Category Archives: Newsletter

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AFFORDABLE CARE ACT – STAY PREPARED

In light of the November election results, we can expect major changes in 2017 in health care plan regulations. Be sure to keep up with the latest news, but in the meantime, be prepared to address regulations that apply to your plans now.

  • ACA Overview: Highlights for 2017 Compliance     #131225
  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: Final 2018 Notice of Benefit Payment Parameters     #131224
  • Benefits Buzz, January 2017:     #146330
    • ACA Reporting Deadline Delayed
  • Benefits Bulletin: January 2017     #416319
    • 2017 Health Care Compliance Highlights
    • The Presidential Election’s Impact on Health Care

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DISABILITY BENEFIT CLAIMS PROCEDURES

On December 16, 2016, the Department of Labor issued the final rule on the handling of claims submitted to employee disability plans. These requirements are similar to those demanded of health care plans.  These are effective for claims submitted on or after January 1, 2018, so plan sponsors have time to adjust their procedures and revise their employee communications materials, especially the summary plan descriptions and plan documents.

  • Compliance Bulletin: DOL Strengthens Rules for Disability Benefit Claims   #146957

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STAND-ALONE HRAs FOR SMALL EMPLOYERS

The 21st Century Cures Act became law on December 13, 2016, permitting small employers to offer health reimbursement arrangements even though they do not otherwise offer their employees a health plan.  This law defines “qualified small employer HRAs” that are permitted as of January 1, 2017.  Give Touchstone a call if you’d like us to help you quickly set up an HRA that is appropriate for your employees.

  • Compliance Bulletin: New Law Allows Stand-alone HRAs for Small Employers     #146792

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WELLNESS INFORMATION

These short articles can enhance your employee communications.

  • Live Well, Work Well – January 2017:     #146265
    • The New Year and How It May Affect Your Benefits
    • New Year’s Resolutions: Lifestyle Changes vs. Quick Changes
    • National Blood Donor Month
  • Infographic: Road to Wellness     #146710

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HIPAA AUDIT OR SCAM?

The Department of Health and Human Services is warning covered entities and business associates to be wary of fake emails that appear to be from the Office of Civil Rights. The scammers are using an e-mail address that is very similar to the one used by DHHS to notify entities of HIPAA audit procedures.  Read the details in the article below to be able to discern the fake emails from true OCR officials.

  • Compliance Bulletin: HHS Warns HIPAA Entities about Phishing Email     #146629

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HUMAN RESOURCES UPDATES

The delay on implementation of the rule on overtime pay is the highlight of news for HR professionals this month. Other articles cover a variety of topics that may be of interest.

  • Compliance Bulletin: New EEO-1 Reporting Requirements     #146678
  • Compliance Overview: Employee Leave-sharing and Donation Programs     #146900
  • HR Brief: January 2017     #146365
    • DOL Overtime Rule Blocked
    • Handling Election Tension in the Office
  • Benefits Bulletin: January 2017     #416319
    • DOL Overtime Rule Update
  • Benefits Buzz, January 2017:     #146330
    • Overtime Rule Delayed Until Further Notice

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STATE EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATES

Washington state’s paid sick leave law will be effective January 1, 2018. This 4-page explanation of the law’s requirements is the only new article in our state law library this month.

  • Compliance Bulletin: Washington Enacts Paid Sick Leave     #147152

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MID-YEAR CHANGES TO PLAN ELECTIONS

This infographic explains the meaning of ‘qualified life event’ under Internal Revenue Code Section 125. You may want to use this in your employee newsletter or as a poster, if your cafeteria plan allows all IRS-defined qualified life events.

  • Infographic: What Is a Qualified Life Event?      #146347

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DEADLINE FOR SOME ACA REQUIREMENTS EXTENDED

On November 18th the IRS announced an extension of the deadline for furnishing 2016 Forms 1095-B and 1095-C to individuals.  The following article clarifies that the new extension does not alter the February 28th and March 31st deadlines for employers and insurers to file Forms 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C and 1095-C, nor does it extend the normal January 2, 2018 deadline for furnishing 2017 forms to individuals.

  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: 2016 Furnishing Deadline for ACA Reporting Delayed     #145806

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ANNUAL EMPLOYER HEATH BENEFITS SURVEY RESULTS

The 2016 Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research and Educational Trust Annual Survey of Employee Health Benefits is now available.  This 270-page report provides a valuable benchmarking tool.  Data has been gathered from 1,933 employers on their health benefits coverage, costs, eligibility requirements, premium contributions and cost-sharing.  It covers retiree plans, as well as active employee programs.   Specific sections are devoted to wellness programs, plan funding, and prescription drugs.  Results are usually broken down by the employer’s geographic region, industry, and size.

  • Survey: 2016 Annual Survey of Employer Health Benefits     #145440

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PLANNING FOR 2017 AND BEYOND

This month we have a variety of articles to assist you in planning for the year ahead.  The Compliance Overview has a clear list of the required minimums, maximums, and other federal law limits placed on health plans for 2017.  The HR Brief provides the limitations and COLA changes imposed on retirement plans.

The two articles on the impact of the 2016 election reminds us that nothing changes immediately, but we should consider the possible revisions that might be made after January.

Two additional articles note the sharp rise in premiums for 2017 in health plans provided through the ACA Marketplace.

The final two articles offer information that you may want to consider in reviewing your health plan coverage.

  • Compliance Overview: Employee Benefit Plan Limits for 2017     #131229
  • HR Brief: December 2016  IRS Issues Retirement Updates     #131180
  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: 2016 Election – Impact on Compliance Issues     #145326
  • Benefits Buzz, December 2016:     #131154
    • 2017 Marketplace Plan Premiums Rise 25%
    • 2016 Election and Compliance Issues
  • Know Your Insurance: 2017 Marketplace Cost Trends     #145038
  • HealthLeaders Media FactFile: Shifts in ALOS for Certain Surgical Procedures     #145441
  • Compliance Bulletin: Marijuana Use Legalized in Eight States     #145448

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COURT HALTS DECEMBER 1st OVERTIME RULE

Were you prepared for the December 1st change to overtime exemptions for white-collar employees?  Well, that is on hold now as a federal district court judge has issued an injunction against the enforcement of that rule until further notice. Stay tuned!

  • Compliance Bulletin: Overtime Rule Blocked by Federal Court     #144539
  • Know Your Benefits: Changes regarding the New Overtime Rule     #146026

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WELLNESS AND WORK/LIFE ASSISTANCE

The library offers a few new articles this month that may be used as handouts for employees or included in your own newsletter.

  • Live Well, Work Well – December 2016:     #131078
    • The Connection between Office Camaraderie and Your Health
    • AAP Releases Updated Safe Sleep Guidelines
    • Reduce Your Holiday Stress
    • Recipe: Squash Soup
  • Know Your Benefits: Avoid Health Care-related IRS Scams     #145171

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HUMAN RESOURCES TOOLS AND UPDATES

We provide two helpful procedural documents for professionals with HR responsibilities, as well as some important updates on compliance concerns.

The HR Toolkits on Succession Planning (24 pages) and on Terminations (14 pages) are offered as detailed templates for procedural manuals that you should tailor to your organization’s specific needs. The HR Insights article on PTO likewise provides guidance on what should be considered in putting together policies and procedures on paid time off.

The three Compliance Bulletins highlight important concerns regarding OSHA’s anti-retaliation provisions, updated Form I-9s, and the legalization of marijuana in eight states (including four where it is limited to medicinal use).

  • HR Toolkit: Succession Planning     #145835
  • HR Toolkit: Terminations     #145060
  • HR Insights: Monitoring PTO Amounts     #145721
  • Compliance Bulletin: OSHA Anti-Retaliation Rules Delayed until Dec. 1st      #142010
  • Compliance Bulletin: Marijuana Use Legalized in Eight States      #145448
  • Compliance Bulletin: Updated Form I-9 Released      #145694

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Please note that several of this month’s articles present recently released guidance from federal agencies, clarifying information that was provided in earlier editions.

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HEALTH FLEXIBLE SPENDING ACCOUNT 2017 LIMITS

On October 25th, the IRS announced that the annual limit for salary deferrals to a health FSA would be increased to $2,600 for 2017.

  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: Health FSA Limit Will Increase for 2017     #144868

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IRS NONDISCRIMINATION RULES FOR SELF-INSURED HEALTH PLANS

The article below walks you through the eligibility test and benefits test that must be performed on under Internal Revenue Code section 105(h). It also notes several things to consider when deciding whether a self-funded approach or fully-insured coverage might be preferable to funding your plans.

This piece has been updated since it was introduced in our August newsletter.

  • Compliance Overview: Section 105(h) Nondiscrimination Rules     #144942

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AFFORDABLE CARE ACT REPORTING DUTIES

During the last days of September, the IRS released updates to the forms used for reporting required under the ACA. Minor changes were made to Forms 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C, and 1095-C since this article was first published in our August newsletter.

  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: Final Forms for ACA Reporting Released     #141490

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WELLNESS COMPLIANCE DEADLINE, PLUS

January 1, 2017 is the deadline for plans to comply with certain HIPAA rules that are related to the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.  Check the brief notes in Benefits Buzz, but contact Touchstone if you need further clarification on what changes may be required for your programs.

For your employees, this month’s Live Well, Work Well newsletter has several short articles on wellness topics that might serve as inserts for your employee newsletter.

  • Benefits Buzz, November 2016:     #131152
    • Compliance Date Approaching for Employer-sponsored Wellness Programs
  • Live Well, Work Well – November 2016:     #131077
    • Choosing Medications Wisely
    • Check your Tap Water for Chromium-6
    • Important Updates: 2016 Flu Vaccine   

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AFFORDABLE CARE ACT – U.S. TERRITORIES

The Department of Health and Human Services has recently issued guidance on how the ACA’s requirements impact group health plans which are based in or cover employees residing in Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

  • ACA Overview: Impact of the ACA in U.S. Territories     #144980

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HUMAN RESOURCES AND COMPENSATION CONCERNS

We have a variety of information for those with compensation or general HR responsibilities. These range from extensive assistance with the FLSA overtime rules to shorter pieces listing state laws requiring time-off for voting, OSHA retaliation rules, and more.  Some of these articles would be appropriate to insert in employee newsletters, while others are technical assistance for HR and compensation managers.

Please note that the 37-page HR Toolkit: Overtime Rule has been updated since it was included in our July newsletter.

  • HR Brief: November 2016     #131179
    • Workers’ Compensation Leave? Consider FMLA!
    • Dec 1st is Near: Understand What’s Changing
  • HR Toolkit: Overtime Rule     #136988
  • Compliance Bulletin: Overtime Changes to Take Effect Dec. 1, 2016     #144539
  • HR Insights: Fair Employee Compensation     #144320
  • Compliance Bulletin: 2016 Summer Updates to Minimum Wage Rates     #144271
  • Compliance Overview: Election Day 2016 – Employee Leave for Voting     #144390
  • Compliance Bulletin: OSHA’s Anti-retaliation Rules Delayed until Dec. 1st     #142010-update
  • News Brief: Samsung Halts Production of Galaxy Note 7 Smartphones     #143342
  • HR Insights: Building Trust and Confidence in Senior Leadership     #144332
  • HR Insights: 10 EEOC Tips for Small Businesses     #144322

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ANNUAL ENROLLMENT 

The following can be customized to reflect your organizations benefit offerings. The first can be tailored as a 14-page booklet taking employees through their benefit choices; the later is a 45-slide health enrollment preparation guide for you and your staff.  Contact Touchstone if you would prefer to receive the PowerPoint version, or if we can help you in any way with your annual enrollment process.

  • Welcome to Open Enrollment!     #22898
  • Health Plan Enrollment – Rules and Strategies Presentation     #143973

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HEALTH SAVINGS ACCOUNTS

The following articles complement the information provided in Touchstone’s September newsletter on promoting HSAs. These new articles focus on compliance concerns for your benefits staff.

  • Compliance Overview: Health Savings Account (HSA) Contribution Limits for Spouses    #143444
  • Compliance Overview: Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) – Reporting Rules     #143519

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PENALTIES IMPOSED BY THE IRS AND DOL

Penalty amounts and agency enforcement efforts are increasing. Plan sponsors need to maintain compliant plans and be mindful of deadlines.

  • HR Brief: October 2016     #131178
    • IRS ACA Penalty Assessments are Forthcoming
  • Benefits Bulletin: 4th Quarter 2016     #131136
    • DOL Increases Penalties for Health Plan Violations

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HEALTH PLAN COMPLIANCE CONCERNS

The following articles cover several requirements for keeping your health plan in line with federal requirements. Please contact Touchstone if we can be of assistance.

  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: Proposed Notice of Benefit & Payment Parameters for 2018   #131224
  • Benefits Buzz, October 2016:     #131150
    • Get Ready for ACA Reporting Deadlines
  • Benefits Toolkit: 1095 Reporting     #133972

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DECEMBER 1st DEADLINE TO COMPLY WITH NEW OVERTIME RULE

Below are a few resources to help your Human Resources and Finance staffs determine the best ways to comply with the recently announced revisions to the white collar exemptions to the Fair Labor Standard Act’s overtime pay rules. (Contact Touchstone if you would like to receive the 40+ page presentation as a PowerPoint.)

  • Benefits Bulletin: 4th Quarter 2016     #131136
    • New Overtime Rule Goes into Effect December 1st.
  • Understanding the DOL’s New Overtime Rules (presentation)     #143502
  • HR Brief: October 2016     #131178
    • Overtime and the FMLA Leave Entitlement

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NEW IDEAS TO CONSIDER

Account for inevitable changes and evaluate appropriate responses when looking ahead to your plan designs for next year.

  • Benefits Bulletin: 4th Quarter 2016     #131136
    • How the 2016 Election Could Affect Health Care
  • Benefits Buzz, October 2016:     #131150
    • Marketplaces to Offer “Simple Choice Plans” for 2017
  • Benefits Insights: Salary-based Health Insurance Premiums       #143892

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STATE EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATES

After a quiet summer, our library researchers have added new articles on state-mandated programs in the states of Indiana, New York, and Washington.

  • Indiana – Workers Compensation: Claims Process     #143512
  • Indiana – Workers Compensation: Employee Benefits     #143511
  • Indiana – Workers Compensation: Employee Eligibility     #143394
  • Indiana – Workers Compensation: Employer Penalties     #143402
  • Indiana – Workers Compensation: Employer Responsibilities     #143513
  • New York – Public Goods Pool Surcharge     #143966
  • Washington state – Workers Compensation: Claims Process     #143753
  • Washington state – Workers Compensation: Employee Benefits     #143754
  • Washington state – Workers Compensation: Employee Eligibility     #143534
  • Washington state – Workers Compensation: Employer Penalties     #143527
  • Washington state – Workers Compensation: Employer Responsibilities     #143752

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WELLNESS NOTES

Use one of these short pieces to add to your employee newsletter:

  • Live Well, Work Well Newsletter, October 2016:     #131076
    • Halloween Safety Tips
    • Prevent Backpack-related Injuries
    • Breast Cancer Awareness Month
    • Recipe: Perfect Pumpkin Pancakes

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CAN SOCIAL MEDIA HELP YOU DO YOUR JOB?

Consider how social media might be utilized to help you reach customers, employees, or job candidates in a new way.

  • Infographic: Why Use Social Media?       #143238
  • Succeed with Social Media: Snapchat     #143042

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OVERVIEW OF THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT

This article summarizes the requirements of the ADA and provides links to resources for more detailed information.

  • Compliance Overview: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)     #143215

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CHECKLIST FOR 2017 ACA COMPLIANCE

As you prepare for 2017, this 15-page checklist serves as a valuable reminder of what is required in order to comply with federal regulations. It also provides insight on anticipated changes that have not yet been finalized, so that you can keep your plans flexible and be ready to adapt to these if and when you must.

  • ACA Overview: 2017 Compliance Checklist     #143058

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OCTOBER 14th DEADLINE FOR MEDICARE PART D NOTICES

Group health plan sponsors are required to notify individuals who are eligible for Medicare Part D, as well as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, whether their plan’s prescription drug coverage is creditable. The following will briefly guide you through the requirements that apply, as well as provide sources for more detailed assistance for employers.

  • Compliance Bulletin: Medicare Part D Notices Are Due by Oct. 14, 2016     #110448

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PROMOTING HEALTH SAVINGS ACCOUNTS

The Department of Labor has provided help in determining what promotional activities are acceptable under the Final Rule issued in April. These articles will give you a quick look at what you can do to foster greater participation in HSAs.

  • HR Brief: September 2016     #131177
    • Educate Employees on the Value of HSAs
  • Benefits Buzz, September 2016:    #131148
    • DOL’s New Fiduciary Rule Impacts HSAs

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PLANNING AHEAD

It’s best to be prepared for change, so we offer the following to give you some things to think about. Consider proposed changes to Form 5500, possible impacts to health coverages resulting from the presidential election, and the increasing popularity of telemedicine and student loan repayment benefits.

  • Benefits Buzz, September 2016:     #131148
    • Significant Changes Proposed to Form 5500
  • Benefits Insights: How the 2016 Election Could Affect Health Care       #142821
  • Benefits Insights: 2016 Benefits Trends So Far     #142193

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WELLNESS ARTICLES

This month’s wellness newsletter has brief pieces on a range of topics that may be of interest to your employees.

  • Live Well, Work Well – September 2016:    #131075
    • Taking Responsibility for Your Retirement Fund
    • Green Tea – More than Just a Drink?
    • Pokemon Go: Advice for Parents

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ACA COMPLIANCE

In July the IRS issued proposed regulations that clarify its position on the premium tax credit, the individual mandate, and the employer shared responsibility rules. The following 6-page ACA Compliance Bulletin provides detailed help with understanding the Opt-Out Payment Rules.  The Infographic gives a quick summary of the complicated process for determining whether an individual is able to claim the premium tax credit; that might be a useful handout for employees.

  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: IRS Issues Opt-Out Payment Proposed Rules     #141226
  • Infographic: Premium Tax Credit Flow Chart     #142878

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HUMAN RESOURCES UPDATES

We’ve added several articles to the library this month that cover a range of HR topics. Some of these are aimed at an employee audience and can be helpful as articles in company newsletters.

  • HR Brief: September 2016       #131177
    • English-only Policies in the Workplace
  • HR Insights: Should Employees Be Allowed to Play Fantasy Sports at Work?     #142457
  • Fact Sheet: Interim Guidance for Protecting Workers from Occupational Exposure to Zika Virus     #143033
  • Infographic: Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce      #143034

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START PREPARING FOR 2017

Summertime fun might draw our focus away from work responsibilities. But it’s time to make preparations for 2017 open enrollment.  This 9-page overview reminds you of all the tasks that need to be considered.  The sections further down in this Touchstone newsletter on ACA and general compliance concerns also provide assistance.  Please give us a call if we can help.  (And if your staff is too distracted by the summer’s latest fad, look to the final article in the Human Resources Update section for help in keeping them on track.)

  • Compliance Overview: 2017 Open Enrollment Checklist     #131228

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AFFORDABLE CARE ACT COMPLIANCE CONCERNS

The following articles provide important details on addressing certain responsibilities you have to comply with the Affordable Care Act.

  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: Draft Forms for 2016 ACA Reporting Released     #141490-2
  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: IRS to Accept ACA Filings After June 30 Deadline    #141063
  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: PCORI Fees Due August 1, 2016    #131223
  • ACA Overview: Pay or Play – Impact on Fringe Benefit Rules for Federal Contract Workers     #141363
  • Benefits Insights: Cadillac Tax Update     #141825

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COMPLIANCE OVERVIEWS

In addition to ACA requirements, your plans need to remain in compliance with so many other rules. These articles cover several important clarifications and updates issued by federal authorities.

  • Compliance Bulletin: DOL Increases Penalties for Health Plan Violations    #141226
    • Compliance Bulletin: EEOC Issues Sample ADA Notice for Wellness Plans     #140853
    • Compliance Bulletin: DOL’s New Fiduciary Rule Impacts HSAs    #141582
    • Compliance Bulletin: Significant Changes Proposed to Form 5500     #141957
    • Compliance Bulletin: EEOC Increases Penalty for Notice Posting Violations    #142056
    • Compliance Overview: COBRA Continuation Coverage – Mergers and Acquisitions     #141754

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HEALTH PLAN SAVINGS THROUGH NARROW NETWORKS

As health plans look to keep costs under control while still complying with the mandates of the ACA, narrow provider networks are worth consideration.

  • Benefits Insights: Examining Narrow Provider Networks     #141194

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WELLNESS NEWS

You may use the information below as individual handouts or inserts for your employee newsletter.

  • Live Well, Work Well – August 2016:     #131074
    • Zika: Why Men Should Be Concerned, Too
    • Exercising the Body and Brain
  • Infographic: Emergency Room or Urgent Care?    #142079

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HUMAN RESOURCES UPDATES

The articles below offer assistance in dealing with a wide range of Human Resource problems. Most helpful might be the scorecard for evaluating your organization’s risks for increased fines, costs, and lawsuits for failure to fully comply with the recently revised Fair Labor Standards Act rules on overtime. The 12-page primer on considerations for retaining young employees is another useful tool.   The articles on employee leaves, considerations for an onsite clinic, and an explanation of self-insured vs fully-insured benefits might be helpful to your organization’s HR staff.

  • FLSA Overtime Rule Risk Scorecard     #141193
  • HR Toolkit: Retaining Millennials       #141134
  • Employer’s Roadmap to the FMLA     #141018
  • HR Brief:     #131176
    • Employee Leave: Clarifying STD, FMLA, and ADA
    • The FMLA and Absence Notification: Is Your Policy Being Followed?
  • Self-Insured vs. Fully-Insured      #141184
  • On-site Clinic Vendor Comparison Website      #141600
  • HR Insights: How to Respond to Pokemon Go     #142103

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STATE EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATES

Only one new piece was added this month to the library of state law articles:

  • Florida: Workers Compensation Court Cases May Drive Up Rates     #141413

 

 

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OVERTIME RULE COMPLIANCE BY DECEMBER 1st 

Employers have only 6 months to prepare for full compliance with the recently issued new rule regarding overtime pay. The following pieces will help you to communicate the change to employees and to organize and document your company’s response.

  • HR Toolkit: Overtime Rule     #136988-2 [This article updates the HR Toolkit that had been posted in April]
  • Compliance Overview: FAQs – New Overtime Pay Rules    #139552
  • Overtime Rule Change: Cost Calculator    #139898
  • Compliance Overview: FLSA Overtime Final Rule – Non-Profit Sector    #140680
  • Compliance Overview: FLSA Overtime Final Rule – Higher Education Sector    #140672
  • Compliance Overview: FLSA Overtime Final Rule – State and Local Governments      #140660
  • Infographic: FLSA Overtime Rule Change    #139863
  • Benefits Bulletin: 3rd Quarter 2015    #131135
    • DOL Issues New Overtime Payment Rules
  • Benefits Buzz, July 2016: DOL Issues New Overtime Payment Rules    #131146
  • HR Brief: July 2016   #131175
    • The Final White Collar Exemption Rule is Here: Now What?

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SURVEY RESULTS

Two new surveys were added to our Library recently. These can help you gauge how your organization lines up against similar employers in responding to the needs of the workforce.

  • Insights from MetLife’s 14th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study (28 pages)    #139745
  • 2016 Survey Results: Affordable Care Act (17 pages)     #139762

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MISCELLANEOUS HEALTH PLAN CONCERNS

The articles noted below address a variety of health plan concerns, including nondiscrimination under the Affordable Care Act, HIPAA audits, and the change in the ACA affordability percentage for 2017. The comprehensive Compliance Bulletin on FSAs is 9-pages.  Also included is a sample letter to assist in notifying employees of a decision to move the sponsored plan to a private exchange platform.

  • Compliance Bulletin: Health Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)    #140287
  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: HHS Final Rule on Nondiscrimination in Health Programs    #139530
  • Know Your Benefits: Private Exchange Letter Announcement     #139989
  • Benefits Bulletin: 3rd Quarter 2016    #131135
    • HHS Launches Phase 2 of HIPAA Audit Program    
  • Benefits Bulletin: 3rd Quarter 2016    #131135
    • ACA’s Affordability Contribution Percentage Increased for 2017

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WELLNESS TOPICS

The first two articles below can help supplement your organization’s own newsletter or can be used as a stand-alone communication to boost interest in wellness topics. The last 2 articles provide guidance for wellness programs to comply with anti-discrimination provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.

  • Workplace Wellness: The Importance of Sleep    #139588
  • Live Well, Work Well – July 2016:    #131073
    • FDA Moves to Regulate the Sale of E-cigarettes
    • SPF Claims Fall Short for Many Sunscreens
    • Food Labels to Get a Makeover
  • Benefits Bulletin: 3rd Quarter 2016    #131135
    • EEOC Finalizes Wellness Rules Under ADA and GINA      
  • Benefits Buzz, July 2016: EEOC Finalizes Wellness Rules Under ADA and GINA    #131146

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HUMAN RESOURCE POLICIES

This month we’ve added a few new aids that span a variety of HR topics. The first 3 samples below provide language to assist in composing documented statements of your organization’s policies on personal leaves, leaves that are outside the scope of the Family and Medical Leave Act, and employment practices that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The final article provides an overview of guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding its leave of absence requirements.

  • HR Policies: Time Away from Work – Personal Leave Policy    #139671
  • HR Policies: Time Away from Work – Non-FMLA Leave Policy    #139670
  • HR Policies: Employment Policies – Americans with Disabilities Policy   
  • HR Brief: July 2016   #131175
    • EEOC Issues Welcome Guidance on Leave as a Reasonable Accommodation

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STATE EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATES

Explanations of New Jersey and Oregon laws were added to the library this month:

  • New Jersey: Employer Recordkeeping Requirements    #139695
  • Oregon: ‘Ban the Box’ Law    #140344

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MAJOR CHANGE TO OVERTIME RULE

On May 18th  the Department of Labor announced major revisions in white collar salary-level exemptions from the Fair Labor Standards Act paid overtime rule. Compliance is required by December 1. Employers need to carefully consider how this change will impact their employee classifications in terms of both payroll practices and benefit plans’ eligibility rules.  The following articles provide you with basic guidance on reviewing and revising policies and procedures, as well as sample communication to employees regarding such changes.  Please contact Touchstone, if we can be of further assistance in determining how your organization needs to adapt.

  • Compliance Bulletin: DOL Issues New Overtime Payment Rules   #139142
  • Overtime Rule Changes – Guidance for Private Employers   #139235
  • Overtime Rule Changes – Guidance for Nonprofit Organizations   #139236
  • Overtime Rule Changes – Guidance for Higher Education Institutions   #139237
  • HR Insights: Overtime Rule Communication Strategies   #139292
  • HR Brief – June 2016   #131174
    • Knowing the Difference between Exempt and Non-Exempt
  • Know Your Benefits: Changes Regarding the New Overtime Rule   #139220

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VALUABLE WELLNESS PROGRAM ASSISTANCE

We present a comprehensive 80-page ‘How-To Guide’ on workplace wellness that details how to set up an appropriate program and how to evaluate its success. Also provided this month is a brief summary of the EEOC final rule regarding the impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, as well as articles that can be used in employee newsletters.

  • Workplace Wellness How-to Guide   #138364
  • Compliance Bulletin: EEOC Finalizes Wellness Rules under ADA and GINA   #139112
  • Live Well, Work Well – June 2016:   #131072
    • Potential Zika Spread Mapped by NASA
    • Detergent Package Poisoning
    • How to Turn a Bad Day Around

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PRIVATE EXCHANGES

Although there has been much press coverage of the public marketplaces established under the Affordable Care Act, the average employee has not heard much about the relatively popular and growing private exchanges. These marketplaces provide employers with an easy route to introducing defined contribution health plans, allowing the plan sponsor to predict its costs and the employee to choose among several plans.  Touchstone has experience in helping employers transition to such plans for their active or retiree populations; let us know if we can answer any questions for you.

  • Benefits Insights: Private Exchanges Overview   #138767

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HEALTH PLAN COMPLIANCE OVERVIEWS

Below are several new articles on various responsibilities that a health plan sponsor may be subject to under federal law, depending on the type of organization and its health plans.

  • Compliance Bulletin: IRS Announces HSA-HDHP Limits for 2017   #138390
  • Compliance Overview: Medicare Secondary Payer IRS SSA CMS Data Match   #138746
  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: Supreme Court Returns Contraceptive Case to Lower Courts       #139087
  • Benefits Buzz, June 2016   #131145
    • ACA’s Affordability Contribution Percentage Increases for 2017
    • Updated HIPAA Self-Audit Tools 

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LIFE INSURANCE BASICS

This article provides a summary of the different types of life insurance which might be offered through an employer-sponsored program or purchased on an individual basis. This might be useful for training new benefits staff or as an article for employee communications.

  • Benefits Insights: Understanding Different Types of Life Insurance   #138395

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UPDATE ON HUMAN RESOURCES TOPICS

The following articles should be of interest to those responsible for complying with general employment laws or for setting new employee programs in place.

  • Compliance Bulletin: EEOC Rules on Transgender Employee Bathroom Use   #138522
  • Compliance Bulletin: DOL Updates Model FMLA Poster   #78835
  • Benefits Toolkit: Career Pathing   #138362
  • Benefits Insights: Pet Bereavement   #138969

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STATE EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATES

Only a couple of articles were added to our state law library in the past month:

  • New York: State-wide $15 Minimum Wage Rate Enacted   #138405
  • Maryland: Employer Recordkeeping Requirement   #138406

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This month several government agencies issued significant guidance on compliance with the Affordable Care Act. Be sure to review these ‘ACA Compliance Bulletins,’ as well as the other helpful articles presented.

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SUMMARY OF BENEFITS AND COVERAGE: FINAL REVISION

Early in April, the final revised template for composing a health plan SBC was issued by the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services. Employers should familiarize themselves with the requirements noted in the following article.  Self-funded employers should be especially concerned and prepare a compliant SBC well ahead of the deadline.

  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: Final SBC Template Released for 2017   #137340

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ACA AFFORDABILITY CONTRIBUTION PERCENTAGE

IRS Revenue Procedure 2016-24, released a few weeks ago, notes the required contribution percentage limitations for determining whether an employee would be considered eligible for affordable minimum essential coverage under an employer-sponsored health plan after 2016.   The determination as to whether coverage is affordable is based on the employee’s household income and the contribution required of him/her for plan coverage.  The article describes the calculation of the indexed percentages, and how they impact the Employer Shared Responsibility rules and related penalties.

  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: ACA’s Affordability Contribution Percentage Increased for 2017   #137837

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MORE ON HIPAA COMPLIANCE AUDITS

Last month’s newsletter advised you that the Department of Health and Human Services has begun the second phase of its HIPAA audit program, targeting business associates as well as covered entities.  This month’s ‘Compliance Overview’ provides details on how your organization can review policies and procedures to determine its level of compliance, including links for using the Security Risk Assessment Tool.   Also provided is guidance on how to prepare for a possible audit.  Please contact Touchstone if you need any assistance in addressing HIPAA requirements.

  • Compliance Overview: HIPAA Compliance Reviews – Audit Protocol   #137585
  • Benefits Buzz, May 2016:   #131144
    • Phase 2 of HIPAA Audit Program

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HEALTH AND WELLNESS ARTICLES

The following articles may be of use as inserts to your employee newsletters or general communications:

  • Live Well, Work Well – May 2016:   #131071
    • Physicians Urged to Think Twice Before Prescribing Opioids
    • Only 3 Percent of Americans Live a Healthy Lifestyle
  • Live Well, Work Well: Building Positive Relationships in the Workplace    #138250

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HELP WITH ADDRESSING THE FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT

The Department of Labor has issued the following 76-page Guide to help employers deal with FMLA administration. As we noted in last month’s newsletter, the DOL is increasing its audits of employer compliance with the Family and Medical Leave Act, so now is a good time to review your policies and procedures.

  • Employer’s Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act    #138246

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 BENCHMARKING HEALTH PLAN DESIGN

This 16-page report summarizes a major survey of employer health plan designs for the past year, showing out-of-pocket maximums, deductibles, coinsurance, ER and office visit copays, and prescription drug deductibles. Contact Touchstone if you would like more detailed results (by region or industry, e.g.).

  • Benchmark Summary: 2015 Health Plan Design   #137243

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STUDENT LOAN REPAYMENT ASSISTANCE

The overwhelming burden of student debt has spurred interest among top-choice employers in developing benefit programs that address that particular employee concern. The following article provides an overview of the need for, and the current state of such programs, and notes important considerations for an employer.

  • Benefits Insights: Offering Student Loan Repayment Benefits   #138142

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NEWS ON THE HEALTH EXCHANGES

Some employers will receive notices soon that they are subject to Affordable Care Act penalties if any of their employees have been determined to be eligible for a subsidy through an exchange. Although regulations had required that employers be allowed to appeal such determinations through an online process, that capability has been delayed. Employers who have been contacted about such penalties need to appeal within 90 days, regardless of the failure of DHHS to provide an online appeals process.  Consult the first article below for guidance on how to proceed.

In another situation of delays in online accommodation of what will become routine processes, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently announced that it would permit some small employers to continue to enroll their employees in state-based Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) exchanges directly through their broker, agent, or insurer, rather than online. Consult the 2nd article below for further information on this.

  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: Exchange Subsidy Appeals May Remain Paper-Based Until 2017
  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: Some States Shop Exchanges May Further Delay Online Enrollment Until 2019    #138315

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BENEFITS MANAGEMENT AND HUMAN RESOURCES UPDATES

The following new additions to our library may be of interest to Benefit Managers and HR Pros:

  • Benefits Insights: Career Pathing    #137230
  • Benefits Insights: Understanding Employee Benefits Liability    #137204
  • HR Brief: May 2016    #131173
    • Continue to Use Current Form I-9
    • Tips for Implementing Progressive Discipline
  • Sample Job Offer Letter / Contract For Employment     #137541

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STATE EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATES

This month’s new articles focus on workers compensation in Oklahoma and Virginia, but also provide information on the controversial minimum wage law introduced in California, as well as New York’s paid family leave requirement and Georgia’s recordkeeping rules.

  • California Enacts $15 Minimum Wage Rate      #137214
  • Georgia Employer Recordkeeping Requirements     #137664
  • New York Enacts Paid Family Leave Law     #137635
  • Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation:
    • Claims Process         #138114
    • Employee Benefits    #138109
    • Employee Eligibility     #138110
    • Employer Penalties     #138113
    • Employer Responsibilities   #138224
  • Virginia Workers Compensation:
    • Employee Benefits      #137650
    • Employee Eligibility     #137654
    • Employer Penalties     #137667
    • Employer Responsibilities     #137665

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Spring is here. Start planning ahead for your next open enrollment, and you’ll be able to find some time to relax and enjoy the coming summer.

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AFFORDABLE CARE ACT UPDATES

The 5-page Bulletin gives details of the required changes to employer plans for 2017 to help you prepare early for next year. The other new articles provide overviews of certain ACA policies.

  • ACA Compliance Bulletin: 2017 Notice of Benefit & Payment Parameters   #131663
  • ACA Overview: Coverage Subject to PCORI Fees   #136450
  • Benefits Insights: ACA Changes Overview   #137023

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IDENTITY PROTECTION AS AN EMPLOYER-PROVIDED BENEFIT

Last month’s article describing IRS treatment of employee benefit programs to insure against identity theft was a popular article. So, this month we are listing recent related articles about this possible voluntary benefit program.

  • Benefits Bulletin:  #131134
    • IRS Expands Tax Relief for Identity Protection
  • Benefits Insights: Identity Theft Coverage   #22858

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PROPOSED CHANGE FOR WHITE COLLAR OVERTIME EXEMPTION

A final rule is expected to be released this summer which would radically increase the number of workers who are entitled to time-and-a-half for working more than 40 hours per week. Below are resources to help your organization understand the impact of this rule, so that you are prepared to implement changes quickly.  The Toolkit provides detailed guidance on how to address the coming changes.  The Employee Letter provides a template for communicating the changes to employees.

  • Benefits Bulletin:   #131134
    • FLSA Overtime Rule Change
  • HR Insights: Overview of Proposed Changes to FLSA White Collar Exemption Rules   #136989
  • HR Toolkit: Proposed Changes to FLSA White Collar Exemption Rules   #136988
  • Employee Letter About Proposed Changes to FLSA White Collar Exemption Rules    #137010

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HEALTH AND WELLNESS ASSISTANCE

The articles below cover a wide-range of topics that might serve as articles in your employee or wellness newsletter. These communications are composed to be read by an employee audience.

  • Know Your Benefits: Cancer Insurance – Types of Policies   #135783
  • Know Your Benefits: Understanding Health Insurance Terminology   #136403
  • Live Well, Work Well – Elder Abuse:   #136375
  • Live Well, Work Well – April 2016:   #131070
    • Loneliness Considered a Public Health Problem
    • Coffee May Combat Alcohol’s Effect on the Liver
    • Avoiding Spring Allergies     

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FEDERAL ENFORCEMENT UPDATES

Two federal agencies have recently announced that they are stepping up their enforcement efforts. The Department of Health and Human Services has begun the second phase of its HIPAA audit program, focusing on compliance with Privacy, Security and Breach Notification Rules, targeting business associates as well as covered entities.  The Department of Labor is increasing its audits of employer compliance with the Family and Medical Leave Act.  The articles below advise how your organization should best prepare for such audits.

  • Compliance Bulletin: DOL Increases FMLA Enforcement   #136036
  • Compliance Bulletin: HHS Launches HIPAA Audit Program   #136883

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COBRA REVIEW

COBRA questions present a difficult concept for many benefit and HR professionals to handle, even if administration is outsourced. The following piece is a nice refresher on COBRA compliance, including helpful links to Department of Labor resources.

  • Compliance Overview: COBRA Premiums   #136030

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STATE EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATES

Although there are only a couple of new articles this month, both are important concerns. The 5-page Vermont article also includes action steps and links to further details.

  • New York: Duty to Provide a Reasonably Safe Workplace (Section 200)   #136780
  • Vermont: Compliance Bulletin – Vermont Enacts Paid Sick Leave   #136936

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HUMAN RESOURCES UPDATES

A wide range of Human Resources topics have been added to the library this month. The 15-page Onboarding Toolkit could be especially helpful to you or your colleagues who have responsibilities for recruiting, training, and other HR duties.

  • HR Brief:   #131172
    • EEOC Proposes Revised Guidance on Retaliation
    • IRS: Payroll and HR Targets of New Phishing Scheme
  • HR Insights: Personality Tests   #136349
  • HR Insights: Onboarding   #135964
  • HR Toolkit: Onboarding   #136197
  • How to Prepare Your Business for an Active Shooters   #136346

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PREPARING TO INTRODUCE A HIGH-DEDUCTIBLE HEALTH PLAN?

Our library has many aids to help you transition to a high-deductible health plan. The sample letter below is a new addition, to help you communicate the changes to your plan participants.

Know Your Benefits: High Deductible Health Plan Announcement Letter   #136985

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