Step Up is a program designed to encourage healthy, fit and active lifestyles through an increased focus on encouraging you to make time to walk more during your daily routine and to pursue walking as a recreational activity.
As a participant, you will be competing against yourself and your co-workers to see who can log the highest number of steps per week. At the end of 10 weeks, the individual or team with the greatest number of steps will be named the Step Up winner.
In this competition, your employer will track the total number of steps you take every week. Your employer may also provide progress updates throughout the 10-week program period.
Delays in Employee Choice for 2015
State regulators were allowed to recommend a delay for the employee choice model.
* HHS issued a list of FF-SHOPs that will not be
providing employee choice in 2015.
* Employers in these states will be able to
offer a single plan through the SHOP.
* Employee choice is expected to be available
in all FF-SHOPs in 2016.
Don't Forget PCORI Fees due July 31, 2014
The ACA created the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to help patients, clinicians, payers and the public make informed health decisions by advancing comparative effectiveness research. The Institute's research is funded, in part, through fees paid by health insurance issuers and self-insured health plan sponsors. These fees are widely known as PCORI fees, although they may also be called PCOR fees or comparative effectiveness research (CER) fees.
Issuers and plan sponsors will file Form 720 annually to report and pay the PCORI fee, no later than July 31 of the calendar year following the policy or plan year to which the fee applies. The PCORI fee applies separately to "specified health insurance policies" and "applicable self-insured health plans," and is based on the average number of lives covered under the plan or policy.
News From the Personal Lines Department
The Care You Took To Select It
Is The Care We'll Take to Protect It
You bought it because you loved it!
Whether it's a precious piece of jewelry, a painting, sculpture, antiques, rare coins, or memorabilia, we can help protect the possessions you cherish the most.
Homeowner policies have limitations for protection of valuable items. The limits on many standard homeowner policies for valuables like jewelry and silverware range from $1,000 to $5,000. Is that enough to cover the possessions you love?
We're here to help.
Have a great summer!
Protecting Your Home or Business from Hurricane Damage
By: Marian Migliorisi
Lasting from June through November, the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season is already in full swing. According to the Insurance Information Institute, hurricanes account for 7 of the 10 costliest catastrophes in U.S. history. Producing winds in excess of 150 mph, as well as storm surges, heavy rain falls and flash flooding, we are all too familiar with the devastating damage they bring to our coastlines and several hundred miles inland. Through proper planning, however, you can significantly help protect your home or business from the toll of these natural disasters:
- Trim tree and shrub branches away from property and remove any weakened trees that could cause damage
- Have the roof inspected for loose shingles or potential problems that could be made worse by wind-driven rain
- Have pre-cut plywood ready to cover windows and doors
- Use caulk to seal cracks and holes that could allow wind-driven rain to enter
- Have a generator available and periodically check it throughout the season to make sure it starts easily
- Make emergency kits easily accessible to family members or employees
Many of the actions above, especially those affecting the exterior shell of the property, should be performed by a licensed and professional contractor or qualified maintenance personnel. These steps coupled with the right insurance can make your home or place of business more resilient to hurricane disasters for seasons to come.
Supreme Court Rejects Contraceptive Mandate for Some Companies
On June 30, 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that the ACA contraceptive coverage mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Therefore, the Court held that the closely-held for-profit corporations involved in these cases have the right to exercise their religious beliefs under the RFRA. The Supreme Court's ruling creates a narrow exception to the ACA's contraceptive mandate for closely held businesses that object to providing coverage for certain types of contraceptives based on their sincere religious beliefs. For all other for-profit employers, the contraceptive coverage mandate will continue to apply. The Court also warned that its decision does not provide a shield for employers that try to cloak illegal discrimination.
Live Well, Work Well
Strength Vs Endurance Training.
Both Strength and Endurance training boast health benefits for people, but focusing on one of those areas could be more beneficial of your certain needs and goals.
- Endurance training /or aerobic exercise is any physical activity that works large muscle groups and uses more oxygen than while resting.
Examples- aerobics, cycling, swimming, running, walking, hiking, and fast-paced sports like tennis and soccer.
- Strength Training is design to firm, strengthen and tone your muscles. As well as to improve balance, coordination, and bone strength. Strength training is also called resistance training or anaerobic exercise. It includes body weight exercises, free weights, weight machines, and resistance tubing.
To read more of our Live Well, Work Well Information Click Here
Cigna hitting the Global market
The health care of your employees abroad should not be a concerns. Global Medical Insurance programs offers employers the flexible to provide worldwide coverage needed.
To accommodate employer financial needs, plan can be customized to length and area of coverage with the flexibility to offer program with multiple deductibles and modes of payment.
Employees under a global program have direct access to a Medical Concierge service, a service that will provide employees personalized assistance in locating the best provider for specific needs, while saving them on out-of-pocket and medical expenses.
You and your employees need to know that you have the proper worldwide coverage.
We have included for your reference information on the Cigna Global product. READ MORE
Succeed With Social Media
Workplace wellness remains a vital initiative for companies striving toward a healthier employee population and reduced health care costs. A significant part of any workplace wellness program is employee communication and education, and social media can be a beneficial way to expand those efforts.
For an internal social media initiative to succeed, it is vital that you promote it to employees! In one sense, it's easier than promoting a social media presence externally, because you have a captive audience, but you do need to think carefully about your message.
Group disability plans act as a safety net for employees when a disability keeps them out of work. A basic policy probably provides enough coverage for rank-and-file employees, but its structure can create a major coverage gap for higher-income employees.
Most group policies replace 50 to 60 percent of pre-disability income-enough to help cover basic expenses while out of work, but not enough to create a disincentive to returning to work. In addition, policies have a maximum monthly benefit. The policy's definition of earnings could create another stumbling block. Most group policies pay a benefit equal to a percentage of the employee's "basic monthly earnings." This usually includes gross salary but may exclude commissions and bonuses. For salespeople and executives with significant commission and bonus income, this could result in a serious income shortfall in the event of a disability.
A number of insurers have developed supplemental group disability plans, popularly known as disability buy-ups. These plans allow highly compensated employees to combine the employer's basic group coverage with another plan to receive a higher monthly benefit in event of disability.
In an employer-paid plan, the employer pays all premiums, which it can deduct as an ordinary business expense. Premiums do not count toward the employee's taxable income, but he/she will have to pay income tax on any benefits received.
An executive buy-up plan often involves two tiers of coverage: a guaranteed issue policy and a modified guaranteed issue policy. If your group of highly compensated employees is large enough, your insurer might be willing to write a guaranteed issue policy, which means the insurer asks no medical questions and provides a group policy at standard rates. This ensures that even executives with health problems will be able to obtain coverage.
For the second tier of coverage, a modified guaranteed issue plan, the insurer will ask some simple medical questions to make its coverage decision. It may decline to cover an individual, exclude coverage for a pre-existing condition or charge extra premium.
In some buy-up plans, the employer "carves out" coverage for highly compensated employees, providing them with the basic group plan and then supplementing it with individual disability income policies. Insurers typically individually underwrite individual disability income plans, but may make individual policies available on a guaranteed-issue basis for larger groups. Individual plans also offer better rate guarantees and portability than group policies. Unlike with employee-paid individual policies, however, any benefits received under an employer-paid policy will be taxable income.
The most popular approach to supplemental disability coverage, voluntary plans, requires the employer merely to act as plan sponsor, allowing the insurer to directly solicit employees. Employees who elect coverage pay 100 percent of premium. If the employer has a Section 125 (cafeteria) plan, employees can pay premiums with pre-tax dollars; any benefits received will be taxable. Employees can also opt to pay premiums with after-tax dollars and receive policy benefits tax-free.
In a hybrid plan, the employer pays premiums on supplemental coverage for a select group of employees. Employers can deduct premiums as a business expense, but covered employees must pay income taxes on benefits. Other employees can buy the supplemental coverage on a voluntary basis.
When an employer pays disability income insurance premiums, the insured receives any benefits as taxable income. Since it may be difficult to get an insurer to replace enough of the highly compensated employee's pre-disability pay, this employee would not want to lose benefits to taxes. To avoid this, the employer can gross-up the employee's pay by the amount of the premium and have the employee pay the premium with after-tax dollars, making the benefits tax-free. In this arrangement, the employee pays taxes only on the amount of the pay increase, and receives any benefits tax-free.
To structure a buy-up plan, first determine the number of highly compensated employees you want it to cover. The size of the eligible group (both number and percentage of eligible employees), along with plan features, will affect your costs. If your benefits budget can handle an employer-paid or hybrid plan, you will reward your highly compensated employees and help guarantee their financial health. If you cannot commit to an employer-paid plan, a voluntary plan could still give highly compensated employees a valuable benefit by accessing a guaranteed issue or modified issue plan with the convenience of payroll deduction payments.
For more assistance in structuring a disability income plan to fit all your employees' needs, please contact us. In addition, we have attached some Unum information for your review.
Tax Choice Disability Plans by UNUM
Tax choice refers to different ways of paying disability insurance premiums in order to impact the taxability of benefits paid under the plan.
When an employer is paying the group income protection premium, they can alter the tax treatment of the benefits through a "gross up" arrangement. With a "gross up," the premium amount paid by the employer is included in the employees taxable income and reported on the W-2. This results in the employee paying taxes on the extra income put towards the premium, thereby yielding a tax-free benefit.
Reinsurance Program Payments
Beginning in 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires a three-year transitional reinsurance program to be established in each state.
This program is intended to help stabilize premiums for coverage in the individual market during the first three years of Exchange operation (2014 through 2016) when individuals with higher-cost medical needs gain insurance coverage.
This program will impose a fee on health insurance issuers and self-insured group health plans.
Under the ACA, "contributing entities" that offer major medical coverage must make reinsurance contributions. A contributing entity is defined as:
- A health insurance issuer
- A self-insured group health plan.
Certain types of plans are exempt from the requirement to pay reinsurance fees, such as health flexible spending accounts (FSAs), health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), health savings accounts (HSAs) and coverage that consists solely of excepted benefits under HIPAA (for example, limited-scope dental and vision plans).