Innovative Benefit Planning Blog

COVID-19: Carrier Enhancements

Posted On: March 17, 2020 | Categorized as: Employee Benefits

COVID-19: Carrier Enhancements March 17th, 2020 Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States, the CEO’s of major US health insurance companies met at the White House on March 10, 2020 and agreed to waive costs for certain services such as the COVID-19 test, telemedicine services and prescription refill limitations. Whether you are an employer sponsoring a fully-insured or self-funded plan, it is important to understand the insurance companies response to how certain benefits are being enhanced to address this global pandemic.  For the fully-insured health plans these changes are happening automatically.  Self-funded plans thus far have the option to adopt these enhancements. On March 11th, The Internal Revenue Service advised that high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) can pay for COVID-19 related testing and treatment, without jeopardizing their status. This also means that an individual with an HDHP that covers these costs may continue to contribute to a health…


ACA Filings for Employers with NJ Resident Employees Due 3/31

Posted On: March 16, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

ACA Filings for Employers with NJ Resident Employees Due 3/31 March 16th, 2020 As you may be aware, as of January 1, 2019 the State of New Jersey enacted a mandate requiring New Jersey residents to maintain Minimum Essential Health Coverage, mirroring the requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act. As a result, New Jersey’s Health Insurance Market Preservation Act (HIMPA) has added new cumbersome reporting requirements for employers that have New Jersey residents. These applicable employers are now required to provide the state of New Jersey with the federal 1095 health coverage form for each primary enrollee in 2019, by March 31, 2020. While employers who sponsor a fully-insured health plan are ultimately responsible, we’ve been advised that the medical insurance carriers are fulfilling this requirement on your behalf. For self-insured (which includes level-funded plans), employers should contact their payroll company or ACA reporting vendor to determine if they are providing…


Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Posted On: March 16, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

Families First Coronavirus Response Act On March 18, 2020, the President signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. While largely the same as the House bill passed on March 13, the final version of the legislation differs in several material respects from the original legislation, including permitting exemptions for employers with fewer than 50 employees, and providing some limits on the expansion of paid FMLA benefits. In its final form, the law has several provisions that will take effect in 15 days from signing.  Please see provisions here. The bill provides a series of refundable tax credits for employers who are required to provide the Emergency Paid Sick Leave and the Emergency Paid Family and Medical Leave described above. Subject to certain caps, employers may be able to recover 100 percent of qualified sick leave wages and 100 percent of qualified family leave wages. Innovative is tracking the…


COVID-19: Tips and Prevention

Posted On: March 16, 2020 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

COVID-19: Tips and Prevention Employees may have questions about what they can do to help manage the situation, and as an employer, you want to be proactive in communicating how to prevent the spread of the virus in the workplace. Innovative has created an easy to download infographic that can be shared with employees to assist with stemming the spread of COVID-19 through helpful tips and what signs and symptoms they need to be aware of.


COVID-19: 7 Important Employer Considerations

Posted On: March 16, 2020 | Categorized as: HR Consulting, Workplace Wellness

COVID-19: 7 Important Employer Considerations As employers prepare for COVID-19 accommodations, Innovative has developed a checklist that offers specific considerations for employers in planning for emergencies like COVD-19. Examples include policies to review, communication strategies to consider and benefits that may be impacted. The Innovative team is here to support any organizational policy needs to ensure you and your team are prepared and protected.


COVID-19 Communicating With Employees

Posted On: March 12, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance, HR Consulting, Workplace Wellness

COVID-19 Communicating with Employees March 12th, 2020 As part of their efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, employers should implement an employee communication plan about the illness to employees. The CDC, WHO and OSHA have all created informational material on the virus and its symptoms, prevention and treatment that can be helpful for employees. Please see table below for key resources.     World Health Organization (WHO) Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public   U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Get Your Workplace Ready for a Pandemic (flu-specific but can be adapted to Coronavirus) Pandemic Planning Checklists and Guidance (can be adapted to Coronavirus)   U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Safety and Health Topics: COVID-19 How to Protect Yourself in the Workplace During a Pandemic   U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division (WHD)   Pandemic Flu and the Fair Labor Standards…


Coronavirus And The Workplace

Posted On: March 12, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance, HR Consulting

Coronavirus And The Workplace  March 12th, 2020 Dealing with Epidemics and Communicable or Infectious Diseases As the number of reported cases of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to rise, employers are increasingly confronted with the possibility of an outbreak in the workplace. Employers are obligated to maintain a safe and healthy work environment for their employees, but they are also subject to several legal requirements protecting workers. Compliance issues to consider include: The general duty to provide employees with safe workplace conditions imposed by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act. Protection against disability discrimination (including disability-related inquiries and medical examinations) under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Requirements set by federal and state employee leave laws; and The compensation of individuals who miss work due to COVID-19. Employers can utilize resources to become educated and to educate employees: What is the Coronavirus? How is the virus spread? Disease Prevention in…


The “Best” Green Smoothie Recipe

Posted On: March 11, 2020 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

green smoothie

The "Best" Green Smoothie Recipe March 11th, 2020 This beginner-friendly green smoothie recipe is full of iron, potassium and vitamins galore AND tastes like a tropical treat! Ingredients I cup of fresh spinach 1 cup water (or unsweetened almond milk) ½ cup of frozen pineapple chunks ½ cup of frozen mango chucks 1 frozen banana* Directions Tightly pack spinach in a measuring cup. Add spinach to blender with water or almond milk.  Blend together until all chunks are gone (Should resemble green liquid when well blended). Add frozen pineapple, mango and banana.  Blend together until smooth and creamy. Pour into a glass and serve immediately. *Not a fan of bananas?  Swap it for ¼ avocado or add another ½ cup of mango.


February 2020 Compliance Recap

Posted On: March 6, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

February was a busy month in the employee benefits world. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released an updated Premium Assistance Under Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) model notice. CMS also issued frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding its recently issued summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) template for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2021. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a bulletin that allows grandmothered plans to be extended through 2021. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released an opinion letter stating that collection of employer shared responsibility penalties under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is not subject to a statute of limitations. The IRS also released an information letter confirming that a cafeteria plan is not required to recognize the permitted election change events under the cafeteria plan regulations. The Department of Labor (DOL) issued an…


Terriann Procida Invited to Join Philadelphia Business Journal Leadership Trust

Posted On: March 5, 2020 | Categorized as: Company News

Terriann Procida invited to join Philadelphia Business Journal Leadership Trust Terriann Procida, CEO, has been invited to join Philadelphia Business Journal Leadership Trust, ​an exclusive community for influential business leaders, executives and entrepreneurs in Greater Philadelphia. Terriann was chosen for membership by the Philadelphia Business Journal Leadership Trust Selection Committee due to her experience, leadership and influence in the local business landscape and beyond. “Philadelphia’s thriving business community is powered by leaders like Terriann,” said Sandy Smith, market president and publisher of the Philadelphia Business Journal. “We’re honored to be creating a space where the region’s business influencers come together to increase their impact on the community, build their businesses and connect with and strengthen one another.” As an invited member, Terriann will contribute articles to the Philadelphia Business Journal website and participate alongside fellow members in Expert Panels. “I am honored to join the Philadelphia Business Journal Leadership Trust…


Proposed Mandatory Anti-Harassment Policy Development and Training Delivery in the State of New Jersey

Posted On: March 4, 2020 | Categorized as: HR Consulting

Proposed Mandatory Anti-Harassment Policy Development and Training Delivery in the State of New Jersey March 4th 2020 On February 18, 2020 New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy presented a new bill to the State Legislature that would require all public and private employers in the state to develop anti-harassment policies and training. The establishment of the proposed bill would, as Governor Murphy and other anti-harassment advocates in the state office asserted, make compliance easier and would also require that employers with more than 50 employees collect and report data on harassment complaints to the state. Currently, New Jersey is one of twelve states that require executive/state government employees receive training but have nothing in place that extends that requirement to private employers. New Jersey would join the nine current states that require anti-harassment training. As your organization considers how it might begin to develop or improve upon existing anti-harassment policies and…


Eat Right, Bite By Bite

Posted On: March 3, 2020 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

eat right by bringing your lunch to work

Eat Right, Bite By Bite March 3rd, 2020 The key to achieving optimal health cannot be found in any one food, drink or pill, but rather through your personal commitment to healthy lifestyle behaviors.  Focusing on maintaining and enjoying good nutrition and daily physical activity is the key to success. March is National Nutrition Month, a monthly observance that is supported by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  Each March, the Academy focuses attention on healthful eating and this year’s theme Eat Right, Bite by Bite, promotes eating a variety of nutritious foods every day and planning and creating healthful meals each week. Good nutrition doesn’t have to be restrictive or overwhelming.  Small goals and changes can have a cumulative health effect, and every little bit (or bite!) of nutrition is a step in the right direction. EATING ON THE RUN You probably eat out a lot – most of…


Ways Employers Can Deal With Employee Student Loan Debt

Posted On: February 25, 2020 | Categorized as: Employee Benefits, Retirement Plans

Ways Employers Can Deal With Employee Student Loan Debt February 25th, 2020 Student debt has increased dramatically in recent years, creating a financial burden on employees’ ability to save for retirement. Many employers have begun implementing programs to help employees manage student loan debt. Millennials (and their families) are often burdened with significant student loan debt. More than 70 million millennials make up 50% of today’s workforce, and that number is growing. Also, many older workers in the “sandwich generation” are saving for their children’s college. Both of these scenarios provide opportunities for employers to design programs that help employees reduce their financial stress (which often affects productivity), as well as make the company more attractive to talented candidates. To review your options, feel free to contact Innovative Benefit Planning. We have extensive experience guiding clients through these decisions, and would be more than happy to help.


4 Concepts to Construct Company Culture

Posted On: February 25, 2020 | Categorized as: HR Consulting

4 Concepts to Construct Company Culture February 25th, 2020 When we think of employee retention, it often seems like we think of the same few strategies: employee benefits, PTO, food, etc. However, the company culture surrounding a team seems to matter just as much.  Your employees spend a considerable amount of their time at work, so one of the simplest tools at your fingertips when it comes to retention is offering them your consideration, and an enjoyable environment that they can be a part of. Here are some simple ways to make your team members feel more involved in your office. Create a Culture Committee If you’re in HR, you probably spend a good portion of your year doing things like exploring different team-building ideas, finding volunteer opportunities and discovering  ways to welcome new members to the team. Truthfully, the people that can help you the most with these tasks…


January 2020 Compliance Recap

Posted On: February 24, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

January was a busy month in the employee benefits world. The U.S. Supreme Court (Supreme Court) denied expedited review of a court case challenging the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Supreme Court also granted review of a nationwide preliminary injunction of the November 2018 contraceptive coverage exemptions final rules. The Department of Labor (DOL) issued its annual adjustment of federal civil monetary penalties. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued its annual adjustment of civil monetary penalties. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a proposed rule for benefit payment and parameters for 2021. The HHS' Office for Civil Rights released a notice regarding enforcement of individuals' right of access to health records under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH). The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Publication…


Easy, Healthy Valentine’s Day Treats and Snacks

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

cake batter energy balls on a plate with strawberry syrup in the shape of a heart for a valentine's day treat

Easy, Healthy Valentine’s Day Treats and Snacks February 12th, 2020 A few whole grains here, a little less fat there, add some fruit and suddenly you have Valentine’s Day treats that are a nutritious and delicious way to say, “I love you”. Chocolate Dipped Fruit; Gluten-free Vegan Ingredients 1 cup (8 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate 18-24 bite size pieces of fresh fruit (strawberries, cantaloupe, pineapple, honeydew, banana, grapes, kiwi) Optional: wooden skewers Optional garnish: sprinkles or chopped nuts Directions Melt chocolate in microwave-safe bowl on high for 1 minute (or in a double-boiler) If using skewers, spear fruit onto skewer prior to dipping Dip fruit pieces about 2/3 of the way into chocolate, gently tap off excess If desired, sprinkle nuts or sprinkles over the chocolate Lay pieces on wax paper to cool, refrigerate until ready to serve Serves 8 (About 2-3 pieces per serving, depending on size of fruit), Prep…


Heart Health Month: Show Yourself Some Love

Posted On: February 3, 2020 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

Show yourself some love; get heart healthy; Stethoscope in heart shape

February is heart health month and it’s a great time to raise awareness and learn what you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease. Because many cases of heart disease are controllable, you can take charge of your health by actively working to improve it by making some simple lifestyle changes and making yourself and your health a priority. Self Care Self care is about taking time to pay attention to you, in a way that ensures that you are being cared for by you. Did you know that half of Americans have at least one of the top 3 risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol or smoking? Did you know heart disease doesn’t just happen to older adults? In fact, millions of Americans of all ages have high blood pressure, including millions of people in their 40s and 50s. About half of the…


DOL Increases ERISA Penalties for 2020

Posted On: January 29, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

DOL Department Of Labor

January 29th, 2020 On January 15, 2020, consistent with its policy of annual adjustment, the DOL published its final rule adjusting ERISA’s civil monetary penalties for 2020. ERISA protects the interests of employee benefit plan participants and their beneficiaries.  The adjustments are non-discretionary (and therefore not subject to a notice and comment period) and based on the consumer price index from October of 2019. There are five penalty increases of particular importance to employers. Maximum penalty for failure to timely file Form 5500 Maximum penalty for failure to furnish a summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) Failure to comply with the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) and failure to provide required Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) notices Failure to provide information to the DOL upon request Failure to file form M-1 (for Multiple Employer Welfare Associations or MEWAs) To avoid the imposition of penalties, employers should ensure ERISA compliance for…


What To Do When Your Retirement Vendor Is Sold

Posted On: January 28, 2020 | Categorized as: Events

What To Do When Your Retirement Vendor Is Sold January 28th, 2020 The retirement plan industry is undergoing a wave of consolidation, with many 401(k) vendors merging with competitors or being acquired. Their pending merger may be in the best interest of the companies combining, but you must determine if it is also in your best interest. As a plan sponsor, when your record keeper changes, you have a fiduciary obligation to research what is happening and how it affects both your organization and your participants. While this may be a good move for your plan, accepting an automatic conversion remains a fiduciary decision. Plan sponsors should initiate a process to determine whether the change is best for plan participants and beneficiaries, or if an alternative solution would be better. A plan sponsor also needs to document that decision. Your documentation should include a thorough review of the cost and…


Walnut-Rosemary Crusted Salmon

Posted On: January 23, 2020 | Categorized as: Events

salmon recipe

Walnut-Rosemary Crusted Salmon January 23rd, 2020 Are you tired of always falling short on your health goals? Maybe it is because the method you're using to reach them just isn't designed with your personal well-being in mind. The key to making a healthy change is to set yourself up for success, and it's important to recognize what your body needs to make those changes happen.  Take a look at your nutrition and how you are prepping your food for the week.  The right choices in food will fuel your body, ultimately improving your health, mood, sleep, and possibly many more aspects of your everyday life! Start looking at what the food you're consuming has to offer. Salmon and walnuts are both great sources of omega-3 fatty acids.  Pair this easy salmon recipe with a simple salad and a side of roasted potatoes or quinoa.   Ingredients 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 1…


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