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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.

Understanding the $2 Trillion Stimulus Package, Managing Remote Employees and more…

opens in a new window03.27.2020 – Benefits Info COVID-19 Resources Newsletter

If you need help understanding the 2 Trillion Dollar Stimulus Package, you are not alone.  In this update we have included a document that provides an overview of the package, which is designed to provide financial assistance for those struggling as a result of the coronavirus (COVD-19) outbreak.  Another attachment contains answers to questions employees may have about those payments.

COVID-19 has caused many employers across the country to make significant changes to their standard procedures, including shifting their employees from working at the office to working from home. We have prepared a guide to serve as an introduction to managing remote employees which includes best practices for keeping employees engaged. It should be used for informational purposes only and not be considered as legal advice.  You will also find a Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) Poster. Applicable employers should post and/or send employees electronically no later than April 2nd.

Finally, carriers continue to schedule webinars and FAQ’s as they attempt to keep us all posted on changes as a result of COVID-19. Here are a few you may consider:

Aetna has provided the latest information on their response and steps consumers should take to stay healthy through their opens in a new windowfrequently-updated COVID-19 resource center.

Anthem will host their next session at 12:00 p.m. (CST) on Tuesday, March 31. They will cover a variety of relevant topics and look to address many of the most common questions they are receiving. opens in a new windowPlease click this link to register for the event and save to your calendar.

Cigna Group Insurance has updated their opens in a new windowFrequently Asked Questions sheet with new information.

We have included the schedule below for the next round of COVID-19 Update Briefings for UnitedHealthcare brokers, consultants and customers.  Due to the fluidity of this situation, replays are not available for the external calls. UnitedHealthcare is committed to keeping its brokers, consultants, and employers informed, and they encourage attendance to the live weekly calls., which are scheduled as follows:

As always, if you have questions we have not addressed, please do not hesitate to contact your Crane Agency team member.  We hope you have a great weekend!

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.

Benefits Brief – January 2019

Happy New Year!  Welcome to the opens in a new windowJanuary 2019 edition of the Crane Agency Benefits Brief.  This month you will find information on several legislative and compliance updates, which may impact your benefits program in 2019.  These changes include updated minimum wage rates for 2019 and the EEOC’s removal of incentive limits from employer-sponsored Wellness Plans.  In addition, we have provided an overview of Paid Family & Medical Leave laws recently enacted in MA, NY, WA & DC.  In the HR Brief, we have provided some updated plan limits for 2019, along with tips to prepare for “Gen Z” entering the workforce.  Finally, our Live Well, Work Well Newsletter provides health & wellness tips for your work and life in the coming year.

Thank you for your continued confidence in the Crane Agency Benefits Department.  It is our pleasure to serve you.  Please do not hesitate to contact your agent or service representative if we can be of assistance.

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.

Crane Agency – January Wellness Newsletter, HR Brief & Benefits Buzz

opens in a new windowJan 2017 – Live Well Work Well Newsletteropens PDF file
opens in a new windowJan 2017 – Benefits Buzz – Crane Agencyopens PDF file
opens in a new windowJan 2017 – HR Brief – Crane Agencyopens PDF file

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Please find attached your January Wellness Newsletter from 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 includes a summary of how the New Year may impact your benefits, explains the difference between making a lifestyle change focused New Year’s resolution versus a quick change focused resolution and offers information on National Blood Donor Month.

You will also find attached this month’s Benefits Buzz and HR Brief.  This month’s Benefits Buzz discusses the latest developments with the overtime rule delay, highlights the delayed ACA reporting deadlines and provides a brief overview of President-elect Donald Trump’s plan for his first 100 days in office.  This month’s HR Brief explains the significance of the DOL overtime rule being blocked, offers suggestions for handling post-election tension in the office and provides insight for retaining millennial workers.

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 – December Wellness Newsletter, HR Brief & Benefits Buzz

opens in a new windowDecember 2016 – Live Well Work Well Newsletteropens PDF file
opens in a new windowDecember 2016 – Benefits Buzzopens PDF file
opens in a new windowDecember 2016 – HR Briefopens PDF file

Please find attached your December Wellness Newsletter from 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 includes a summary of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Safe Sleep guidelines, information on how positive relationships with your co-workers can improve your health and tips for reducing holiday stress.

You will also find attached this month’s Benefits Buzz and HR Brief.  This month’s Benefits Buzz discusses the increased premium costs of the 2017 Marketplace, introduces the new flexible spending account (FSA) limits for 2017 and provides a brief overview of the 2016 election and its potential impact on compliance issues. This month’s HR Brief gives an overview of the IRS retirement updates, summarizes the report of decreasing workplace injuries and illnesses and offers suggestions on how to protect your business from cyber-crime.

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.