AIMBlog_Logo_Resized

Report: More Massachusetts Employers Offering Health Insurance

Posted by Katie Holahan on Jun 26, 2019 10:28:35 AM

More Massachusetts companies of all sizes are offering health insurance to their workers but fewer employees are enrolling as costs accelerate, according to a new state study released this morning.

The report from the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) finds that the percentage of Bay State employers who provide health insurance increased from 65 percent in 2016 to 71 percent in 2018. Only 57 percent of employers nationally provide health coverage.

2019ChiaInforgraphicAt the same time, the percentage of eligible employees who accepted employer health insurance declined from 74 percent to 67 percent during the same period.

Part of the explanation could be the relentless increase in the cost of health insurance faced by both companies and their workers. The CHIA report says that average health-insurance premiums rose 12 percent for single policies from 2016 to 2018 and 13 percent for family plans. Employer contributions remained steady at 74 percent, but the average annual deductible soared 42 percent.

“Massachusetts employers deserve tremendous credit for expanding health insurance options at a time when the cost and complexity of health care continue to increase,” said John R. Regan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Associated Industries of Massachusetts.

“AIM members last year identified the cost of health insurance as the most important issue facing their companies. The numbers underscore the importance of our efforts to ensure that employers have the ability to provide affordable health insurance to their workers.”

CHIA is the primary center for the collection and analysis of information about the Massachusetts health-care market.  The agency’s biennial Massachusetts Employer Survey (MES) tracks and monitors employer health insurance offerings, employee take-up rates, health-insurance premiums, employer contribution amounts, plan characteristics, and employer decision making.

The most eye-opening conclusion of the study is that even small companies remain committed to offering health-insurance benefits. Although employers with fewer than 50 employees are no longer required by law to offer health insurance, 65 percent of these employers do. Seventy percent of small firms (3-199 employees) offered insurance, versus 99 percent of large firms (200 or more employees). 

Other key findings of the CHIA survey include:

  • The 2018 average total monthly premium was $617 for single coverage and $1,687 for family coverage.
  • The average employee contribution to health insurance in 2018 was 26 percent for single coverage and 30 percent for family coverage, unchanged from 2016. Employers continue to cover an average of 74 percent of monthly premium costs.
  • The average annual deductible for single coverage in 2018 was $1,508, slightly lower than the national average of $1,573, but more than the $1,065 average for 2016.
  • Massachusetts employees overall faced lower out-of-pocket limits than their national counterparts. The average out-of-pocket limit for single coverage in Massachusetts was $3,461 compared to $3,872 nationally.
  • Almost three quarters (70 percent) of Massachusetts employees were offered a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) in 2018. Thirty-nine percent were offered an HDHP with a savings option.
  • The most common reason given by employers (48 percent) for not offering health insurance was that they were not required to do so because of their firms’ small size. Thirty-eight percent cited the cost as being too high. The most common reason given by employers as to why they were offering health insurance was to retain employees (66 percent) and recruit new employees (63 percent).
  • Large companies were more likely than small ones to reduce their contributions toward employee premiums as a way to contain costs.

 

Topics: Health Care Costs, Controlling Health Care Costs, Health Insurance

Port of Boston Doubles Economic Impact

Posted by Kristen Rupert on Jun 13, 2019 9:41:54 AM

The economic impact of the Port of Boston has almost doubled since 2012 as the facilities serve as a gateway for increased global commerce both to and from Massachusetts, according to a report issued this morning.

The port, which is in the middle of $850 million infrastructure upgrade, generates $8.2 billion in economic activity and supports 66,000 jobs from its four major elements – Conley freight terminal, the Flynn Cruiseport, the Boston Autoport and fish/seafood processing. The economic footprint has grown from $4.6 billon seven years ago.

Conley.TerminalMassport unveiled the economic report by Martin Associates at an event this morning co-sponsored by Associated Industries of Massachusetts.

“A globally strong economy like the one we enjoy in Massachusetts demands a world-class port to facilitate international commerce,” said John R. Regan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Associated Industries of Massachusetts.

“Employers support continued investment in the Port of Boston not only because the facility generates billions in economic impact but also because it provides efficient access to overseas markets and entry for product demanded by Massachusetts consumers,”

More than 1,600 companies across the Commonwealth and New England, including many AIM members, rely on the Port to connect to the global economy. Massachusetts companies export $27 billion worth of goods and services annually while imports total $35.5 billion.

As a result, activity across the Port of Boston’s maritime facilities is booming:

  • Four years in a row of record-breaking container volume at Conley Terminal
  • Record-breaking ship calls and passenger volume at Flynn Cruiseport
  • Fully leased seafood processing space on the historic Boston Fish Pier and new developments being constructed on the Massport Marine Terminal
  • More than 80,000 vehicles processed at the Autoport in Charlestown

The Martin Associates study measured the local and regional economic impacts generated by 2018 maritime activity at Massport-owned facilities and private marine terminals and businesses within Boston Harbor. The 66,000 jobs include 9,000 direct positions, 5,400 of which are in the cargo area.

Among the AIM member companies that use the Port are Affordable Interior Systems, EMD Millipore, Gem Group, Horizon Beverage, Staples and United Liquors.

The largest portion of the infrastructure upgrade is a $350 million dredging project to allow larger cargo ships to navigate Boston Harbor. Massport officials tell The Boston Globe that the dredging project is 40 percent complete and that 4.6 million cubic yards have been removed from the harbor floor to deepen the main channel.

AIM has worked closely with Massport to promote international trade and investment.

The AIM International Business Council has engaged users and managers of the Port of Boston as speakers at the annual Internal Business Symposium. AIM has also written letters of support to the US Department of Transportation for the harbor dredging project, for new and enhanced truck routes for cargo in the Seaport area, and for investment to increase Conley Terminal’s container storage facilities. 

“Assets like Massport do not happen by accident, they are a choice, an investment, they are well led and have a high customer focus and critical mission,” Regan said.

Topics: International Trade, AIM International Business Council, Massport

Leaders Agree to Delay Start of Paid Leave Assessments

Posted by Brad MacDougall on Jun 11, 2019 6:10:21 PM

Governor Charlie Baker on Thursday signed legislation that will extend by three months the July 1 starting date for contributions to the new Massachusetts paid family and medical leave program.

Baker, along with House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Karen Spilka, had committed to a delay on Tuesday.

statehousedome"To ensure businesses have adequate time to implement the state’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program, the House, Senate, and Administration have agreed to adopt a three month delay to the start of required contributions to the program. We will also adopt technical changes to clarify program design. We look forward to the successful implementation of this program this fall,” read a joint statement issued by the three leaders.

The action comes three weeks after AIM, Raise Up Massachusetts and other groups sought a delay to permit employers, employees and the marketplace to prepare for the sweeping new benefit approved last year. AIM and its 3,500 members are particularly concerned about the lack of clarity surrounding opt-outs and cost sharing with employees.

The delay will not reduce total contributions paid to the new family and medical leave trust fund because the state will increase the contribution rate from .63 percent to .75 percent of wages. The new contribution rate will raise the tax for an employee earning the state average weekly wage from $872 per year to $1,038 per year.

Workers will be able to access paid leave benefits beginning in January 2021.

“Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) and its 3,500 member companies are gratified that the governor, House speaker and Senate president today committed to a three-month delay in the start of the paid family and medical leave program. The decision will allow employers and workers alike to prepare themselves for the era of paid leave and ensure that this landmark initiative gets off the ground successfully,” said John Regan, President and CEO of AIM.

“The state’s top elected leaders deserve tremendous credit for recognizing the need to adjust the timing of the program’s capitalization and to make minor adjustments to the law that was passed last year. AIM is also grateful to the 52 state legislators who sent letters to Beacon Hill leaders urging them to take this action.”

The proposed adjustments to the law include five amendments intended to provide clarity on issues such as intermittent leave and the definition of “serious medical condition.” The clarifying amendments will also align core principles of the Massachusetts paid family and medical leave law with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

AIM-member employers sent more than 2,500 messages to Governor Charlie Baker and Beacon Hill leaders last month indicating that they do have adequate time or information to make decisions about how to much of the paid leave assessment to share with employees or whether to elect a private-sector alternative to the state program. One company wrote that it has been trying to determine how to implement the new law while preserving the paid medical leave benefit that it already offers its associates because it is more generous than the state law.

“I have contacted insurance companies to get a cost estimate for a paid family leave policy in order to determine our best course of action on that part of the law, but no one is ready to quote a product yet.   We don't even know if the deductions from employees pay should be pre- or post- tax,” the company wrote.

Joining AIM and Raise Up in calling for a delay were the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, The Coalition for Social Justice, Local 509 of the Service Employees International Union, Greater Boston Legal Services, The Massachusetts Business Roundtable, the Alliance for Business Leadership and the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The administration attempted to allay employer concerns last month by extending the deadline for employers to secure private insurance that would allow them to opt out of the paid leave system. The administration also extended the deadline for employers to inform workers about opt-out plans from May 31 to the end of June.

The business and advocacy groups commended the administration’s efforts but said they will not solve the problem.

“Given the lack of employer clarity on the regulations, the importance of communicating with employees regarding payroll deductions, and the ability for insurance providers to offer a private-sector option, we continue to support and urge legislative action on the proposed amendment extending the deadline for private plan approvals and the commencement of required contributions from July 1, 2019, to October 1, 2019…” the group wrote.

The paid family and medical leave law provides workers with 12 weeks of family leave and 20 weeks of personal medical leave. Workers on paid leave will earn 80 percent of their wages up to 50 percent of the state average weekly wage, then 50 percent of wages above that amount.

The employer is required to pay at least 60 percent of the medical leave contribution required for each employee. The employer is required to pay none of the contribution for family leave. Employers may, of course, pay a higher percentage for each category of leave or elect to pay the entire contribution for each employee.

“The business community remains committed to the successful implementation of paid family and medical leave in Massachusetts,” Regan said.

Want updates on paid family and medical leave in Massachusetts? Contact Brad MacDougall, bmacdougall@aimnet.org.

 

Topics: Massachusetts Legislature, Charlie Baker, Mandated Paid Leave, Paid Family Leave

Income Surtax Would Drive Out Employers, Revenue

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Jun 11, 2019 1:41:59 PM

StateMigration

 

As Massachusetts lawmakers gather tomorrow for another attempt to impose a massive income surtax on family business, a new analysis by Bloomberg news demonstrates the devastating impact of tax increases on economic activity.

Data from the Internal Revenue Service and the Census Bureau shows that business owners and entrepreneurs are heading for the exits in high-tax states and bringing their income to states such as Florida and South Carolina.

Bloomberg found that Connecticut, New York and New Jersey face the largest financial drains from the 5 million Americans who move from one state to another each year. Connecticut lost the equivalent of 1.6 percent of its adjusted gross income, according to Bloomberg, because the people who moved out of the Nutmeg state had incomes that were 26 percent more, on average, than those people who moved in.

Moreover, “leavers” outnumbers “stayers” by a five-to-four margin.

Massachusetts suffered a net loss of $1.4 billion in adjusted gross revenue from people moving in and out of the commonwealth. New York lost $8.4 billion and New Jersey, which recently adopted its own version of the so-called Millionaires Tax, lost $3.4 billion.

Florida posted a net income influx of nearly 3 percent of the state’s adjusted gross income in 2016. South Carolina, Idaho and Oregon were also among the largest gainers in the interstate shuffle, according to Bloomberg.

“The income surtax constitutional amendment to be debated tomorrow takes direct aim at owners of small and family owned business in Massachusetts. That sort of unfair tax would clearly accelerate the departure of the very people we need to maintain our economic growth,” said John Regan, President and CEO of Associated Industries of Massachusetts.

AIM opposes income surtax

A graduated income tax would take an estimated $2 billion each year from some 17,000 Main Street businesses and others that pay taxes at the individual rate. These companies are already drowning in more than $1.5 billion in new taxes and fees to pay for a financial shortfall in the Medicaid program and to fund the new paid family and medical leave program.

The data on our-migration from high-tax states is consistent with other studies of tax policy.

Connecticut in 2009 added a 6.5 percent income tax bracket for those earning more than $500,000 per year. The state followed up with a comprehensive $1.5 billion tax increase in 2011 to deal with a budget shortfall. A final round of tax increases took effect in 2015.

According to information compiled by Pew Charitable Trusts, tax revenue for all 50 states is averaging 6.3 percent higher than it was at the start of the 2008 recession. Connecticut tax revenue, on the other hand, is only 3.8 percent higher, despite the three tax increases.

Once the economic heavyweight of New England, Connecticut is the only state in the nation that has yet to recover the jobs lost during the economic downturn.

Income surtax laws have failed in other states as well.

Within three years of Maryland enacting its millionaires tax, 40 percent of the state’s seven-figure earners were gone from the tax rolls - and so was $1.7 billion from the state tax base.

Boston College researchers studied the migration of wealthy households to and from New Jersey. They concluded that wealthier New Jersey households did in fact consider the high-earner taxes when deciding whether to move to or remain in New Jersey.

The researchers’ data analysis found that from 1999 to 2003 - before the millionaires’ tax was imposed - there was a net influx of $98 billion in household wealth into the state. After the tax was implemented, an increasing number of wealthy families left the state, resulting in a loss of $70 billion in wealth.

Want updates on the income surtax debate? Contact Brad MacDougall, Vice President of Government Affairs at AIM, bmacdougall@aimnet.org.

Topics: Massachusetts economy, Income Surtax, Taxation

Employer Confidence Falls in May

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Jun 4, 2019 8:30:00 AM

Employer confidence weakened in Massachusetts during May amid renewed trade tensions and concerns among companies about increased operating costs from paid family leave and other government mandates.

BCI.May.2019The outlook among business leaders has moved in a narrow, overall optimistic, range for much of 2019.

The Associated Industries of Massachusetts Business Confidence Index (BCI) lost 3.2 points last month to 57.1, its lowest level since October 2016. The Index has declined 9.5 points since May 2018.

All of the constituent indicators that make up the BCI weakened during May with the largest drop coming in employer views of conditions six months from now.

The erosion of confidence during the past 12 months has been driven largely by caution about the national economy and concern among manufacturing companies.

“The Business Confidence Index continues to reflect the Goldilocks economy in which we find ourselves – US GDP growth is expected to remain at a modest level of 2 to 3 percent and there is not much inflation or deflation. There are both encouraging signs and red flags,” said Raymond G. Torto, Chair of AIM's Board of Economic Advisors (BEA) and Lecturer, Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Several employers participating in the survey said regulatory costs have become a significant concern.

“The cost to operate has increased dramatically - higher wages, benefit costs, supply costs and cost of compliance with all the new regulations coming out of State House,” one employer wrote.

The AIM Index, based on a survey of Massachusetts employers, has appeared monthly since July 1991. It is calculated on a 100-point scale, with 50 as neutral; a reading above 50 is positive, while below 50 is negative. The Index reached its historic high of 68.5 on two occasions in 1997-98, and its all-time low of 33.3 in February 2009.

The Index has remained above 50 since October 2013.

Constituent Indicators

The constituent indicators showed a broad-based retrenchment during May.

The Massachusetts Index assessing business conditions within the commonwealth fell 2.3 points to 60.9, while the US Index shed 3.3 points to 55.0. The Massachusetts reading has declined 9.1 points during the past 12 months and the US reading has dropped 14.3 points during the same period.

The Future Index, measuring expectations for six months out, tumbled 4.5 points to 56.0. The Current Index, which assesses overall business conditions at the time of the survey, lost 1.8 points to 58.2, 8.4 points lower than a year ago.

The Employment Index declined 1.2 points for the month and 5.1 percent for 12 months. Analysts say employers continue to struggle to find qualified workers in a state economy with a 2.9 percent jobless rate.

Non-manufacturers (60.0) were more confident than manufacturers (54.7). Small companies (58.4) were more bullish than large (55.0) or medium-sized companies (57.6), a reversal of the usual pattern. Companies in Eastern Massachusetts (59.3) continued to be far more optimistic than those in the west (54.0).

Elmore Alexander, Retired Dean of the Ricciardi College of Business at Bridgewater State University and a BEA member, said Massachusetts employers are reflecting general concerns about tepid national economic growth, renewed geopolitical tensions and slowing corporate spending.

“Few see an imminent recession, but most experts believe US economic growth will slow from 3 percent last year to 2.1 percent this year to 1.9 percent in 2020,” Alexander said.

Rising Costs

AIM President and CEO John R. Regan, also BEA member, said the national economic uncertainty comes at a time when Massachusetts employers are struggling with a series of expensive new employment law mandates such as the state’s $1 billion paid family and medical leave program.

“AIM has joined Raise Up Massachusetts and other groups in asking the Baker Administration to delay the scheduled July 1 start of paid leave by three months to provide employers time to consider how much of the cost they will share with workers and whether they wish to opt out of the state system. The delay is necessary to ensure a smooth rollout of this new entitlement,” Regan said.

Regan joined the BEA after being named President and Chief Executive Officer of AIM.

Topics: International Trade, AIM Business Confidence Index, Massachusetts economy

Video Blog: Attorney General Healey Addresses Business Community

Posted by Christopher Geehern on May 31, 2019 9:34:25 AM

Attorney General Maura Healey told more than 800 business leaders at the AIM Annual Meeting May 17 that she looks forward to collaborating with employers on key issues such as education, substance abuse, health care and clean energy. Watch her remarks here.

Topics: Education, Health Care, Attorney General Maura Healey

Meet 2019 Gould Award Winner Snapchef

Posted by Christopher Geehern on May 23, 2019 9:47:09 AM

Associated Industries of Massachusetts last week presented the 2019 John Gould Education and Workforce Training Award to Snapchef, a Dorchester-based company founded 17 years ago by husband and wife Todd and Daniella Snopkowski that provides free culinary training to thousands of people who often subsequently find jobs through the company’s staffing operation. Here is the Snapchef story.

Topics: AIM Annual Meeting, Workforce Training, Gould Education and Workforce Training

Meet 2019 AIM Vision Honoree Wayfair Inc.

Posted by Christopher Geehern on May 22, 2019 2:47:54 PM

Associated Industries of Massachusetts last week presented its 2019 Vision Award to Wayfair Inc., a Massachusetts-born technology company that has redefined how people shop for their homes. Wayfair has more than 5,500 full-time employees in the commonwealth and continues to grow its presence in Boston and beyond. Here is the company's story.

Topics: AIM Annual Meeting, Massachusetts employers, AIM Vision Award

Business, Advocates Join to Ask for Paid Leave Delay

Posted by Brad MacDougall on May 20, 2019 5:42:34 PM

Associated Industries of Massachusetts and the business organizations and advocates who last year negotiated a compromise version of paid family and medical leave are together asking state leaders to postpone the July 1 starting date of the program by three months.

statehousedome“In the course of our work together we have identified the need for a three-month extension of the July 1, 2019 deadline for approval of employers’ private paid family and medical leave plans and the commencement of the required plan contributions,” the groups said in a letter to Governor Charlie Baker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Karen Spilka.

“In addition, there are five other amendments to chapter 121 of the Acts of 2018 that are necessary for clarification of rights and responsibilities of stakeholders to effect the smooth implementation and operation of the new law,” the letter said.

The group noted that the extension would not impact any of the benefits or the timing for eligibility of benefits under the new law.

Signers of the letter include AIM, Raise Up Massachusetts, The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, The Coalition for Social Justice, Local 509 of the Service Employees International Union, Greater Boston Legal Services, The Massachusetts Business Roundtable, the Alliance for Business Leadership and the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Springfield.

The call for a delay from politically diverse groups reflects growing concern that neither the marketplace nor employers nor their workers are adequately prepared for the sweeping new benefits program.

The Baker Administration attempt to allay those concerns three weeks ago by extending the deadline for employers to secure private insurance that would allow them to opt out of the paid leave system. The administration also extended the deadline for employers to inform workers about opt-out plans from May 31 to the end of June.

The business and advocacy groups commended the administration’s efforts.

“However, given the lack of employer clarity on the regulations, the importance of communicating with employees regarding payroll deductions, and the ability for insurance providers to offer a private-sector option, we continue to support and urge legislative action on the proposed amendment extending the deadline for private plan approvals and the commencement of required contributions from July 1, 2019, to October 1, 2019, as well as the additional five clarifying amendments to the statute…” the group writes.

The proposed amendments are intended to provide clarity for employers, insurance providers (developing and providing products to employers), employees applying for the leaves covered by the new law, and health care providers certifying the need for leave. In addition, the clarifying amendments align core principles of the Massachusetts paid family and medical leave law with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The amendments include:

  1. Intermittent Leave – This amendment would clarify that leave taken on an intermittent or reduced leave schedule reduces the amount of remaining leave available to a covered worker. This change tracks the language of the federal FMLA.
  2. Serious health condition – This amendment clarifies that eligibility for medical leave for the covered individual’s own serious health condition arises where such a serious health condition “makes the covered individual unable to perform the functions of the covered individual's job.”

If you are an AIM Member and want updates sign up here or contact Brad MacDougall.

Not an AIM member?  Contact Bob Paine to learn how AIM’s advocacy and resources can help your company.

Topics: Massachusetts Legislature, Charlie Baker, Paid Family Leave

New Era Begins as Regan Becomes President of AIM

Posted by Christopher Geehern on May 20, 2019 10:28:04 AM

Regan.Annual.2019Editor's note: John R. Regan, who has directed AIM's government advocacy for the past 18 years, today becomes the new President and Chief Executive Officer of the largest business association in the commonwealth. Regan outlined a vision for the future of the organization during brief remarks to the AIM Annual Meeting Friday.

As the Roman philosopher Seneca observed “Omni fine initium novum” or, “Every new beginning comes from the end of another.”

As AIM prepares to write a new and exciting chapter in its distinguished history, I am reminded at every moment of the wisdom, generosity and quiet determination with which my predecessor Rick Lord has paved the road before me.

Rick never lost sight of where he came from and he never forgot that trust and respect are the ultimate currency of public policy and service.

Please join me - in again acknowledging Rick for all he has done for the Massachusetts economy.

Conscious of the fact that you have patiently listened to a full menu of speeches already, I would beg your indulgence to offer three brief observations.

First, to the members of AIM and especially to the Board of Directors, I gratefully accept your commission to lead this organization - supporting the dreams and aspirations of Massachusetts employers. We must keep as our guiding principal the fact that economic growth remains the only effective method of achieving the social equity that makes our commonwealth a great place to live and work.

Second, there has never been a more pressing need for businesses to work together with the sort of common purpose that drove 28 visionary companies to create Associated Industries of Massachusetts 104 years ago.

And third, meeting here in the Seaport district underscores the fact that we face an entirely new set of issues and challenges brought about by the breathtaking pace of change driving our economy.

The founders of AIM would no doubt be amazed to discover their association in 2019 wrestling with issues such as the rules governing ride-hailing apps, the appropriate use of drones, or how to integrate the autonomous vehicles driving around outside the building today.

You know, one can almost see the Seaport District from where I grew up in Dorchester. But in economic terms, it’s a different world and a different century being driven by a new generation of entrepreneurs.

AIM welcomes all employers and dedicates itself to serving the needs of the full range of Massachusetts companies working to provide the hope of a better life to our friends and neighbors.

We remain committed to the principals of diversity, equity and inclusion - on our board, on our staff, and throughout our membership. We assert unequivocally that AIM will be an association in the truest sense of the word, providing an opportunity for everyone – especially those who have historically been ignored – a full voice.

Everything we do at AIM is done to help businesses unlock their full potential. We fiercely advocate for positive public policy that helps to create a strong economy.

We empower businesses with the information, tools and resources needed to successfully navigate a fast-paced, complex business world. We foster connections, networks, and the flow of ideas between people and businesses.

We believe that business can be a positive force for change in helping to create a better, more prosperous society. And the best part is, we’re just getting started.

Topics: Associated Industries of Massachusetts, AIM Annual Meeting, John Regan

Subscribe to our blog

Posts by popularity

Browse by Tag