2019 Open Enrollment Checklist

To prepare for open enrollment, group health plan sponsors should be aware of the legal changes affecting the design and administration of their plans for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2019. Employers should review their plan documents to confirm that they include these required changes.

In addition, any changes to a health plan’s benefits for the 2019 plan year should be communicated to plan participants through an updated summary plan description (SPD) or a summary of material modifications (SMM).

Health plan sponsors should also confirm that their open enrollment materials contain certain required participant notices, when applicable—for example, the summary of benefits and coverage (SBC). There are also some participant notices that must be provided annually or upon initial enrollment. To minimize costs and streamline administration, employers should consider including these notices in their open enrollment materials.


Links and Resources


HIGHLIGHTS


Plan Design Issues

  • Confirm that your plan’s out-of-pocket maximum complies with the ACA’s limits for 2019.
  • For HDHPs, confirm that the plan’s deductible and out-of-pocket maximum comply with the 2019 limits.
  • Communicate any plan design changes to employees as part of the open enrollment process.

Notices to Include

  • Annual CHIP notice
  • Medicare Part D creditable coverage notice
  • Notice of grandfathered status (if applicable)
  • Annual notice regarding coverage requirements for mastectomy-related benefits (WHCRA notice)

Plan Design Changes

Grandfathered Plan Status

A grandfathered plan is one that was in existence when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was enacted on March 23, 2010. If you make certain changes to your plan that go beyond permitted guidelines, your plan is no longer grandfathered.

  • If you have a grandfathered plan, determine whether it will maintain its grandfathered status for the 2019 plan year. Grandfathered plans are exempt from some of the ACA’s requirements. A grandfathered plan’s status will affect its compliance obligations from year to year. If your plan will maintain its grandfathered status, make sure you provide the notice of grandfathered status in your open enrollment materials. See the “ACA Disclosure Requirements” section below for more information on this notice.
  • If your plan will lose its grandfathered status for 2019, confirm that the plan has all of the additional patient rights and benefits required by the ACA. This includes, for example, coverage of preventive care without cost-sharing requirements.

ACA Affordability Standard

Under the ACA’s employer shared responsibility rules, applicable large employers (ALEs) are required to offer affordable, minimum value health coverage to their full-time employees (and dependent children) or risk paying a penalty. These employer shared responsibility requirements are also known as the “employer mandate” or “pay or play” rules.

Under the ACA, an ALE’s health coverage is considered affordable if the employee’s required contribution to the plan does not exceed 9.5 percent of the employee’s household income for the taxable year (as adjusted each year). The adjusted percentage is 9.56 percent for 2018.

For plan years that begin on or after Jan. 1, 2019, the affordability percentage is 9.86 percent. This means that employer-sponsored coverage for the 2019 plan year will be considered affordable under the employer shared responsibility rules if the employee’s required contribution for self-only coverage does not exceed 9.86 percent of the employee’s household income for the tax year.

  • If you are an ALE, confirm that at least one of the health plans offered to full-time employees (and their dependent children) satisfies the ACA’s affordability standard (9.86 percent for 2019 plan years). Because the affordability percentage significantly increases from 2018, employers may have additional flexibility to increase the employee share of the premium while still avoiding a penalty under the pay or play rules.

Out-of-pocket Maximum

Effective for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2014, non-grandfathered health plans are subject to limits on cost sharing for essential health benefits (EHB). The ACA’s out-of-pocket maximum applies to all non-grandfathered group health plans, including self-insured health plans and insured plans.

The annual limit on total enrollee cost sharing for EHB for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2019, is $7,900 for self-only coverage and $15,800 for family coverage.

  • Review your plan’s out-of-pocket maximum to make sure it complies with the ACA’s limits for the 2019 plan year ($7,900 for self-only coverage and $15,800 for family coverage).
  • If you have a high deductible health plan (HDHP) that is compatible with a health savings account (HSA), keep in mind that your plan’s out-of-pocket maximum must be lower than the ACA’s limit. For 2019 plan years, the out-of-pocket maximum limit for HDHPs is $6,750 for self-only coverage and $13,500 for family coverage.
  • If your plan uses multiple service providers to administer benefits, confirm that the plan coordinates all claims for EHB across the plan’s service providers or divides the out-of-pocket maximum across the categories of benefits, with a combined limit that does not exceed the maximum for 2019.

Preventive Care Benefits

The ACA requires non-grandfathered health plans to cover certain preventive health services without imposing cost-sharing requirements (that is, deductibles, copayments or coinsurance) for the services. Health plans are required to adjust their first-dollar coverage of preventive care services based on the latest preventive care recommendations. If you have a non-grandfathered plan, you should confirm that your plan covers the latest recommended preventive care services without imposing any cost sharing.

More information on the recommended preventive care services is available through the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and www.HealthCare.gov.

Health FSA Contributions

The ACA imposes a dollar limit on employees’ salary reduction contributions to a health flexible spending account (FSA) offered under a cafeteria plan. An employer may impose its own dollar limit on employees’ salary reduction contributions to a health FSA, as long as the employer’s limit does not exceed the ACA’s maximum limit in effect for the plan year.

The ACA’s limit on employees’ pre-tax health FSA contributions first became effective for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2013. The ACA set the health FSA contribution limit at $2,500. For years after 2013, the dollar limit is indexed for cost-of-living adjustments. For 2018 plan years, the health FSA limit is $2,650. The IRS has not yet announced the health FSA limit for 2019 plan years.

  • Monitor IRS guidance for the health FSA limit for 2019 plan years.
  • Once the 2019 health FSA limit is announced, confirm that your health FSA will not allow employees to make pre-tax contributions in excess of that limit.
  • Communicate the health FSA limit to employees as part of the open enrollment process.

HDHP and HSA Limits for 2019

If you offer an HDHP to your employees that is compatible with an HSA, you should confirm that the HDHP’s minimum deductible and out-of-pocket maximum comply with the 2019 limits. The IRS limits for HSA contributions and HDHP cost-sharing 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.

  • Check whether your HDHP’s cost-sharing limits need to be adjusted for the 2019 limits.
  • If you communicate 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.

The following table contains the HDHP and HSA 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
ACA Disclosure Requirements

Summary of Benefits and Coverage

The ACA requires health plans and health insurance issuers to provide an SBC to applicants and enrollees to help them understand their coverage and make coverage decisions. Plans and issuers must provide the SBC to participants and beneficiaries who enroll or re-enroll during an open enrollment period. The SBC also must be provided to participants and beneficiaries who enroll other than through an open enrollment period (including those who are newly eligible for coverage and special enrollees).

The SBC template and related materials are available from the Department of Labor (DOL).

  • In connection with a plan’s 2019 open enrollment period, the SBC should be included with the plan’s application materials. If coverage automatically renews for current participants, the SBC must generally be provided no later than 30 days before the beginning of the new plan year.
  • For self-funded plans, the plan administrator is responsible for providing the SBC. For insured plans, both the plan and the issuer are obligated to provide the SBC, although this obligation is satisfied for both parties if either one provides the SBC. Thus, if you have an insured plan, you should confirm that your health insurance issuer will assume responsibility for providing the SBCs. Please contact your representative at Clark & Associates of Nevada, Inc. for assistance.

Grandfathered Plan Notice

If you have a grandfathered plan, make sure to include information about the plan’s grandfathered status in plan materials describing the coverage under the plan, such as SPDs and open enrollment materials. Model language is available from the DOL.

Notice of Patient Protections

Under the ACA, non-grandfathered group health plans and issuers that require designation of a participating primary care provider must permit each participant, beneficiary and enrollee to designate any available participating primary care provider (including a pediatrician for children). Also, plans and issuers that provide obstetrical/gynecological care and require a designation of a participating primary care provider may not require preauthorization or referral for obstetrical/gynecological care.

If a non-grandfathered plan requires participants to designate a participating primary care provider, the plan or issuer must provide a notice of these patient protections whenever the SPD or similar description of benefits is provided to a participant. If your plan is subject to this notice requirement, you should confirm that it is included in the plan’s open enrollment materials. Model language is available from the DOL.

Other Notices

Group health plan sponsors should consider including the following enrollment and annual notices with the plan’s open enrollment materials.

Initial COBRA Notice

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) applies to employers with 20 or more employees that sponsor group health plans. Group health plan administrators must provide an initial COBRA notice to new participants and certain dependents within 90 days after plan coverage begins. The initial COBRA notice may be incorporated into the plan’s SPD. A model initial COBRA notice is available from the DOL.

Notice of HIPAA Special Enrollment Rights

At or prior to the time of enrollment, a group health plan must provide each eligible employee with a notice of his or her special enrollment rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This notice may be included in the plan’s SPD.

Summary Plan Description

Plan administrators must provide an SPD to new participants within 90 days after plan coverage begins. Any changes that are made to the plan should be reflected in an updated SPD booklet or described to participants through an SMM. Also, an updated SPD must be furnished every five years if changes are made to SPD information or if the plan is amended. Otherwise, a new SPD must be provided every 10 years.

HIPAA Privacy Notice

The HIPAA Privacy Rule requires covered entities (including group health plans and issuers) to provide a Notice of Privacy Practices (or Privacy Notice) to each individual who is the subject of protected health information (PHI). Health plans are required to send the Privacy Notice at certain times, including to new enrollees at the time of enrollment. Also, at least once every three years, health plans must either redistribute the Privacy Notice or notify participants that the Privacy Notice is available and explain how to obtain a copy.

Self-insured health plans are required to maintain and provide their own Privacy Notices. Special rules, however, apply for fully insured plans. Under these rules, the health insurance issuer, and not the health plan itself, is primarily responsible for the Privacy Notice.

Self Insured Plans > Must maintain and provide their own Privacy Notices

Fully Insured Plans > Health insurance issuers have primary responsibility for Privacy Notices

Special Rules for Fully Insured Plans: The plan sponsor of a fully insured health plan has limited responsibilities with respect to the Privacy Notice.

  • If the sponsor of a fully insured plan has access to PHI for plan administrative functions, it is required to maintain a Privacy Notice and to provide the notice upon request.
  • If the sponsor of a fully insured plan does not have access to PHI for plan administrative functions, it is not required to maintain or provide a Privacy Notice.

A plan sponsor’s access to enrollment information, summary health information and PHI that is released pursuant to a HIPAA authorization does not qualify as having access to PHI for plan administration purposes.
Model Privacy Notices are available through the Department of Health and Human Services.

Annual CHIPRA Notice

Group health plans covering residents in a state that provides a premium subsidy to low-income children and their families to help pay for employer-sponsored coverage must send an annual notice about the available assistance to all employees residing in that state. The DOL has provided a model notice.

WHCRA Notice

Plans and issuers must provide notice of participants’ rights to mastectomy-related benefits under the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA) at the time of enrollment and on an annual basis. Model language for this disclosure is available on the DOL’s website.

Medicare Part D Notices

Group health plan sponsors must provide a notice of creditable or non-creditable prescription drug coverage to Medicare Part D eligible individuals who are covered by, or who apply for, prescription drug coverage under the health plan. This creditable coverage notice alerts the individuals as to whether or not their prescription drug coverage is at least as good as the Medicare Part D coverage. The notice generally must be provided at various times, including when an individual enrolls in the plan and each year before Oct. 15 (when the Medicare annual open enrollment period begins). Model notices are available on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ website.

Summary Annual Report

Plan administrators that are required to file a Form 5500 must provide participants with a narrative summary of the information in the Form 5500, called a summary annual report (SAR). Group health plans that are unfunded (that is, benefits are payable from the employer’s general assets and not through an insurance policy or trust) are not subject to the SAR requirement. The plan administrator generally must provide the SAR within nine months of the close of the plan year. If an extension of time to file the Form 5500 is obtained, the plan administrator must furnish the SAR within two months after the close of the extension period.

Michelle’s Law Notice

Group health plans that condition dependent eligibility on a child’s full-time student status must provide a notice of the requirements of Michelle’s Law in any materials describing a requirement for certifying student status for plan coverage. Under Michelle’s Law, a plan cannot terminate a child’s coverage for loss of full-time student status if the change in status is due to a medically necessary leave of absence. Due to the ACA’s age 26 mandate for dependent coverage, most health plans no longer condition dependent eligibility on full-time student status and, thus, are not subject to Michelle’s Law.

HIPAA Opt-out for Self-funded, Nonfederal Governmental Plans

Sponsors of self-funded, non-federal governmental plans may opt out of certain federal mandates, such as the mental health parity requirements and the WHCRA coverage requirements. Under an opt-out election, the plan must provide a notice to enrollees regarding the election. The notice must be provided annually and at the time of enrollment. Model language for this notice is available for sponsors to use.

Wellness Program Notices

Group health plans that include wellness programs may be required to provide certain notices regarding the program’s design. As a general rule, these notices should be provided when the wellness program is communicated to employees and before employees provide any health-related information or undergo medical examinations.

  • HIPAA Wellness Program Notice—HIPAA imposes a notice requirement on health-contingent wellness programs that are offered under group health plans. Health-contingent wellness plans require individuals to satisfy standards related to health factors (for example, not smoking) in order to obtain rewards. The notice must disclose the availability of a reasonable alternative standard to qualify for the reward (and, if applicable, the possibility of waiver of the otherwise applicable standard) in all plan materials describing the terms of a health-contingent wellness program. Final regulations provide sample language that can be used to satisfy this requirement.
  • ADA Wellness Program Notice—Employers with 15 or more employees are subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Wellness programs that include health-related questions or medical examinations must comply with the ADA’s requirements, including an employee notice requirement. Employers must give participating employees a notice that tells them what information will be collected as part of the wellness program, with whom it will be shared and for what purpose, the limits on disclosure and the way information will be kept confidential. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has provided a sample notice to help employers comply with this ADA requirement.

If you have any questions on your upcoming Open Enrollment, please contact us or call us at 775-828-7420.

 

HSA 101

HSA/HDHPs take a different approach to health coverage than other plans with lower deductibles. Having an HSA provides you with many benefits, including flexibility and easy saving, helping you plan and pay for medical expenses.

Click here for the Interactive HSA Guide to include:

  • HSA Eligibility
  • HSA Contributions
  • Using your HSA
  • HSA Saving and Recording
  • HSA Expense Log

Please feel free to call us at 775-828-7420 or email us if you have any questions about HSA’s.

 

 

 

Which Federal Employment Laws Apply to My Company?

 Provided by Clark & Associates of Nevada, Inc.

This is a good question and can be complicated! There are a number of different federal employment laws that have their own rules for covered employers. Employers should be aware of the federal employment laws that may apply to their company.

An employer’s size, or number of employees, is a key factor in determining which federal employment laws the employer must comply with. Some federal laws, such as the Equal Pay Act, apply to all employers, regardless of size. However, other laws, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act, only apply to employers that reach a certain employee count. Also, some federal laws, such as COBRA, include exclusions for certain types of employers (for example, churches).
This Compliance Overview provides a high-level overview of key federal employment laws and explains which employers they apply to. Most states also have their own labor and employment laws. This summary does not address state labor laws, and it also does not address additional compliance requirements for companies that contract with the federal government or businesses in specific industries.

Links and Resources

  • DOL’s “FirstStep Employment Law Advisor,” which helps companies determine which labor laws apply to their business
  • DOL’s webpage, which includes links to each state’s labor office
  • EEOC’s compliance resources for employers and small businesses

    HIGHLIGHTS

    EMPLOYERS OF ALL SIZES

    • Equal Pay Act
    • Fair Labor Standards Act
    • Occupational Safety and Health Act
    • Immigration Reform and Control Act
    • Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)

    BASED ON EMPLOYEE COUNT

    • Family and Medical Leave Act
    • Fair employment laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
    • Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)
    • EEO-1 reporting
FEDERAL EMPLOYMENT LAWS
Law Brief Description Covered Employers
Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) Prohibits employers from discriminating against employees or applicants who are age 40 or older based on their age. Private-sector employers with 20 or more employees and state and local governments
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in all employment practices, such as recruitment, compensation, hiring and firing, job assignments, training, leave and benefits. All employers with 15 or more employees
Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) Requires employer-sponsored group health plans to offer continuation coverage to eligible employees and their dependents when coverage would otherwise be lost due to certain events (for example, a termination of employment). Private-sector employers with 20 or more employees that sponsor group health plans. Most group health plans sponsored by state and local governments are also covered.

Group health plans sponsored by churches are exempt.

Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) Protects employees from discharge because their wages have been garnished for any one debt and limits the amount of an employee’s earnings that may be garnished in any one week. All employers, regardless of size
Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) Prohibits employers from using lie detector tests, either for pre-employment screening or during the course of employment, with certain exceptions. All employers, regardless of size

Does NOT apply to federal, state and local governments

Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) Sets minimum standards for employee benefit plans, including retirement plans, such as 401(k) plans, and welfare benefit plans, such as group health plans. All private-sector employers, regardless of size, that maintain employee benefit plans. Government and church employers are exempt.
EEO-1 Report The Employer Information Report EEO-1 (commonly known as the EEO-1 Report) requires employers to submit employment data categorized by race/ethnicity, gender and job category to the EEOC. Private-sector employers with 100 or more employees.

State and local governments, primary and secondary school systems, institutions of higher learning and tax-exempt private membership clubs other than labor organizations are exempt from this reporting requirement.

Equal Pay Act (EPA) Employers must provide equal compensation to men and women who perform equal work within the same workplace. Virtually all employers are covered, regardless of size.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Establishes minimum wage, overtime, recordkeeping and child labor standards for employers. Virtually all employers are covered, regardless of size.
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Requires employers to provide eligible employees with unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. Private-sector employers with 50 or more employees, public agencies (for example, state and local governments), the federal government and local educational agencies
 Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) Prohibits employers from discriminating against employees or applicants based on their genetic information. All employers with 15 or more employees
Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) Employers are prohibited from hiring and retaining employees who are not authorized to work in the United States. Employers and employees must complete the Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification Form). All employers, regardless of size
Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) Requires employers to provide a safe workplace for their employees. Coverage is provided through either the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) or by an OSHA-approved state job safety and health plan. Virtually all private-sector employers, regardless of size

Workers at state and local government agencies are NOT covered by federal OSHA but are protected under the OSH Act if they work in states that have OSHA-approved state programs.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) Prohibits workplace discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. All employers with 15 or more employees
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act Prohibits employers from discriminating in the workplace based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. All employers with 15 or more employees
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) Prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals on the basis of membership in the uniformed services with regard to any aspect of employment.

 

All employers, regardless of size
Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act Employers are required to provide a 60-day advance notice to employees of imminent covered plant closings and covered mass layoffs. Private-sector employers with 100 or more employees. Regular federal, state and local government entities that provide public services are NOT covered.

As always, please feel free to call our office at 775-828-7420 or contact us if you have any questions about the above content.

 

 

 

 

July is National UV Safety Month

Here’s what you need to know!

VISION CARE: UV PROTECTION

The sun releases energy, called radiation, in various forms: in the sunlight you see, the heat you feel and the invisible ultraviolet (UV) rays that cause you to get sunburned. UV rays from the sun can also damage your eyes and hurt your vision.

Dangers of UV Rays

There are two types of UV radiation: UVA rays and UVB rays. UVB rays are more likely to cause sunburn, but UVA rays penetrate deeper. Exposure to either can damage your eyes. Long-term exposure to UV rays can result in eye problems that may lead to vision loss from conditions like cataracts or macular degeneration. Other dangers include skin cancer (around the eyelids) and corneal sunburn. Long hours at the beach or ski slope without proper eye protection can cause corneal sunburn, which can be very painful and may cause temporary vision loss.

Exposure Risk Factors

Everyone is at risk for eye damage from UV radiation. The risk of sun-related eye problems, however, is higher for people who:

  • Spend long hours in the sun
  • Have had cataract surgery or have certain retina disorders
  • Are on certain medications, such as tetracycline, sulfa drugs, birth control pills, diuretics and tranquilizers that increase the eye’s sensitivity to light.

Proper Eye Protection

Adequately protecting your eyes from the sun, and other elements like wind or water, is crucial to maintaining your vision and eye health.

  • Use everyday eyewear that absorbs UV rays. All types of eyewear, including prescription and nonprescription glasses, contact lenses and lens implants, should absorb UVA and UVB rays. For UV protection in everyday eyewear, there are several options like UV-blocking lens materials, coatings and photochromic lenses.
  • Select the right sunglasses. Sunglasses help in two important ways: they filter light, and they protect the eyes from damaging UV rays. Look for labels that state they block 99-100 percent of UVA and UVB rays. They should also reduce glare, protect your entire eye area, be comfortable to wear and don’t distort color.
  • Wear a brimmed hat or cap. A wide-brimmed hat or cap will block about half of UV rays, and also limit UV rays that hit the eyes from above or around glasses.

If you have any questions about the above content, please contact us at 775-828-7420 or email us. Happy Summer!

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.

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