Just Say 'No' to Co-Workers' Halloween Candy

Originally posted on  October 14, 2014 by Josh Cable on ehstoday.com.

Workplace leftovers might seem like one of the perks of the job. But when co-workers try to pawn off their Halloween candy on the rest of the department, it's more of a trick than a treat.

Those seemingly generous and thoughtful co-workers often are just trying to keep temptation out of their homes.

"Not only does candy play tricks on your waistline, but it also turns productive workers into zombies," says Emily Tuerk, M.D., adult internal medicine physician at the Loyola University Health System and assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

"A sugar high leads to a few minutes of initial alertness and provides a short burst of energy. But beware of the scary sugar crash. When the sugar high wears off, you'll feel tired, fatigued and hungry."

Tuerk offers a few tips to help you and others on your team avoid being haunted by leftover candy:

  • Make a pact with your co-workers to not bring in leftover candy.
  • Eat breakfast, so you don't come to work hungry.
  • Bring in alternative healthy snacks, such as low-fat yogurt, small low-fat cheese sticks, carrot sticks or cucumber slices. Vegetables are a great healthy snack. You can't overdose on vegetables.
  • Be festive without being unhealthy. Blackberries and cantaloupe are a fun way to celebrate with traditional orange and black fare without packing on the holiday pounds. Bring this to the office instead of candy as a creative and candy-free way to participate in the holiday fun.
  • If you must bring in candy, put it in an out-of-the-way location. Don't put it in people's faces so they mindlessly eat it. An Eastern Illinois University study found that office workers ate an average of nine Hershey's Kisses per week when the candy was conveniently placed on top of the desk, but only six Kisses when placed in a desk drawer and three Kisses when placed 2 feet from the desk.

And if you decide to surrender to temptation and have a treat, limit yourself to a small, bite-size piece, Tuerk adds. Moderation is key.


The Comfort of a Local Advisor Backed by the Support of a National Organization

Original content from United Benefit Advisors

Navigating the world of employee benefits can be a time-consuming – even frustrating – task. Quality benefits can help retain your best employees and recruit top candidates, but ever-changing compliance requirements and the myriad of choices and decisions that companies face can bog down a company’s benefit strategy. How can you be sure you’re crafting the best benefits package that meets your goals and improves the lives and security of your workforce?

Partners of United Benefit Advisors (UBA) are uniquely prepared to serve busy employers who want the assurance that they are making informed choices that enrich the lives of their employees. UBA Partners actively collaborate with more than 2,000 experienced benefits professionals, forming a network dedicated to helping employers save time and money.

UBA Partners, like Hierl Insurance, can provide state-of-the-art tools, including the nation’s largest benchmarking survey of employer-sponsored health plans – the UBA Health Survey – and a host of other solutions that can boost your benefits and bolster your bottom line.

Because UBA is a national organization, Partner Firms can create unique benefits packages for companies that have locations in multiple states and can help employers who are relocating or expanding. As a combined group, UBA’s annual employee benefit revenues rank it as one of the five largest employee benefit brokerage organizations in the United States.

While UBA lends our firm strength and knowledge, Partners are an independent advisory firms. UBA Partners aren’t franchises or subsidiaries. They are locally owned firms that understand the local marketplace and the unique challenges that individual employers face. They can provide insightful, personalized service that our competition simply can’t match, backed by the knowledge and resources of UBA.

Specialty Areas

15  Actuaries

07 Attorneys

36 Communications/Marketing Designers

01 Compliance Officer

01 Graphic Designer

34 Human Resource Consultants

01 Physician

04 Nurses

01 Nurse Practitioners/Physician Assistant

01 Pharmacist

UBA Partners can provide a wide range of services for today’s busy employer, including:

·         Consultative and Strategic Plan Design Analysis

·         Health and Welfare Plan and Qualified Plan Brokerage

·         Renewal Pricing Evaluation and Plan Cost Forecasting

·         Medical Stop Loss, IBNR and Reserve Calculations

·         Health Care Cost-Containment Strategies

·         Medical Claims Analysis and Individual Predictive Modeling

·         Actuarial Consulting: Medical, Retiree Medical and Pension Plans

·         FSA, HRA, HSA and COBRA Administration

·         HR Consulting

·         HIPAA Compliance Solutions

·         Health Care Claims Auditing Solutions

·         Worksite Marketing Programs and Voluntary Product Placement

·         Executive Compensation and Benefits Planning

·         Personal Financial Planning and Asset Management

·         Customized Employee Benefits Website and Document Library

·         Web-Based Employee Enrollment Systems

·         Web-Based Employment Law Training for Supervisors and Managers

·         Online Compliance and HR News Resources

·         Merger and Acquisition Due Diligence

·         Compliance Webinars, Alerts and Quarterly Newsletters

 


Employer-Provided Health Coverage Informational Reporting Requirements: Questions and Answers

Source: http://www.irs.gov

The Affordable Care Act requires employers to report the cost of coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan. To allow employers more time to update their payroll systems, Notice 2010-69, issued in fall 2010, made this requirement optional for all employers in 2011. IRS Notice 2011-28 provided further relief by making this requirement optional for certain smaller employers for2012 Forms W-2 (meaning the Forms W-2 for calendar year 2012 generally furnished to employees in 2013). Notice 2012-9, issued in January 2012, restates and clarifies guidance in Notice 2011-28. It provides guidance for employers that are subject to this requirement for the 2012 Forms W-2 and those that choose to voluntarily comply with it for either 2011 or 2012.

The following questions and answers provide information for employers on reporting the cost of the health insurance coverage, including information on transition relief for 2012, how to report, which coverage to include, and how to determine the cost of the coverage. There are many more questions and answers included in Notice 2012-9 that cover a variety of issues.

[wpspoiler name="Does the cost of an employee’s health care benefits shown on the Form W-2 mean that the benefits are taxable to the employee?" ]No. There is nothing about the reporting requirement that causes or will cause excludable employer-provided health coverage to become taxable. The purpose of the reporting requirement is to provide employees useful and comparable consumer information on the cost of their health care coverage.[/wpspoiler]

[wpspoiler name="When will employers have to start reporting the cost of health care coverage on the Form W‑2?" ]Reporting for the 2011 calendar year (meaning the Form W-2 generally required to be furnished to employees in January 2012) was optional. For years after 2011, employers generally are required to report the cost of health benefits provided on the Form W-2. Transition relief is available for certain employers and with respect to certain types of coverage, as explained in Q&A-4, below. Reporting for the employers covered by the transition relief, and with respect to the types of coverage covered by the transition relief, is not required until future guidance is provided, and in no event will reporting by these employers and with respect to these types of coverage be required on any 2012 Forms W-2 (generally required to be furnished to employees in January 2013).[/wpspoiler]

[wpspoiler name="Which employers are subject to this reporting requirement?" ]Except as provided in the transition relief described in the next Q&A, all employers that provide "applicable employer-sponsored coverage" (see Q&A-5 below) under a group health plan are subject to the reporting requirement. This includes federal, state and local government entities (except with respect to plans maintained primarily for members of the military and their families), churches and other religious organizations, and employers that are not subject to the COBRA continuation coverage requirements, but does not include federally recognized Indian tribal governments or, until further guidance, any tribally chartered corporation wholly owned by a federally recognized Indian tribal government.[/wpspoiler]

Third-party sick-pay providers that provide the Forms W-2 to the employees of the employers with which they have contracted do not have to report the cost of coverage. However, a Form W-2 provided by the employer to the employee must report the cost of coverage regardless of whether that Form W-2 includes sick pay or whether a third-party sick pay provider is furnishing a separate Form W-2 reporting the sick pay.

[wpspoiler name=" What transition relief is being provided by Notice 2012-9? To which employers and types of coverage does it apply and how long does it last?" ]For certain employers and with respect to certain types of coverage listed below, the requirement to report the cost of coverage will not apply for the 2012 Forms W-2 (the forms required for the calendar year 2012 that employers generally are required to provide employees in January 2013) and will not apply for future calendar years until the IRS publishes guidance giving at least six months of advance notice of any change to the transition relief. However, reporting by these employers and for these types of coverages may be made on a voluntary basis.[/wpspoiler]

The transition relief applies to the following:

(1) employers filing fewer than 250 Forms W-2 for the previous calendar year (for example, employers filing fewer than 250 2011 Forms W-2 (meaning Forms W-2 for the calendar year 2011, which generally are filed with the SSA in early 2012) will not be required to report the cost of coverage on the 2012 Forms W-2 (which generally are filed with the SSA in early 2013). For purposes of this relief, the number of Forms W-2 the employer files includes any forms it files itself and any filed on its behalf by an agent under § 3504 (see Q&A-3 of Notice 2012-9 for more information). In addition, for purposes of this relief, the employer is determined without the application of any aggregation rules;

(2) multi-employer plans;

(3) Health Reimbursement Arrangements;

(4) dental and vision plans that either

  • are not integrated into another group health plan or
  • give participants the choice of declining the coverage or electing it and paying an additional premium (see Q&A-20 of Notice 2012-9 for more information);

(5) self-insured plans of employers not subject to COBRA continuation coverage or similar requirements;

(6) employee assistance programs, on-site medical clinics, or wellness programs for which the employer does not charge a premium under COBRA continuation coverage or similar requirements; and

(7) employers furnishing Forms W-2 to employees who terminate before the end of a calendar year and request a Form W-2 before the end of that year.

For more information on the additional transition relief for certain employers and with respect to types of coverage, see Section IV of Notice 2012-9.

 

[wpspoiler name="What types of health care coverage must be included in the amount reported on the Form W-2?" ]The chart on the Form W-2 Reporting of Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage lists many types of health care coverage and various other situations, and explains whether reporting is required, prohibited, or optional. The chart was created at the suggestion of and in collaboration with the IRS’ Information Reporting Program Advisory Committee (IRPAC). IRPAC’s members are representatives of industries responsible for providing information returns, such as Form W-2, to the IRS. IRPAC works with IRS to improve the information reporting process.[/wpspoiler]

[wpspoiler name="What amount should the employer report on the Form W-2 for health coverage? The amount the employer paid? The amount the employee paid? Or both?" ]In general, the amount reported should include both the portion paid by the employer and the portion paid by the employee. In the case of a health FSA, the amount reported should not include the amount of any salary reduction contributions. See Notice 2012-9 for more detail on the interim rules that apply to reporting contributions to a health FSA.[/wpspoiler]

[wpspoiler name="Where on the Form W-2 should the employer report the cost of these health care benefits?" ]The cost of these health care benefits will be reported in box 12 of the Form W-2, with Code DD to identify the amount.[/wpspoiler]

[wpspoiler name="What amount of health benefits should be reported on the Form W-2 for employees that terminated employment during the year and had employer-provided coverage both before and after termination?" ]Under the interim rules, the employer may use any reasonable method for inclusion of the coverage provided after termination, so long as that method is applied consistently. See Notice 2012-9, Q&A-6, for examples.[/wpspoiler]

[wpspoiler name="What amount of health benefits should be reported on the Form W-2 for an employee that leaves during the year and requests a W-2 before the end of the year?" ]If an employee makes such a request in writing, the employer must provide the W-2 within 30 days. However, under the interim rules, the employer will not be required to report any amount of health benefits in box 12, Code DD.[/wpspoiler]

[wpspoiler name="Will employers now be required to issue a Form W-2 to retirees or other former employees to whom the employer would not otherwise issue a Form W-2?" ]No.[/wpspoiler]

[wpspoiler name="Where can I get more information about the employer’s requirement to report the aggregate cost of an employee’s health care benefits on the Form W-2?" ]Detailed information about the interim rules for this reporting requirement and the additional transition rules for certain employers and with respect to certain types of coverage can be found in Notice 2012-9 and the instructions for the 2012 Form W-2.[/wpspoiler]


NCCI Changes Primary-Excess Split Point for 2013

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) recently announced its plan to make a change in the experience rating formula. The primary-excess split point will be increased over a three-year transition period. The first stage of the transition will take effect with each state’s approved rate and loss cost filing on or after Jan. 1, 2013.

Understanding the Primary-Excess Split 

In the experience rating process, each loss is divided into a primary and excess portion. Currently, the first $5,000 of every loss is allocated as a primary loss, with everything over and above considered an excess loss. For example, a $3,000 loss has no excess value. On the other hand, a loss of $15,000 would have $5,000 in primary losses as well as $10,000 in excess losses. Primary losses are used as an indicator of frequency, and are counted in full as part of the mod calculation. Conversely, excess losses receive partial weight in the mod calculation. This means that primary losses affect the mod more than excess losses do. The rationale behind assessing primary and excess loss amounts is that “severity follows frequency,” or in other words, an organization that displays a continual pattern of loss has an increased chance of a severe loss in the future. Thus, a company with a large number of primary losses will have a higher mod than a company with the same amount of losses split between primary and excess.

Upcoming Changes

NCCI has announced a proposal to raise the split point from $5,000 to $15,000 over a three year period to better correlate with claim inflation, which affects the experience rating plan. Many states have already approved this change to take effect with their annual rate and loss cost filing in 2013; other states are still pending. The split point will also be indexed for claim inflation in the third and subsequent years of this transition. These changes will directly affect the 34 states and the District of Columbia currently using the NCCI’s rating system. The independent rating bureaus of Indiana, New York, North Carolina and Wisconsin have also adopted the change, and other independent bureaus (Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, and Texas) may re-evaluate their split points as well. The rating methods used by California, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania differ widely from NCCI’s approach, so similar changes in those states are not anticipated.

How Does This Affect My Organization?

Whether your mod increases or decreases will depend on whether you have an above or below average number of losses under the split point. If most of your losses are under $5,000, you are likely to see a decrease in your mod. If many of your losses exceed $5,000, you should prepare for an increase in your mod.

Analysts expect the split point change to result in a wider range of mods across each industry. Debit mods (those over 1.0) will tend to gain points; credit mods (those under 1.0) will more than likely see a decrease in points. Furthermore, many employers will see their minimum mod, or loss-free rating, decrease.

Another minor change which will take effect with the split point change is an adjustment to the maximum debit mod formula which caps debit mods based on state and employer size. NCCI reports that the cap applies to only 2% of employers. As a result of this change, small risks who reach the cap may see their mod increase while larger risks may see their capped mod decrease.

It’s important to remember that NCCI’s goal is to have the industry-wide average modification factor be 1.00. Along with the split point change, NCCI will adjust other factors affecting the formula so that the average mod across all employers does not change.

Preparing for Change

Although no one knows exactly what a future mod will be until all payroll, losses and rates are available, we can work with you to project how your organization’s mod-and premium- may be affected by these rule changes. Preparing for the shift will be especially important for companies that are required to maintain a certain mod in order to bid on jobs or contracts. It is essential to address and control losses and become familiar with your loss profile so your organization will be prepared when the NCCI experience rating change takes effect.

Effective Dates of New Split Point Method

The following states use NCCI or very similar rating methodology and therefore may approve the split point change; if noted, the following states have announced a firm date to enact changes (as of May 8, 2012):

  • Alabama – March 1, 2013
  • Alaska – Jan. 1, 2013 (5)
  • Arizona – Jan. 1, 2013
  • Arkansas – July 1, 2013
  • Colorado  - Jan. 1, 2013
  • Connecticut – Jan. 1, 2013
  • District of Columbia – Nov. 1, 2013
  • Florida
  • Georgia – March 1, 2013 (4)
  • Hawaii – Jan. 1, 2013
  • Idaho - Jan. 1, 2013
  • Illinois – Jan. 1, 2013
  • Indiana (1) – Jan. 1, 2013
  • Iowa - Jan. 1, 2013
  • Kansas – Jan. 1, 2013
  • Kentucky – Oct. 1, 2013
  • Louisiana – May 1, 2013 (4)
  • Maine – Jan. 1, 2013
  • Maryland – Jan. 1, 2013
  • Massachusetts (1)
  • Michigan (2)
  • Minnesota (2) – Jan. 1, 2013
  • Mississippi – March 1, 2013
  • Missouri
  • Montana- July 1, 2013
  • Nebraska – Feb. 1, 2013
  • Nevada – March 1, 2013
  • New Hampshire – Jan.1, 2013
  • New Mexico – Jan. 1, 2013
  • New York (2) – Oct. 1, 2013 (3)
  • North Carolina (1) – Apr. 1, 2013
  • Oklahoma – Jan. 1, 2013
  • Oregon – Jan.1, 2013
  • Rhode Island – June 1, 2013
  • South Carolina – July 1, 2013
  • South Dakota – July 1, 2013
  • Tennessee – March 1, 2013
  • Texas (2)
  • Utah – Dec. 1, 2013
  • Vermont – Apr. 1, 2013
  • Virginia – Apr. 1, 2013
  • West Virginia – Nov. 1, 2013
  • Wisconsin (2) – Oct. 1, 2013

Footnotes:

(1) State has independent bureau but interstate-rates under NCCI rules

(2) State has independent bureau

(3) NY has indicated the 2013 split point will be 10,000; subsequent split point changes are anticipated but to be determined

(4) As of March 29, 2012, GA and LA are expected to also implement the ERA (experience rating adjustment) of medical-only losses on their next filing date, although this is not yet officially approved.

(5) As of April 27, 2012, Alaska is expected to implement the ERA (experience rating adjustment) of medical-only losses on their next filing date, although this is not yet officially approved. Alaska will also be removing its former state rule exception to the maximum debit mod formula so that the new national formula will apply.