Innovative Benefit Planning Blog

Oral Health Awareness Month

Posted On: October 15, 2019 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

Did you know that your oral health offers clues about your overall health — or that problems in your mouth can affect the rest of your body? Protect yourself by learning more about the connection between your oral health and overall health. What's the connection between oral health and overall health? Like other areas of the body, your mouth teems with bacteria — mostly harmless. But your mouth is the entry point to your digestive and respiratory tracts, and some of these bacteria can cause disease. Normally the body's natural defenses and good oral health care, such as daily brushing and flossing, keep bacteria under control. However, without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease. What conditions can be linked to oral health? Your oral health might contribute to various diseases and conditions, including: Endocarditis. This infection…


September 2019 Compliance Recap

Posted On: October 8, 2019 | Categorized as: Compliance, Employee Benefits

September was a busy month in the employee benefits world. The U.S. Senate confirmed Eugene Scalia as the new Secretary of the Department of Labor (DOL). The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published proposed rules regarding affordability safe harbors and Section 105(h) nondiscrimination rules as applied to individual coverage health reimbursement arrangements (ICHRAs). The IRS also announced that the health insurance providers fee will resume for 2020. The IRS released an information letter regarding transition relief and whether employer shared responsibility penalties may be waived under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The DOL, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Treasury (collectively, the "Departments") released final FAQs on mental health parity. The DOL issued an opinion letter regarding delaying Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave. The DOL also issued an opinion letter regarding whether employer contributions to health savings accounts (HSAs) are earnings subject to wage garnishment…


DOL Overtime Rule Change

Posted On: October 2, 2019 | Categorized as: Compliance

On Sept 24th, the US Department of Labor (DOL) released a new rule, increasing the minimum salary level for exempt status to $35,568 per year for a full-time employee, effective January 1, 2020.  Read the full law, here: DOL Overtime Rule Change  The proposed rule creates the following changes:Raises the minimum salary for an exempt administrative, professional, or executive employee to $684 per week or $35,568 per yearRaises the minimum salary for an exempt "highly compensated employee" from $100,000 to $107,432Permits employers to include some non-discretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10% of the minimum salary requirementAllows employers to make a one-time "catch up" payment to an employee whose annual salary will fall short of the new minimum in some circumstancesThe consequences of such a conversion can be serious for the unaware employer. Most employers do not trackhours worked by exempt employees.For assistance in assessing whether employees are properly…


9 Employee Handbook Essentials

Posted On: September 23, 2019 | Categorized as: HR Consulting

There are so many things that are essential to the employee handbook that it can be tough to know where to even start. We’ve got you covered. Below are 9 key components that every good employee handbook should include. 1. Introductory Statement This statement introduces the handbook, describes the purpose of it, and includes the At-Will Disclaimer and General Disclaimer. The At-Will Disclaimer should describe what it means to be an at-will employee. The General Disclaimer should address the intentions of the handbook, the ability of the company to interpret it at its own discretion and the handbook’s compliance with all applicable federal, state and local laws. It should also state that it is not a contractual document. 2. Equal Employment Opportunity Policy (EEOP) Federally, this means different things for different types of employers, but most employers are prohibited from discriminating against an employee, a job applicant, a former employee…


5 Reasons To Hire the Right Financial Advisor For Your Retirement Plan

Posted On: September 18, 2019 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

As an organization offering a retirement plan to their employees, plan sponsors are faced with decisions that can affect the entire organization.  The plan design, investment line-up, and who the recordkeeper will be are typical for all plans. Beyond these standard decisions, there is the issue of knowing and understanding the ERISA laws that govern retirement plans. Depending on the complexity of your organization and business, not every advisor has the background to help. Plan decision makers usually have other job responsibilities that can divert their attention, yet since they are considered fiduciaries of the plan, decision makers must act in the best interest of the plan participants and their beneficiaries.  How can they if they don’t know what the standards are?  The same is true of advisors.  Not all are well versed in ERISA law, which is complex and sometimes difficult to interpret. Hiring the right plan advisor can…


30 Years and 30 Reasons to Choose Innovative

Posted On: September 16, 2019 | Categorized as: Company News

When it comes to benefits planning, there are a ton of choices out there. And, we believe we’re the most innovative company you’ll find. After 30 years, here are 30 good reasons our clients choose to work with us: 1. We put people first 2. We are an advocate for our clients 3. We do what’s right for every individual 4. We understand what’s best for one person may not be the best for another 5. We earn our clients trust 6. We hold ourselves accountable 7. Being responsive is very important to us 8. We are respectful 9. We make the complex easy to understand 10. We affirm the best way isn’t the easy way 11. We focus on client’s goals and deliver value 12. We try to understand the culture and the people that make up an organization 13. We always have our client’s best interests at heart…


Innovative Myth Series #9: When Transferring Service Providers, There Are No Pitfalls. Part 1-Protected Benefits

Posted On: September 13, 2019 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

A new client engaged Innovative to transfer their current plan to a new service provider. During the course of our detailed review, we discovered that certain employees had annuity contracts with death benefits that exceeded the value of their plan investments. If the client executed the transfer, these participants would have lost those benefits, which is a violation of ERISA laws. See how Innovative helped our client navigate their retirement plan transition to a new service provider and avoided a potential ERISA violation. Download full case study here. Let Innovative perform a complimentary review of your plan, contact our retirement planning team here.


Flu Season: Myths vs. Facts

Posted On: September 13, 2019 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

Flu season is quickly approaching. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that those aged 6 months and older receive the flu vaccine by the end of October. Getting a flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against the flu. There are many misconceptions about the seasonal flu vaccines. Below we have highlighted some of these common misconceptions and the facts to dispel them. 1. MYTH: You can catch the flu from the vaccine. FACT: The flu vaccine is made from an inactivated virus that cannot transmit an infection. Therefore, the flu vaccine cannot cause the flu. However, it typically takes 2 weeks for the flu vaccine to become effective. During those 2 weeks, it is still possible for an individual to get the flu or another respiratory virus. 2. MYTH: Healthy people don't need to be vaccinated. FACT: Healthy individuals are still at…


August 2019 Compliance Recap

Posted On: September 6, 2019 | Categorized as: Compliance

August was a relatively quiet month in the employee benefits world. The Department of Labor (DOL) issued its updated Medicaid / CHIP Model Notice. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) revised its Medicare Secondary Payer User Guide and changed reporting requirements regarding prescription drug coverage beginning January 1, 2020. The Treasury, DOL, and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued FAQs regarding enforcement of the Final 2020 Benefit and Parameters Rule. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released a private letter ruling addressing whether certain expenses qualify as Section 213(d) medical care expenses. The DOL issued an advisory opinion addressing whether intermittent Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave can be taken to attend special education meetings for an employee's children.   DOL Issues Updated Medicaid / CHIP Model Notice The Department of Labor (DOL) issued an updated Premium Assistance Under Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program…


Innovative Benefit Planning Named “Best of Biz 2019”

Posted On: August 27, 2019 | Categorized as: Company News, Employee Benefits

Innovative Benefit Planning has been named by South Jersey Biz, as one of their 2019 Best of Biz recipients. The Best of Biz award recognizes 102 of region’s most esteemed service providers and we are proud to say that Innovative has been selected for their “Employee Benefits” category. According to South Jersey Biz, “The past few months were quite busy as we spent hours researching businesses from all over the region, as well as counting your votes for our annual Best of Biz−and your voices were heard. From banking, construction, law firms and real estate to education, engineering, IT Support and staffing agencies to name a few, we listed companies that are not only the best at what they do, they are trustworthy and respected in their fields.” At Innovative, we strive to go above and beyond for our clients to deliver the best results possible so it’s an honor…


Innovative Celebrates 30 Year Anniversary

Posted On: August 27, 2019 | Categorized as: Company News

Before 2019 came to an end, Innovative Benefit Planning had to officially celebrate our 30 Year anniversary, and we certainly didn’t get here alone. On July 24th, our employees, partners and clients, came together to enjoy food trucks, music, and memories from over the years. The afternoon was filled with reminiscing, congratulations, and appreciation.Watch this video to see the highlights from the day, including well wishes and all-time favorite memories from the Innovative team.Whether you have joined us from the beginning or just this year, you have all played an integral role in our success and we genuinely appreciate each of you.https://youtu.be/6-DxhPv74L0


Do’s and Don’ts When Creating an Employee Handbook

Posted On: August 27, 2019 | Categorized as: HR Consulting

The employee handbook is an important communication resource for your employees that also limits your company's legal liability. It can be tough to decide what does and does not belong in the employee handbook, but these tips can help you along the way.   Read the full article, here.



Vice President, Consulting, Dan Foley, Named to Rand Institute Advisory Board at Rutgers University–Camden

Posted On: August 21, 2019 | Categorized as: Company News

The Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs at Rutgers University–Camden, an institute for public policy issues impacting southern New Jersey, announced last week that Innovative’s Vice President, Consulting, Dan Foley, has been appointed to their advisory board. Dan is joined by two other regional leaders, Amy Obsorn, vice president and head of private banking for Republic Bank and Christina Renna, senior vice president at the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey. “It’s important for South Jersey to think and act regionally if we hope to balance our competing desires for growth with the preservation of the quality of life that makes South Jersey such an attractive place to live,” says Darren Spielman, executive director of the Rand Institute at Rutgers–Camden. “These individuals are committed to the Rand Institute’s mission to leverage Rutgers–Camden research expertise in order to bring together citizens and policy makers on behalf of South Jersey’s citizens.”…


Mind Your Health-Mental Health & Exercise

Posted On: August 9, 2019 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

You have probably heard of the variety of benefits from weekly exercise.... But did you know that exercise can do wonders for both physical AND mental health? People who exercise regularly gain a sense of well-being, feel more energetic throughout the day, have a better quality of sleep, and have a greater sense of positivity. Studies have shown that regular exercise has a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD and several other mental health conditions. Additionally, inactivity could contribute to poor mental health and reduced feelings of well-being. A study published in 2018 examined participants with an average experience of 3.4 days of poor mental health each month. Compared to people who reported no exercise activity, participants who exercised reported 1.5 fewer days of poor mental health each month – a reduction of 43%. Types of exercise with the strongest association of improved mental health included team activity, cycling,…


NJ Bans Salary History

Posted On: August 8, 2019 | Categorized as: Compliance

On July 25th, 2019, New Jersey's Acting Governor Sheila Oliver signed NJ Bill A1094 ("the Law"), which bans employers from asking applicants for their salary history. Read the full law here, NJ Bans Salary History, to learn: What is now illegal for an employer to do What the law allows employers to do The next steps New Jersey employers should take Next Steps for New Jersey Employers If your employment application includes questions about the applicant’s salary history, consider either deleting them or, if you are a multistate employer, including a clear instruction that New Jersey applicants should not provide this information. Be certain that you expressly direct your background check vendors not to ask for or share an applicant’s salary history information with the employer unless the applicant has expressly authorized the disclosure. Conduct training with your recruiters and managers about the new law prohibiting them from asking applicants…


Additional Preventive Care Benefits Permitted for High Deductible Plans

Posted On: August 8, 2019 | Categorized as: Compliance, Employee Benefits

In Executive Order 13877, issued June 2019, the Treasury Department and the IRS were directed to consider ways to expand the use and flexibility of HSA's and HDHP's. In response to the Executive Order, the Treasury Department issued guidance on July 17, 2019, that lists newly identified preventive care items and services that may now be covered by a high deductible health plan. Read the complete executive order details here, including the list of identified items: HDPS Additional Preventive Care HDHP sponsors should review the new guidance promptly. For some HDHPs, plan sponsors may seek to expand the list of preventive care items and services covered under the HDHP. For other HDHPs, which already treated certain chronic care expenses as preventive, plan sponsors will need to consider whether changes to that list of preventive items and services are now necessary or appropriate. If you have any questions regarding these additional…


July 2019 Compliance Recap

Posted On: August 8, 2019 | Categorized as: Compliance

July was a busy month in the employee benefits world. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released a notice that expands the list of preventive care benefits a high deductible health plan can provide without a deductible or with a deductible below the annual minimum deductible. The IRS also released the indexed affordability percentage for plan years beginning in 2020. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) published an "A" rating final recommendation. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an update to the notice requirements for plans using the HHS-administered federal external review process. A U.S. District Court upheld the 2018 short-term, limited-duration insurance final rule. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a federal district court's preliminary injunction regarding contraceptive coverage exemptions. The Department of Labor (DOL) released an advisory opinion regarding association health plans (AHPs) and multiple employer welfare arrangements (MEWAs). The Fifth Circuit Court of…


Cyber Security: The Need for Both IT and HR

Posted On: August 1, 2019 | Categorized as: HR Consulting

Businesses face a multitude of risks throughout their daily operations. One of the most complicated risks that organizations confront is cybersecurity risk. Cybersecurity is defined as the protection of internet-connected systems, including hardware, software and cyberattacks. When businesses hold sensitive data on the cloud or shared servers, you must address the potential risks that arise from storing information. Cyber security risk is difficult to address because a cyberattack can come in many forms. Hackers have become more creative in how they breach data systems, but there are vital steps HR and organizations can take to protect themselves, such as:   Implement Email Screening Software: Companies can proactively protect against these forms of cyber-attacks by implementing software that “screens” messages before they are delivered. The best defense against phishing scams is preventing the messages from reaching employees. Screening software is always improving but it’s use does not guarantee that a fraudulent…


Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Updates

Posted On: July 23, 2019 | Categorized as: Compliance, Employee Benefits

Effective July 20, 2019, Pennsylvania will recognize anxiety and Tourette Syndrome as serious medical conditions in the medical marijuana program.   The Pennsylvania Department of Health stated that the decision came after a research-based recommendation by the state’s Medical Marijuana Advisory Board, followed by Health Secretary Rachel Levine’s careful review of the medical literature available about the conditions. You can read more in Pennsylvania’s press release: https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Health-Details.aspx?newsid=620 The Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act allows individuals with a serious medical condition to receive a certification to use medical marijuana obtained from a licensed dispensary in the Commonwealth. Employers need to be familiar with the Act and prepared to properly manage employees at the worksite that are certified to use medical marijuana. The Act provides protections for employees certified to use medical marijuana and in particular, it prohibits employers from discriminating or taking an adverse action against an employee “solely on the basis of the employee’s…


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