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Reopening after the Shutdown, HSA/HRA/FSA Expansion, EEOC Updates, Preventing Burnout and more…

opens in a new window04.23.2020 Benefits Info Resources Newsletter (link)

As you may know, a new federal law expands how members can use their Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs – Member Pay), and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). We have attached a brochure prepared by Anthem outlining these changes, but please know this information applies to any carrier.  As an employer, you don’t need to do anything to make this change effective.  Here are the highlights:

Members can now use these accounts to purchase over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that had previously required a prescription. They can also use the accounts to purchase menstrual products. This will help them save on health care costs because the funds in these accounts are pre-tax.

For now, members may need to pay for these items out of their pockets and file claims for reimbursement. They’ll need to keep their receipts for these purchases. All eligible purchases they make after December 31, 2019, qualify.

They’ll be able to use their debit cards soon. Retailers are updating their systems to accept the cards for newly-approved items. Some stores may be ready now for OTC medicines and by May 15 for menstrual products. Others may need several weeks for the update.

Other updates you will find in our most recent edition of the Crane Agency Benefits Info Newsletter include our Employer’s Guide to COVID-19, COVID-19 scenarios related to available benefits, Reopening a Business After the Shutdown, Guidance from EEOC on ADA, Preventing Remote Employee Burnout, and the Form 5500 Deadline Extension just to name a few.

For additional COVID-19 related resources, please visit our opens in a new windowCoronavirus Preparedness Resources (COVID-19) page.  As always, if we can be of service in any way, please do not hesitate to contact your Crane Agency Broker Team.  Until next time, stay safe and be well.

Families First FAQ and the Coronavirus Relief Bill

opens in a new window03.25.2020 – Benefits Info COVID-19 Resources Newsletter

We hope this post finds you well… here are some of the latest updates related to COVID-19.

Under the opens in a new windowFamilies First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), covered employers must post a notice of the FFCRA requirements in a conspicuous place on its premises. The attached HR Compliance Bulletin includes frequently asked questions issued by the DOL on this notice requirement.

As business closures increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic, employers are faced with questions about compensation and health benefits coverage for their employees. Government relief measures may provide compensation for businesses and individuals in certain situations. In other cases, existing rules on employee rights will apply. The attached Compliance Overview provides a summary of the issues that employers may encounter when terminating or suspending employment due to COVID-19.

Please also be aware of a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) currently offered by the major medical providers.  UHC has published the details of their SEP which we have attached here.  Others have simply shared the range of dates.  In essence the medical carriers are affording plan administrators the ability to hold open enrollment for those who previously waived during the last open enrollment to join between now and early April (for example, April 3rd with Anthem or April 6th with UHC) to be effective April 1st.   Major medical carriers are also relaxing the requirement that eligible employees maintain 30+ hours per week to be eligible through at least the end of May for those who wish to maintain benefit eligibility.

If you have any questions, please contact your Crane Agency Service Team.  We are here for you and will keep you posted on major developments.  For the latest information and updates on COVID-19, please visit the  opens in a new windowCrane Agency Blog.  Be well.

2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQ UPDATED 3.24.2020

This UPDATED FAQ covers the general topic of COVID-19 virus to explain how various insurance policies could respond to claim scenarios related to the COVID-19 virus. If your business experiences a loss, we recommend you submit a claim to your insurer. They will give their position about coverage under your policy. No one can say for certain what might happen in the future, but we always recommend insureds should submit a claim.  As always, please contact your Crane Agency Service Team with any questions and check the opens in a new windowCrane Agency Blog frequently for updates.

opens in a new window2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-10) FAQ UPDATEDopens PDF file

Crane Agency Receives Top Workplaces Honor 3 Years in a Row

Crane Agency is proud to announce that we have been identified as one of St. Louis’ Top Workplaces for the 3rd year in a row.

How does a company make the Top Workplaces list? By inspiring employees.  “Top Workplaces put the employee at the center of things and focus on creating the right environment to unleash potential and inspire performance,” said Doug Claffey, CEO of Energage, the Post-Dispatch’s research partner for Top Workplaces. 

For this year, 222 organizations agreed to take the survey. Combined, they employ 94,356 people in the St. Louis area. Of those employees who received questionnaires, 46,194 responded, either on paper or online. For this year’s winners list, 150 St. Louis-area employers earned recognition as Top Workplaces based on the employee feedback.  The employee engagement survey of 24 questions gathers responses regarding issues relating to workplace culture:

Alignment – where the company is headed, its values, cooperation
Connection – employees feel appreciated, their work is meaningful
Effectiveness – doing things efficiently and well, sharing different viewpoints, encouraging new ideas
My Manager – cares about concerns, helps employees develop
Engagement – motivation, retention and recruiting
Leadership – confidence in company leaders
The Basics – pay, benefits, flexibility, training, expectations

Employees consistently rate issues of “connection” and “alignment” most important to them, while statements related to pay and benefits rate less important.  Employers are ranked among groups of similar size to most accurately compare results. Within those size groupings, companies are ranked, and those that score high enough are recognized as Top Workplaces. Crane Agency came in at number 25 out of 55 in the “midsized” category.  Midsized is defined as companies with 150 to 499 employees in the region.

For the complete article, please visit the STL Today website:   opens in a new windowSt. Louis Post Dispatch 2019 Top Workplaces Announcement

We made the list! 2018 St. Louis Largest Employee Benefits Firms

For the 3rd year in a row, Crane Agency is proud to announce it has made the opens in a new windowSt. Louis Business Journal Largest Employee Benefits Firms list.

At Crane Agency, we know our clients benefits package is their #1 tool for attracting and retaining the best talent. Offering a strong benefits package shows employees that a company is not only invested in their health, but their future.  Our Employee Benefits team understands the importance of delivering timely service and simplifying the administrative process, so you can focus on what matters most… your business.

For more information, please contact us today.

Crane Agency – May Wellness Newsletter, HR Brief, Benefits Buzz

Welcome to our May Wellness Newsletter.  The opens in a new windowLive Well, Work Well newsletter opens PDF file is an employee newsletter that is produced monthly and covers topics like health, wellness, fitness, nutrition and personal finance.  This month’s issue discusses reasons to quit smoking today, offers tips for alleviating spring allergies and covers the importance of aging well as you near retirement.

You will also find attached this month’s opens in a new windowBenefits Buzzopens PDF file and opens in a new windowHR Briefopens PDF file .  This month’s opens in a new windowBenefits Buzzopens PDF file is already outdated with the passage of the AHCA today, but it provides an overview of the future of certain Affordable Care Act taxes and fees, explains the cost-saving potential of generic drugs and highlights the Department of Health and Human Services’ promotion of ACA Section 1332 waivers.   This month’s opens in a new windowHR Brief opens PDF file explains the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) plans to maintain its bipartisan strategic enforcement plan in the coming years, discusses President Donald Trump’s labor secretary nominee, Alexander Acosta, and his comments on the overtime rule, and highlights the highest increase in the quits rate since February 2001.

Thank you for your continued confidence in the Benefits Department of the Crane Agency.  Please do not hesitate to contact your agent or service representative with any additional questions.

Crane Agency – April Wellness Newsletter, HR Brief, Benefits Buzz & Compliance Updates

Welcome to our April Wellness Newsletter.  The opens in a new windowLive Well, Work Well newsletter opens PDF file is an employee newsletter that is produced monthly and covers topics like health, wellness, fitness, nutrition and personal finance.  This month’s issue provides information on how phlegm can help fight off illnesses, lists tips on how to monitor rice intake to minimize arsenic consumption and highlights the importance of getting enough calcium.

You will also find attached this month’s opens in a new windowBenefits Buzzopens PDF file and opens in a new windowHR Briefopens PDF file .  This month’s opens in a new windowBenefits Buzzopens PDF file provides an overview of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and its implications, and explains the most recent extension to the existing transition policy for certain noncompliant health care plans under the Affordable Care Act.  This month’s opens in a new windowHR Brief opens PDF file discusses best practices for retirement preparation, explains the value of health literacy and provides insight about millennial retention.

On March 24, 2017, Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives withdrew the American Health Care Act – their proposed legislation to repeal and replace the ACA.  As a result, the ACA will remain in place at this time.  The attached opens in a new windowACA Compliance Bulletin opens PDF file provides an overview of the proposed legislation and the impact going forward.

Thank you for your continued confidence in the Benefits Department of the Crane Agency.  Please do not hesitate to contact your agent or service representative with any additional questions.

Crane Agency – March Wellness Newsletter, HR Brief, Benefits Buzz & Compliance Updates

opens in a new windowCrane Agency – House Republicans Release ACA Replacement Planopens PDF file
opens in a new windowCrane Agency – Market Stabilization Proposed Rule Issuedopens PDF file
opens in a new windowMarch 2017 – Live Well Work Well Newsletteropens PDF file
opens in a new windowMarch 2017 – HR Brief – Crane Agencyopens PDF file
opens in a new windowMarch 2017 – Benefits Buzz – Crane Agencyopens PDF file

Please find attached your March Wellness Newsletter from The Charles L. Crane Agency.  The Live Well, Work Well newsletter is an employee newsletter that is produced monthly and covers topics like health, wellness, fitness, nutrition and personal finance. This month’s issue provides tax preparation tips, examines lowering workplace stress levels and lists tips for spring break travel plans.

You will also find attached this month’s Benefits Buzz and HR Brief.  This month’s Benefits Buzz looks ahead at what the ACA might look like under President Trump, discusses the challenges to becoming health care literate and explains block grants and their importance.   This month’s HR Brief gives an overview of company culture and its importance, provides an update on the status of the delayed overtime rule and briefly explains how the national average wage increase may impact your company.

In other news, we continue to receive a number of questions regarding the impact on Health Care Reform (PPACA) as a result of the Trump administration.  On February 15, 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a proposed rule to help stabilize the individual and small group markets. It is the first example of how the Secretary of HHS may reduce the “economic burden” of the Affordable Care Act, as directed in the January 20, 2017 Executive Order issued by the White House. The proposed changes impact a number of existing regulations specific to individual and small group market plans, effective for the 2018 plan year.

The proposed rule does not directly impact large group or expatriate health plans, but rather intends to help stabilize the Health Insurance Marketplace, provide more flexibility to states and insurers, and give individual health plan consumers more coverage options. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the proposed changes aim to help protect enrollees in the individual and small group markets while future reforms are being debated.  We expect more details from the current administration this week and welcome any/all questions as your advisor.

Thank you for your continued confidence in the Benefits Department of the Crane Agency.  Please do not hesitate to contact your agent or service representative with any additional questions.

Crane Agency – February Wellness Newsletter, HR Brief, Benefits Buzz & Compliance Updates

opens in a new windowFebruary 2017 – Live Well Work Well Newsletteropens PDF file

opens in a new windowFebruary 2017 – Benefits Buzz – Crane Agencyopens PDF file

opens in a new windowFebruary 2017 – HR Brief – Crane Agencyopens PDF file

opens in a new window2017 Employee Benefits Compliance Chart Notice & Disclosureopens PDF file

Please find attached your February Wellness Newsletter from The Charles L. Crane Agency.  The Live Well, Work Well newsletter is an employee newsletter that is produced monthly and covers topics like health, wellness, fitness, nutrition and personal finance. This month’s issue provides heart disease prevention strategies in honor of American Heart Month, highlights the dangers of e-cigarettes and lists three tips for hosting a safe Super Bowl party.

You will also find attached this month’s Benefits Buzz and HR Brief.  This month’s Benefits Buzz provides an overview of the 21st Century Cures Act (Act), explains the highlights of the Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2018 and discusses the latest developments with the Republican lawmakers’ proposed budget resolution that would repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  This month’s HR Brief gives five examples of over-the-phone tax scams to avoid, provides an overview of employee leave-sharing and donation programs, and explains how two technology industry leaders are changing the way employers recruit talent.

We have also included an updated 2017 Compliance Chart highlighting Notice and Disclosure rules.  Thank you for your continued confidence in the Benefits Department of the Crane Agency.  Please do not hesitate to contact your agent or service representative with any additional questions.