Innovative Benefit Planning Blog

Government Distribution of Free at-home COVID-19 tests

Posted On: January 20, 2022 | Categorized as: Employee Benefits

Starting January 19th, 2022, Americans will be able to order a test online at COVIDTests.gov. To ensure broad access, the program will limit the number of tests sent to each residential address to four tests. Tests will usually ship within 7-12 days of ordering. To help distribute the message to your employees, Innovative has created the below poster that links directly to the government site. Download Here


Pear and Brie “Good For Ya” Grilled Cheese

Posted On: January 20, 2022 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

A grilled cheese has always been regarded as a comfort food.  Loaded with lots of butter, fat and cheese, these sandwiches can leave you with a heavy belly.  With a few easy modifications, you can still have a tasty grilled cheese without all the extra saturated fat and calories! Ingredients: 8slices multi-grain bread ¼cup fruit butter such as fig or apple 1Harry and David Royal Riviera Pears (peeled, thinly sliced6 oz light Brie, rind removed, sliced1 can olive oil spray or oil mister) Instructions: Heat skillet over medium-low heat. Spread each slice of bread with ½ tablespoon fig or apple butter. Top 4 bread slices with the Royal Riviera® Pear and Brie, then top with remaining bread slices. Spray both sides sandwiches with a little oil. Place sandwiches, one at a time, in hot skillet and cook until bread is golden cheese starts to melt, about 2 minutes on each side. Alternatively, use…


Supreme Court Blocks OSHA Vaccine-or-Test Mandate But Allows Vaccine Mandate for Healthcare Workers to Proceed

Posted On: January 14, 2022 | Categorized as: Compliance

Oral arguments on the OSHA vaccine-or-test mandate and vaccine mandate for healthcare workers were heard on January 7, 2022. As a result, the U.S. Supreme Court has issued two opinions with different outcomes on January 13th. Both opinions are discussed in greater detail below. OSHA Vaccine-or-Test Mandate In a 6-3 decision, the Court has blocked the OSHA vaccine-or-test mandate applicable to employers with 100 or more employees. This mandate, which became effective January 10, 2022, required employers with at least 100 employees to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations or implement a weekly testing protocol. A stay was issued on the mandate by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in November 2021 and then reinstated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in December 2021, but was immediately appealed. The Court’s opinion states in part that “although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has…


How to Detect Employee Burnout and 15 Ways Employers Can Help Reduce It

Posted On: January 13, 2022 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

Employee burnout continues to grow as the global pandemic enters its third year. In fact, experts say burnout is a primary cause for the Great Resignation, in which a record 39 million U.S. workers quit their jobs during the first 10 months of 2021.The root causes of employee burnout have been growing for several years due to employees working more hours than they did decades ago and remote working during the pandemic intensified that trend as collaboration tools and virtual meetings blurred the line between work and home.Companies already struggling to define new ways of working and fill open positions are also being challenged to combat burnout. The costs in lost productivity, employee turnover, and higher healthcare costs are leading more organizations to move proactively to boost employee morale and wellness. Their approach starts with:Open communication about burnout and other workplace mental health problems.Identifying the signs of burnout among individual…


DOL Guidance On At-Home COVID-19 Tests

Posted On: January 12, 2022 | Categorized as: Compliance

The Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Treasury (collectively, the Departments) issued Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Monday that generally require group health plans and insurers to cover the costs of at-home over-the-counter COVID-19 tests (OTC COVID-19 Tests) approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and purchased on or after January 15, 2022. Plans and insurers may, but are not required to, cover the cost for OTC COVID-19 Tests bought before January 15 (though some states have existing rules requiring these tests to be covered by carriers). The FAQs expand prior guidance that has only required plans and carriers to cover the costs of testing administered by a health care provider.Generally, the FAQs provide that covered individuals can go online or visit a pharmacy or store and buy approved OTC COVID-19 Tests. Each person covered under a plan may get up to eight OTC COVID-19…


December 2021 Compliance Recap

Posted On: January 11, 2022 | Categorized as: Compliance

December was a quiet month in the compliance world in terms of large announcements, but lots of little information trickled in over the month. OSHA’s vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers and vaccine mandate for health care organizations is headed for the Supreme Court, set to be heard on January 7, 2022. While we wait for that decision to be handed down, here is a recap of what happened in December. HHS Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2023 Proposed Rule The Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) posted its proposed benefit and payment parameters for 2023. The proposed rule addresses a good number of issues, including proposed requirements related to prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, guaranteed availability, federal marketplace enrollment assistance for consumers, essential health benefits non-discrimination policy refinement, and actuarial value issues. Review the HHS…


Vaccine Mandate for Healthcare Workers Reinstated as U.S. Supreme Court Prepares to Hear Oral Arguments on Vaccine Mandates

Posted On: January 6, 2022 | Categorized as: Compliance

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an emergency ruling in November 2021, which would require eligible staff at health care facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The mandate was quickly challenged in several states, resulting in a nationwide stay on enforcement. Despite pending litigation, on December 28, 2021, CMS announced their decision to once again enforce the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for covered entities in the 25 states (listed below), the District of Columbia, and the territories not currently impacted by the stay. As a result of CMS’s decision, the mandate now has an updated timeline for covered entities to implement a vaccine policy. Facilities now have until January 27, 2022 to ensure compliance with Phase 1 of the mandate, which includes requirements for the establishment of policies and procedures and at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for eligible…


Skinny Snowflake Sugar Cookie Recipe

Posted On: December 22, 2021 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

Who said a sugar cookie has to have a ton of butter to taste good?  Try this skinny sugar cookie recipe which only uses 2 tablespoons of melted butter.  Using the secret ingredient of butter extract gives the cookie a rich, buttery taste with half the fat and calories.  To create festive and colorful details on the cookies without color dyes, consider using colorants and sprinkles that are derived from plants, such as by India Tree. Cookie Ingredients:  1 and 1/4 cup (150g) all-purpose flour 3/4 tsp cornstarch 1/2 tsp salt 2 tbsp (28g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled 1 large egg, room temperature 1 tsp vanilla extract 1/2 tsp butter extract 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp (120g) granulated sugar For the Icing: 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp (75g) powdered sugar, sifted 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 2 tsp skim milk food coloring (optional) Directions: To prepare the cookies, whisk together…


Sixth Circuit Lifts Stay on OSHA COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate for Employers with 100+ Employees

Posted On: December 21, 2021 | Categorized as: Compliance

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has issued an opinion lifting the stay on the vaccine-or-test mandate for employers with 100 or more employees. The stay was imposed by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in November as a result of the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) released by OSHA which would require employers with at least 100 employees to mandate COVID-19 vaccination or implement a weekly testing protocol. The ETS faced numerous legal challenges shortly after implementation resulting in multi-circuit petitions for review, eventually being brought before the three-judge panel that issued the opinion.The ETS originally imposed a deadline of January 4, 2022, for employers to be in compliance, but in light of the short turnaround time for employers, these deadlines have been adjusted. As a result of the court’s opinion, the Department of Labor (DOL) released a statement on December 18, 2021, stating it will not…


End-of-Year Reminders for Companies with Retirement Plans

Posted On: December 15, 2021 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

As 2021 draws to a close and everyone begins preparing for a new year, employers with qualified retirement plans should review several factors that could affect their plans before moving on to 2022.The fourth quarter presents a perfect opportunity for plan sponsors to take a snapshot of the year’s activities, review potential impact on their retirement plans, and perhaps make some adjustments. Employers should also revisit corporate activities such as ownership changes, acquisitions, and profit-sharing contributions to understand the potential impact on taxes and plan status – and anticipate how these events may affect their retirement plans in the New Year.Here are seven topics that are helpful to review prior to yearend: Remember to take advantage of available tax credits for adding auto-enrollment features to an existing plan or adopting a new plan during 2021. Small employers (up to 100 employees) can get a new tax credit of up to…


End of Year Employee Benefits Compliance Checklist

Posted On: December 10, 2021 | Categorized as: Compliance, Employee Benefits

From ACA reporting to new federal regulations, employers are faced with several obligations as they close out the year and begin to plan for 2022. To help comply with your obligations, we have complied a list of important items that apply to employer-sponsored group health plans to either review and/or take action.Prepare and Submit Affordable Care Act (ACA) Mandatory ReportingThe IRS has issued proposed regulations, which if finalized, would extend the annual furnishing deadlines for Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Sections 6055 and 6056 reporting under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) permanently. IRC Sections 6055 and 6056 outline reporting requirements for employers and providers to confirm whether individuals have acquired minimum essential coverage during the applicable plan year. Under IRC Section 6055, Forms 1094-B and 1095-B must be completed by providers of minimum essential coverage for all covered individuals. Applicable Large Employers can satisfy the reporting requirements under both Section 6055…


How to Reset and Reflect After Benefits Renewal Season

Posted On: December 10, 2021 | Categorized as: Employee Benefits

The hectic benefits renewal season is finally winding down for many employers, with open enrollment meetings and all the logistical challenges and decisions behind us for 2021.  We’re ready to relax, enjoy the holiday season, and move on to new challenges during the new year. But wait a second: maybe we shouldn’t put renewal season out of our minds quite yet.Even though you may be ready to put fourth quarter in the rearview mirror, this is actually the best time to reflect on your recentefforts while those successes, unexpected challenges, and avoidable obstacles are still fresh in your mind. Six to nine months from now, it will be more difficult to recall the details of how well your experiences tracked with your expectations. Spending a little time now to recap the lessons of 2021 will save you more time and effort in 2022 and deliver better results.Here are some questions to…


Innovative Benefit Planning Awarded the BCCC “Business Excellence Award”

Posted On: December 8, 2021 | Categorized as: Company News

Innovative Benefit Planning is honored to be recognized by the Burlington County Chamber of Commerce with the Voice of Business Award for Business Excellence. The Voice of Business Award recognizes outstanding businesses or business persons in Burlington County that have demonstrated a long-term commitment to economic development and the enhancement of opportunities in the county. “We are honored to be the recipient of this year’s Business Excellence Award, remarked CEO, Terriann Procida. As a company that has prided itself over the last 30 years on going above and beyond for our clients and making our community a key part of our business, it is rewarding to be recognized for this achievement.” All award honorees were celebrated last Thursday evening at The Merion Caterers in Cinnaminson, NJ. Innovative would like to congratulate all the other Voice of Business Award recipients for their impact in our community, as well as the Chamber…


November 2021 Compliance Recap

Posted On: December 7, 2021 | Categorized as: Compliance

November saw quite a bit of activity in the compliance space. Although OSHA’s vaccine-or-test mandate for private employers was issued, it was immediately met with resistance in the form of lawsuits and a stay from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The mandates for federal contractors and health care workers are also facing court challenges in several states. For now, it’s a waiting game to see how the mandates play out in the court system. While we wait for more news to come, here are the highlights of what happened in November. Federal Marketplace Open Enrollment Started November 1 The federal health insurance marketplace began open enrollment for 2022 plan coverage on November 1, 2021. In an effort to boost access to affordable coverage, the marketplace open enrollment period is extended to January 15, 2022. This gives consumers an additional 30 days to review and choose a plan – historically,…


White Chicken Chili Recipe

Posted On: December 7, 2021 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

Are you looking for an easy recipe that is packed with nutrients?  Check out this recipe for White Chicken Chili.  You can just throw all of the ingredients in a crockpot and let it cook for the day, it is perfect for football Sunday or the days when you’re trying to fit in holiday prep! Ingredients: 2 lbs chicken breasts, boneless skinless ¼ cup cilantro 1 cup corn, frozen 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced 1 avocado 15 oz can white beans (cannellini or great northern), drained and rinsed 1 cup salsa verde 1 small yellow onion 2 cups chicken broth 1 tsp cumin 1 tsp chili powder 1 tsp hot sauce Mozzarella cheese for garnish Instructions: In your slow cooker, add chicken, corn, salsa, onion, garlic, jalapeno, chicken broth, cumin, chili powder, hot sauce, and cilantro.  Lightly stir. Cover and cook on low for 9-10 hours…


Communication Tips for Promoting Your Employee Benefits in 2022

Posted On: December 6, 2021 | Categorized as: Employee Benefits, HR Consulting

Our Vice President of Marketing and Engagement, Jamie Bratton, shares eight techniques to help promote your employee benefits in the new year.Effectively communicating your employee benefits to current employees and potential new hires goes a long way towards meeting your retention and recruitment goals. Marketing techniques are designed to motivate and enable people to follow recommendations.  For employee benefits, your goal is to motivate employees to comprehend and access the benefits your organization provides. You want your benefits top of mind and front and center so they see the value you offer, and to encourage them to use what they have available.Promoting your benefits internally and externally brings numerous rewards. If your employees do not understand your benefits package, they will not value those benefits as highly. Robust benefits are also necessary to attract potential new hires. According to recent studies, 60% of candidates surveyed said benefits and perks are…


Important Steps to Approach 2022 Strategic Workforce Planning

Posted On: December 6, 2021 | Categorized as: HR Consulting

More employers are turning to workforce planning to provide the necessary information to better manage their talent pool to meet their organization’s strategic needs. The events of the past two years have encouraged more organizations to pay attention to workforce planning as they prepare for the opportunities and possible disruptions ahead. A 2021 survey by McKinsey & Company found 33 percent of executives planned to spend more resources on workforce planning this year, ranking it as a higher priority than recruiting or training initiatives. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) defines workforce planning as a process for organizations to analyze their current team members and determine what steps are needed to meet current and future staffing needs. The process also seeks the most cost-effective and efficient approaches to recruit new employees and retain existing staff members. Most organizations conduct annual workforce planning as the end of the year draws…


Promoting End of Year Workplace Wellness Engagement

Posted On: November 30, 2021 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

As we near the end of the year, don’t let your wellness program slip through the cracks. With the holidays approaching, flu season here, and 2022 planning in full effect, now is the perfect time to evaluate your organization’s end of year wellness initiatives to keep your employees healthy and ready for the new year. Consider these 8 tips as you approach the end of year: Educate employees on how to reduce the spread of illness and encourage them to receive a flu shot, COVID-19 vaccine, and booster shot (provide education and coverage information when possible) With the on-going COVID-19 pandemic and emerging flu season, we must do our part to prevent the spread of illness. Not only do you want your team to be healthy, but we need to continue to reduce further strains on our health care system. Encourage frequent hand washing, social distancing, and the use of…


COVID-19 High Deductible Health Plan and IRC Section 125 Changes Expiring in 2022

Posted On: November 29, 2021 | Categorized as: Compliance

Provisions in the CARES Act allowed HSA-qualified High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) participants to receive telemedicine care on a first-dollar basis for plan years beginning on or before December 31, 2021. Additionally, the IRS issued guidance allowing HDHPs to cover the testing and treatment of COVID-19 prior to a participant meeting their deductible under the plan. This guidance is effective through the end of the declared COVID-19 public health emergency; however, the CARES Act rule suspending deductible requirements for telehealth visits will expire on December 31, 2021. With that said, there have been several bipartisan bills introduced in Congress aiming to expand or permanently waive the deductible for telehealth services. As these bills are still in the early stages, employers should be prepared to comply and make the necessary changes ahead of December 31st. Congress enacted temporary rules for health flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and dependent care assistance programs (DCAP)…


IRS Proposes Permanent Extension for Distributing ACA Reports

Posted On: November 29, 2021 | Categorized as: Compliance

The IRS has issued proposed regulations, which if finalized, would extend the annual furnishing deadlines for Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Sections 6055 and 6056 reporting under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) permanently. IRC Sections 6055 and 6056 outline reporting requirements for employers and providers to confirm whether individuals have acquired minimum essential coverage during the applicable plan year.  Under IRC Section 6055, Forms 1094-B and 1095-B must be completed by providers of minimum essential coverage for all covered individuals. Applicable Large Employers can satisfy the reporting requirements under both Section 6055 and 6056 by filing Forms 1094-C and 1095-C. Filers must also furnish a 1095-B to each Responsible Individual or 1095-C statement to each full-time employee. Since 2015, the IRS has provided an extension to the due date for furnishment of Forms 1095-B and 1095-C to individuals. Under the proposed regulations, a 30-day extension will be automatic for employers, health…


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