Tag Archives: health insurance

Flu Season Preparation

The flu season is upon us and it looks like it is going to be severe. Already Boston has declared a state of emergency. Employers need to take steps to protect their employees and business before they get hit with a major outbreak.

 Here are 6 things you can do:

  1. Encourage all your employees to get vaccinated. This is the single best way to prevent or at least minimize the impact. Educate your workers on the importance. Put up signs. Communicate its importance. Encourage them to get the vaccine and have their family vaccinated.
  2. Check with your medical insurance provider or broker to see whether the vaccination is covered in full by your health insurance.
  3. Consider hosting a flu vaccination clinic. You don’t have to be a big firm to do this. Often times you can partner with a local pharmacy to have this done on your site.
  4. Encourage ill employees to stay home. Your highly engaged workers will drag themselves in to do their job but you need to tell them to stay home. Don’t let them infect the rest of the operation.
  5. Review your sick leave and attendance policies to make sure you’re not sending the message to stay home but have policies that will penalize workers for doing that. Now is the time for flexibility and at the same time educate your managers and supervisors on this. You don’t want to be sending mixed messages.
  6. Promote cleanliness and personal hygiene. Educate your employees on proper coughing and sneezing methods. Put hand sanitizer everywhere. Encourage regular disinfecting of phones, keyboards, doorknobs, faucets, etc.

The flu will have an enormous impact on business. Absenteeism and lost productivity can have a crippling effect. Studies show that an individual with the flu will lose up to 6 work-days. Prevention is the key.

Take steps now to address this issue. And call me if you need advice.

What is your company doing to prepare? Share below in the comment section.

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Filed under Management

Affordable Care Act: What Employers Need To Know

(Post was written by James McCarthy, Mainebiz)

Rick Dacri, owner of a Kennebunkport-based consulting firm that advises businesses on work force issues, says his client list ranges from Fortune 500 companies to nonprofits employing fewer than 10 people. Whatever their size, he says, health care benefits and their costs have long been a front-burner issue for Maine employers.

Yet, when asked about the 5–4 Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act, Dacri carefully sidesteps the political controversy that preceded the June 28 ruling and continues in its aftermath. He prefers to focus more on the practical steps employers need to take now that the law has been ruled constitutional.

“I don’t think it’s as big a deal as is being portrayed,” Dacri says, noting that most of his Maine clients, even the smaller companies, already provide health insurance to their employees. For them, he says, it’s an essential way to attract and keep quality employees. Continue reading

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Filed under Compliance

Salary Top Cause of Employee Dissatisfaction

 Salary is by far the leading cause of employee dissatisfaction among U.S. workers, cited by 47% of respondents in a recent Market Tool Inc. survey. Other leading causes include workload (24%), lack of opportunities for advancement (21%) and the employee’s manager or supervisor (21%). It is important to note that a strong correlation exists between employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction and, ultimately, a company’s revenue and profitability.

 But how can this be? If low salary is the source of dissatisfaction, wouldn’t more money be therefore the source of greater satisfaction? Yet for years experts (and that includes me) have preached that money was not the source of employee satisfaction. Have we all been wrong or is the survey flawed?

 The economy has changed employees’ attitudes. In the last 2 years, employees have faced frozen salaries and pay cuts along with increases to the cost of health benefits. At the same time other costs have steadily increased as their wages decreased (gas, fuel, clothing, etc). This has led to widespread employee dissatisfaction and a focus on pay.

 There will be pressure for employers to respond–something they have been able avoid with high unemployment. In fact, employers have seen that even with reduced workers and depressed pay they have still enjoyed productivity gains over the past 2 years. The tide is now changing. As the economy improves, employees will begin to search for greener pastures. Watch for turnover to increase. Employers will in turn respond with wage adjustments and a new cycle will emerge. We are experiencing interesting times.

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Filed under Employee Relations, Leadership, Management

The New Federal Health Law: What it Means to Employers

(This post was provided by the law firm Bernstein Shur)

Last week Congress passed H.R. 4872, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which will result in a massive overhaul of U.S. health care. The new law will have a significant effect on taxpayers, employers, and the health care industry. The provisions affecting employers will be implemented in stages between now and 2018. Appearing below is a list of the date on which key provisions becomes effective:

  •  The date the new law is signed by President Obama: Employees will be able to cover dependents under the employer’s health plan up to (and including) age 26, and coverage for such dependents under an employer’s group health plan will qualify as a nontaxable benefit. 
  • Beginning of employer’s 2010 tax year: So-called small employers will receive a tax credit for amounts they pay for employee health coverage.  Small employers are defined as employers who have 25 or fewer full-time employees who have wages averaging no more than $50,000 per year. The amount of the tax credit varies on a sliding scale. Employers with 10 or fewer employees who have wages averaging no more than $25,000 per year will receive the full credit of 35%.
  • January 1, 2011: Purchase of over-the-counter medications cannot be reimbursed from health reimbursement accounts (“HRAs”), health savings accounts (“HSAs”), medical care flexible spending accounts (“FSAs”), or Archer medical savings accounts (“MSAs”).
  • Beginning of employer’s 2011 tax year: Employers must disclose the value of the health care benefit provided by them on each employee’s Form W-2.  Starting in tax year 2013, other reporting requirements will apply to employers who self insure.
  • January 1, 2013: Pre-tax contributions to medical care flexible spending accounts will be limited to $2,500 per year.
  • January 1, 2013: The deduction for employers who receive Medicare Part D retiree drug subsidy payments will be eliminated.  
  • January 1, 2014: The so-called pay-or-play provision will go into effect. This means that employers with 50 or more full-time employees will be required either to offer affordable “minimum essential coverage” to all full-time employees and must pay at least 60% of the cost, or the employer must pay an excise tax that is determined using the following formula: the number of full-time employees over a 30 employee threshold, multiplied by $2,000 divided by 12. The excise tax is paid monthly. 
  • January 1, 2014: Employers will be required to provide “free choice vouchers” to employees who are not covered under the employer’s health plan and who meet certain qualifications.  Employees will be able to use the vouchers towards the purchase of health coverage on the Insurance Exchange. The amount of the voucher will be equal to the amount the employer would have paid towards the employee’s coverage if the employee were to participate in the employer’s plan.  To qualify for a voucher, the employee must meet the following income limitations:
    • If the employee were to participate in the employer’s health plan, the required employer contribution would be between 8% and 9.5% of the employee’s household income; and
    • Total household income of employee and family is at or below 400% of the poverty line.
  •  January 1, 2018: The so-called “Cadillac plan” provisions go in to effect. Employers and insurers will pay a 40% nondeductible excise tax for Cadillac plans, which is any employer-sponsored health plan whose annual premium exceeds $10,200 for single coverage and $27,500 for family coverage. The 40% excise tax will apply only to the portion of the plan’s cost that exceeds these dollar amounts.

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Filed under Compliance, Management