Health-Related Productivity Costs to Government Contractors

Offering health coverage and benefits to employees and their dependents is a major expense. In government contracting, there’s an interest in keeping costs low and bids competitive. It can be tempting for government contractors to take the required fringe and pay it out in cash but, ultimately, putting those fringe benefit dollars into healthcare for their employees can be the greatest cash saver. Lost employee productivity due to health problems can be more costly for employers.

We classify lost productivity in two ways: presenteeism and absenteeism. Absenteeism is what happens when the employee is not physically at work, while presenteeism is when poor health impacts the employee’s work quality and quantity while they are at the workplace. Did you know that employers spend two to three dollars on medical-related productivity costs for every dollar they spend on pharmacy and healthcare costs?

A study by the AdvancePCS Center for Work and Health revealed that 71% of the 29,000 employees involved in the study lost productivity time in direct relation to deficient performance of the job. Only 23% felt that they had lost productivity as a result of actual absences from work.

Here are some negative effects of presenteeism on the workforce:

  • Spending unneeded additional time on tasks
  • Decreased quality of work
  • Spreading an illness to other employees
  • Decreased work quantity
  • Impaired ability to perform at the high level

If you do not address the healthcare needs of your employees, you workplace is likely to suffer for it and bring your competitiveness in competing for contracts down.

These are examples of how some workplaces decrease health-related productivity costs:

  • Integrate your health benefit strategies with your health management and wellness initiatives.
  • Design your benefits package to support the behaviors you want to see at your organization.
  • Partner with a healthcare company that takes an innovative approach to wellness and offers resources like telemedicine and other solutions that focus on preventative care and empower our workers to take control of their health.

By this point you may be asking yourself what you can be doing now to reduce your healthcare productivity costs. Our answer? Create and maintain meaningful benefits for your employees that fit within the designated hourly fringe rate. Maximize your fringe dollars and trim down your costs by putting the fringe into healthcare benefits for your employees.

Want to learn more about staying compliant and competitive? Contact Boon!

The Boon Blog is your source for the latest updates in wellness, benefits, and healthcare. Be sure to give us a follow so that you don’t miss a single post!

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Posted in compliance, cost savings, employee benefits, employer-sponsored group health plans, federal contractors, fringe benefits, government contractors, health care, health care costs, health insurance, preventive health care, wellness | Leave a comment

Boon’s Top 5 Health and Wellness Tips for Spring 2019

The warm weather is coming! You’re spending more time outside and enjoying the best of the season. A cornerstone of seasonal happiness is, of course, your health. Whether it’s a health tip to carry through the rest of the year, or something that you should be extra mindful of in the warm weather, Boon is bringing you our top five tips for Spring 2019.

1. Walk it Out

Embarking on a wellness journey and intimidated by the gym? No problem. You already have all the tools you need.

Walking is the ideal method for maintaining your health and wellness. You can do it anytime, anywhere, and at no cost to you. Experts advise that fitness beginners start with a 15 to 30 minute walk every day, gradually adding 5 to 10 minutes to each session.

The ideal pace, to maintain your health, is the “talking pace.” This just means that you should not be breathing so hard that you would not be able to hold a conversation. Of course, you can always ramp up the pace for aerobic and cardiovascular health. Don’t forget to stretch when you’re done, to prevent sore muscles.

2. Your Health by the Numbers

Preventative care starts with you. Knowing your “numbers”, your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and body mass index are vital to assessing your risk of illness and are a good baseline to understanding your overall health. If you know where “your numbers” are, you’re better equipped to make decisions that address your personal health needs.

Here’s a quick lightning round on how to interpret your health, by the numbers. Normal blood pressure should be less than 120 over 80. With respect to your blood sugar, a normal blood sugar level is under 100 when using the FPG test. Which brings us to your BMI. Your BMI measures your weight in relation to your height, it’s not a precise science but it helps you to determine a healthy range. A BMI more than 25 is an indication that you may be overweight for your frame.

3. Eat Well, Live Well

Our food is our fuel. When we put in quality, healthy fuel, we feel better and we operate better. Replacing unhealthy eating habits with healthier ones can be difficult, especially if unhealthy habits are all you have ever known.

Lifestyle changes don’t happen overnight. They’re small adjustments that stick and grow over time. Some quick tips to get you started could include: plan as many home-cooked meals as you can, switch to a healthier version of one of your favorite foods, replace one sugary drink per day with a glass of water, and be sure to eat breakfast.

Fun Fact about breakfast: People who eat breakfast not only have more energy and focus, throughout the day, but also tend to make healthier meal and portion choices for lunch and dinner. Click here to read more!

4. Stay Cool

Summer is coming! The days are getting warmer and you’re sure to be spending more time outside. Have fun, but do not let the summer heat get the best of you.

Heat exhaustion is a very real threat and can sneak up on you when you’re taking advantage of those warm days. Symptoms include, dizziness, blurry vision, nausea, and vomiting. Heat exhaustion can turn into the much more dangerous heat stroke, so quick action is necessary.

It’s imperative to get a person suffering from heat stroke to a cool place and to make sure they are getting plenty of water. You can ward off heat exhaustion by being mindful of your time outdoors and taking breaks in the AC, drinking plenty of water, and dressing in light clothes.

5. Manage Your Stress

Did you know that 80 percent of Americans see their jobs as a huge stressor in their life?

Common workplace stressors include heavy workloads, pressure to perform, long work hours, and office conflicts. Stress is a normal part of everyday life, but there comes a point when stress starts to negatively impact your health and that’s when you have to spring into action. Stress can result in insomnia, headaches and stomachaches, and issues with anxiety and depression.

It is important to manage your stress, so you can maintain optimal health. Don’t be afraid to take a break, ask for help when you need it, and focus more on the things you can control versus the things that are beyond your control.

Have a very healthy Spring!

The Boon Blog is your source for the latest updates in wellness, benefits, and healthcare. Be sure to give us a follow so that you don’t miss a single post!

You can also keep up with Boon on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Have you tried any of these wellness tips? Have a tip that we missed? Leave us a comment!

Posted in employee benefits, health care, preventive health care, wellness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Boon Buzz: Benefit News for Spring 2019

April showers bring May flowers, and the world of benefits is also in full bloom! Here’s your spring refresher on the latest regulations, data, and more! Read on to learn more:

1. DOL Increases Civil Penalty Amounts for 2019

In January 2019, the Department of Labor (DOL) increased the civil penalty amounts that may be imposed on employers. These increased amounts apply to civil penalties that are assessed after January 23, 2019.

These civil penalty amounts apply to employers that are under the following federal laws: The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).

2. BLS Data on Family Leave Available

Recently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released an economic report on civilian access to paid and unpaid family leave for 2018. In the report, leave to care for family members and maternity/paternity leave were included in the definition of family leave.

In March 2018, 16 percent of workers in the private sector and 17 percent of civilian workers had access to paid family leave. That percentage leaped to 25 percent in the public sector, among state and local government workers. Access to leave varied based on the size of the employer.

By and large, the majority of family leave access, in both the public and private sector, was unpaid.

3. HHS Proposes Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2020

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently published a proposed Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2020.

This proposal describes what the benefit and payment parameters would be applicable for the 2020 benefit year under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Standards included in the rule would relate to annual limitations on cost sharing, the individual mandate’s affordability exemption, and direct and special enrollment in exchanges. The goal of the HHS is to reduce eligibility errors and government misspending.

Among the proposed changes would be an increase to the out of pocket maximum and an increase to the ACA’s affordability exemption threshold. The proposed rule would also expand opportunities for individuals to directly enroll in Exchange coverage by enrolling through the websites of certain third parties.

At Boon, benefits are what we do best!

From our comprehensive administrative capabilities, to compliance, to innovative healthcare solutions that keep employer costs low and provide benefits to employees. We got this.

The Boon Blog is your resource for all the latest updates in healthcare, benefits, and all things Boon! Click here to read our previous posts on the 2019 headlines that you need to know. Make sure you give us a follow so that you never miss an update.

You can also keep up with Boon on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Posted in ACA, Affordable Care Act, compliance, cost savings, employee benefits, ERISA, health care, paid sick leave, wellness | Leave a comment

Standards for San Francisco HCSO Released

The City of San Francisco recently released their official 2019 notice regarding the Health Care Security Ordinance that applies to businesses with 20 or more workers and nonprofits with 50 or more employees.

It states that businesses with 20 or more workers worldwide (50 or more workers in the nonprofit space) must spend a minimum amount on healthcare benefits for each of their covered employees. The notice defines covered employees as those that work for eight or more hours per week in the city of San Francisco and have been employed for more than 90 days.

Employers with 22 to 99 workers must spend at least $1.95 on benefits per each hour payable to each covered employee. Employers with 100 or more workers must spend at least $2.33. It’s required that these expenditures be made for each employee within 30 days following the end of each calendar quarter.

Employers have a choice when it comes to how they spend the money, provided  they make the minimum required expenditures. For example, employers could make payments to the City’s health benefit program or they could pay for healthcare benefits for their employees.

Check out our previous blog post on the pros of offering benefits to your employees.

At Boon, we offer healthcare solutions that are competitive, cost-effective, and compliant. We provide employers with the opportunity to offer benefits to their employees — custom-tailored benefit solutions to meet their needs and reduce the administrative burden to the employer.

Compliance is key, and nobody knows that better than us. We offer innovative benefit solutions that are in compliance with local, state, and federal regulations; a competitive edge and cost savings for the employer.

The City has the option to investigate possible violations of this ordinance and can order employers who violate the ordinance to pay penalties and make payments for healthcare benefits.

The Boon Blog is your source for all the latest industry updates and news. Make sure you give us a follow so that you never miss out!

You can also keep up with Boon on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Posted in compliance, cost savings, employee benefits, Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces, federal contractors, fringe benefits, government contractors, health care, health care costs, health insurance | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Three Compliance Violation Nightmares for Government Contractors

There are many entities and regulations that preside over government contractors and the subcontractors they work with. The Davis-Bacon Act of 1931. The McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act of 1965. And that’s just to name a few!

When it comes to government contractors and their work, compliance is key. These rules are in place for a reason and failure to pass muster can come with some dire consequences. Check out these three examples of actual violations from contractors and the steep penalties they’re paying!

1. DOL Investigation Results in Security Contractor Paying Millions in Back Wages and Benefits

A security company and two subcontractors in Huntsville, Alabama will pay $1,184,772 in back wages to 236 employees after a Department of Labor (DOL) investigation found the companies to be in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Service Contract Act (SCA), and the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act (CWHSSA).

The investigation found the primary contractor and its subcontractors violated the SCA by paying less in employee rates and benefits than what is required by law. Additionally, the CWHSSA was violated by not paying the employees time and one half their regular rates for their overtime hours. Beyond that, two of the companies failed to record the overtime hours of their employees in payroll records thus violating the FLSA.

2. Medical Transportation Company Pays $154,404 in Back Wages and Damages

Following a DOL investigation, AWAB Transport Inc., a Newark based medical transportation, must pay more than $70,000 in back wages to 38 employees due to violations of the overtime provisions of FLSA. Additionally, they will owe liquidated damages to these employees bringing the total penalty to a whopping $154,404.

The company paid drivers a flat daily rate without weighing the number of hours the drivers worked. The result was overtime violations when employees worked more than 40 hours in a workweek with no overtime premium. The company also failed to pay overtime to salaried employees who did not qualify for exemption.

Per the requirements of FLSA, non-exempt employees must be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates for overtime hours worked.

3. Alabama Roofing Contractor Owes Big in Back Wages

A roofing contractor based in Tuscaloosa was found to be in violation of three sets of federal regulations: The Davis-Bacon Act (DBA), the CWHSSA, and the FLSA. As a result they’ll be paying more than $50,000 in back wages, overtime, and fringe benefits to 41 employees.

According to the investigation, the company failed to pay one employee for overtime hours worked on a contract covered by the DBA. This same employer also failed to pay several employees overtime when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek on a commercial project.

Additionally, the roofing contractor failed to submit accurate payroll records and failed to maintain accurate records of the hours worked.

Compliance and Government Contractors

Compliance goes well beyond just following the rules; it’s about having the administrative expertise to keep up with all of those loose ends. That includes proper reporting, varying fringe rates and local/state/federal laws, and much more. It’s hard to deny that this presents a daunting task for the government contractor.

How can your business avoid a disaster like the ones we discussed in this blog?

That’s where we come in. At Boon, we offer an array of compliant benefit solutions for government contractors with a full suite of administrative services.

Get to know us! You can find Boon on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

The Boon Blog is your source for the latest in industry news and updates, tips and tricks for government contractors, and all things Boon. Make sure to give us a follow so that you don’t miss out.

Sources:

https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/whd/whd20180312-1

https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/whd/whd20180227

https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/whd/whd20190108-0

Posted in compliance, Davis-Bacon Act, employee benefits, federal contractors, fringe benefits, government contractors, health care, labor laws, overtime pay, Service Contract Act, wage and hour violations | Leave a comment

Boon’s Top 5 Healthcare and Wellness Headlines of 2019, So Far

We’re only a few months into 2019 and already the world of health and wellness is buzzing. From seasonal sickness to exciting political moves in the healthcare world, here are the top five headlines that should be on your radar.

1. The Trump Administration is Promoting Price Transparency. 

The President recently signed two bills that can help prevent consumers from overpaying for their prescriptions: the Know the Lowest Price Act and the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act. Before the inception of these bills, insurance companies were able to include clauses in their contracts that prevented pharmacists from disclosing drug prices if it meant that the consumer would save money on the prescription by not using their insurance.

The goal of the current administration is to promote drug pricing transparency and to encourage greater consumer awareness and lower drug prices, overall.

2. Watch Your Cholesterol! 

February is American Heart Month and for 2019 the focus of the annual campaign was conversations about cholesterol.

Cholesterol can do a number on our hearts and lead to a host of problems. A healthy diet is one of the best ways to manage our cholesterol. Saturated fats are the worst offender when it comes to high cholesterol. Some tips for avoiding saturated fats include: cooking with olive oil instead of butter, eating more fish, choosing nuts for a snack, and embracing the avocado.

While limiting the amount of fat in your diet is key to maintaining a health cholesterol level, don’t cut it out completely! Just seek out the good fats.

3. ACA Reporting Forms are Due Soon

Under the Affordable Care Act, there are rules under Sections 6055 and 6056 that require employers to provide information to the IRS about the health coverage they offer to their employees.

The following documents must be annually filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

  • A separate statement for each individual who is provided with minimum essential coverage (for providers reporting under Section 6055), or for each full-time employee (if an applicable large employer, or ALE, is reporting under Section 6056). These forms are 1095-B and 1095-C, respectively
  • A transmittal form, either 1094-B or 1094-C, for all returns filed in a given calendar year.

It’s required that a reporting entity furnish any related statements to individuals. Final forms for 2018 have already been released. To learn more click here!

These forms must be filed with the IRS no later than Feb. 28, 2019, or by April 1, 2019 if filing electronically. The deadline to furnish individual statements for 2018 has been extended by the IRS and was set for March 4, 2019.

4. Second Flu Season is Here!

Did you know that while the flu season officially lasts from October to May, the majority of flu cases occur between December and February? Most people think of the flu season as striking in the fall and right before the holidays. But second flu season is that final half of flu season, when everyone’s guard is down. This means it’s important to not let your guard down when it comes to protecting yourself and your family.

Don’t be fooled, the seasonal flu can make even the healthiest among us sick and can even result in hospitalization. According to the CDC, more than 700,000 people were admitted to the hospital during the 2017–2018 flu season.

The strongest defense against the flu is the flu vaccine, which is recommended by the CDC for anyone older than six months. Also, remember to wash your hands and maintain a healthy diet to keep your immune system in fighting form. Stay healthy and productive, this flu season!

5. EEOC Removes Wellness Plan Incentive Limits

In December 2018, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) removed the incentive limit rules for wellness plans. The AARP challenged the incentive limit by arguing that it was too high to be consistent with federal laws that require “voluntary” employee participation in wellness programs.

Previously, the rules allowed employer-sponsored wellness plans to offer employees up to a 30% discount of the cost of self-only health coverage, in exchange for certain private medical information. This could also be construed as a penalty of up to 30% for not participating in the wellness plan.

In a civil action against the EEOC by the AARP, the court found that the EEOC failed to adequately explain how it would construe the term “voluntary.” Particularly, it begged the question of at what point is an incentive too large for the program to no longer be voluntary? The court also questioned whether or not incentives could be tied to activities that asked about the medical histories and medical exams of employees.

When the EEOC was unable to provide new regulations and justifications in a satisfactory time. The judge vacated the limit, but in turn, created a gray area surrounding inventive maximums. The 30% safe harbor for incentives shall remain in place.

As of January 1, 2019, the final rules’ guidance on incentive limits for voluntary wellness programs no longer applies.

There is a new level of legal uncertainty that comes with this decision. Employers should carefully consider the level of incentives they use in their wellness programs.

That’s our Top 5! What else will 2019 have in store?

The Boon Blog is your resource for all the latest updates in healthcare, benefits, and all things Boon! Make sure you give us a follow so that you don’t miss a post!

You can also keep up with Boon on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Posted in ACA, ACA reporting, Affordable Care Act, compliance, employee benefits, employer-sponsored group health plans, health care, health care price transparency, health insurance, prescription drug prices, wellness | Leave a comment

Boon Buzz: 2018 ACA Reporting Deadline is Near!

The final deadline for electronic filing 2018 Affordable Care Act (ACA) reports is April 1, 2019. This will be the final deadline for the reporting season.

Per Sections 6055 and 6056 of the Internal Revenue Service Code, certain employers are required to provide information on the health coverage they offer to their employees. This requirement keeps employers in compliance with the Affordable Care Act and the forms are typically updated on an annual basis.

Check out our earlier blog post for more information on how the 2018 final forms differ from the previous version. Click here to read more.

Section 6056 and corresponding forms 1094-C and 1095-C are intended for applicable large employers (ALE) that offer fully insured health plans. If an employer is qualified as an ALE and also offers a self-insured plan, they are to utilize IRS Forms 1094-C and 1095-C.

For non-ALE employers that offer self-insured health plans, Section 6055 and forms 1094-B and 1095-B are used to meet the reporting obligations.

Each reporting employer must file these forms with the IRS annually. Under Sections 6055 and 6056 the employer must specifically file the following:

  • Form 1095-B or Form 1095-C: A separate statement for each individual that is provided with minimum essential coverage or each full-time employee. Section 6055 applies to employers that offer minimum essential coverage, while Section 6056 is for applicable large employers with full-time employees.
  • A transmittal form for all returns filed in a given calendar year. This is in Form 1094-B or Form 1094-C.

Remember, April 1 is the final deadline for electronic filing of these very important forms.

Employers are expected to comply with a host of reporting and disclosure requirements throughout the year, in connection with their group health plans. It’s a large, but very important task with multiple factors to be considered. We pride ourselves on being experts in these nuances and have an array of helpful solutions for employers.

Click here to learn more about Boon’s compliance expertise.

The Boon Blog is your resource for the latest news and updates from within the healthcare industry. Follow the Boon Blog to keep up with these developments. You can also get the latest on all things Boon on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Posted in ACA, ACA reporting, Affordable Care Act, compliance, employer-sponsored group health plans, health care, health insurance | Leave a comment