, or after a short waiting period (e.g., 60 days) after the assignment starts—even if they could be classified as variable-hour employee, subject to a 12-month look-back. In fact, because basic MEC plans are inexpensive, and to avoid tracking hours, some staffing firms simply offer the plan to all new employees even if they are not expected to work full-time hours.” (emphasis added)

In short, this is why Essential StaffCARE clients were advised early on, when the look-back rules and MEC plans were developed, to always offer their MEC coverage to every employee at their time of job application (i.e., when completing I-9 and W-4 paperwork). This strategy was developed to protect employers from the confusion and complexity of the ACA. We called this our “MEC Safety Net Strategy”.
Please take advantage of the information in the ASA Issue Paper, and, if you are not currently a member, we hope you take advantage of the professional knowledge and expertise that the ASA offers.


Please contact your ESC Representative today at (877) 372–2203 or [email protected]

New Director of Client Services Heads Up the ESC Support Center

On March 1st, ESC clients were introduced to a new and improved service model with the ESC Support Center. They now have access to a team of case dedicated Service Representatives, ready to assist them with questions about enrollment, invoices, processes and procedures for ESC plans. We are proud to report that since the implementation, we have received exceptionally positive feedback on both promptness of response times and resolution of concerns. By all reported metrics, the new ESC Support Center is a success!
In our ongoing quest to make our best even better, we’re proud to announce the promotion of Kerri Flowers to Director of Client Services. In addition to direct responsibilities for the ESC Support Center, she will also manage the Marketing Service Reps, Account Service Reps and the Implementation Team. Kerri brings to the team 20 years of experience with Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina in all facets of operations, support and overall member experience, as well as 6 years managing support, provider maintenance and a call center for PAI’s self-funded line of business.

“I can honestly say that this open enrollment was the smoothest one I have experienced. I give a lot of credit to (ESC) for staying ahead of the process and communicating with us so well.”

  • Rachel Stevens, CEBS, SPHR, SHRM-SCP | Director of Benefits & Compensation | Staffmark 
“Our experience with Essential StaffCARE has been excellent. In fact, we haven’t had any issues during enrollment. I appreciate the new Indemnity and MEC form. It’s much better and easier for employees to understand. And, in my opinion, the ESC Support Center is very good.” 
  • Stephanie Zander, Benefit Specialist | Nexeo Staffing
ESC is dedicated to providing employee benefits to the Staffing Industry and helping its clients navigate the complex waters of ACA regulation and compliance. If you have a question or need assistance, please contact your ESC Representative today at (877) 372–2203 or [email protected] 


ACA Plan Results Are In… ESC Is The Lowest Cost ACA Solution

Hundreds of staffing companies are quietly celebrating their ACA strategy. Why? The results are in, and Essential StaffCARE saved them money – a lot of money. ESC had a huge impact on their bottom line, and their ability to compete.

Essential StaffCARE is fully insured with:

  • No Upfront Fees
  • No Annual Fees
  • No Employer Deductible
  • No Off Shore Captive
  • No Stop-Loss Needed
  • No mandatory purchase of MEC on all full-time employees

Unlike some overly complicated plans that charge a set-up fee, and pile on administration fees and fine print, then expose staffing companies to the first $25,000 of medical claims on EACH enrolled employee, ESC’s no risk approach consistently produced the Lowest Total Cost!

Some plans even require the staffing firm to purchase a MEC/Wellness Preventative plan on EVERY full-time employee! This is an unnecessary expense!

Example: Staffing firm with 200 Full-time employees – made the ESC Major Medical MV plan affordable to employees. (5 full-time employees enrolled)

Total annual cost to employer:
With ESC Fully Insured – $31,200
With a “Captive Based Partially Self-Funded Plan” – $149,400 min.  to $275,000+
We predicted this would happen. Now we have the numbers to back it up.


This is not just one cherry-picked example. All staffing companies offering ESC’s Fully Insured ACA compliant Major Medical MV plans have similar results.

Our predictions came true. There is more to the picture than just rates.

The ability to consistently predict the results of plan designs, enrollment processes, and plan pricing, comes from decades of experience providing health insurance and employee benefits within the staffing industry.

Our clear understanding of the impact of the Affordable Care Act on the fundamentals of underwriting and pricing of health insurance is reality… not magic.

”Math doesn’t lie or have a political agenda” – ESC

This unmatched experience, combined with our conservative, risk–adverse, results–driven philosophy, guide our plan design, communication and enrollment solutions.

There’s a reason why the largest brokerage and consulting firms in the U.S. look to ESC for ACA solutions for the Staffing Industry
Are you spending too much? Don’t worry, you’re not trapped. ESC has the proven solution.

Contact us now to start saving money:

Call 877.372.2203 or email [email protected] to contact your ESC representative.

Insurance Applications Group’s Growth Ranks #2 in the US

Employee Benefit Advisor (EBA), the leading online reporter of current benefit news to the broker and advisor community, recognized Insurance Applications Group Inc. (IAG) as the second fastest-growing, large-group brokerage in the US. The list, published on May 13, 2016 in EBA’s online magazine, compares all US brokerages across all industries with $10 million or less in large-group revenue. Backed up by data from business intelligence firm, miEdge, they reported that IAG grew nearly 45% in the large-group market alone during the period 2014-2015.

Insurance Applications Group Inc. serves specific employee benefit market segments with their products: Essential StaffCARE (ESC), the leader in the Staffing Industry vertical, HospitalityCARE (HC) for the hotel and restaurant industry, HealthWrap (HW) to fill the needs of employees with high deductible/high out-of-pocket plans, and unique ACA enrollment and compliance systems for employers in high turnover businesses.

CEO and Founder J. Marshall Dye III was interviewed by the magazine for an article discussing the reasons for IAG’s dramatic growth that will be published in June. When asked what the critical component of his company’s continued acceleration during this critical Affordable Care Act adaptation period was, Dye said “A large part of our success is lending our expertise in technology, application development, and account management processes to brokers, consultants and other strategic and integrated partners to help them succeed in very challenging markets.

Dye continued, “IAG’s interdisciplinary group of executives provide the industry experience to plot conservative ACA compliance strategies, which allows our clients to confidently operate their businesses with prudent selections of fully-insured risk products. Our new technologies coupled with innovative and dynamic approaches benefit both our clients and our firm by producing long lasting relationships.”

This accolade adds to IAG’s growing list of achievements including being recognized by Inc Magazine as an Inc. 5000 fastest growing private company in America for a sixth year, demonstrating remarkably consistent high growth. Additionally, IAG was presented the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) highest award for an equally impressive six years for achieving the greatest success in demonstrating exceptional professional knowledge and outstanding client services.”


Balancing ACA Compliance, Coverage & Cost – HR Insights Magazine

For employers anxiously eyeing 2016 compliance with the Affordable Care Act for their organizations, IAG CEO J. Marshall Dye outlines the essential balance needed to ensure compliance, provide coverage options and control costs in the brave new ACA world. The following article appears in the July/August issue of HR Insights, courtesy of MAMU Media.

Read more

ASA CEO Invites Attendees to Staffing Law 2015, Highlights ESC Bronze

The American Staffing Association President and CEO Richard Wahlquist, in an open letter to the staffing industry, invited industry executives and business leaders to join him at Staffing Law April 27-29, 2015 in Washington D.C. Included in his highlights that attendees should expect was the unveiling of Essential StaffCARE’s new ACA-Compliant Bronze Plan.

Read more