Transitioning to Our New Site

Posted March 23, 2018 by Megan DiMartino

In our March 7th blog we made the exciting announcement that we have changed our name to AP Benefit Advisors, LLC. We can’t thank you enough for all of your support and understanding during this transition!

Over the weekend we will be transitioning our old website, www.crawfordadvisors.com, to our new website, www.apbenefitadvisors.com. This means that over the next couple days the redirect may not be working yet, so the best way to visit us is by going directly to www.apbenefitadvisors.com.

Please contact us if you have any questions or comments regarding our new site.

Again, thank you tremendously for your patience, understanding and support!

AssuredPartners’ HRCI & SHRM Pre-Approved Webinar | Onboarding: The Day that Matters Most for Retention and Engagement

Posted March 13, 2018 by Megan DiMartino

Please join AssuredPartners and change communication expert, Kip Soteres, for an HRCI* and SHRM** pre-approved webinar addressing how your onboarding process can improve employee retention and appreciation for your company and its benefits beginning on Day 1.

Employees recruited into your company have often been shown the best and brightest face – they are likely excited to be starting a new job and have been sold on the best features of your organization. Day 1 orientation and ensuing onboarding efforts can either continue that momentum or kill it. Twenty percent of employee turnover happens in the first 45 days of employment; effectively communicating benefits in a sustained way can make a significant positive difference in the way new employees view their job and the way they define their relationship with their employer. Please join our webinar to receive information and training on how to communicate information on your company and benefits effectively during the onboarding process to obtain the best results.

This training will provide:

  • Suggestions for revamping Day 1 orientation content for enhanced impact and better emotional engagement for employees
  • A plan template for a 6-month new hire launch campaign for new hires that will keep them engaged and aware of the total rewards of working for your company
  • Sample communications that can be tailored for your benefit needs and tips for auto-distributing those communications to new hires
  • Tips for creating communities and forums for new hires and how to plug them into the full-value proposition of working for your company

Webinar details:

  • Wednesday, March 21, 2018 – 2-3pm EDT
  • No cost to attend
  • This webinar is open to all HR and Finance Professionals – but not to brokers, agents, TPAs and PEOs

*The use of this seal confirms that this activity has met HR Certification Institute’s (HRCI) criteria for the recertification credit pre-approval. This activity has been approved for 1 HR (General) recertification credit hours toward aPHR, PHR, PHRca, SPHR, GPHR, PHRi, and SPHRi recertification through HRCI.

**AP Benefit Advisors is recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credit (PDCs) for SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. This program is valid for 1 PDC for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. For more information about certification or recertification, please visit shrmcertification.org.


For more information contact info@crawfordadvisors.com. The information contained in this post, and any attachments, is not intended and should not be misconstrued as legal advice. You should contact your employment, benefits or ERISA attorney for legal direction.

IRS Confirms – Vasectomies Are Not ACA-Preventive Care for HDHPs

Posted March 8, 2018 by Patrick Haynes

With IRS Notice 2018-12, the IRS has clarified that health plans covering male sterilization or male contraceptives without a deductible, or with a deductible below the statutory minimum deductible for high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), are not HDHPs under current IRS guidance regarding requirements for health savings accounts (HSAs). As background, individuals who wish to make or receive HSA contributions must be covered by a qualifying HDHP and have no impermissible coverage. An HDHP is an insured or self-insured health plan that meets certain requirements, including minimum annual deductible and maximum out-of-pocket expense limits, although HDHPs may provide preventive care benefits without a deductible or with a deductible below the statutory minimum.

To qualify as preventive care, a benefit must be defined as such under the Social Security Act (SSA) or in IRS or Treasury Department guidance. These standards govern whether benefits that a state law requires insurance policies to provide on a no-deductible or low-deductible basis will qualify as “preventive care”. The IRS has also confirmed that preventive services that must be provided without cost-sharing under health care reform (the ACA) will qualify as preventive care for HDHP purposes.

Why now?  Why this change and guidance?

The guidance notes that some states have recently adopted laws requiring health insurance policies to cover male sterilization or male contraceptives without cost-sharing—they cite Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, and Vermont as examples.  These benefits are not preventive care under the SSA or under IRS or Treasury Department guidance, nor are they preventive services that must be provided without cost-sharing under health care reform. Therefore, plans that provide these benefits before the HDHP minimum deductible is satisfied are not HDHPs, even if the benefits are required under state law, and an individual who is covered under such a plan is not eligible to make or receive HSA contributions.

However, the IRS has provided transition relief for periods before 2020. Under the relief, individuals will not be treated as failing to qualify as HSA-eligible merely because they are or were covered by an insurance policy that is not an HDHP solely because it covers male sterilization or male contraceptives without a deductible, or with a deductible below the HDHP minimum deductible.

As you may recall from our December 2017 guidance, many concerned employers and plan sponsors with HSA programs worried about this issue, and were concerned that state legislators were not moving fast enough to exempt HDHPs from their mandates.  With this new guidance and transitional relief state legislators will have additional time to correct the oversight that “free vasectomies” were not intended to cause.

Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact your Account Manger or Sales Executive.  Thank you.

Links:

Exciting Announcement – Our Name Change

Posted March 8, 2018 by Patrick Haynes

We are very excited to announce that we are changing our name to AP Benefit Advisors, LLC.

As you may recall, in 2014, we were acquired by AssuredPartners, Inc. and our business of developing long lasting relationships and continuing to find the new and innovative solutions to fulfill the specific needs of our clients has strengthened. We are proud to share our name and to be able to offer new tools, new products, and new lines of insurance coverage to help our clients manage more of their risk (property, casualty, aviation, marine, etc.).

You will continue to work with the same leadership team, professional staff and systems that you have enjoyed in the past, and you can expect to see additional tools, resources, products and services in the future.

Our old email address, @crawfordadvisors.com, will continue to work, but you will begin seeing replies from your service team coming from an @assuredpartners.com email address. Our telephone and fax numbers will not be changing.

AssuredPartners, Inc. is headquartered in Lake Mary, Florida, and invests in property and casualty and employee benefits brokerage businesses across the country. Through access to partner agency resources nationally, we continue increasing our leverage and negotiation power with our carrier-partners as a result of an increase to our overall book of business.

For additional information regarding us, please visit our new website, www.APBenefitAdvisors.com, and learn more about AssuredPartners, Inc. by visiting www.AssuredPartners.com.

Please contact us if you have any questions or comments about our name change. Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you. We sincerely appreciate the confidence you have placed in us as your partner in providing employee benefits services to your employees and co-workers.

Thank you.

 

 

ALERT IRS Reduces HSA Family Contribution Limit for 2018

Posted March 6, 2018 by Patrick Haynes

Late last year, Congress enacted the Tax Cuts and Jobs Billchttps://www.apbenefitadvisors.com/2017/12/20/us-house-senate-pass-tax-cut-jobs-act-2017/ into law.   One of the changes affecting health and welfare plans is a change to the way the IRS calculates cost of living increases. Specifically, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Bill legislated that cost of living increases must use “Chained CPI” (a method of calculating inflation that takes into account the fact that as prices increase some consumers switch to lower priced products or substitute products).  The aim of using Chained CPI, is to reduce the effects of inflation, and over time, producer lower cost of living increases.

Today, the Internal Revenue Service released Revenue Procedure 2018-18 which recalculates a number of cost of living increases for calendar year 2018, as follows –

  • The family HSA contribution for 2018 is reduced from $6,900 to $6,850.
  • This change is retroactive to January 1, 2018  therefore previous contribution elections may need to be adjusted and/or excess contributions that have already been deposited for 2018 (e.g., for those who have already contributed the full amount) will need to be returned
  • For employer adoption assistance programs, the maximum amount that can be excluded from an employee’s gross income for qualified adoption expenses is reduced from $13,840 to $13,810. Further, the adjusted gross income threshold after which the adoption exclusion begins to phase out is reduced from $207,580 to $207,140.
  • Health care FSA, transit and other benefit limits are not impacted.

The above changes apply to the 2018 calendar year. Employees contributing to an HSA should be informed of the reduced maximum limit, and adjustments in contributions for the remainder of 2018 may be needed. Employees who have already contributed the maximum amount for 2018, such as a one-time HSA contribution from a beginning of the year bonus payment, will need to receive a refund of the excess contribution.

Please contact your Account Manager or Sales Executive with any questions you may have.

Links:

 

Annual Filing Reminders

Posted February 13, 2018 by Megan DiMartino

As we head into the last few weeks of February, we want to take this opportunity to remind employers about the following upcoming annual filing deadlines:

  • Annual Prescription Drug Notice
    Group health plans must notify the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) each year regarding whether the group health plan’s prescription drug coverage offered to Medicare Part D-eligible individuals is “creditable” or “non-creditable.” This notice must be done electronically by completing the online registration and disclosure form on the CMS website. CMS has also published, on its website, guidance regarding the notice and the information required for the filing.The compliance date(s) for this annual disclosure is: (a) within 60 days after the beginning of the plan year (e.g., for a calendar year plan year, by March 1, 2018); (b) within 30 days after the termination of the plan’s prescription drug coverage; and (c) within 30 days of any change in the creditable coverage status of the prescription drug plan.
  • HIPAA Breach Report
    HIPAA-covered benefit plans are required to report any breach during a calendar year involving less than 500 individuals to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on an annual basis. Any such breach that occurred during the year must be reported to HHS by completing the disclosure form on the HHS website.The compliance date for this annual disclosure is within 60 days after the end of the calendar year (i.e., by March 1, 2018).
  • ACA Reporting Deadlines
    Pursuant to the ACA, Applicable Large Employers (ALEs) and employers that self-insured their medical benefits must file information returns with the IRS and distribute health coverage information forms to their employees, via Form 1095-C or 1095-B, as applicable.The compliance date(s) for filing 2017 information returns with the IRS is February 28, 2018 for paper filers and April 2, 2018 for electronic filers. Per IRS Notice 2018-06, the deadline for employers to distribute 1095-C or 1095-B forms to their employees was extended 30 days and is now March 2, 2018.

For questions, concerns or additional assistance, please contact your Account Executive or Account Manager.

For more information contact info@apbenefitadvisors.com. The information contained in this post, and any attachments, is not intended and should not be misconstrued as legal advice. You should contact your employment, benefits or ERISA attorney for legal direction.

HRCI & SHRM Pre-Approved Webinar | Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Addressing and Eliminating this Inappropriate Behavior

Posted February 9, 2018 by Megan DiMartino

Sexual harassment and abusive conduct not only create a hostile work environment, but cost employers billions each year in lawsuits, employee turnover and lost revenue. With the recent increased focus on workplace harassment, employers are encouraged to evaluate their management practices to ensure they implement and maintain appropriate measures for a harassment-free, safe work environment.

Join us for this HRCI* and SHRM** pre-approved, complimentary, one-hour webinar as our Director of Crawford HR Services, Cindy Wagner, dives into the very sensitive, yet, very relevant topic of sexual harassment that should resonate with everyone not only in the workplace, but outside of the workplace as well.

We will review some tools and discuss methodologies to help organizations of all sizes address issues relating to workplace harassment that include:

  • What is harassment?
  • Proactive measures to avoid inappropriate workplace behavior
  • Responding to harassment complaints
  • Avoid retaliation claims
  • HR’s role in workplace harassment prevention

Webinar Details:

  • Thursday, February 22, 2018
  • 2:00 – 3:00pm EST
  • No cost to attend
  • This webinar is open to all HR and Finance Professionals, but not to brokers, agents, TPAs and PEOs.
  

*The use of this seal confirms that this activity has met HR Certification Institute’s (HRCI) criteria for recertification credit pre-approval. This activity has been approved for 1 HR (General) recertification credit hours toward aPHR, PHR, PHRca, SPHR, GPHR, PHRi, and SPHRi recertification through HRCI.

**AP Benefit Advisors is recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. This program is valid for 1 PDC for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. For more information about certification or recertification, please visit shrmcertification.org.

For more information contact info@apbenefitadvisors.com. The information contained in this post, and any attachments, is not intended and should not be misconstrued as legal advice. You should contact your employment, benefits or ERISA attorney for legal direction.

#WellnessWednesday – February is Heart Health Month!

Posted January 31, 2018 by Megan DiMartino

Tomorrow (already!) begins the second month of 2018, but is also the kickoff to Heart Health Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among both men and women in the U.S., but is also one of the most preventable diseases by making healthy choices and managing health conditions.

Here are some statistics to give an idea of the annual effects of heart disease:

  • Heart disease claims approximately 1 million lives annually.
  • Heart disease claims more lives than all forms of cancer combined.
  • Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing nearly 380,000 people annually.
  • In the U.S., someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds, and every 60 seconds, someone dies from a heart disease-related event.
  • Direct and indirect costs of heart disease total more than $320 billion each year which includes health expenditures and lost productivity.
  • Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease.
  • Approximately 1 in 31 deaths of women is attributable to breast cancer, whereas 1 in 7.5 female deaths is attributable to coronary heart disease.

How can YOU make a difference during Heart Health Month?

  • Educate yourself, your family and friends, and your community about the strategies to prevent heart disease and encourage them to have their hearts checked and commit to a heart-healthy lifestyle. For example:
    • Encourage friends and family to make small changes, like using spices to season their food instead of salt.
    • Motivate teachers and administrators to make physical activity a part of the school day. This can help students start good habits early.
    • Ask doctors and nurses to be leaders in their communities by speaking out about ways to prevent heart disease.
  • Register for heart disease events and fundraisers in your community to not only provide more awareness on this silent killer, but to raise money for heart disease foundations to help support heart research.
  • And join us this Friday, February 2, and wear RED on National Wear Red Day to increase awareness of heart disease. Post photos of you, your family, your friends and your coworkers wearing red on social media with the hashtag #WearRedandGive to support the Go Red For Women movement, which provides educational programs to increase women’s awareness about their risk for heart disease and stroke as well as critical research to discover scientific knowledge about cardiovascular health.
For more information contact info@apbenefitadvisors.com. The information contained in this post, and any attachments, is not intended and should not be misconstrued as legal advice. You should contact your employment, benefits or ERISA attorney for legal direction.

USA – Open for Business (Again) – Cadillac Tax Delayed (Again) until 2022

Posted January 22, 2018 by PHaynes

While we all may not wish to applaud Congress today, many Employers and Plan Sponsors have something to be grateful for.  The leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives included a two-year delay of the 40% “Cadillac Tax” in their proposal to continue funding the government until February 8, 2018.  This two-year delay will push the effective date for the “Cadillac Tax” to 2022, and will help to protect health care coverage for the more than 178 million Americans with employer-sponsored health insurance.

“We applaud efforts to delay the ‘Cadillac Tax’ that is driving up health care costs for millions of Americans,” said James A. Klein, President of the American Benefits Council. “Employer-sponsored health coverage is efficient, effective, and stable. We will continue our efforts to fully repeal this onerous tax that forces employers to reluctantly cut benefits and increase out-of-pocket costs for employees in an attempt to avoid it. We appreciate Congress including this two-year delay as a down payment for full repeal.”

“Employers create innovative and cutting-edge benefit plans to help maintain a healthy workforce. Taxing these benefits could compel employers to stop offering wellness programs or on-site clinics and ultimately drive up costs for workers and employers, alike,” said Klein.

The Cadillac Tax imposes an annual 40 percent excise tax on plans with annual premiums exceeding $10,800 for individuals or $29,500 for a family.  The Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers (CIAB) continues to strongly advocate for legislation that exclusively repeals the Cadillac Tax as championed by Senators Dean Heller (R-NV) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Representatives Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Joe Courtney (D-CT).   The major hurdle to the effort continues to be the $87 billion cost associated with the bill, a figure with which The Council and our allies take issue. We will continue to work with our Congressional allies to see a full repeal of the tax.

Repealing the Cadillac Tax is a top legislative priority for The Council and we’re pleased to see the two year delay included in this agreement. The agreement will also delay the medical device tax for two years and the health insurance tax for one year.

Health Insurance Industry Fee (a.k.a. Health Insurer Tax)
The short-term spending bill also suspends the Health Insurance Industry Fee for 2019. This fee began in 2014 and only affects fully-insured health plans. It was previously suspended for 2017, but went back into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

Medical Device Tax
Previously suspended for 2016 and 2017, the 2.3% excise tax on U.S. medical device revenues also restarted on Jan. 1, but will now remain suspended for two years through the end of 2019.

Links:

EEOC Given a Year to Once Again Update Wellness Program Rules

Posted January 19, 2018 by Megan DiMartino

In May 2016, we blogged about the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC’s) Wellness Rules Update, which proposed incentives (or penalties) for participating (or not participating) in wellness programs that may not exceed 30% of a group health plan. Next, we followed up in September 2017 with how the EEOC’s New Wellness Program Rules were a Bust as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) argued that the requirements were in no way “voluntary” as employees who did not want to participate and can’t afford to pay the 30% penalty would be forced to disclose their protected information, when otherwise, they wouldn’t have to do so.

Fast forward to December 20, 2017, when Judge John Bates of the US District Court for the District of Columbia vacated the wellness plan incentive rules, forcing the EEOC to go back to the drawing board to rewrite the regulations and to pursue and follow the true, dictionary-defined term, “voluntary.”

The EEOC was first given a rather lackadaisical timeline: new proposed regulations – August 2018, final rule – October 2019, and an effective date in January of 2021. Now, the EEOC has been given a year to adjust the rules: status report to review rules – March 30, 2018, new proposed regulations – August 31, 2018, and an effective date of January 1, 2019.

What does this mean for you and your health and welfare plans?

If you’ve already engaged your health and welfare benefit consultants, claims payers and others to craft, build and roll out your wellness plans, then you’ve already made a strategic decision to have a wellness plan. You invested in a process to drive education, cost-sharing and to engage employees to take control of their health. Given this new guidance, there’s little to be gained by eliminating, revamping or second-guessing the decisions you’ve already made. Besides, take advantage of the confusion and continue your competitive offering, because you can believe other employers will.

So, for now, maintain your plans and continue to provide incentivized achievements for your employees to better improve their well-being, and we will update you when new regulations and guidance become available.

For more information contact info@apbenefitadvisors.com. The information contained in this post, and any attachments, is not intended and should not be misconstrued as legal advice. You should contact your employment, benefits or ERISA attorney for legal direction.