Newsletter from Integrated Benefit Solutions
Releases Updated Model CHIP Notice
An updated model notice for
employers to provide information on eligibility for premium
assistance under Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance
Program (CHIP) is now available for download from the U.S.
Department of Labor (DOL).
to download the latest employer CHIP notice in PDF format.
A Microsoft Word
version is also available.
Annual Notice Requirement
The employer CHIP notice must be provided annually before the
start of each plan year to inform each
employee (regardless of enrollment status) of potential
opportunities for premium assistance in the state in which
the employee resides. This may or may not be the
same as the state in which the employer or its principal place of
business is located.
An employer can choose to provide the notice on its own or
concurrently with the furnishing of:
notifying the employee of health plan eligibility;
provided to the employee in connection with an open season
or election process conducted under the plan; or
summary plan description (SPD).
The updated model notice includes information on
how employees can contact their state for additional information
and how to apply for premium assistance, with information current
as of August 10, 2017.
Our section on CHIPRA
(the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act)
contains additional information on employer responsibilities
related to the state Children's Health Insurance Program.
FSAs Cannot be Used for Insurance
A recently released IRS
letter reaffirms the agency's view that funds from a health
flexible spending arrangement (health FSA) may not be used
to reimburse health insurance premium payments or Medicare premium
Certain Premiums May be Deducted
The IRS letter points out that health insurance premium payments,
including those for Medicare, may qualify for purposes of the
itemized deduction for medical expenses. However, only premiums for
which the taxpayer is not claiming a separate credit or deduction
can be included as part of a medical expenses deduction. Additional
restrictions apply to this deduction. For more information,
please see IRS Publication 502,
Medical and Dental Expenses.
to read the IRS letter in its entirety.
For additional information on health FSAs, visit
our HSAs, FSAs, and
Other Tax-Favored Accounts section.
the Productivity Killers
From water cooler gossip, to
interminable meetings, to hours wasted
scrolling through social media, the modern workplace is teeming
with threats to employee productivity. These distractions are
taking a toll: several recent surveys show that U.S. employees
are spending a mere 40-50% of their workdays engaged in
job-related tasks. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can
take to help employees avoid common productivity pitfalls.
- Properly Train Employees: Whether it is on-the-job training,
formal courses, or online learning, any investment you make
in employee training is an investment in productivity.
Properly trained employees are more effective, more likely
to stay at their jobs, and less likely to expose your
organization to unnecessary risks and liabilities.
- Avoid Burdensome Meetings: Before scheduling a meeting, consider
whether it is necessary to accomplish your goals. Invite
only essential personnel, and always draw up an agenda of
items to be covered and distribute it in advance. Finally,
communicate start and end times for the meeting as a whole
and each agenda item, and stick to the agenda to the best of
- Be Proactive in Reducing Gossip: An office subject to constant gossip
will ultimately suffer from poor morale and lower
productivity. To stem the chatter, managers should
communicate with employees regularly about issues that
affect the company, their departments, and their individual
positions. This will foster an environment of trust and
transparency, and diminish the appeal of the rumor mill.
- Digital Distractions: While electronic communication has
revolutionized how we work, it also has the capacity to
impair our efficiency. For instance, computers help us work
faster, but also make it easy for employees to "check out" during the workday with
online shopping, entertainment, or social media. To ensure
that technology does not become an impediment to
productivity, employers should establish email, internet,
and social media use policies, and train employees on each
For more employee management tips, check out our Human Resources
Individual Mandate Payment for 2017 Announced
The IRS has released the 2017
monthly national average premium for a bronze-level health plan
offered through the Health Insurance Marketplace, which is used
to determine the maximum individual mandate penalty.
According to the new IRS guidance, the monthly national
average premium for qualified health plans that have a bronze
level of coverage and are offered through the Health Insurance
Marketplace in 2017 is:
- $272 per individual (up from $223); and
- $1,360 for a family with five or more
members (up from
The guidance is effective for taxable years
ending after December 31, 2016.
Calculating the Payment
The Affordable Care Act's "individual mandate"
provision requires every individual to have minimum essential
health coverage for each month, qualify for an exemption, or make
a penalty payment when filing his or her federal income tax
The annual penalty amount is either a percentage
of an individual's household income in excess of the tax return
filing threshold or a flat dollar amount, whichever is greater. The
maximum penalty amount is capped at the cost of the national
average premium for a bronze level health plan available through
the Marketplace. At this time, the 2017 inflation adjustment
for the flat dollar amount penalty has not been announced.
Visit our section on the Individual Mandate (Individual
Shared Responsibility) for more information on the
to Make Your Job Posting Stand Out
Filling a job
vacancy is a big task. Unfortunately, you get only one
chance to make a first impression, and the job posting is often
your very first contact with a potential employee. But how do you
make your job posting stand out above the rest? Watch the video
below to learn five fast tips to make your job posting stand
For more helpful recruitment tips, check out our Recruitment &