Innovative Benefit Planning Blog

Innovative Announces the 3rd Annual Well-Being @ Work Summit

Posted On: March 25, 2022 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

Innovative is excited to announce the date for our 3rd annual Well-Being at Work Summit. Join us on Thursday, May 12th, from 9:00am-3:00pm, at Adventure Aquarium in Camden, New Jersey.This Year’s Theme:Unfortunately, due to things like the pandemic, isolation and burnout, employee mental illness is on the rise. In fact, according to the CDC, about 20% of Americans report symptoms of mental illness. To help support employers through these times, we decided to focus this year’s theme on mental health in the workplace.Our 4 industry-expert speakers will share their unmatched knowledge to:Positively lead your team by providing strategies to build resilienceLearn practices that support healing mind, body and spiritUnderstand how Mindfulness can be used as a tool to address implicit biasApply strategies and identify resources to accommodate and support employees' mental health and wellnesshttps://youtu.be/d9zr7L-R3bIWhat to Expect That Day:Attendees will have the opportunity to network with other employers who are in…


Government Funding Bill Extends CARES Act Relief for HDHPs

Posted On: March 22, 2022 | Categorized as: Compliance

President Biden recently signed The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022 (CAA) into law. As part of the 2022 CAA, COVID-related telehealth coverage can be covered at no cost-share for High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) in a similar fashion to what was allowed under the CARES Act starting April 1, 2022 through December 31, 2022. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) allowed first-dollar telehealth coverage under HDHPs. This relief allowed participants to utilize telehealth services prior to satisfying the plan’s deductible without risk of disqualification, which would prevent continuing contributions to a health savings account (HSA). The relief afforded under the CARES Act ended December 31, 2021, thus highlighting a need for additional relief, either temporary or permanent. While it is unclear whether permanent legislation expanding telehealth coverage in this manner will be enacted, the new relief, although temporary, comes as welcome news to participants and plan sponsors.This…


The DOL’s Compliance Assistance Release No. 2022-01 401(k) Plan Investments in “Cryptocurrencies”

Posted On: March 16, 2022 | Categorized as: Compliance, Retirement Plans

As plan advisors, we’ve had increasing questions from plan sponsors and committees about the availability and merits of Crypto backed investment options.   With their release last week, the DOL has made their position very clear: they will investigate plan fiduciaries who make these types of investments available, even through brokerage windows. The following was released from the DOL: In recent months, the Department of Labor has become aware of firms marketing investments in cryptocurrencies to 401(k) plans as potential investment options for plan participants.1 The Department cautions plan fiduciaries to exercise extreme care before they consider adding a cryptocurrency option to a 401(k) plan’s investment menu for plan participants. Under ERISA, fiduciaries must act solely in the financial interests of plan participants and adhere to an exacting standard of professional care. Courts have commonly referred to these prudence and loyalty obligations as the “highest known to the law.” Fiduciaries who…


Innovative Launches Exclusive Client Lunch-n-Learn

Posted On: March 3, 2022 | Categorized as: Events

Innovative is proud to launch our new exclusive client lunch-n-learn, Noontime Knowledge for 2022. This biannual event will take place at our Moorestown office’s Learning Exchange each June and October. During this one-hour lunch, clients can come together to learn and lean on each other. Learn the latest trends and products to optimize your health plan offerings, as well as review current and upcoming compliance changes and obligations.  Lean on our community of like-minded professionals to share best practices. Learning Outcomes Include: Compliance updates and upcoming deadlines Tips to optimize your benefit offering Trends in HR, Employee Benefits, and Retirement Plans Workplace wellness tips based on the relevant season and observances Community Roundtable: Do you have a burning topic or issue you have been dealing with? Let’s lean on our community of like-minded professionals! At the end of each lunch, we will conduct a roundtable discussion to collaborate and share…


Tax Planning Opportunities Through Proper Retirement Plan Design

Posted On: March 2, 2022 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

Many business owners, principals, and executives are not aware of the tremendous personal and corporate tax benefits that can be achieved through the proper retirement plan design. Most retirement plans are designed for administrative efficiency – not for tax planning purposes. As a result, most businesses are not aware of the options available for designing a tax-efficient plan. Retirement plans can offer considerable flexibility that can provide tax benefits for: Owners, executives, principals, and family members. Plans can be designed to help these individuals reduce personal income taxes, and to grow significant assets while deferring taxes on those assets. Retirement plan assets are also exempt from the claims of creditors. Your organization Contributions to a retirement plan can reduce taxes at the entity level. Retirement benefits can also provide a powerful employee recruitment and retention tool. Plans where employer contributions are subject to a vesting schedule can help with employee…


Four Steps to Create a Stable Renewal Environment

Posted On: February 23, 2022 | Categorized as: Employee Benefits

Large renewal rate increases frustrate employers and plan sponsors each year. They might experience significant, double-digit rate hikes one year; a smaller uptick the second; and another large increase the third year. Owners, CFOs, and HR executives would prefer stable, predictable trends so they can better budget for future costs.Too often, companies send out requests for proposals, cross our fingers, and hope for the best. However, that approach seldom works. To paraphrase a quote often mistakenly attributed to Albert Einstein, one shouldn’t do the same thing over and over and expect different results. The answer is for employers to become more proactive and take strategic measures to change the pattern.Here are four steps company leaders can take to address the underlying issues driving high renewals rate and create a more stable renewal environment.Proper UnderwritingIn the current environment, traditional underwriting practices and inefficient funding mechanisms lead carriers to overact to large…


The Connection of Healthy Hearts and Minds in the Workplace

Posted On: February 16, 2022 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

American Heart Month, observed every February since 1963, raises awareness about the dangers of heart disease and promotes lifestyle changes that can help people improve their heart health. Despite this, heart disease remains the leading cause of death among Americans. However, the American Heart Association (AHA) is now expanding the scope of its guidance to emphasize the emerging connection between heart health and mental health.For many years, the AHA stated recently, doctors thought the only link between mental health and heart health stemmed from behaviors (such as a depressed person smoking, drinking, or eating poor) that hampered heart health. However, newer research indicates that physiological, biological, and chemical factors that affect mental health may also influence heart disease. Mental health issues such as work-related stress and anxiety are becoming widely recognized as additional risk factors for heart disease beyond the traditional sources.In March 2021, the AHA officially recognized the mental…


January 2022 Compliance Recap

Posted On: February 16, 2022 | Categorized as: Compliance

January brought breaking news that the U.S. Supreme Court (the Court) would stop OSHA from enforcing its employee COVID-19 test or vaccinate emergency temporary standard (ETS) for employers with 100 or more employees. Although the decision doesn’t end the OSHA ETS permanently, it means that the ETS is unlikely to be upheld in its current form. The Court left in place a COVID-19 vaccine employer mandate for Medicare and Medicaid-certified entities. The decision does not end the debate, but it does mean employers will continue to be subject to varying standards at the state level with no uniform federal standard.In other news, health plans were notified that they must cover COVID-19 over-the-counter tests at no cost to enrollees, with only days to put a plan in place to comply with the rule. This left employers and pharmacy benefit administrators scrambling to analyze the guidance and be ready within days to…


Departments Clarify Required Coverage of At-Home OTC COVID-19 Tests

Posted On: February 8, 2022 | Categorized as: Compliance

The Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Treasury (collectively, the Departments) recently issued updated FAQ guidance to explain how employer group health plans may comply with the requirement to cover with no cost-sharing or preauthorization at-home over-the-counter (OTC) COVID-19 tests provided with no prescription or health care provider involvement. Initial guidance had created safe harbors for plans to make at-home tests available through a preferred provider network or direct-to-consumer shipping program. Under that guidance, plan sponsors could, under certain conditions, limit the number of OTC at-home tests covered per month to no more than eight tests per individual per month, and limit reimbursement for any such tests purchased outside of an established provider network or direct shipping program to no more than the lesser of $12 or the cost of the test.Initial rules, which were effective for tests purchased on or after January 15, have left many…


Delivery Requirements for Summary Plan Description

Posted On: February 4, 2022 | Categorized as: Compliance

It's so important for employers to understand the requirements around annual notices and annual delivery of theirs SPDs and their SBCs. There is great potential for a penalty if an employee were to request that document and not receive it within 30 days; those penalties can be up to $100 per day per violation if the DOL were to start an audit and get involved. Not to mention, there may be additional penalties as well. The confusion lies with the delivery a lot of times of how to actually deliver these planned documents and these notices to their employees. There are a number of options for employers to take in order to deliver the notices and their plan documents annually. Listen below as our Director of Compliance, Tamalyn Wandler, JD explains the electronic and non-electronic options and their requirements.https://youtu.be/aQKfwvOTboY Want to learn more about electronic and non-electronic delivery methods? Download…


How to Reset & Reflect After Benefits Renewal Season

Posted On: January 26, 2022 | 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 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. Listen below as our Vice President of Consulting, John Romaska, and Executive Account Manager, Shemelia McClain, discuss why employers should take the time to reflect after their benefit renewal season and considerations they should take when doing so. https://youtu.be/ZDgnWvJwQbQ Spending a little time now to recap the lessons of 2021 will save you more time and effort in 2022 and deliver better results. Read our recent blog, "How to Reset and Reflect After Benefits Renewal Season" for questions you should ask yourself and considerations as you move into 2022. Join us on February 8th as the…


Solutions for Recruiting in a Candidate-Driven Market

Posted On: January 25, 2022 | Categorized as: HR Consulting

Employers recruiting top-quality talent face new challenges as they navigate the current candidate-driven market. During 2020, the pandemic gave us an employer-driven market, where high unemployment rates and reducing hiring meant more candidates competed for fewer openings. By mid-2021, the dynamic shifted to a candidate driven-market, as the economic recovery created job openings that remain unfilled. The effects of the pandemic continue to ripple through the job market, including: Fewer in-person interviews and more virtual interactions; The Great Resignation, in which millions of people change jobs or left the labor force to pursue lifestyle choices; The Great Retirement as Baby Boomers exit long-term positions, accelerated rates, creating a knowledge drain. These factors have helped shift the balance of power to job seekers and current employees. How can employers more effectively recruit and retain talent in a candidate-driven market? Here are several tips to help you fill those openings. Employer Branding…


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


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 RuleThe 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 Fact Sheet…


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…


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…


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