Live Well Work Well Newsletter- July 2018

Health and Wellness Tips Brought to you by: Clark & Associates of NV

Myth Busted: Sweating More Doesn’t Necessarily Mean You Burned More Calories

Many people wrongly believe that how much you sweat indicates how effective your workout was. How much you sweat during a workout is due to a variety of factors such as weight, gender, age, genetics, temperature and even fitness level.

For example, men tend to sweat more than women, younger people tend to sweat more than older people and fit people tend to sweat more than those who are less fit.

So remember, don’t use sweat as an indicator for how intense your workout was. Instead, track your heart rate, level of muscle soreness and amount of progress seen to evaluate whether or not your workouts are effective.

WHO Calls for a Ban on Artificially Produced Trans Fat

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that the artificially produced trans fats found in junk and fried foods contribute to more than 500,000 preventable deaths annually. That’s why the WHO has released REPLACE, a guide for governments to eliminate industrially produced trans fat in their countries. Their goal is to remove all artificially produced trans fats from the global food supply by 2023.

What exactly is trans fat?

Trans fat is vegetable fat that has been chemically altered by a process called hydrogenation. This process turns healthy fat into a solid, unhealthy fat that is worse for you than saturated fat. Trans fats boost low-density lipoprotein (LDL or bad cholesterol) levels and can increase your risk of heart disease by 21 percent.

What can you do now to avoid eating and drinking trans fats?

The WHO’s campaign was launched mid-May 2018 and is in its early stages, which means it might take some time to see changes in the United States. In the meantime, you can read nutrition labels and look at the amount of saturated fat and trans fat per serving.

It’s also important to check the ingredient list, which is different from the nutritional label. Ingredient information is listed from greatest to smallest amounts, so if partially hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup are listed as the first few ingredients, choose another product.

To learn more about trans fats and their health effects, click here.

Lemon Velvet Supreme

2 cups fat-free vanilla yogurt

3 Tbsp. instant lemon pudding mix

4 graham crackers (crushed)

½ cup mandarin orange slices (drained)

PREPARATIONS

1.       Combine vanilla yogurt and pudding mix. Stir until combined.

2.       Layer bottom of serving dish with crushed graham crackers.

3.       Immediately pour pudding mixture over cracker crumbs.

4.       Top with mandarin oranges.

 

Makes: 6 servings

Nutritional Information (per serving)

Total Calories 138
Total Fat 1 g
Protein 4 g
Carbohydrates 29 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Sodium 189 mg
Total Sugars 23 g

 

Source: USDA

 

 

Snack Smart, Save Money, Time and Calories

It’s completely normal to snack throughout the workday. While it can be tempting to opt for the fast, easy (but unhealthy) option, taking a minute to snack smart can save you time, money and calories. Keep the following three tips in mind to help you snack smart at the office.

  1. Take a break. When you reach for your snack at work, don’t eat it while working. Instead, take a quick break to eat your snack uninterrupted to avoid overeating.
  2. Meal prep your snacks. One of the best ways to avoid impulsively purchasing unhealthy snacks from the vending machine is to pre-portion your healthy snacks at the beginning of the week and bring them with you to work.
  3. Think about macronutrients. Try to combine macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrates) at each snacking session. Doing so will help you feel satisfied and full until it’s time for your next meal.

Click here to learn about nutritionist-approved healthy snack options.

Snacks with 100 Calories or Less

Here are some great snack options that come in portion sizes of 100 calories or less:

String Cheese – Opt for an individually wrapped piece of string cheese to get your fill of protein and calcium at less than 100 calories per serving.

Popcorn – Available in 100-calorie individual servings, you can get a good amount of whole grains from this tasty snack.

Nuts – Unsalted nuts and seeds have many beneficial nutrients to keep you feeling full. Check portion sizes to keep your calories under 100.

 

 

IRS Announces HSA Limits for 2019

On May 10, 2018, the IRS released Revenue Procedure 2018-30 to announce the inflation-adjusted limits for health savings accounts (HSAs) and high deductible health plans (HDHPs) for 2019. These limits include:

  • The maximum HSA contribution limit;
  • The minimum deductible amount for HDHPs; and
  • The maximum out-of-pocket expense limit for HDHPs.

These limits vary based on whether an individual has self-only or family coverage under an HDHP.

The IRS limits for HSA contributions will increase for 2019. The HDHP maximum out-of-pocket limits will also increase for 2019. The HSA contribution limits will increase effective Jan. 1, 2019, while the HDHP limits will increase effective for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2019.

ACTION STEPS

Because the cost-sharing limits for HDHPs will change for 2019, employers that sponsor these plans may need to make plan design changes for plan years beginning in 2019. Also, if an employer communicates the HSA contribution limits to employees as part of the enrollment process, these enrollment materials should be updated to reflect the increased limits that apply for 2019.

HSA/HDHP Limits

The following chart shows the HSA and HDHP limits for 2019 as compared to 2018. It also includes the catch-up contribution limit that applies to HSA-eligible individuals who are age 55 or older, which is not adjusted for inflation and stays the same from year to year.

Type of Limit 2018 2019 Change
HSA Contribution Limit Self-only $3,450 $3,500 Up $50
Family $6,900 $7,000 Up $100
HSA Catch-up Contributions (not subject to adjustment for inflation) Age 55 or older $1,000 $1,000 No change
HDHP Minimum Deductible Self-only $1,350 $1,350 No change
Family $2,700 $2,700 No change
HDHP Maximum Out-of-pocket Expense Limit (deductibles, copayments and other amounts, but not premiums) Self-only $6,650 $6,750 Up $100
Family $13,300 $13,500 Up $200

Click Here to Download the Full Article: IRS Announces HSA Limits for 2019

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office at 775-828-7420.

WHO Calls for Elimination of Trans Fat by 2023

Click Here download the full article: WHO Trans Fat Ban

On May 14, 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced their plan to urge governments worldwide to eliminate the use of artificially produced trans fat by 2023. According to the WHO, artificially produced trans fats found in junk and fried foods contribute to more than 500,000 preventable deaths annually.

What is “trans fat” exactly?

Trans fat is vegetable fat that has been chemically altered by a process called hydrogenation. Trans fats boost low-density lipoprotein (LDL or bad cholesterol) levels and can increase your risk of heart disease by 21 percent.

What does the WHO’s plan look like?

The WHO’s plan, REPLACE, is an action package that provides a step-by-step guide for eliminating trans fat from the global food supply. REPLACE supports governments to ensure the swift and complete removal of trans fats from foods.

REPLACE is a six-step action plan, with the action areas including:

  1. Review dietary sources of artificially produced trans fat and the landscape for policy change.
  2. Promote the replacement of unhealthy trans fats with healthier substitutes.
  3. Legislate or enact laws to eliminate artificially produced trans fat.
  4. Assess and monitor the amount of trans fat content in the food supply and consumed by the population.
  5. Create awareness of the negative effects of trans fat among lawmakers, businesses and the public.
  6. Enforce compliance with policies and regulations.

What can you do now to avoid eating and drinking trans fats?

The WHO’s campaign is in its early stages, which means it might take some time to see changes. In the meantime, you can read nutrition labels and look at the amount of saturated fat and trans fat per serving. It’s also important to check the ingredient list, which is different from the nutritional label.

To learn more about trans fats and their health effects, click here.

 

Active Shooter and Workplace Violence Workshop

On May 10, 2018, we hosted an All-Hazards Approach to an Active Shooter and Workplace Violence Training. Here’s what you missed!

In this two-part training, we discussed:
• Keeping Your Employees, Customers and Business Safe
• Code Compliance
• Loss and Liability Reduction
• Staff Organization and Coordination for Emergencies
• Controlled Evacuation, Lock-down and Staff Accountability Procedures
• Recovery and Business Continuity

The goal for both Phase I and Phase II will provide successful methods to develop a policy, plans and implementation and a response in the event of a traumatic situation in the workplace.

Phase I was held on May 10, 2018 and Phase II will be held on June 7, 2018. Time and location for Phase II will be TBA.

Presenters:

Retired Reno Police Chief Steve Pitts and Retired U.S. Navy Seal Chuck O’Connor.

Steve Pitts PhotoChuck2_DSC8500_DSC8501_DSC8502_DSC8504_DSC8505_DSC8506_DSC8507_DSC8510_DSC8513_DSC8515_DSC8516

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Oral Health is important for everyone to stay on top of!

By age 17, nearly 80 percent of American children experience tooth decay and more than 51 million school hours are lost each year due to dental-related illness.

 DENTAL CARE: ORAL HYGIENE

Oral health problems—ranging from cavities to cancer—are painful and costly, affecting millions of people each year. This is alarming because almost all oral diseases can be prevented with the proper knowledge and prevention techniques.

Tooth Decay

For children, cavities are a common problem that can strike at an early age. Untreated cavities can cause pain and infection, which can lead to difficulty eating, speaking, playing and learning.

Tooth decay is also a problem for adults, especially for the increasing number who retain most of their teeth throughout their lives. In addition, tooth loss can become an issue as adults get older. Tooth loss can affect self-esteem and may contribute to nutrition problems by limiting the types of food that someone can eat.

In addition, poor oral hygiene can lead to a number of diseases and conditions, including gum disease, oral cancer and more.

Prevention

Keep your oral health in good shape by practicing the following:

  • Drink fluoridated water and use fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride’s protection against tooth decay works at all ages.
  • Take care of your teeth and gums. Thoroughly brushing and flossing can reduce dental plaque and prevent gingivitis—the mildest form of gum disease.
  • Avoid tobacco. In addition to the many other health risks posed by tobacco, smokers have four times the risk of developing gum disease as non-smokers. Tobacco use in any form—cigarette, pipe or smokeless spit tobacco—increases the risk for gum disease, oral and throat cancers, and an oral fungal yeast infection called candidiasis. Spit tobacco containing sugar also increases the risk of tooth decay.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. Heavy use of alcohol is also a risk factor for oral and throat cancers. When used alone, alcohol and tobacco are risk factors for oral cancers, but when used in combination the effects are even greater.
  • Eat wisely. Adults should avoid snacks with sugars and starches. Limit the number of snacks eaten throughout the day. The recommended five-a-day helping of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables stimulates your salivary flow to aid in the re-mineralization of tooth surfaces with early stages of tooth decay.
  • Visit the dentist regularly. Check-ups can detect early signs of oral health problems and can lead to treatments that will prevent further damage, and in some cases, reverse the problem. Professional tooth cleaning, called prophylaxis, is also important for preventing oral problems, especially when self-care is difficult.
  • If you have diabetes, maintain control of the condition. This will help prevent complications from the disease, including an increased risk of gum disease.
  • Ask your doctor if other drugs may be substituted if your medications produce a dry mouth. If dry mouth is unavoidable, drink plenty of water, chew sugarless gum and avoid tobacco and alcohol.
  • Have an oral health check-up before beginning cancer treatment. Radiation to the head or neck and chemotherapy can cause problems for your teeth and gums. Treating existing oral health problems before cancer therapy may help prevent or limit oral complications or tissue damage.

 

 

Wrap Documents for Welfare Benefit Plans

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. Under ERISA, employer-sponsored welfare benefit plans, such as group health plans, must be described in a written plan document. In addition, employers must explain the plans’ terms to participants by providing them with a summary plan description (SPD).

The insurance certificate or benefit booklet provided by an insurance carrier or other third party for a welfare benefit plan typically does not satisfy ERISA’s content requirements for plan documents and SPDs.

However, employers may use wrap documents in conjunction with the insurance certificate or benefit booklet in order to satisfy ERISA’s requirements. This document is called a “wrap document” because it essentially wraps around the insurance certificate or benefit booklet to fill in the missing ERISA-required provisions. When a wrap document is used, the ERISA plan document or SPD is made up of two documents— the insurance certificate or benefit booklet and the wrap document.

Erisa coverage

Links and Resources

Covered Employers

ERISA applies to virtually all private-sector employers that maintain welfare benefit plans for their employees, regardless of the size of the employer. This includes corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies, sole proprietorships and nonprofit organizations.

ERISA exempts only two types of employers:

  1. Employee benefit plans maintained by governmental employers are exempt from ERISA’s requirements. This exemption includes plans maintained by the federal, state or local (for example, a city, county or township) governments.
  2. Church plans are also exempt from ERISA. A church plan is any employee benefit plan established or maintained by a church or by a convention or association of churches that is exempt from tax under Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code (Code), and that has not made an election under Code Section 410(d) to be subject to ERISA.

Small employers are subject to ERISA’s requirements, unless they meet the exemption for governmental employers or churches.

Welfare Benefit Plans

Many employment plans or programs that provide nonretirement benefits to employees are considered employee welfare benefit plans that are subject to ERISA. To qualify as an ERISA plan, there must be a plan, fund or program that is established by the employer for the purpose of providing ERISA-covered benefits (through the purchase of insurance or otherwise) to participants and their beneficiaries.

ERISA generally applies to the following common employee benefits, regardless of whether they are insured or self-funded:
·         Medical, surgical or hospital benefits;

·         Dental and vision benefits;

·         Prescription drug benefits;

·         Health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs);

·         Health flexible spending accounts (FSAs);

·         Group life insurance benefits;

·         Wellness programs (when medical care is provided);

·         Employee assistance plans (when medical care is provided);

·         Disability benefits, if insured or funded other than as a payroll practice; and

·         Disease-specific coverage (for example, cancer policies).

Written Plan Document

ERISA requires welfare benefit plans to “be established and maintained pursuant to a written instrument.” Thus, an employer’s welfare benefit plans must be described in a written plan document. There is no small employer exception to ERISA’s plan document requirement.

ERISA does not require that a plan document be in any particular format. However, there are several topics that must be addressed in the written plan document for a welfare benefit plan. For example, the plan document must address:

  • Benefits and eligibility;
  • Funding of benefits;
  • Procedures for allocating and delegating plan responsibilities;
  • Plan amendment and termination procedures;
  • Designation of named fiduciary; and
  • Required provisions for group health plans, such as COBRA rights and HIPAA compliance.

Does the Booklet Prepared by the Insurer or TPA Qualify as a Plan Document?

In general, the detailed coverage document (or certificate of coverage) provided by an insurance carrier for a welfare benefit does not contain all of the information required by ERISA for a plan document. For example, while carrier certificates include detailed benefit information, they generally do not designate plan fiduciaries or provide procedures for amending or terminating the plan. Thus, the carrier’s certificates, on their own, are not ERISA-compliant plan documents. Benefit booklets provided by TPAs for self-insured welfare benefits may also fail to include the ERISA-required information for plan documents.

Wrap Documents

A wrap document is a relatively simple document that supplements existing documentation for a welfare benefit plan (for example, an insurance certificate or benefit booklet). This document is called a wrap document because it essentially wraps around the certificate or booklet to fill in the missing ERISA-required provisions. Because the wrap document incorporates the insurance certificate or benefits booklet by reference, the plan’s benefit provisions continued to be governed by the terms of those documents.

When a wrap document is used, the ERISA plan document is comprised of two pieces:

1 The insurance certificate or benefits booklet, reflecting many of the plan’s important terms and requirements; and
2 The wrap document that fills in the ERISA-required information that is missing from the insurance certificate or benefits booklet.

Thus, the wrap document and the carrier certificate (or TPA booklet), together, make up the plan document.

Mega Wrap Plans

Wrap documents can be used to combine more than one welfare benefit under a single plan, which is sometimes referred to as a “mega wrap plan” or an “umbrella plan.” For example, a wrap document could be used to bundle medical benefits, dental benefits, disability coverage and an HRA under one single ERISA plan. This document would wrap around all the third-party documentation (for example, insurance certificates or benefit booklets) to include the missing ERISA provisions and combine the benefits into one plan.

The decision of whether to combine (or bundle) welfare benefits often depends on how it will affect the Form 5500 filing obligation.

  • For larger employers, combining different benefits together may simplify the annual reporting requirement because only one Form 5500 will be required for the bundled plan.
  • For smaller employers, however, each benefit offered as a separate plan may qualify for the Form 5500 exemption for small plans. Combining the benefits together under a bundled plan might cause the plan to exceed the threshold for small plans, which would trigger the Form 5500 filing requirement.
  • Form 5500 Exemption—Small welfare plans are exempt from the Form 5500 filing requirement if they have fewer than 100 covered participants and their benefits are insured or unfunded.

Summary Plan Descriptions

Virtually all welfare benefit plans that are subject to ERISA must provide participants with an SPD, regardless of the size of the sponsoring employer. An SPD is a document that is provided to plan participants to explain their rights and benefits under the plan document. ERISA also includes detailed content requirements for welfare benefit plan SPDs.

In general, a carrier’s insurance certificate will not include all the information that must be included in an SPD under ERISA. A benefit booklet prepared by a TPA may also fail to include the ERISA-required information for SPDs. To create an SPD in this situation, an employer can use a wrap document (wrap SPD) that includes the ERISA-required information that the certificate or booklet prepared by the insurer or TPA does not include. In this scenario, the wrap SPD and the insurance certificate or booklet, together, make up the plan’s SPD. To comply with ERISA, both the wrap SPD and the insurance certificate or booklet must be distributed to plan participants by the appropriate deadline.

Thus, a welfare benefit plan can have a wrap plan document and a wrap SPD, with both of these ERISA documents being comprised of the underlying insurance certificate or benefits booklet and also a wrap document that fills in the missing ERISA-required information.

Also, some ERISA welfare benefit plans only have one wrap document, which serves as the plan document and is also distributed to plan participants as the SPD. When one wrap document is used, it must comply with ERISA’s content requirements for plan documents and SPDs, and it must be written in a manner that is understandable to plan participants. Also, the document should prominently state that it is intended to serve as both the plan document and the SPD.

Noncompliance

There are no specific penalties under ERISA for failing to have a plan document or SPD. However, not having a plan document or SPD can have serious consequences for an employer, including the following:

  • Inability to respond to participant requests: The plan document/SPD must be furnished in response to a participant’s written request. The plan administrator may be charged up to $110 per day if it does not provide the plan document within 30 days after an individual’s request. These penalties may apply even where a plan document/SPD does not exist.
  • Benefit lawsuits: Not having a plan document may put an employer at a disadvantage in the event a participant brings a lawsuit for benefits under the plan. Without a plan document, it will be difficult for a plan administrator to prove that the plan’s terms support benefit decisions. Also, without a plan document, plan participants can use past practice or other evidence outside of the actual plan’s terms to support their claims. Additionally, courts will likely apply a standard of review that is less favorable to the employer (and more favorable to participants) when reviewing benefit claims under an unwritten plan.
  • DOL audits: The Department of Labor (DOL) has broad authority to investigate or audit an employee benefit plan’s compliance with ERISA. When the DOL selects an employer’s health plan for audit, it will almost always ask to see a copy of the plan document and SPD, in addition to other plan-related documents. If an employer cannot respond to the DOL’s document requests, it may trigger additional document requests, interviews, on-site visits or even DOL enforcement actions. Also, the DOL may impose a penalty of up to $152 per day (up to $1,527 per request) for failing to provide information requested by the DOL.

Clark & Associates provides Wrap Documents for our valued clients as an added service. Please contact us if you do not have a Wrap Document in place!

Addressing Opioids in the Workplace

There are over 42,000 opioid-related deaths in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—a figure that has been rising steadily since the turn of the century. The opioid death rate is now more than five times greater than it was in 1999.

In addition to the skyrocketing opioid-related deaths, there are countless Americans who are still abusing prescription medications. This means employers must figure out how best to address this crisis with employees. That is where Clark & Associates can help.

The purpose of this toolkit is to help employers understand and deal with the opioid epidemic, create a healthier and more productive workforce, and reduce costs. This toolkit is not intended to replace the advice of a medical or legal professional. In many cases, you may need to contact a professional for assistance. However, this information can serve as a starting point for developing a meaningful opioid strategy.

We have published a helpful toolkit to help you address this problem.

Click Here to Download the Workbook: Benefits Toolkit – Addressing Opioids in the Workplace

Contact Us if you have any questions or need assistance putting a policy in place for this growing problem.

New Rules for Disability Claims Take Effect on April 1, 2018

Click Here to Download: New Rules for Disability Claims Take Effect on April 1, 2018

On Jan. 5, 2018, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that, effective April 1, 2018, employee benefit plans must comply with new requirements for disability benefit claims.

In 2016, the DOL released a final rule to strengthen the claims and appeals requirements for plans that provide disability benefits and are subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The final rule was scheduled to apply to claims that are filed on or after Jan. 1, 2018. However, on Nov. 24, 2017, the DOL delayed the final rule for 90 days—until April 1, 2018—to give stakeholders the opportunity to submit comments on the final rule’s benefits and costs.

According to the DOL, the information it received during the delay period did not justify modifying or rescinding the final rule. Thus, the final rule will take effect without change.

ACTION STEPS

ERISA plans that include disability benefits must comply with the new procedural protections, effective for claims that are submitted after April 1, 2018. Entities that administer disability benefit claims, including issuers and third-party administrators, will need to revise their claims procedures to comply with the final rule.

ERISA Requirements

Section 503 of ERISA requires every employee benefit plan to:

  • Provide adequate notice in writing to any participant or beneficiary whose claim for benefits under the plan has been denied, setting forth the specific reasons for the denial, written in a manner calculated to be understood by the participant; and
  • Afford a reasonable opportunity to any participant whose claim for benefits has been denied for a full and fair review by the appropriate named fiduciary of the decision denying the claim.

The DOL first adopted claims procedure regulations for employee benefit plans in 1977. In 2000, the DOL updated its claims procedure regulations by improving and strengthening the minimum requirements for employee benefit plans, including plans that provide disability benefits. Effective for plan years beginning on or after Sept. 23, 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) amended ERISA to include enhanced internal claims and appeals requirements for group health plans.

Additional Protections for Disability Claimants

The final rule requires that plans, plan fiduciaries and insurance providers comply with additional procedural protections when dealing with disability benefit claimants. The final rule includes the following requirements for the processing of claims and appeals for disability benefits:

  • Improvement to Basic Disclosure Requirements: Benefit denial notices must contain a more complete discussion of why the plan denied a claim and the standards used in making the decision.
  • Right to Claim File and Internal Protocols: Benefit denial notices must include a statement that the claimant is entitled to receive, upon request, the entire claim file and other relevant documents. Benefit denial notices also have to include the internal rules, guidelines, protocols, standards or other similar criteria of the plan that were used in denying a claim, or a statement that none were used.

Contact us here or call our office if you have any questions or concerns about this new procedure.