Innovative Benefit Planning Blog

Better Sleep for Better Health

Posted On: November 12, 2020 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

woman sleeping peacefully on white bed

Better Sleep for Better Health As we approach the holiday season, it is important to remember to take some time to care for yourself. The holidays can be extremely busy, stressful, and even draining at times. Don’t forget to make yourself a priority. Self care is about taking time for yourself, and one way to ensure you are dedicating some time to yourself is to work on improving your sleep and sleep habits. Research shows that as many as 60% of Americans suffer from poor quality sleep. It is recommended that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep per night because sleep plays a vital role in promoting physical health, longevity, and emotional well-being. Take some time to read these tips provided by Innovative Benefit Planning's Nurse Advocate in order to improve your sleep during these stressful times. Stick to a sleep schedule. Set aside a minimum of 7 hours of…


6 Self-Funding Strategies to Suit Your Needs

Posted On: November 12, 2020 | Categorized as: Employee Benefits

Self Funded Plan printed on keyboarded key

6 Self-Funding Strategies Self-funding is nothing new as it has been a common form of health plan financing since 1974. Self-funding provides great flexibility with plan designs and provides freedom from most state laws. In fact, over 60% of US employees are covered under a self-insured medical plan. Under self-funded arrangements, the employer assumes all the risk of claims with backup protection from stop-loss coverage and retains the savings over fully insured. Employers partner with TPA and other vendors to provide claims administration, case management and network access. Employers with as many as 50 employees can consider self-funding, however we see employers with 100 or more participating in this funding arrangement. Advantages and Benefits The employer, which is also known as the plan sponsor in a self-funded arrangement, can determine the plan design that best suits the needs of their employees. Regulatory is defined at federal only, not state. The…


NJ Employers Must Adhere to Latest Executive Orders Mandating Health and Safety Protocols for COVID-19

Posted On: November 4, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

NJ Employers Must Adhere to Latest Executive Orders Mandating Health and Safety Protocols for COVID-19 On October 28, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 192 (EO 192), which mandates that New Jersey employers abide by certain health and safety standards in an effort to protect employees and other individuals at workplaces during the pandemic. The executive order, effective 6:00am November 5th,  will take the following actions in three areas: Workplace health and safety standards to cover all NJ workers: The executive order will require both private and public sector employers to follow health and safety protocols that will serve to protect their in-person workforces.  The Order mandates all employers: Require individuals at the worksite to maintain at least six feet of distance from others to the maximum extent possible; Require employees, customers, visitors, and other individuals entering the worksite to wear cloth or disposable face masks…


2021 IRS Contribution Limits for FSA and Commuter Benefits

Posted On: November 2, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

2021 IRS Contribution Limits for FSA and Commuter Benefits On Tuesday, the IRS released 2021 contribution limits for medical FSA and Commuter Benefits for 2021. There are no changes to flexible spending account (FSA) and commuter benefits contribution limits for 2021. The IRS did adjust the contribution limits for adoption assistance programs, increasing the limit from $14,300 to $14,440. Last, HSA contribution limits were announced earlier this year. The limit for an individual is $3,600, while the family contribution limit increased to $7,200. The current and new contribution limits include: Medical FSA Contribution Limit remained the same: $2750 Monthly Commuter Benefits Contribution Limit remained the same: $270 HSA Contribution Limit: Single - $3600; Family - $7200 Adoption Assistance Limit: Increased to $14,440 For a downloadable PDF, click here. If you have any questions about 2021 limits, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your account management team or email us…


IRS Announces 2021 Plan Limitations

Posted On: November 2, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance, Retirement Plans

IRS Announces 2021 Plan Limitations The IRS has recently announced the qualified plan limitations for 2021, which are determined based on annual increases in the cost of living index. Because there was only a modest increase in the index, most of the plan limits have not changed from 2020. For your convenience we have included a downloadable compliance bulletin, detailing the current and new plan limitations: 401k Deferral Limit remained the same: $19,500 The maximum amount that can be contributed by and for a participant to a defined contribution plan - Increased to $58,000 The maximum amount of compensation taken into account for plan purposes - Increased to $290,000 The catch-up contribution for participants who have attained age 50 remained the same: $6,500 The compensation-based definition of highly compensated employee remained the same: $130,000 The maximum annual benefit payable from a defined benefit plan remained the same: $230,000 The definition…


How Working With a Qualified Plan Advisor Can Improve Your Audit Experience

Posted On: November 2, 2020 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

How Working With a Qualified Plan Advisor Can Improve Your Audit Experience Hiring a quality qualified plan advisor provides many advantages to employers that sponsor a retirement plan. Specifically, one of those advantages is improving your annual qualified plan audit. As each audit season begins, employers often dread having to coordinate with their accounting firm while juggling their day-to-day tasks. The good news is, we have outlined three ways your qualified plan advisor can improve this administrative burden. Quick Access to Information Audits by nature involve many questions and requests for data. In some cases, the information in question is not regularly requested, making it difficult for employers to find. Advisors on the other hand have knowledge of the plan and recordkeeping systems to access certain information quickly, saving valuable time for everyone. Relationship with the Auditor Many advisors develop relationships with various auditing firms. By doing so, the advisor…


CARES ACT & FFCRA Tax Credits for Eligible Employers

Posted On: October 26, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

CARES ACT & FFCRA Tax Credits for Eligible Employers Eligible employers are entitled to receive a credit in the full amount of the required sick leave and family leave, plus related health plan expenses and the employer’s share of Medicare tax on the leave, for the period of April 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.  The refundable credit is applied against certain employment taxes on wages paid to all employees. Eligible employers can reduce federal employment tax deposits in anticipation of the credit.  They can also request an advance of the paid sick and family leave credits for any amounts not covered by the reduction in deposits. The advanced payments will be issued by paper check to employers. To learn more about these tax credits, click here.


3 ACA Reporting Errors and The Pandemic’s Impact

Posted On: October 22, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance, Employee Benefits

3 ACA Reporting Errors and The Pandemic’s Impact As we approach the end of 2020, we must consider how the various enrollment fluctuations due to the COVID-19 Pandemic will impact the ACA Employer Mandate and the already tedious 1095/1094 ACA Reporting. The IRS recently granted a March 2nd deadline extension for the 1095 reporting and this extra time will likely be needed for employers to accurately audit their data as we are expecting to see additional errors due to furloughs, layoffs and coverage extensions. Prior to filing, employers should audit their reporting for the following common errors to avoid an unnecessary penalty letter. Enrollment Changes and Code Errors For each month an employee is offered coverage and one of codes 1B through 1E is entered in line 14, an employee should have a dollar amount indicated in line 15. If there are blank entries this could trigger a penalty for…


September Compliance Recap

Posted On: October 15, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

September Compliance Recap September was a relatively quiet month in the employee benefits world. President Trump issued an executive order on An America-First Healthcare Plan, noting the Administration’s actions on healthcare and planned actions going forward. A federal district court halted the repeal of certain provisions of the prior final rule on Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Department of Labor (DOL) released additional temporary regulations on the leave laws under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) in response to a federal district court’s invalidation of certain provisions under the original temporary regulations issued by the DOL. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Security Risk Assessment Tool Version 3.2. The DOL released a final rule on Promoting Regulatory Openness Through Good Guidance…


Vegetable Chili Recipe

Posted On: October 14, 2020 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

Vegetable Chili Recipe As the weather starts to turn, there’s nothing more comforting than a hot bowl of chili.  This recipe is loaded with lots of vegetables but it’s tasty too! You can certainly add to it if you’d like such as rice, quinoa, barley, small pasta or even shredded chicken.  You can swap in your favorite vegetables and beans as well. INGREDIENTS ¼  cup olive oil 2 zucchini, cut into ½-inch dice 2 onions, cut into ½-inch dice 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped 2 large red bell peppers, cored and cut into ¼-inch dice 1 can (35 ounces) Italian plum tomatoes, with their juice 1½ pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cut into 1 inch dice 2 tablespoons good-quality chili powder 1 tablespoon ground cumin 1 tablespoon dried basil 1 tablespoon dried oregano 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon fennel seeds ½ cup Chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley 1 cup canned dark red kidney beans, drained 1 cup canned chick-peas (garbanzos), drained ½ cup chopped fresh dill 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 cup sour cream 2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese 4 scallions (green onions), white bulb and 3 inches green, sliced…


Have You Received an MLR Rebate Check? What To Do Next?

Posted On: October 9, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance, Employee Benefits

Have You Received an MLR Rebate Check? What To Do Next? The Affordable Care Act requires health insurance carriers to spend at least 80-85 percent of premium dollars on medical care and healthcare quality improvement. If the carrier does not meet this medical loss ratio (MLR) obligation, it must give affected customers a rebate.  Rebates must be distributed by the carriers each year by September 30. Any employer that receives a refund then needs process and distribute within 90 days to avoid triggering ERISA trust requirements. For your convenience we have included more information regarding this topic in our compliance bulletin, including: How should the rebate be divided? Are former plan participants entitled to a share in the rebate? How may the employer use the rebate? How should the rebate be provided? Additional Q&As on how the rebate should be used If you have any questions about distribution or how…


Dust Off That Old Policy: Why Now is a Good Time to Review Your Life Insurance Policies

Posted On: October 8, 2020 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

Dust Off That Old Policy: Why Now is a Good Time to Review Your Life Insurance Policies As a result of the COVID-19 National Emergency, insurance companies have modified their underwriting requirements to help individuals secure additional life insurance protection. Through new “relaxed” underwriting guidelines, insurers are offering coverage without an exam that requires a nurse to visit your home or office. These relaxed guidelines offer a convenient way to increase insurance amounts, with death benefits up to $3,000,000 available for most age groups.  Due to these relaxed guidelines, now is a good time for employers and individuals to review their existing in force policies for key person, buy/sell or estate planning purposes. Innovative recommends the following when reviewing your life insurance programs: Term Insurance Understand your conversion options, particularly the date at which the conversion period ends. Does the period end at a specific age, a specific number of…


IRS Extends ACA Reporting Deadline for Furnishing Statements for 2020 from February 1 to March 2, 2021

Posted On: October 7, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

IRS Extends ACA Reporting Deadline for Furnishing Statements for 2020 from February 1 to March 2, 2021 As the deadline for reporting of group health coverage offered in 2020 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) approaches, the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) has issued IRS Notice 2020-76 (Notice) regarding deadline extensions and requirements as it has done in prior years. In past years, the IRS provided relief to employers who made a good faith effort to comply with the information reporting requirements and determined that they would not be subject to penalties for failure to correctly or completely file. This did not apply to employers that failed to timely file or furnish a statement. Under the Notice, this relief has been extended for group health coverage offered in 2020. As in prior years, the relief is applied only to incorrect or incomplete information reported on the statement or…


How Employers Can Show Support on World Mental Health Awareness Day

Posted On: October 7, 2020 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

How Employers Can Show Support on World Mental Health Awareness Day World Mental Health Day is recognized annually to promote education for global mental health, as well as create awareness and advocacy against social stigma.   This yearly observance has occurred since 1992 and carries with it a yearly theme.  It falls on October 10th, and the goal of this year’s theme is increased investment in mental health, with a focus on expanding the availability of mental health resources for all. Statistically, 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. have a mental health disorder, while 1 in 22 adults live with a serious mental illness such as bipolar, depression, or schizophrenia. This COVID-19 pandemic has only led to increased mental health problems due to isolation, fear, and social distancing.  With that being said, it is imperative that we support the World Federation for Mental Heath’s view that, “ there is no…


Participant Risk Assessment

Posted On: September 28, 2020 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

Participant Risk Assessment As we work our way through a market recovery and closer to what could be a greater period of uncertainty around the upcoming election, now may be a good time for participants to review the equity risk associated with their retirement account and understand if their current investments are properly aligned with their objectives or if adjustments are necessary. The first step would be to review their investor profile/strategy, then assess if their current investments are properly aligned with their objectives, and last decide if adjustments are necessary. The retirement team here at Innovative is here to help our client’s employees with this review process by completing our simple asset allocation questionnaire. Once completed, we will review their current plan investments and discuss potential changes in their allocation. To review your options or if you feel this service would be beneficial to your employees, please feel free…


New FAQs Address Questions Employers May Ask to Screen Employees for COVID-19 and ADA Requirements for Handling Employees’ Medical Information 

Posted On: September 25, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

New FAQs Address Questions Employers May Ask to Screen Employees for COVID-19 and ADA Requirements for Handling Employees' Medical Information  On Sept. 8, 2020, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued additional answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about how employers should comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) during the coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic. The additional FAQs, which address the types of information employers may or may not require from employees, how employers must handle employees' medical information and other ADA issues, were added to guidance that the EEOC originally issued on March 18 and updated in April, May and June 2020. The existing guidance also addresses workplace accommodations, medical exams and other ADA-related issues. Please contact us with any questions!  


Zucchini Bread Recipe

Posted On: September 22, 2020 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

Zucchini Bread Recipe Ingredients: 1 ½ cup shredded zucchini ½ cup honey 2 eggs ⅓ cup unsweetened almond milk 2 tsp vanilla extract 2 cups whole wheat flour 1 tsp baking soda ½ tsp salt 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon ¼ tsp nutmeg ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted Optional: ½ cup walnuts or ½ cup chocolate chips Instructions: Preheat oven to 325°. Grease an 8x4 inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, combine zucchini, honey, eggs, almond milk, vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, and cinnamon. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix. Next, add in coconut oil and mix. Fold in walnuts or chocolate chips if desired. Pour in to prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Nutrition Information: Serving Size: 1 slice Calories 202 Total Fat 8.9g Saturated Fat 4.5g Protein…


Innovative’s 2nd Annual Well-Being @ Work Summit

Posted On: September 21, 2020 | Categorized as: Events, Workplace Wellness

Innovative's 2nd Annual Well-Being @ Work Summit On September 15th, 2020, Innovative Benefit Planning hosted the 2nd Annual Well-Being @ Work Summit, which is dedicated to making workplaces healthier (but with a twist)! Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team had decided to create a virtual event in order to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved.  However, going virtual this year ended up opening up many doors, including the opportunity to welcome a total of 8 speakers! Attendees even received a “registration box” which included a shirt for the day of the summit, promotional items from sponsors such as cups, mints, tooth brushes, and hand sanitizer, as well as a drink kit and Innovative face mask.  The event had a wonderful turnout, including HR professionals, C-Suite decision-makers, health and well-being professionals and top well-being vendors in the industry. The morning started out on the right foot with a…


August Compliance Recap

Posted On: September 9, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

August 2020 Compliance Recap August was a relatively busy month in the employee benefits world. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) released an updated report on health savings accounts (HSAs) that summarizes the principal rules governing HSAs and changes made to HSAs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued amended guidance allowing health plans to use protected health information (PHI) to contact individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 regarding donating blood plasma. A federal district court invalidated certain provisions of the regulations implementing the Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The U.S. Supreme Court announced the date for oral arguments in the court case challenging the constitutionality of the ACA. The Small Business Administration (SBA) released frequently asked questions (FAQs) on…


What Steps Can Plan Sponsors and Retirement Plan Committee Members Take to Protect Themselves?

Posted On: August 25, 2020 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

What Steps Can Plan Sponsors and Retirement Plan Committee Members Take to Protect Themselves? When managing a qualified retirement plan, there are certain duties the plan sponsor and committee members have to the plan and participants as named fiduciaries. These duties create liability for the plan sponsor and committee members for decisions made regarding the plan. In recent years, retirement plan lawsuits relating to fees have become more prevalent. Additionally, these suits are beginning to impact smaller plans, such as the Greystar 401(k) plan in 2019 which had less than $250,000,000 in assets. How can plan sponsors and committee members ensure that they are taking all the necessary steps to protect themselves? Develop Well Documented and Structured Processes to Monitor Investments Investment selection goes beyond lowest cost or best performing investment. Instead, a holistic review of the fund’s fees, performance and other metrics leads to better investment options for the…


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