DOL’s Annually Adjusted Federal Penalties
On January 23, 2019, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued its Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Annual Adjustments for 2019 which is the DOL's annual adjustment of federal civil monetary penalties.
In Pursuit of a Better Meeting
Groans and sighs often greet the ping of a meeting invite hitting an inbox. While it may be impossible to make meetings more fun than the office holiday party, it is possible to lessen the dread, increase morale, and improve the results of a meeting.

Out of Pocket Maximums Could be Increasing Soon

Recently, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published its proposed Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2020. This proposed rule describes benefit and payment parameters under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that would be applicable for the 2020 benefit year. Proposed standards included in the rule relate to:

  • Annual limitations on cost-sharing
  • The individual mandate’s affordability exemption
  • Direct enrollment in the Exchanges
  • Special enrollment periods in the Exchanges

HHS is also seeking comments on other issues, like “silver loading,” automatic re-enrollment through the Exchanges, and any measures that would potentially reduce eligibility errors and government misspending.

Proposed Changes

The out-of-pocket maximum (OOPM) and the ACA’s affordability exemption threshold would both increase with the new rule.

  • OOPM: $8,200 for self-only coverage and $16,400 for family coverage in 2020
  • Affordability threshold: 8.39 percent of household income

The proposed rule would also expand opportunities for individuals to directly enroll in Exchange coverage by enrolling through the websites of certain third parties rather than through HealthCare.gov.

40% of People Have Shockingly Little Saved to Retire

Cultivating a culture of wellness at organizations is a common trend for employers across the country. In fact, according to the Employer Health Benefits 2018 Annual Survey, 82 percent of large firms and 53 percent of small firms offer some sort of wellness program.

Historically, many of these programs focus on physical well-being, with employers creating programs intended to encourage smoking cessation and exercising. Unfortunately, health-conscious employers and employees alike often overlook one important component to wellness: financial health.

The Hard Truth

A recent Bankrate survey revealed that 65 percent of Americans save little or nothing at all from each paycheck. This, compounded with the fact that over 40 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for when they retire, is alarming.

How You Can Help

When employees are stressed about money and saving for their long-term goals, the chronic stress can be detrimental to their overall health and workplace engagement. Investing in employee financial wellness can be beneficial to both you and your employees.

Consider implementing a financial wellness program that focuses on planning for the future and budgeting. You may want to bring in a financial expert or consultant for your employees as well.

Contact us today to learn more about our financial planning assistance resources.

7 Weight Loss Myths That Keep You from Losing Weight!

In your quest to lose weight by improving your diet and getting more exercise, you might be confused by all the information out there. Maybe you read something in a magazine. Maybe you saw an infomercial. How do you separate fact from fiction? Let’s look at some common misbeliefs—and get the lowdown on what’s actually legit.

No pizza. No ice cream. Ever.

This simply isn’t true. You can still enjoy your favorite fattening foods as long as the portions are small. Of course, the more you avoid these foods the better, because they are high in calories.

You have to exercise for hours at a time to make a difference.

Not so. It’s recommended that we get a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity. Spread that out over the week in any way you choose. Of course, if you go above the 150, that’s even better. And don’t forget to do strength training twice a week to build muscle.

Gluten-free is good for me.

Nope. Only if you have an issue with gluten or have celiac disease. And some gluten-free foods lack important nutrients. Gluten-free does not mean calorie-free.

Lifting weights just bulks you up.

Highly unlikely, unless you’re training to be an NFL player. Doing strength training at least twice a week is super good for you. And it can help you lose weight because more muscle means you burn more calories.

Carbs are a big no-no.

No, no, not true. Sure, carbs in sugary foods like cookies and cake should be avoided, but whole grains, fruit, and other complex carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet.

The only way to lose weight is to do it slowly.

This can be true for some people, but not for all. Check with your doctor on the best way for you to lose weight and keep it off long term.

No fats for you.

In fact, the body needs certain fats to function properly. But you should avoid saturated fats and, even more important, trans fats. “Good” fats like olive oil and avocados are higher in calories than foods like proteins and carbs, so keep portion size in mind.

The big takeaway.

The formula for losing weight through diet and exercise is really, really simple: Unless you burn more calories than you take in, you will gain weight. If you burn more than you eat, you’ll lose. And if you take in the same number of calories as those you burn, your weight will stay the same. No fad diet or exercise contraption will make a bit of difference unless you adhere to that basic fact.

Be sensible.

Eat healthy foods most of the time. If you have a treat, exercise more to make up the difference. Move your body—every little bit helps. And make sure the information you get about weight loss comes from sources you can trust.

What Employers Need to Know about HIPAA and HITECH
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, its administrative simplification regulations, and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act provide administrative, privacy, and security standards for health plans and their business associates. This webinar will help plan sponsors understand their responsibilities under HIPAA and HITECH.