Innovative Benefit Planning Blog

Did You Ever Get So Covered In Mud That…

Posted On: September 19, 2012 | Categorized as: Company News, Workplace Wellness

you wondered if you would ever get clean?  We did!  On Saturday September 15th teams of warriors came together at the New Jersey Motorsports Park to raise money for cancer research and to honor cancer survivors in a tribute called the Bill Bottino Mud Run.  Just as cancer survivors had to overcome obstacles in their treatments, Team Innovative combatted obstacles over a 3.5 mile course that included climbing hills, scaling walls, crawling through mud pits, swinging from ropes and MORE!!! As a team we stuck together and supported one another through each obstacle.  That is the Innovative way and, as such, we give our clients that same support when they are faced with obstacles of their own within their companies. The event was a great success and great fun!  We all finished covered in mud and ready for the celebratory barbeque!  Are you ready to join our team?  We would…

Innovative Speaks at MetLife Stadium!

Posted On: September 14, 2012 | Categorized as: Company News, Employee Benefits

Thank you Ultimate Software for inviting Innovative to be a part of your interactive HR workshop at MetLife Stadium yesterday in the Toyota Coaches Club!  Our own Terriann Procida was asked to be a guest speaker at this fantastic event.  Her presentation focused on changing the current reality of cost shifting, raising co-pays, eliminating benefits and driving spouses off the plans to introducing new strategies centered on cost containment. The feedback that we have received from our clients that are implementing some of the new ideas is astounding.  They like the idea of being pro-active in controlling their plan expenses instead of being on the defensive with a “wait and see” attitude, hoping for the best.  You CAN affect change within your company’s plan that will benefit both your bottom line as well as your employees’ well-being. If this appeals to you, please contact our office to learn more about…

New Jersey Interactive HR Workshop

Posted On: September 11, 2012 | Categorized as: Company News, Employee Benefits

"Strategies from Industry Leaders in an Era of Change" Please join Innovative at the Ultimate Software interactive workshop.  Innovative's own Terriann Procida will be featured speaking about how to uncover the hidden risk in your benefit package through advanced analytics and predictive modeling. Your company needs a skilled and forward-thinking HR leader more than ever before.  So are you developing the innovative programs that will bring success to you, your employees, and your organization?  Gain the skills you need to be viewed as a trailblazer during this complimentary Interactive HR Workshop at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.  You'll discover the dynamic HR initiatives other local businesses are undertaking.  And we'll cap off the day with a behind-the-scenes, guided tour of MetLife Stadium. Date: Thursday, September 13, 2012 Time: 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (breakfast and lunch provided) Location: MetLife Stadium - Toyota Coaches Club One MetLife Stadium Drive East Rutherford,…


Posted On: September 11, 2012 | Categorized as: Company News, Employee Benefits

Starting in 2014, larger employers (generally, those with 50 or more employees) may face "shared responsibility" penalties if any of their "full-time" employees receive subsidized health coverage through an "Affordable Insurance Exchange."  At the same time, virtually all employer health plans will become subject to a 90-day limit on any eligibility waiting period.  On August 31, the agencies charged with implementing health care reform issued additional guidance on both of these requirements. In Notice 2012-58, the IRS outlines several safe-harbor methods for determining whether "variable hour" or seasonal employees fall within the "full-time" category (which is generally defined as working 30 or more hours per week).  And in Notice 2012-59, the IRS explains how the maximum 90-day eligibility waiting period is affected by various types of eligibility conditions.  (Notice 2012-59 was also issued in virtually identical form by both the Department of Labor - as Technical Release 2012-02 and the…

Do You Know What You Need To Know About Comparative Effectiveness Research Fees?

Posted On: September 10, 2012 | Categorized as: Company News, Employee Benefits, Health Care Reform

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), health insurers and self-funded plan sponsors will be required to pay a tax called the comparative effectiveness research fee.  The proceeds are to be used to support research conducted by a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.  This research will be centered on the evaluation and comparison of health outcomes and clinical effectiveness, as well as the risks and benefits of medical treatments. Calendar year plans will pay the fees from 2012 to 2018 and non-calendar year plans will pay the fees from the first plan year that ends on or after October 1, 2012 through September 30, 2019.  All fees must be paid annually on IRA Form 720 by July 31st of the calendar year immediately following the last day of the plan year.  These fees will not be required for dental and vision benefits that are insured separately.  Retiree coverage is…

Healthy Skin, Healthy Living

Posted On: September 7, 2012 | Categorized as: Company News, Workplace Wellness

Glowing, spotless, wrinkle-free skin is much valued in our society. We’re willing to spend a lot for that look. It’s estimated that the skin care industry in the U.S. is worth about $43 billion per year. But healthy skin starts from the inside, not just from creams and lotions applied on the outside. Below are three important ways to keep your skin -- and your whole body -- healthy. 1. Eat Your Way to Healthy Skin Eating a diet rich in certain vitamins and fats may provide anti-aging effects for your skin. Let’s look at some of the best choices for skin health. Citrus and other vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables: Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is key to the production of collagen, a protein that gives skin its firmness and strength. Vitamin C also helps create scar tissue and ligaments, and it helps your skin repair itself.…

IRS Issues Temporary Guidance for Identifying Full-Time Employees and Applying Waiting Periods

Posted On: September 5, 2012 | Categorized as: Company News, Employee Benefits, Health Care Reform

On Aug. 31, the IRS issued Notices 2012-58 and 2012-59, which provide safe harbors for 2014 (and perhaps beyond that date) on how to address some of the open questions on how the employer-shared responsibility penalties will apply. The notices affirm that employers that hire new employees who are reasonably expected to work full-time on an annual basis and who do work full-time during the first 90 days of employment must offer those employees minimum-value, affordable coverage by the end of that period or pay a penalty. The rules described in the notices will provide substantial relief to employers that have seasonal employees or hire employees who work variable (fluctuating) hours.  Under the safe harbor, employers with employees in these categories may use a measurement period of up to 12 months to determine whether the employee is full time.  The rules are complex but essentially require a corresponding period of…

Health Care Reform, Costs Likely Will Alter the Nature of Wellness

Posted On: August 17, 2012 | Categorized as: Company News, Workplace Wellness

In the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling on health care reform, the future of employer-sponsored health care insurance remains murky at best.  One health trend, though, looks like it's here to stay as more insurers, employers and workers buy into corporate wellness programs. Yet the makeup of such programs likely will continue to evolve, experts say. Jane DuBose, a principal director of advisory services for HealthLeaders-InterStudy, said at a recent industry conference that she expects health plans to continue shifting focus to wellness and prevention measures in an attempt to control costs, according to a Business Finance report. DuBose said health plans increasingly will tie plan design to lifestyle behaviors and will include more incentives, such as cash and gift cards. While many employers have already taken these steps, the impact of the initiatives would be more powerful if health plans take a more active role in the wellness…

Employers Prep for New Moves under PPACA

Posted On: August 16, 2012 | Categorized as: Company News, Employee Benefits, Health Care Reform

As the 2013 enrollment time draws near, employers are preparing to jump through a few extra hoops thanks to the recently reaffirmed health care reform law. In addition to the usual notices and benefit communications that employers must prepare and distribute to their employees, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has added a summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) to the enrollment pile for plans that begin on or after Sept. 23, 2012. The SBC is a four-page document that provides information about a plan's health care coverage and out-of-pocket costs for employees, according to a recent online post by law firm Warner Norcross & Judd LLP. Employers with fully insured plans can expect their insurers to provide the bulk of the content for their SBCs. Self-insured companies, on the other hand, will have to craft the SBCs themselves, the law firm notes. The rules allow for a few…

Homegrown Superfruits

Posted On: August 15, 2012 | Categorized as: Company News, Workplace Wellness

Blueberries Drive anywhere in the state of Maine in the month of August and you’re likely to find a blueberry festival in progress or at least a roadside stand selling boxes of just-picked wild blueberries. Locals enjoy the little berries by the handful or in pies, muffins, jams, pancakes and even wine. Here’s the latest on blueberry nutrition: •    One cup of blueberries has 80 fat-free calories. •    Blueberries are high in vitamin C, dietary fiber, folate, potassium and manganese. •    The fruit’s dark blue-purple hue comes from anthocyanins, a powerful antioxidant. The USDA ranks blueberries near the top in antioxidant activity. Selection: Choose plump, firm, bright blue/purple berries that are free of moisture and packed in dry, unstained baskets or boxes. Storage: If dry and packed in a moisture-proof container, blueberries will stay fresh in the refrigerator for five or six days. They freeze well, too. Serving Tip: For…

A Surprise for Jeannine!

Posted On: August 14, 2012 | Categorized as: Company News

When Jeannine Bandiera, Innovative Account Manager, arrived at what she thought was a client pre-renewal meeting, she was pleasantly surprised.  She entered the beautifully decorated conference room and was showered with baby gifts!  Jeannine would like to thank everyone at Engineering Resource Group for their thoughtfulness.  Baby Bandiera will arrive in November and thanks to one of our wonderful clients, she will have some fantastic gifts awaiting her!

PPACA FSA Contribution Limits

Posted On: August 13, 2012 | Categorized as: Company News, Employee Benefits, Health Care Reform

•    Applies to all employers who sponsor a health flexible spending account (FSA) •    Effective as of the start of the 2013 plan year May not change plan year simply to delay application of the limit •    Employee salary reduction contribution may not exceed $2,500 per health FSA per year Amount applies regardless how many family members are covered by the health FSA (i.e., a single employee can contribute up to $2,500 and a married employee with four children can contribute up to $2,500) Limit is per employee (so a married couple could each contribute $2,500, even if both are employed by the same employer) Employer contributions, whether direct or through flex credits, do not count towards the $2,500 limit If the plan offers a grace period to incur claims, amounts reimbursed during the grace period do not apply to the $2,500 limit Contributions to HRAs, HSAs, dependent care FSAs…


Posted On: August 13, 2012 | Categorized as: Company News, Employee Benefits, Health Care Reform

Nearly all employers will be affected by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) -- but not necessarily in the same ways. A company's compliance requirements largely will depend on its size, method of plan funding and other factors. Do you know which provisions apply to you? As a Member of United Benefit Advisors (UBA), we can provide you with an easy way to quickly view the main provisions of the law and find out what your company specifically needs to do to remain complaint. Click the following link to find out what you need to do now and in the future concerning the law. HCR-Requirements_Applicability_Table Our UBA membership grants us access to a nationwide network of benefit professionals and a wide range of resources and tools that can help employers solve the challenges presented by PPACA. If you have any questions about this tool or any other aspects…


Posted On: July 30, 2012 | Categorized as: Company News

On Wednesday July 25th Innovative proudly sponsored the Mural Arts Program Trolley Tour hosted by the Professional Women’s Roundtable.  Jane Golden, Director of the Mural Arts Program, is truly a gift to Philadelphia.  Through the Mural Arts Program, Jane has used art to inspire change in communities throughout the city and has earned Philadelphia international recognition as the “City of Murals”.  We encourage you to take the tour to see the incredible artwork and to learn how this Program has been changing lives through art.  Visit the Mural Arts Program website at to learn more and to find out how you can take this incredible tour. We would also like to thank the Professional Women’s Roundtable (PWR) for organizing the event and for all that they do to promote the development of women professionals.  Please visit PWR’s website at for more information on membership and upcoming events.


Posted On: July 27, 2012 | Categorized as: Company News, Employee Benefits, Health Care Reform

•   Must include the value of "employer-sponsored group health coverage" on W-2s beginning with the 2012 W-2 (to be issued in January 2013) •    Except that, do not need to include this information if the employer issued fewer than 250 W-2s for the prior calendar year* o    This means the number of W-2's issued in 2011 determines whether health care cost reporting is needed on the 2012 W-2s (issued in January 2013) o    This exemption for smaller employers could change for 2014 and later years o    Do not need to look at the whole controlled group when counting the number of W-2's issued •    Reportable "group health coverage" includes: o    Medical (PPO, HDHP, HMO, etc.) o    Dental and vision if bundled with medical o    Onsite medical clinics, EAP and wellness if a COBRA premium is charged o    Hospital indemnity or specified illness if paid with pre-tax dollars o    Employer-provided flex…


Posted On: July 25, 2012 | Categorized as: Company News

•    Effective Jan. 1, 2013 •    Applies to all employers •    Must withhold an additional 0.9 percent of the employee's share for Medicare/HI (from 1.45 percent to 2.35 percent) once the employee's wages exceed $200,000 Employer does not match this additional 0.9 percent Additional 0.9 percent is not capped Additional withholding only applies to wages over $200,000, beginning in the pay period the $200,000 threshold is met Additional amount will be reported with other Medicare withholding in Box 6 of the W-2 Employee's tax obligation is not synchronized with the withholding requirement:   1) Employee owes the extra 0.9% on wages and other compensation over $200,000 if single, $250,000 if married and filing jointly, and $125,000 if married and filing single - employer simply withholds on wages in excess of $200,000 regardless of employee's situation; 2) No obligation to notify high earners of additional withholding Similar requirement applies to self-employed…


Posted On: July 19, 2012 | Categorized as: Company News, Employee Benefits, Health Care Reform

Because the guidance provided by the regulatory agencies has been fairly general, employers continue to have questions about how to handle the medical loss ratio (MLR) checks. Below are answers to some common questions, based upon either the guidance issued by the agencies regarding MLRs or how similar situations have been handled by the agencies. Employers should keep in mind that 1) there is no black-and-white answer as to how to calculate and distribute rebates to plan participants, and 2) any reasonably thoughtful and fair approach that returns participant contributions to participants in some manner should be acceptable. Q1. As an employer, I pay most of the premium, and my contribution far exceeds the rebate. Can I just keep the rebate? A1. With one exception, no. If participants paid part of the premium, the participants (as a whole) should get a pro rata share of the rebate. So, if the…

Camping With Kids

Posted On: July 16, 2012 | Categorized as: Company News, Workplace Wellness

Pick a Campground If you’ve never camped with children before, or you’ve never camped at all, preparing for a night outdoors may seem daunting. Your first step is to research your options: •    Assemble a list of campgrounds within an hour or two of home. •    Novice campers will want kid-friendly campgrounds with running water and bathroom facilities. •    Most campsites include a picnic table and a grill. Check the park’s website for detailed information about the facilities. •    Explore private campgrounds, too. The next step is to present the assorted options to your family. Talk about what kind of outdoor activities everyone wants to do or try. You may be able to rent bicycles, kayaks, canoes and other sports gear near your campground. Phone ahead or go online to check the availability of campsites and gear for rent. Popular campgrounds book up quickly in the summer. Beyond Tent Camping…

HHS Report on MLR Provides Breakdown of Upcoming Rebates:

Posted On: July 11, 2012 | Categorized as: Company News, Employee Benefits, Health Care Reform

HHS has released a report on the first round of rebates to be provided under health care reform's medical loss ratio (MLR) requirements.  The report contains calendar year 2011 data--insurers are required to pay rebates by August 1, 2012 based on their 2011 MLR. The report provides a detailed breakdown of the rebates to be provided based on 2011 MLRs--both by market type (individual, small and large group markets) and by state. •    HHS estimates that nearly 12.8 million individuals will receive rebates totaling more than $1.1 billion. •    The vast majority of individuals are insured by insurers that meet or exceed the MLR standard--89% in the large group market and 83% in the small group market. •    Insurers in the large and small group markets are expected to return $386 million and $321 million, respectively, in rebates for 2011. An insurer that issues a rebate must provide a notice…

Health Care Reform Still Stands – What Do Employers Need To Do Now?

Posted On: July 8, 2012 | Categorized as: Company News, Employee Benefits, Health Care Reform

On June 28th, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate and most of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).  Because the individual mandate was found to be acceptable, most of the rest of the law (including the exchanges and the requirement that larger employers provide minimum coverage or pay penalties of their own) automatically stands. Many employers are wondering what they should do now?  The following is a timeline outlining what requirements employers will be responsible for over the next 18 months under Health Care Reform. Changes Affecting Employers and Group Health Plans 2012 and Beyond 2012: August 1, 2012  Minimum Loss Ratio letters (applies only to fully insured plans) First Open Enrollment Beginning After September 23, 2012  Uniform Health Plan Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) 2013: January 1, 2013  Employer W-2 reporting for benefits provided during prior year (not applicable to employers…

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