Innovative Benefit Planning Blog

Andrew May Promoted to Senior Account Manager – Financial Services

Posted On: July 16, 2021 | Categorized as: Company News

Andrew May Promoted to Senior Account Manager - Financial Services Innovative Benefit Planning is pleased to announce the promotion of Andrew May to Senior Account Manager-Financial Services. Andrew has been a part of the Innovative financial service team for over two years, serving as a Financial Services Associate. During this time, Andrew has managed to receive his AIF® designation and CFP® designation, all while truly making an impact to our team and his clients. Like his prior role, Andrew will continue to consult with and support retirement clients. In addition, as Senior Account Manager-Financial Service, Andrew will play a critical role in new client implementation, member open enrollment, managing communications with clients, carriers, and vendors, as well as manage and lead the department compliance calendar. “Andrew has played a key role in the Innovative Investment Fiduciaries team and has shown significant growth, dedication, and leadership. He consistently goes above and…

No Surprise Billing: Interim Final Regulations Part 1

Posted On: July 13, 2021 | Categorized as: Compliance

No Surprise Billing: Interim Final Regulations Part 1 On July 1, 2021, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury, along with the Office of Personnel Management (collectively, the Departments), issued an interim final rule (IFR) to explain provisions of the No Surprises Act (the Act) that passed as part of sweeping COVID-19 relief legislation signed in December 2020. The Act and IFR aim to protect consumers from excessive out-of-pocket costs resulting from surprise and balance medical billing. This Advisor provides a high-level summary of the IFR. Background Under the Act, group health plans, or health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage, that provide or cover any benefits for services in an emergency department of a hospital (including a hospital outpatient department that provides emergency services) or an independent freestanding emergency department (in-network or out-of-network, also referred to as participating and nonparticipating), must cover…

Benefits of a CEFEX Certified Advisor

Posted On: July 8, 2021 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

Benefits of a CEFEX Certified Advisor A CEFEX (Centre for Fiduciary Excellence) certified advisory firm adheres to a standard representing the best practices in their industry. They abide by a global fiduciary standard of excellence with specific criteria covering 21 best practices. In fact, the documented repeatable processes and the evidence-based decision-making that CEFEX demands are more likely to generate higher investment returns over time. Additionally, because the firm voluntarily agrees to a rigorous annual audit, investors can rest assured that their advisor continues to work to the highest professional standards.  This independent verification is even more critical for trustees and investment committee members of retirement plans who are legally required to conduct regular due diligence on their service providers, which CEFEX certified firms complete at no expense to the plan. So, Why Work with a CEFEX Certified Advisor? As an investor, you want peace of mind. You need to…

3 Reasons Every Employer Should Benchmark Their Health Plan

Posted On: July 8, 2021 | Categorized as: Employee Benefits

3 Reasons Every Employer Should Benchmark Their Health Plan As employers are competing for the race for talent and trying to bend the rising health care cost curve, benchmarking employee benefits is more important than ever. Here are three advantages to benchmarking health benefits: Bragging Rights: Employee benefits are a part of the compensation equation that most employees consider before accepting a job or choosing to stay with a company, so it’s important to know how your benefits rank. And once you’ve figured out that your benefits are at par or above everyone else’s, you will have strong talking points when recruiting talent. In addition, current employees will also feel more satisfied with their work if they know that their organization is giving them the best. Cost Savings: Checking if your costs are in line with everyone else helps you manage your costs better. Benchmarking is one of the most…

Raspberry Mojito Cheesecake Bars

Posted On: July 2, 2021 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

Raspberry Mojito Cheesecake Bars Are you looking for a healthy treat to bring to this weekend’s 4th of July celebration? Raspberries provide potassium, which is essential to heart function, and proven to lower blood pressure. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids which help prevent stroke and heart disease, and the mineral manganese is necessary for healthy bones, skin and helps regulate blood sugar. Try these Skinny Raspberry Mojito Cheesecake Bars that are only 130 calories per bar! Ingredients Raspberry Sauce: 6 oz. of Driscoll raspberries 2 tablespoon of water 1 teaspoon of honey 1 tablespoon of arrowroot 1/2 teaspoon of lime zest Graham Cracker Crust: 3/4 cup of graham cracker crumbs 2 tablespoon of coconut oil, melted 1 1/2 teaspoons of diced fresh mint Lime Cheesecake Filling: 8 oz. of cream cheese, softened 6 oz. of plain Greek yogurt 1/4 cup of sugar 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract 3 tablespoons…

4 Ways to Leverage National Insurance Awareness Day to Increase Employee Awareness and Participation

Posted On: June 28, 2021 | Categorized as: Employee Benefits

4 Ways to Leverage National Insurance Awareness Day to Increase Employee Awareness and Participation June 28th is National Insurance Awareness Day! It was created as a day to review your insurance coverage and is also a great time to help your employees understand the benefits that are available to them. Focus today on empowering your employees to better understand, appreciate and participate in their benefits. Here are 4 ways to help increase employee awareness and participation: Remind Employees of Key Benefits Within Your Organization’s Benefit Plan Take the time to remind your employees of components of your health plan that they could be taking advantage of such as your EAP, workplace wellness program, telemedicine, or prescription home delivery service just to name a few. Some of these things are overlooked unless they’re being consistently communicated, so make it a point to remind your employees of these added benefits! Highlight Your…

EEOC Issues Updated COVID-19 Vaccination Assistance

Posted On: June 22, 2021 | Categorized as: Compliance

EEOC Issues Updated COVID-19 Vaccination Assistance The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have issued this information related to vaccinations: Employers must be aware that certain individuals may opt to not be vaccinated, either for religious reasons or for medical reasons Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title VII, reasonable accommodations must be offered to these persons instead of requiring them to be vaccinated. Reasonable accommodations approved by the EEOC include: Face masks Social distancing from co-workers Working different shift hour Telecommuting and working from home Reassignment to a different role Employers may not require vaccinations for such employees unless they can show that the unvaccinated employee poses a direct threat to the employee's health and safety in the workplace. If you have any questions, please contact us at

Supreme Court Effectively Upholds ACA in Texas v. United States Ruling

Posted On: June 18, 2021 | Categorized as: Compliance, Employee Benefits

Supreme Court Effectively Upholds ACA in Texas v. United States Ruling On June 17, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) by a 7-to-2 vote. The Court heard oral arguments in the case, California v. Texas, on November 10, 2020, which was a consolidation of 20 cases filed by state attorneys general and governors. The three main issues in California v. Texas were: Whether Texas, the accompanying states, the federal government, and two individual plaintiffs have “standing” to sue, which means having a sufficient connection to and harm by the ACA as a precondition to challenging the law. Whether the elimination of the ACA’s penalty for individuals who do not maintain minimum essential coverage (MEC), also known as the individual mandate, renders the individual mandate unconstitutional. If the individual mandate is unconstitutional, whether the remainder of the ACA’s provisions are…

4 Ways Digital Open Enrollment Guides Improve Employee Engagement

Posted On: June 18, 2021 | Categorized as: Employee Benefits

4 Ways Digital Open Enrollment Guides Improve Employee Engagement Every year open enrollment season allows employees to start, stop, or change their existing health insurance plans. Often, however, open enrollment can be a source of confusion, leaving employees with a lack of understanding and underutilizing their plan. Digital open enrollment guides can be the most effective solution for educating and connecting with employees about their healthcare benefits. So how can digital open enrollment guides improve employee engagement? Apart from giving employees convenient access to benefit information, digital open enrollment guides also help your staff better understand their benefits, promote healthier habits, provide direct contact with advocates, and allows leadership to utilize direct analytics for increased employee interaction. Here are four ways digital open enrollment guides can improve employee engagement: 1.     Digital open enrollment guides can help employees better understand their benefits. A digital open enrollment platform allows for embedded videos,…

Grilled Cherry Pepper Popper Recipe

Posted On: June 18, 2021 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

June is not only Men’s Health Month but also a month where we celebrate all of the fathers in our lives. Try this healthy "Grilled Cherry Pepper Popper" recipe for your Father’s Day celebration this year. Grilled Cherry Pepper Popper Recipe Ingredients: 14 fresh cherry peppers 4 ounces plain cream cheese, softened 2 tbsp chopped cilantro ¼ tsp salt Fresh cracked pepper 6 ounces cooked crab meat 3 ½ ounces Manchego cheese, cubed Lime wedges and tortilla chips for serving Directions: Flatten the bottom of each pepper by cutting a thing slice off the bottom being careful not to cut all the way through. Remove top, scoop out and discard seeds. In a small bowl combine cream cheese, cilantro, and crabmeat. Season with salt and pepper and mix gently with a fork to combine. Stuff each pepper with a heaping teaspoon of cream cheese mixture and top each with a…

May 2021 Compliance Recap

Posted On: June 10, 2021 | Categorized as: Compliance

May 2021 Compliance Recap May 2021 was a somewhat busy month in the benefits industry. The absence of a significant of amount of agency guidance during the summer months is to be expected. However, the IRS finally issued guidance on the temporary 100% COBRA subsidy mandated by the American Plan Rescue Act of 2021 (the ARP), following guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The IRS also issued guidance on the Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP) carryover of unused benefits and on the child tax credit under the ARP. In addition, the IRS issued the 2022 limits for health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs). The Biden Administration lowered the cost of marketplace plans and the DOL issued guidance on fiduciary cybersecurity obligations under ERISA covered plans. IRS COBRA Subsidy Guidance On May 18, 2021, the IRS issued IRS Notice 2021-31 in the form of FAQs,…

BCBSA Antitrust Settlement Classes Eligible for Proceeds

Posted On: June 9, 2021 | Categorized as: Compliance, Employee Benefits

BCBSA Antitrust Settlement Classes Eligible for Proceeds November 5, 2021 is the deadline for filing a claim in connection with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) $2.67 billion settlement reached in October 2020. The class action lawsuit was filed more than eight years ago by subscribers seeking injunctive and compensatory relief arising out of BCBSA’s alleged violation of federal antitrust laws. Although final court approval for the settlement has not been granted, the official administrator of the BCBSA has established a website to provide information and instructions for filing claims online and by mail. Payment of the settlement proceeds will be distributed to the settlement classes from the settlement fund after final court approval of the settlement. Settlement Classes Eligibility for settlement proceeds extends to individuals, insured groups (and their employees) and self-funded arrangements (and their employees) that purchased or were enrolled in a Blue Cross or Blue Shield…

IRS Draft Form 941 Reflects COBRA Subsidy Tax Credit

Posted On: June 9, 2021 | Categorized as: Compliance

IRS Draft Form 941 Reflects COBRA Subsidy Tax Credit The IRS recently released a draft of the revised 2021 version of Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return, in order to, in part, reflect the tax credit in connection with the 100% COBRA subsidy under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP). The COBRA subsidy is required to be provided to eligible individuals who experience an involuntary termination of employment or reduction in hours and that have not exhausted the maximum COBRA coverage period as of April 1, 2021. The ARP extended to those individuals an opportunity to make a COBRA election during a special election period that began on April 1, 2021, and ends on May 31, 2021. The duration of the COBRA subsidy period is six months, ending on September 30, 2021. Under the ARP, employer are entitled to a 100% tax credit for subsidizing COBRA on behalf of…

Upcoming Challenges with ACA in 2021

Posted On: June 9, 2021 | Categorized as: Compliance

Upcoming Challenges with ACA in 2021 IRS Eliminates Transition Relief and Removes Threshold Expanding Eligibility In previous year, the IRS has provided relief of penalties to reporting entities that report incomplete or incorrect information as long as these entities can show they made a good-faith effort to comply with the information reporting requirements. In late 2020, the IRS released Notice 2020-76, which among other things, provided for a good-faith waiver for 2020 ACA Reporting to apply to missing and inaccurate taxpayer identification numbers and birthdates, as well as other information. Unfortunately, in this same Notice the IRS states: “As this good-faith relief was intended to be transitional relief, this is the last year the Treasury Department and the IRS intend to provide this relief.” However, the IRS did renew their request for comments related to furnishing requirements under 6055 and 6056 of the ACA regulations. They further state: “Unless we receive comments that explain why this…

Frequently Asked Questions About the Patient-Centered Outcomes/Comparative Effectiveness (PCORI Fee)

Posted On: June 9, 2021 | Categorized as: Compliance

Frequently Asked Questions About the Patient-Centered Outcomes/Comparative Effectiveness (PCORI Fee) Q1: What plans does the PCORI fee apply to? A1: All plans that provide medical coverage to employees owe this fee. Medical coverage includes preferred provider (PPO) plans, health maintenance organization (HMO) plans, point-of-service (POS) plans, high deductible health plans (HDHPs), and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs). The fee does not apply to: Stand-alone dental and vision plans (stand-alone means these benefits are elected separately from medical, or the benefits are provided under separate insurance policies from the medical coverage) Life insurance Short- and long-term disability and accident insurance Long-term care Health flexible spending accounts (FSAs), as long as the employee also is offered medical coverage and any employer contribution is (in most cases) $500 or less Health savings accounts (HSAs) Hospital indemnity or specified illness coverage Employee assistance programs (EAPs) and wellness programs that do not provide significant medical care…

2021 Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Fee

Posted On: June 9, 2021 | Categorized as: Compliance

2021 Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Fee The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) fee deadline is around the corner. In Notice 2020-84, the IRS adjusted the applicable dollar amount to be multiplied by the average number of covered lives for purposes of calculating the fee for policy years and plan years that end on or after October 1, 2020, and before October 1, 2021. The fee for the forgoing period is $2.66. Although the PCORI fee is based on the plan year, the reporting and fee due date is always July 31. However, for 2021 the deadline will be August 2, instead of the usual July 31 deadline because the 31st falls on a Saturday. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires health insurers and sponsors of self-funded group health plans to pay the fee using IRS form 720. The PCORI fee is based on covered lives. Accordingly, both employees and…

Why Employers Should Benchmark Their Health Plan Before Renewal

Posted On: June 2, 2021 | Categorized as: Employee Benefits

Why Employers Should Benchmark Their Health Plan Before Renewal Benchmarking your health plan during renewal ensures that the benefits being offered continue to be a right fit for the company and employees based on data-driven decisions. On the other hand, a poorly planned renewal done in the dark can cause unnecessary expenses for the company. These worst-case scenarios are preventable by benchmarking your health plan so you can evaluate your employee benefits and see how they measure up to your peers. So why should employers benchmark their health plan offerings prior to renewal? There are two reasons why benchmarking is advantageous: cost savings and data-driven decisions. With benchmarking, your business can see if your costs are in line within your industry, size, region, and State (and implement cost-containment strategies if needed) and optimize your health plans for the long-term so they remain competitive. Benchmarking allows you to answer questions such…

Innovative Welcomes Dan Jordon as Managing Partner, Employee Benefits

Posted On: May 24, 2021 | Categorized as: Company News, Employee Benefits

Innovative Welcomes Dan Jordon as Managing Partner, Employee Benefits It is with great excitement we announce that prominent employee benefits consultant, Dan Jordon, has joined the Innovative team as Managing Partner of Employee Benefits. As part of the Executive Leadership team, Dan will play an essential role in driving the company’s business revenue, while empowering and supporting our clients in their effort to build strategic, stable, benefit offerings. This role includes managing our employee benefits consulting practice, continuing to build our sales team, and participate on our ongoing desire to enhance the client service and engagement experience. “As a respected leader, Dan is an outstanding addition to our team and clients. He brings extensive experience in helping employers reduce cost and delivering multi-year strategies that generate cost savings”, stated CEO, Terriann Procida. “We’re excited to merge his background with Innovative’s strengths to continue to provide a best-in-class service while growing…

Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajita Recipe

Posted On: May 20, 2021 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

shrimp fajitas on wooden board

Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajita Recipe May is Arthritis Awareness Month.  Celebrate Arthritis Awareness Month by trying out this anti-inflammatory recipe.  Anti-inflammatory meals are typically high in vegetables, fruits, certain spices, nuts, omega-3 fats, and low in sugar and trans-fat.  These sheet pan shrimp fajitas are so quick and easy and contain anti-inflammatory spices and a ton of veggies.  Opting for a whole wheat tortilla in this recipe increases your intake of fiber and decreases your intake of sugar when compared to a white or corn tortilla. Ingredients 1 ½ lbs shrimp peeled and deveined 1 yellow bell pepper thinly sliced 1 red bell pepper thinly sliced 1 orange bell pepper thinly sliced 1 small red onion thinly sliced 1 ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 tsp salt Freshly ground pepper 2 tsp chili powder ½ tsp garlic powder ½ tsp onion powder ½ tsp ground cumin ½ tsp smoked…

Discover How We Helped One Client Reduce Their Retirement Plan Fees by 30%

Posted On: May 18, 2021 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

Discover How We Helped One Client Reduce Their Retirement Plan Fees by 30% When offering your plan directly with a qualified plan provider, many employers are not aware of what they might be missing. As a result, we often find that many Plan Sponsors are paying more and receiving less. Innovative’s experience allows us to assist and educate our clients on the most effective ways to negotiate better fees and receive additional services. We have found that: Many plans are often overpriced – we have been able to reduce fees in some cases by 50%. Additional services at no charge – we’ve been able to add more services, such as -hardship distribution services, QDRO services, and Annual Required Notice Distribution Services (SAR, QDIA, 404(a)(5)). Administration and recordkeeping savings- we are also able to free up funds to add advisory services, proving further fiduciary protections for plan sponsors and resources for…

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