Offer ASCA Retirement Plan to Your Employees
This members-only program saves money and provides peace of mind
BY ROBERT KURTZ | JANUARY 2023
When healthcare professionals consider their employment options, many factors likely influence the jobs they apply for and the jobs they remain at. One of the top influencers is typically salary, but increasingly not far below in significance when evaluating employment opportunities is benefits, says Michael Cournyea, chief executive officer of Atlas Surgery Center in Williamsville, New York.
To strengthen the appeal of working at Atlas Surgery Center, Cournyea says his ASC decided to set up a 401(k) retirement program. "We recognize the value of offering such a benefit to our employees. It can only help with our recruitment and retention."
The ASC researched and compared several options for programs, Cournyea says. The program it selected: the ASCA Member Retirement Plan.
Understanding the Value of the ASCA Member Retirement Plan
The ASCA Member Retirement Plan is a benefit available exclusively to ASCA members. Thanks to a law passed in September 2019, associations like ASCA are permitted to offer such a plan to members. If they choose to participate, members can consolidate their 401(k) or 401(a) plans under a single plan document—in this case, one sponsored by ASCA.
The ASCA plan is, in essence, a "multiple employer 401(k) plan," says Robert Lembo, financial advisor and founding partner of Rock Creek Financial in Rockville, Maryland. Rock Creek Financial services the plan and assists the plan sponsor in meeting its fiduciary responsibilities. "By ASCA sponsoring the program, it allows its participating members to share in the combining of their assets and economies of scale," Lembo says.
For Atlas Surgery Center, this member benefit provided a streamlined path to launching a 401(k) program. An even bigger selling point was the plan's fee structure, Cournyea says. "The ASCA plan was cheaper than the other programs we were considering."
The ASCA plan has associated fees, but participating ASCs save by not having to pay eliminated fees associated with individual 401(k) plans, such as annual plan maintenance and audit fees. "The ASCA Member Retirement Plan is a cost-effective way for a new surgery center to set up a 401(k) plan, offer it to their employees and allow them to start saving for their retirement," Lembo says.
Cost savings was one of the reasons Heartland Surgery Center in Kearney, Nebraska, switched its existing 401(k) plan to the ASCA Member Retirement Plan. The most significant reason was peace of mind, says Administrator Tracy Hoeft-Hoffman, RN, CASC.
"By moving over to the ASCA plan, my board and I no longer needed to be the fiduciary on our 401(k)," Hoeft-Hoffman says. "ASCA takes on those responsibilities for us. There is a lot of liability involved when you are the fiduciary because you are ultimately responsible for all the money in that 401(k). As an administrator, many things can cause you to lose sleep. If you really think about what it means to be a fiduciary, you are never going to sleep."
Other benefits of the ASCA Member Retirement Plan include reduced administrative burden thanks to the elimination of individual form 5500 filing and plan audits.
Getting Started with the ASCA Member Retirement Plan
Whether you are in an ASC like Atlas Surgery Center that wants to launch a 401(k) program or an ASC like Heartland Surgery Center considering whether to transition its existing program, getting started with the ASCA Member Retirement Plan is straightforward. Begin by reaching out to Lembo at 301.354.3409 or email@example.com.
"I or a member of my team will follow up and find time to talk through the plan with you," Lembo says. "If you have an existing plan and provide copies of your 5500 reports, we can look at your current plan's expenses and provisions and how they compare to the ASCA plan."
If you decide you want to join the ASCA plan, Rock Creek Financial has a dedicated implementation and transition team that will work with you to launch your program or transition your existing one. Lembo says it typically takes 60–90 days to get onto the ASCA plan and enroll employees.
Cournyea says the experience for Atlas Surgery Center to join the ASCA Member Retirement Plan was simple. "The implementation team was great and they made the process very seamless for us."
Hoeft-Hoffman says she appreciated the time Lembo and his team took to help Heartland Surgery Center make the transition. "They were very helpful and willing to educate me and my staff. They made the paperwork easy and straightforward. They very much want to make sure you are educated about the ASCA plan and understand the pieces you are still responsible for. What I also greatly valued was that their education went beyond participation in the 401(k) plan. They took the time to speak with us about retirement planning more broadly."
Once an ASC is on the ASCA Member Retirement Plan, participating employees gain access to an online portal provided by Empower Retirement—the plan's recordkeeper—where they can modify deferral percentages, choose their investment options, name their beneficiaries and perform other tasks. "The Empower website is phenomenal," Lembo says. "Your staff should find it easy to do whatever they want and need to do for their investing. If they have questions, we are here to help."
ASC leadership will likely find oversight of the plan just as simple, Hoeft-Hoffman says. "I do almost nothing with it besides going into our account on occasion to verify everything is still going smoothly."
Competition for healthcare staff is fierce right now, Hoeft-Hoffman says. A 401(k) program could be the difference-maker between whether your ASC successfully recruits and retains its people. "Money talks," she says. "That means what you offer as a salary and what you offer for benefits. I think a 401(k) is a great benefit to offer your employees, and ASCA has made it very easy for you to do so."
Robert Lembo, CLU®, is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory, and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, LLC, Member SIPC, 530 Gaither Road #350, Rockville, MD 20850, Tel: 301.355.5800. Rock Creek Financial is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, LLC. CRN202512-3548005.