CHANGE YOUR DIET TO LOWER YOUR CHOLESTEROL

If three months of changing your diet does not lower your LDL cholesterol levels, consult your physician. He or she may put you on medication or refer you to a dietician for more assistance. 

Diet plays a big part in why some people suffer from high cholesterol. Modifying your diet even a little can lower your cholesterol – lowering your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Avoid Eating a Lot of Meat

  • Make meat a minor player in your meals and eat lots of fruits and vegetables instead.
  • Trim the fat and skin from meats and poultry.
  • Avoid eating fatty cuts of beef, pork and lamb.
  • When eating out, opt for a smaller portion of meat or choose to eat something vegetarian.

Eat Low-Fat Dairy Products: Avoid dairy containing whole milk and cream.

Snack Wisely: Opt for low-fat snacks such as unbuttered popcorn, dried fruits or fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid high-fat, high-calorie options like chips and candy.

Reduce Saturated Fat in Food Preparation

  • Instead of butter or margarine, use a small amount of olive oil or cooking spray.
  • Avoid using palm and coconut oil; use canola, sunflower, safflower, corn, soybean, olive and peanut oils instead.
  • Bake, broil, roast, steam or stew food instead of frying.

Reduce Your Dietary Cholesterol Intake

 Eat no more than four egg yolks per week. Replace one egg with two egg whites in most recipes.

  • Eat no more than six ounces of lean meat, fish and poultry per day.
  • Avoid eating cholesterol-rich meats such as liver, brains and kidneys.

Eat Fiber-Rich Foods: Opt for fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes that are low in calories and high in fiber and complex carbohydrates.

Go for Nuts, Fruits and Vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are water-dense, contain lots of nutrients and protect your heart. Nuts are a great source of protein, but should be eaten in moderation because they are high in calories.

Eat Lots of Fish: Fish have essential fatty acids (omega-3s and omega-6s).

Reduce Your Salt Intake: Use herbs and spices to flavor your food instead of table salt. Be aware of the sodium content in foods such as soups and sauces.

Avoid Trans Fats: Trans fats raise LDL cholesterol levels (bad cholesterol) and lower HDL cholesterol levels (good cholesterol). Avoid foods containing trans fats completely or eat them in extreme moderation.

Drink Alcohol in Moderation: Women should consume up to one drink per day and men should have up to two drinks per day.

Read Product Labels: Avoid foods with the following items listed as one of the first ingredients:

  • meat fat, coconut or palm oil, cream, butter, egg or yolk solids, whole milk solids, cocoa butter, chocolate, or hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fat or oil.

 

Are you effectively using your HSA?

 

There are a few things you should keep in mind to make sure that you’re utilizing your HSA as efficiently as possible.


Everybody uses their health savings account (HSA) a little differently, and that’s OK. In fact, flexibility is one of the many advantages of an HSA. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind to make sure that you’re utilizing your HSA as efficiently as possible.

Be Smart with Your Contributions

What are you contributing? Is it enough? Or are you constantly draining your funds? Remember, HSA funds roll over and are triple-tax advantaged. This means you can contribute up to the maximum allowed amount without losing out on any money you don’t use this year. Now is a good time to determine if what you are contributing is enough and if you are contributing what you expected to.

Recordkeeping 101

Do you have your receipts? Ultimately, it’s up to you to keep all your receipts. This is critically important if you aren’t using an HSA debit card and plan on reimbursing yourself for eligible expenses later. Remember, the IRS has a long memory, which highlights the need for you to remain organized with your expense recordkeeping.

Be a Wise Health Care Consumer

Are you shopping around for your health care? Remember, this is your money, and service costs vary greatly by location. As always, follow your doctor’s advice, but do your due diligence and shop around for the best pricing. While health care decisions shouldn’t be made solely on price, shopping around is critical to ensure you use your HSA funds efficiently. If you haven’t done so already, try using an online tool or talking to your doctor. With a little practice, you’ll be a pro before you know it.


If you have any questions on your HSA, please feel free to call us at 775-828-7420 or email us!

DRAFT FORMS FOR 2018 ACA REPORTING RELEASED

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released draft 2018 forms for reporting under Internal Revenue Code (Code) Sections 6055 and 6056.

  • 2018 draft Forms 1094-C and 1095-C were released July 11, 2018, and will be used by applicable large employers (ALEs) to report under Section 6056, as well as for combined Section 6055 and 6056 reporting by ALEs who sponsor self-insured plans.
  • 2018 draft Form 1094-B was released July 3, 2018, and will be used by entities reporting under Section 6055, including self-insured plan sponsors that are not ALEs.

A 2018 draft version of Form 1095-B and draft instructions for these forms have not yet been released. The draft 2018 forms are substantially similar to the final 2017 versions.

ACTION STEPS

Employers should become familiar with these forms for reporting for the 2018 calendar year. However, these forms are draft versions only, and should not be filed with the IRS or relied upon for filing.

Background

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) created reporting requirements under Code Sections 6055 and 6056. Under these rules, certain employers must provide information to the IRS about the health plan coverage they offer (or do not offer) or provide to their employees. Each reporting entity must annually file all of the following with the IRS:

  • A separate statement (Form 1095-B or Form 1095-C) for each individual who is provided with minimum essential coverage (for providers reporting under Section 6055), or for each full-time employee (for ALEs reporting under Section 6056); and
  • A transmittal form (Form 1094-B or Form 1094-C) for all of the returns filed for a given calendar year.

Reporting entities must also furnish related statements (Form 1095-B or 1095-C, or a substitute form) to individuals.

Forms must generally be filed with the IRS no later than Feb. 28 (March 31, if filed electronically) of the year following the calendar year to which the return relates. Individual statements must be furnished to individuals on or before Jan. 31 of the year immediately following the calendar year to which the statements relate.

2018 Draft Forms

The 2018 draft forms are substantially similar to the final 2017 versions. However, the revised version of the Form 1095-C clarifies that the “Plan Start Month” box in Part II will remain optional for 2018. The IRS previously indicated that this box may have been mandatory for the 2018 Form 1095-C.

Keep in mind that the 2018 draft instructions for these forms may include additional changes or clarifications, once released. Also, the IRS may make additional changes to these forms before releasing final 2018 versions.

Additional Resources

The 2017 versions of these forms are currently available on the IRS website:

These forms must have been filed with the IRS no later than Feb. 28, 2018 (April 2, 2018, if filing electronically). However, the IRS extended the due date for furnishing individual statements for 2017 an extra 30 days, from Jan. 31, 2018, to March 2, 2018.

According to the IRS, information returns under Sections 6055 and 6056 may continue to be filed after the filing deadline (both on paper and electronically). Employers that missed the filing deadline should continue to make efforts to file their returns as soon as possible.

The IRS also previously released:


IMPORTANT DATES

  • January 31, 2019: Individual statements for 2018 must be furnished by Jan. 31, 2019.
  • February 28, 2019: IRS returns for 2018 must be filed by Feb. 28, 2019 (April 1, 2019, if filed electronically, since March 31, 2019, is a Sunday).

More Information

Please contact Clark & Associates of Nevada, Inc. for more information on reporting under Code Sections 6055 and 6056.

Password Safety – Keep Your Data Safe!

Password Safety is so important these days. Here are some helpful tips to keeping your data safe.

  1. Change your password every 30-45 days.
  2. Choose a password between 8-16 characters.
  3. Use at least two special characters (!@#$%^) randomly within your password.
  4. Avoid using family or pet names, dates or common phrases within your password.
  5. Never use or repeat a password across accounts.

Improve Your Password Infographic

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.

143 Million People Potentially Affected in Equifax Data Breach

Equifax, one of the largest credit reporting agencies in the United States, was recently the victim of a massive cyber attack—an attack that may have compromised the personal information of 143 million people.

The breach itself occurred between mid-May and July 2017 when cyber criminals gained access to sensitive data by exploiting a weak point in website software. As a result of the attack, sensitive information like Social Security numbers, birthdays, addresses and driver’s license numbers were compromised. In addition, Equifax said 209,000 credit card numbers were stolen, including information from international customers in Canada and the United Kingdom.

The recent attack on Equifax is the third major cyber security threat the organization has experienced since 2015 and one of the largest risks to personally sensitive information in recent years. The attack is so severe, in fact, it’s likely that anyone with a credit report was affected.

If you are concerned that you may have been impacted by the breach, Equifax has set up a website to help individuals determine if any of their personal information may have been stolen. Once you have navigated to the website, complete the following steps:

  1. Click the “Check Potential Impact” button.
  2. Provide your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number.

From there, a dialogue box will pop up and indicate whether or not your information was lost in the hack. All U.S. customers will also be given the opportunity to sign up for TrustedID Premier, which is an Equifax service that includes identity theft insurance, credit reports, and a service that crawls the internet and alerts you if your Social Security number is posted somewhere online. This service will be free for one year for those who sign up by Nov. 21.

If you have been impacted by the breach, experts recommend engaging in a credit freeze. This effectively locks down your Social Security number on your credit report and prevents criminals from opening up new lines of credit under your name. For more information on credit freezes, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website.

It should be noted that it may not be obvious that you are a customer of Equifax, as the company gets its data from credit card companies, banks and lenders that report on credit activity. As such, it’s important to follow the appropriate steps and check to see if your information was compromised.

Additionally, you should review your online bank and credit card statements on a weekly basis. This will help you monitor any suspicious activity. Contact law enforcement officials if you believe criminals have used your stolen information in some way.

Clark & Associates of Nevada, Inc. will continue to monitor the Equifax cyber incident, providing any major updates as necessary.

Click Here to download the full News Brief – 143 Million People Potentially Affected in Equifax Data Breach

Tips for Preventing or Reducing Workplace Violence

Statistics show that violence continues to be a problem in the workplace. Employers have a duty to provide a safe working environment for both their employees and their visitors and to not negligently hire or retain potentially violent employees. The following tips will help you prevent or reduce workplace violence.

Hiring Process

The following strategies can be used during hiring:

  • Verify information on all new hires through reference checking.
  • Consider using drug testing to weed out unfit job applicants.
  • Screen applicants by conducting background checks. Condition offers of employment upon the completion of backgrounds checks, drug tests or medical exams.

Worksite Analysis

Conduct a worksite analysis and risk assessment. Review workers’ compensation records and illness claims to identify patterns of assault and other workplace violence. Understand industry experience and specific job exposures.

Employment

The following tactics can help minimize workplace violence:

  • Create an atmosphere that promotes open communications, allows employees to have adequate control over their work and provides support and recognition.
  • Have a clear, written policy protecting employees from harassment, threats and intimidation. Policy should include that any complaints of harassment or threats will be investigated and appropriate steps taken, including discipline and discharge.
  • Establish a grievance/complaint procedure.
  • Establish an employee assistance program (EAP).
  • Offer outplacement counseling to employees being laid off or terminated.

Security Measures

Consider the following security measures: monitoring systems, limited access key cards, employee identification cards, emergency warning systems, security guards, visitor sign-in policies, security escorts for those working late and safe rooms in case of emergencies.

Training and Education

The following strategies can be used to educate employees on how to recognize workplace violence:

  • Train employees how to recognize hazards and respond to incidents of violence.
  • Educate employees on the zero-tolerance policy, the importance of a safe workplace and how to get help.
  • Train employees how to recognize a potentially violent employee. The following are potential warning signs:
    • Changes in behavior
    • Sensitivity to feedback
    • Sarcasm
    • Slip in job performance
    • Easily irritable
    • Tardy or absent often
    • Angry remarks
    • More emotional than usual
    • More errors than usual
    • Threats
    • Using a raised voice or profanity
    • Alcohol or drug use

Response Team

Put a team together and develop a plan on how to assess and address a threatening situation in case the need ever arises. Your team should consist of human resources, security, and medical and legal personnel. Investigation and post-incident analysis by the team will help shape future responses.

Training and Education

Develop a crisis plan that could include an outline on reporting incidents of workplace violence and instructions on who to notify. The plan should include:

  • How to assess the situation
  • Getting help
  • Warning employees
  • Securing the workplace
  • Involving the police and gathering information to assist the investigation
  • Follow-up activities like debriefing employees, resuming operations and long-term planning

Click Here to Download the Full Article: Tips for Preventing or Reducing Workplace Violence