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Why you need an HRA

  What are HRAs? Health reimbursement arrangements are employer-funded programs that reimburse employees for certain medical expenses. Typically, an employer can only offer an HRA to employees with a group health plan, often a high-deductible health plan. Your employer determines the amount of money available in the HRA, which is typically an amount less than your annual health plan deductible. Why an HRA? HRAs provide a tax-free, employer-funded amount of money for healthcare expenses. These arrangements are a great way to pay for out-of-pocket qualified medical expenses while working to meet your plan deductible. There are many advantages to HRAs including: tax savings; out-of-pocket expense reduction; and accrued balance. How do HRAs work? You can use your HRA funds to get reimbursed for your own eligible medical expenses, as well as your spouse’s and dependents’ eligible medical expenses. Eligible medical expenses are unreimbursed medical care expenses, as defined under Section 213

Benefits Breakdown Newsletter - August 2022

Combating Rising Benefits Costs During Periods of High Inflation The U.S. inflation rate has increased by 9.1% over the last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This has led to significant price increases across various consumer goods and employee benefits such as health insurance. In fact, health insurance costs have already risen for one-third of U.S. employees in the last year, according to a report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute. This increase in costs presents challenges for employers facing a difficult hiring market. Luckily, employers may be able to mitigate increasing benefits costs without shifting the burden to employees, thus remaining attractive to current and prospective employees. Consider the following strategies: Eliminate underutilized benefits and reallocate resources toward more expensive benefits. Offer a wellness program or similar benefits to promote and achieve a healthy workforce.  Encourage telemedicine benefits to help employees

HBS Q2 Market Recap: More inflation, more uncertainty

Asset prices faced substantial pressure in the second quarter as investors began to feel the pain of high inflation and hawkish monetary policy. Within the US, the S&P 500 fell 16.60% in Q2 and finished down 19.96% year to date. Inflation, which was previously expected to peak in the spring, unexpectedly rose in May. The Federal Reserve appears to be dedicated to its plan to lower inflation and restore price stability by raising interest rates to levels not seen in almost 30 years. Inflation continues to pressure global economies, leading to declines in asset prices worldwide. While the second quarter was undoubtedly difficult, investors must remember the importance of long-term investing and avoid making rash decisions, even amid extreme market volatility. Read the  Retirement Market Recap  to learn more about the Q2 market performance. If you have questions about  retirement plan services or would like to begin talking to a retirement plan advisor, please get in touch by  email

Q3 Attraction & Retention Newsletter

  Each quarter, the Attraction and Retention Newsletter offers statistics about the employment market, suggestions on securing top talent and insight to attract and retain workers. The third quarter edition explores: employee quits remain high while job growth continues; attracting and retaining employees during the great reshuffle; and developing an employee retention strategy. Current trends indicate that while workers are available, the demand for talent remains high and employers continue to face challenges retaining employees. Many factors influence the high quit rate, including the ongoing pandemic, inflation and a strong market for candidates. While the labor market remains competitive, experts largely expect talent challenges to continue. As such, employers should monitor employment trends to stay informed on the evolving market. Download your copy of the newsletter today to stay up to date. For more information about  employee benefits, our services and products , contact H

988: America’s first three-digit mental health crisis line

On July 16, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline launched nationwide. This three-digit dialing code, similar to 911 for medical emergencies, is available for people in emotional distress or suicidal crisis to be connected immediately to trained counselors who will listen, provide support and connect them to resources if necessary. This new, easy-to-remember dialing code replaces the previous, 10-digit number known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among preteens and adults aged 25 to 34, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Lifeline is a direct connection to compassionate, accessible care for anyone experiencing mental health-related distress and could provide immediate support during someone’s darkest hour. Find out more about the new suicide and crisis lifeline, safety tips to beat the heat and immunization awareness in this month’s Live Well, Work Well Newsletter . For more information about  employee

Everything You Need to Know About Using Health Savings Accounts

A health savings account can help pay for eligible medical expenses not covered by an insurance plan, including the deductible, coinsurance and even health insurance premiums in some cases. HSAs can be funded with your tax-exempt dollars, by your employer, by a family member or by anyone else on your behalf. When it comes to using an HSA, many questions arise, such as: What expenses are eligible for tax-free reimbursement from my HSA? Are dental and vision care qualified medical expenses under an HSA? What medical expenses are not eligible for tax-free reimbursement from my HSA? Get the answers to these questions and more in two Know Your Benefits articles: Frequently Asked Questions About Using HSAs and Understanding a Health Savings Account .   For more information about  employee benefits, our services and products , contact HANYS Benefit Services by email  or call 800.388.1963. These Know Your Benefits articles are provided by HANYS Benefit Services and are to be used for inform

Benefits Breakdown Newsletter - July 2022

Containing Costs of Chronic Health Conditions Chronic conditions are health conditions that require ongoing management over an extended period of time. They are the leading drivers of the nation’s $4.1 trillion in annual health care costs. Thus, they are significant sources of financial stress for employers and employees alike. According to the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, employer health care coverage for an employee with a chronic condition is, on average, five times higher than coverage for those without a chronic disease. The most common chronic conditions affecting the workforce today include cancer, diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Fortunately, employers can help combat chronic conditions; this could, in turn, reduce your health care costs and yield a healthier workforce. Consider the following strategies: Focus on prevention by making preventive care affordable through medical benefits and encouraging the use of such critical care. Be accommodating and offer arrange

HBS Special Edition Market Recap: The state of equity and bond markets

In mid-June as the end of the second quarter approached, the S&P 500 entered a bear market -- a decline of 20% or more from a recent peak. The latest catalyst for the equity market's decline was a higher-than-expected inflation figure, released June 10, showing an 8.6% increase in the consumer price index from May 2021 to May 2022.  Simultaneously, the bond market declined by approximately 11.5% year-to-date through June 17. The rare, simultaneous declines in equity and bond markets have created a challenging environment for investors. Read the  Retirement Market Recap  to learn more about the mid-year market states. If you have any questions about  retirement plan services , or would like to begin talking to a retirement plan advisor, please get in touch by  email  or by calling (800) 388-1963. HANYS Benefit Services is a marketing name of Healthcare Community Securities Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC, and an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. This material has been prepared f

HANYS Benefit Services names Noah Buck president

Buck brings 20 years of retirement and benefits industry experience to leadership role of boutique advisory agency  Rensselaer, NY July 14, 2022— HANYS Benefit Services announced today Noah Buck has been appointed president. Buck steps into the advisory agency’s leadership role at a time when organizations are seeking expert retirement and employee benefits guidance for fiduciary governance and employee engagement. With HBS since 2019, Buck had most recently served as interim president and was previously vice president of client relationship management. Before joining HBS, Buck was a principal in Milliman’s employee benefits practice. He earned a Bachelor of Science in management science and information systems from Penn State University and a Master of Business Administration from SUNY Albany. "I’m honored to be leading a team that is passionate about making sure our clients are meeting their organization’s and employees’ needs,” said Buck. “A focused approach to retirement and

Form 5500 Is Due by August 1 for Calendar Year Plans

Employers that are subject to ERISA and operate on a calendar year basis must file their annual reports ( Forms 5500 ) for 2021 with the Department of Labor (DOL) by  August 1, 2022 . An employer may extend this deadline by two and one-half months (until October 17, 2022) by filing IRS Form 5558 by August 1, 2022.  An employer must file a Form 5500 for each separate employee benefit plan that it maintains, unless a filing exemption applies. Employers can combine different welfare benefits under a single plan to simplify their Form 5500 reporting obligation.  Small welfare benefit plans (fewer than 100 covered participants) that are unfunded or fully insured (or a combination of unfunded and insured) are exempt from the Form 5500 filing requirement.  Small plans (fewer than 100 participants) that do not qualify for a filing exemption may be able to use a simplified form (Form 5500-SF “Short Form Annual Return/Report of Small Employee Benefit Plan”) for the annual reporting requirement

What is a Health Savings Account (HSA)?

Many factors go into employees choosing the right health plan for themselves and their families. Health savings accounts (HSAs) are tax-advantaged savings accounts that accompany high deductible health plans (HDHPs). Dollars from the account can help pay for eligible medical expenses not covered by an insurance plan, including the deductible, coinsurance and more. They are a great way to save money and efficiently pay for medical expenses. How do employees know if an HSA is right for them? This HSA employee guide provides details on what an HSA is, how it works, and the benefits of having one. It also includes a few HSA case studies to clarify how an HSA could benefit people in various life stages and circumstances. It is a great resource to provide your employees on health savings accounts. Are you introducing health savings accounts to your workforce? We’ve got you covered with a HSA introduction presentation . Download a copy of the HSA guide and HSA introduction presentation tod

Benefits Breakdown - June 2022

Effective Benefit Plan Communication How employers communicate benefits information to employees has a tremendous impact on how well employees understand, utilize and perceive the programs. Managers and supervisors are usually in the best position to share important benefits information with employees. As an employee’s primary point of contact, managers and supervisors also tend to be more approachable with questions. Opportunities to ask questions, express dissatisfaction and discuss problems regarding benefits information with supervisors and managers should be encouraged. However, communicating inaccurate information to employees is always a major concern when using managers and supervisors to relay benefits information. Keep in mind that misinformation causes an employee relations problem and has the possibility of leading to litigation as well. Consider these tips to avoid miscommunication: Provide managers and supervisors with specialized training to discuss benefits inf

Five tips for improving your wellness

Wellness doesn’t need to be a huge commitment to be effective. Doing little things here and there can amount to great benefits if you keep them up. This is especially true when it comes to your health and wellness. Download our latest toolkit for five simple ways to add wellness to your routine. For additional resources regarding wellness or more information about employee benefits, our services and products, please contact HANYS Benefit Services by email or by calling (518) 431-7735. This HR Toolkit is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as professional advice. © 2022 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

Why wellness should matter to you

They say nothing in life worth having comes easy—you have to earn it. This is especially true when it comes to wellness. Your body takes a lot of work to keep in shape, and maintaining bad habits can lead to dangerous consequences later in life. That’s why now is the best time to commit to wellness. Why is Wellness Important? Wellness means focusing on not only your physical health but also your mental and social well-being. By taking steps to improve your wellness, you can begin seeing benefits in every area of your life. For instance, quitting smoking will unarguably improve your health, but it can also soothe relations with loved ones who are concerned about the habit and save you hundreds of dollars over the year. Your wellness helps control your trajectory in life. Don’t let bad habits keep you from achieving your goals. Develop a healthy body and mind now to help get you where you want to go. What Wellness Looks Like There are plenty of ways to get healthier, like diet

Crypto in retirement plans - should plan sponsors be considering it?

Cryptocurrency’s use and popularity have recently skyrocketed. What was once considered a fringe technology has since become mainstream. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 86% of Americans are at least somewhat aware of cryptocurrency . Of course, money has followed that notoriety and the total global market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies exceeded $1.28 trillion as of May 2022 . It stands to reason that the retirement industry, particularly defined contribution plans, would attempt to take advantage of the buzz surrounding digital assets. Fidelity recently announced its intention to be first in line by allowing 401(k) plan sponsors to offer cryptocurrency in its core 401(k) investment lineups. Fidelity made its announcement on April 26, 2022, only a little more than a month following the DOL’s publication of a Compliance Assistance Release on the same topic. In that release, the DOL directs fiduciaries to “exercise extreme care” in considering a cryptocurre

Safe Harbor Deadline for Small Retirement Plan Contributions

ERISA requires a retirement plan’s assets to be held in a trust in order to ensure that the assets are used solely to benefit the plan’s participants and beneficiaries. The employer sponsoring the retirement plan is responsible for timely depositing participants’ contributions into the plan’s trust. The Department of Labor (DOL) requires employers to make these deposits as soon as the amounts can reasonably be segregated from the employer’s general assets. In addition, the DOL has established a safe harbor deadline for employers to deposit participant contributions into small retirement plans. An employer that sponsors a small plan (one with fewer than 100 participants at the beginning of the plan year) has the option of using this safe harbor for meeting the deadline for depositing employee contributions into the plan. To take advantage of the safe harbor, employers must deposit employee contributions (including plan loan repayments) within seven business days of receiving or wi

Benefits Breakdown Newsletter - May 2022

Cybercrime and Benefits Plans According to recent estimates from the University of Maryland, a cyberattack occurs every 39 seconds. Data breaches and cyberattacks are daily headlines—and employee benefits plans are no exception to that threat. In fact, employee benefits plans are even more vulnerable as the coronavirus pandemic continues; organizations and benefits providers are relying heavily on electronic access, ultimately creating new vulnerabilities. Some examples of cyberthreats include phishing, malware and ransomware attacks. Virtually any type of employee benefits plan is vulnerable to hackers. These plans can be exposed to risks relating to privacy, security and fraud. Sensitive information contained in benefits plans is valuable to cybercriminals. Lost or stolen mobile devices, laptops and flash drives that hold personal information are additional tangible threats to benefits plans. These situations are especially concerning now that more employees are working from home. Gi

5 Ways HR Can Support Employees’ Mental Health

An employee’s mental health includes how they think, feel and act, and includes their emotional and social well-being. While mental health includes mental illness, the two aren’t interchangeable. An employee can go through a period of poor mental health but not necessarily have a clear, diagnosable mental illness. Additionally, an employee’s mental health can change over time, depending on factors such as their workload, stress and work-life balance.  While 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness annually, a recent study by Deloitte revealed that less than half receive treatment. A study from the Mental Health in the Workplace Summit also found that mental illness is the leading cause of disability for U.S. adults aged 15 to 44 and that more workdays are lost to mental health-related absenteeism than any other injury or illness.  Given its prevalence, you can expect that employees at your organization are experiencing mental health challenges or mental illness. That’s why it’s so

ERISA Compliance FAQs: Fiduciary Responsibilities Pt. 2

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is a federal law that sets minimum standards for employee benefit plans maintained by private-sector employers. ERISA includes requirements for both retirement plans (for example, 401(k) plans) and welfare benefit plans (for example, group health plans). ERISA has been amended many times over the years, expanding the protections available to ERISA benefit plan participants and beneficiaries. ERISA includes standards of conduct for those who manage employee benefit plans and their assets, who are called “fiduciaries”. This is a continuation of our Compliance Overview on frequently asked questions (FAQs) to help employers understand the basic fiduciary responsibilities applicable to plans under ERISA. How Do the Fiduciary Duty Rules Affect Plan Operation? Employee Contributions If a plan provides for salary reductions from employees’ paychecks for contribution to the plan or participants make payments directly, such as the payme

HR Toolkit - Employee Recognition

Employees want not only good pay and benefits, but also opportunities to contribute to their employer, customers and other stakeholders through their work, and feel valued and appreciated for their efforts in the workplace. Unfortunately, 65% of employees reported that it had been over one year since they received any form of recognition for their work, according to a Gallup poll. This HR Toolkit will further explain the significance of employee recognition , provide an overview of different types of workplace recognition programs and suggest a step-by-step process to implement an employee recognition program.  Download your copy today . For additional resources regarding best practices the remote workspace or more information about  employee benefits, our services and products , please contact HANYS Benefit Services by  email  or by calling (518) 431-7735. This HR Toolkit is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as professional advice.  © 202

Benefits Breakdown Newsletter-April 2022

Personalizing Your Employee Benefits Offerings  Each workforce is comprised of unique individuals with diverse backgrounds and interests. So why opt for a one-size-fits-all benefits package? Instead, consider providing benefits options that are as unique as your employees. Doing so could be the attraction and retention tool that sets your workplace apart. In fact, 73% of employees said having customized benefits made them more loyal to their employers, according to a MetLife survey. Additionally, the survey found that 83% of employees would trade a small pay cut for better benefits options Benefits personalization will vary by organization, but here are some general tips you can consider when assessing your own strategy: Survey employees. One of the best ways to discover employees’ benefits desires is by asking them. Conduct focus groups. Similar to a survey, consider meeting with employees in groups to solicit benefits feedback. Maintain ongoing benefits conversations. As employees ag

ERISA Compliance FAQs: Fiduciary Responsibilities pt. 1

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is a federal law that sets minimum standards for employee benefit plans maintained by private-sector employers. ERISA includes requirements for both retirement plans (for example, 401(k) plans) and welfare benefit plans (for example, group health plans). ERISA has been amended many times over the years, expanding the protections available to ERISA benefit plan participants and beneficiaries. ERISA includes standards of conduct for those who manage employee benefit plans and their assets, who are called “fiduciaries”. This Compliance Overview is part 1 of a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) to help employers understand the basic fiduciary responsibilities applicable to plans under ERISA. Who is a Fiduciary? Many of the actions involved in operating an employee benefit plan make the person or entity performing them a fiduciary. Using discretion in administering and managing a plan or controlling the plan’s assets makes th

HR Toolkit - Employee Engagement

Since high engagement can lead to success, while low engagement can harm productivity, this statistic should be alarming to employers.  Engaged employees are more than just satisfied with their jobs, they are committed to the company and its goals. They have passion, pride and energy for their work and their organization, and are willing to go the extra mile on a regular basis. Employees who are truly engaged stay because they enjoy their work and support the company.  This HR Toolkit will further explain the significance of employee engagement, show how it is being successfully cultivated in the workplace and suggest engagement improvement strategies.  Download your copy today . For additional resources regarding best practices the remote workspace or more information about  employee benefits, our services and products , please contact HANYS Benefit Services by  email  or by calling (518) 431-7735. This HR Toolkit is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions