Health care

Health care continues to be one of the more contemptuous issues our country faces. And no wonder, in 2011 alone, the U.S. spent $8,400 per person compared to the next highest-spending country, Norway at $5,352.

Since 2002, family premiums for employer-sponsored health care have increased by a whopping 97 percent placing the cost burdens on employers and workers.

The drivers of these cost increases include an aging Baby Boomer generation that is creating more patients and more treatments, a need for long term care for chronic illnesses, more sophisticated treatments and technology, and increasing inefficiencies, malpractice and administrative costs.

On March 23, 2010 President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as ObamaCare) into law. This law, while intending to offer more affordable health care to individuals and families, requires much employer compliance and action.

Overall the Act requires most U.S. citizens and legal residents to have health insurance by creating state-based American Health Benefit Exchanges through which individuals can purchase coverage, with premium and cost-sharing credits. These credits are available to individuals and families with income between 133-400 percent of the federal poverty level.

Separate Exchanges will also be created that will allow small businesses to purchase coverage. Employers will be required to pay for penalties for employees who receive tax credits for health insurance through an Exchange, with exceptions for small employers. New regulations on the health plans in these Exchanges will also be imposed in the individual and small group markets. Medicaid will also be expanded to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

As this law moves into action and even if it is repealed, one thing is certain – change. It’s clear that quality, price and service are often sacrificed in the current health care model. So the change will have to come from employers, providers, physicians, payers and insurers. This is how:

• Employer driven change – 60 percent of the under 65 population have insurance through their employers and all are negatively impacted by escalating costs and inadequate quality. As a result, educating those employees is a must as well as focusing more on wellness and prevention.

• Provider/Physician change – Health care providers will go from a fee-based model to a newer value-based model and focus on being more accountable in their care. There will be consolidation and newer business models that require increased use of data analytics and clinical intelligence.

• Payer/Insurer change – By moving the focus away from claims processing to more collaboration in an effort to improve care and manage costs. There will also be a shift from administrator to supplier of data analytics/clinical intelligence.

So the question becomes for employers – are you going to pay or play ObamaCare?

Play means employers offer minimum essential coverage to all of your full-time employees.

Pay is an excise tax if you do not offer minimum essential coverage (or any coverage) and at least one of your full-time employees is certified as having enrolled in coverage through a state health exchange for which he or she received a premium tax credit or cost sharing reduction. This tax is applicable to employers with 50 or more full-time employees on average per business day. The monthly penalty (non deductible) is $166.67 (1/12 of $2,000) times the total number of full-time employees for the month minus 30.

What to do?

Look at your workforce Employers need to evaluate their workforce and look at their employees (both full-time and part-time) and see if any could be reclassified as employees for purposes of the mandate.

Business structure Employers also need to understand if their current business structure or model could cause the company to be subject to the employer mandate – and see if there are circumstances under which they could restructure to avoid the mandate.

Learn about Health Insurance Exchanges Examine the relationship between the employer mandate and the individual mandate and how the health insurance Exchanges that will be put in place in 2014 will provide opportunities for some employers and many individuals to acquire such coverage.

Florida recently returned $1 million planning grant to the federal government and has set up a non-ACA compliant health care initiative. However, if the state doesn’t set up an ACA compliant exchange, the federal government will.

Employers need to act now and consider an overall benefit redesign with an emphasis on better employee health. They should also set up and access information systems and reporting for compliance and start discussions with payers and providers that consider risk sharing.

Though overturning ObamaCare would mean relief from this compliance burden and potential penalties, it doesn’t necessarily change the need for an employer’s strategic evaluation of their workforce, business structure, overall plan design and employee communications.

This work upfront can save you a lot of heartache and expense down the road.

 For more information, please e-mail info@templetonco.com.

Best Business Practices for Educational Institutions

A decrease in student enrollment due to the economic downturn has many private educational institutions modifying their budgets and preparing to get by on less.

Between the normal issues of balancing rising costs, schools and universities also have to juggle the need to consider raising tuition fees – since it is often their main source of income – without deterring potential students.

Here are a handful of best practices we’ve seen some of the more successful educational institutions implement over the past few years:

  1. Analyze your educational mission as a business enterprise.  Does your organization’s cash flow from “operations?” Does your budget provide cash flow to cover existing debt? While donations and contributions are no doubt important to any school’s livelihood, think of your institution as a business and treat your budgeting as such. Consistently and strategically measure against your budget on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis – it’s not just a one-time process. And yes, hold your department heads accountable to their budgets once they are approved.
  2. Anticipate the market and know how to react. The schools that have been successful during this downturn have been prepared enough to anticipate the worst, such as a drop in student count. With a little planning and flexibility, they then are able to modify their operating budgets based on a new normalized number of students than were originally anticipated.
  3. Take a zero-based budget approach. Are your expenses necessary? Are they adding something to your mission? Are those expenses helping revenue come through the door? Shed the mentality of spending funds in the same way every year, even if those line items have been allotted that way for as long as you can remember. Be open to change and accessing your school’s needs on a regular basis. Make sure your spending is tied into your mission and your revenue stream.
  4. Take a hard look at capital expenditures. Do you need that new fine arts facility or better yet, do you have the funds to build it? Heavily weigh cost benefits of whether to build or maintain. If building is the option, make sure a plan is in place that will bring in additional revenue to cover all the costs – whether that’s in the form of new students or programming.
  5. Be willing to pay for competent financial staff. What may seem like a hefty investment in the form of a highly experienced financial executive will often pay off handsomely in the end. The schools we see doing the best under this economic climate have very competent financial resources on their staff. They are often paid more than what some schools may feel comfortable paying but they make up for it in spades. An investment in quality can greatly impact an institution’s operational success.

With a little planning and business perspective, those at private schools, and universities and colleges can be better prepared and thrive under the pressures of the ever-changing academic environment.

To schedule a meeting to discuss your institutions’ needs, please feel free to contact us.  Our professionals have many years of experience working with educational institutions in varied ways to enhance operational efficiency.

Contact info:

561-798-9988
info@templetonco.com

Audit and Accounting Standards Updates Nonprofits Need to Know

 

In this ever changing landscape of rules and regulations, nonprofit organizations need to be especially aware of the changes that will guide their audits. Being prepared for an upcoming audit is the best way to ensure a smooth and successful process. Please see our brief overview of Audit and Accounting Standards updates nonprofits need to know.

1. SAS No. 115 Communicating Internal Control Matters Identified in an Audit
Provides guidance to auditors with respect to what should be communicated to management and those charged with governance in an organization. It requires the auditor to make communications, in writing, to management and those charged with governance regarding significant deficiencies and material weaknesses in internal controls that you note in your audits.

2. SAS No. 116 Interim Financial Information
To revise AU section 722 of AICPA Professional Standards to establish standards and provide guidance on the independent accountant’s professional responsibilities when the accountant undertakes an engagement to review interim financial information of a nonissuer when certain conditions are met.

3. SAS No. 117 Compliance Auditing
Establishes standards and provides guidance on performing and reporting on an audit of an entity’s compliance with applicable compliance requirements of a governmental audit requirement.

4. SAS No. 118 Other Information in Documents Containing Audited Financial Statements
This is effective for audits of financial statements for periods beginning on or after December 15, 2010. It establishes a number of presumptively mandatory requirements for the auditor to perform when a client provides additional information in documents containing audited financial statements.

5. SAS No. 119 Supplementary Information in Relation to the Financial Statements as a Whole
Requires additional documentation from auditors and procedures around supplementary information, using the same materiality level used during the financial statement audit. Effective for audits of financial statements for periods beginning on or after December 15, 2010.

6. SAS No. 120 Required Supplementary Information
Effective for audits of financial statements for periods beginning on or after December 15, 2010.

IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding penalties under Internal Revenue Service Code. The technical information here is necessarily brief. No final conclusion on these topics should be drawn without further review and consultation. For additional information, please contact our firm at info@templetonco.com or 561-798-9988.

 

Templeton & Company hosts Grant Writing Workshops at 2nd Quarter Nonprofit Roundtables

Providing nonprofit leaders in Palm Beach and Broward counties with the opportunity to seek advice and to listen to how similar organizations were able to overcome the obstacles they are currently facing is the goal of Templeton & Company’s Quarterly Nonprofit Roundtable Luncheons. Templeton & Company’s May luncheon series will feature a presentation on Grant Writing by Rick Dunion from the Executive Service Corps of Broward. The Palm Beach event will be held on Wednesday, May 19,from Noon to 1:30 p.m.; the Broward event will be held on Wednesday, May 26, from Noon to 1:30 p.m.

“Our local nonprofit organizations do so much to help the community, we are happy to host events that can provide them with information that could make their jobs a little easier,” said Isabella Lunsford, Tax Partner, Templeton & Company.

For more information on these events, please e-mail info@templetonco.com.

 

Perception and reality: shedding light on Level 3 assets

In the winter of 2007-2008, sweeping new financial reporting standards were launched – directly into the path of an unforeseen perfect storm.

Known as fair value accounting, these new rules had been years in development.  They were designed to unify global standards and provide greater transparency through market-based, rather than earlier cost-based, methods of valuation.

But no sooner had fair value gone into effect than markets worldwide all but evaporated in the worst economic crisis in over ninety years.  As asset values drifted erratically into what analysts called a “no man’s land,” accurate fair value reporting was put to the test.  And one obscure provision was taken head on by regulators.

We’re talking about Level 3 Inputs as defined by Accounting Standards Codification Topic 820: Fair Value Measurements and Disclosures (ASC 820), the least understood and thorniest area of fair value asset valuation, yet a category now critical to many organizations.

Do a quick internet search and you’ll get millions of hits on Level 3 Inputs, ranging from hard-to-follow bureaucratic explications to biased (often misinformed) broadsides in the blogosphere.  Our purpose here is to sift reality from perception and shed some light on this important area of financial reporting.

First, let’s briefly define terms.

As outlined by the ASC 820 (f/k/a Statement on Financial Accounting Standards No. 157: Fair Value Mearsument), fair value reporting provides for three distinct levels of inputs.

Level 1 Inputs, which in theory comprise the preponderance of most organizations’ portfolios, can be valued using independent observable market inputs: for example, stock prices as reported by the Wall Street Journal on a daily basis.  The idea is to peg an asset’s value to what it would fetch today – right now – in an “orderly transaction” between “willing market participants.”  Those two phrases are important.  Fair Value presumes the absence of compulsion or duress.

Level 2 Inputs don’t have readily-available market inputs, but can be accurately valued using comparable and observable data points.

Level 3 is unique.

This tier was created as a kind of “none of the above” category for perceptible yet hard-to-value assets with no observable inputs.  Generally speaking, Level 3 Inputs either are illiquid or traded so rarely there is no independent market price.  Examples might be private equity investments or certain long-term derivative contracts (typically managed by hedge funds).

To put all this in basic language:  Inputs in Levels 1 and 2 are “mark to market,” but assets in Level 3, where this is no market, are “mark to model.”

Constructing those models is what makes Level 3 asset valuation so exceedingly complex.  To meet fair value disclosure requirements, these valuations involve a combination of management forecasts, various macroeconomic and internal data, sophisticated mathematical models and other proprietary techniques – in other words, experience and specialized expertise from your accounting and audit firm.  Including a coordinated effort from both your accountant and your investment managed to insure that you have obtained full and adequate disclosure regarding those assets.

Sound accounting and audit procedure for Level 3 isn’t astrophysics, but in some respects it’s not far off either.

There’s an irony here.  While Level 3 assets are by definition hard to value, they are often precisely the types of investments one would expect in a widely (and wisely) diversified portfolio.  Many large organizations – foundations, for example – hold significant and sound assets in this fair value tier.  But in the current economic environment, Level 3 also is home to distressed assets such as complicated mortgage-backed securities for which markets seized up and have remained stagnant, making “orderly transactions” arguably impossible.

Thus Level 3 reporting is not only complex, it can be controversial.

What’s at stake for you?

Ultimately an organization’s board, investors, creditors and stakeholders comprise the real-world “jury” for any financial statement.  Credibility is the lynchpin of quality financial statements.  Our experience with a wide range of clients has shown, when done properly, Level 3 financial reporting can ensure a high degree of transparency and confidence going forward.

For more information on Level 3 assets or any other financial concerns, please contact info@templetonco.com.

About the authors:

John TempletonJohn R. Templeton, CPA, CVA

John Templeton is a Partner with Templeton and leads the firm’s Audit and Accounting Services Division. He is an experienced provider of accounting, auditing, and advisory services for private enterprises in a variety of industries including nonprofit, agriculture, manufacturing, and distribution. He is a hands-on professional who approaches each audit with focus and efficiency. He is an advocate for many of the younger members of the firm, and develops and mentors these young associates.