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Five Ways Employers Can Save on Health Care Costs

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In recent years, many companies have been dealing with rising health care costs largely by transferring more of the expense and risk on to their employees. But some employers have found smarter, more creative ways to limit health costs without further burdening valued employees. Here are some of the best solutions: 1.) Pharmacy benefit managers. Pharmacy benefit managers are independent third party administrators who work with pharmacists, employers and workers to reduce costs and inefficiencies. For example, they may help workers migrate from expensive brand name drugs to equally effective generics for a fraction of the cost. Or they may…
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OSHA Can Go Back More Than Five Years for Repeat Violations

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OSHA can look beyond five years to assess “repeat violations” when considering the penalties against an employer for breaching workplace safety regulations, a U.S. appellate court has ruled. Repeat violations can be assessed at 10 times the amount of a safety violation, which makes the ruling a game-changer for companies who have been cited more than once, even if that citation was issued more than five years ago. It increases the stakes for employers who until now chose not to contest more routine violations because of the cost of defending them. Under OSHA regulations, the maximum penalty for a serious…
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The Taxation of Long-Term Care Insurance

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THERE ARE significant federal tax benefits in purchasing long-term care insurance, but like everything else in life and business the devil is in the details. Fortunately, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act provides some clarifications. In general, the income from a long-term care insurance policy is non-taxable, and the premiums paid to buy the insurance are tax-deductible. Similar tax advantages exist at the state level, but each state treats the subject differently. The fact that there are tax benefits to purchasing long-term care coverage testifies to the vital social importance of this underutilized insurance product. Tax Treatment of Premiums…
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Innovative Solutions Reshaping Long-Term Care Insurance

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Long-term care costs can be devastating. According to the “Genworth 2017 Cost of Care” study, the average cost of a semi-private room in a skilled nursing facility is $7,148 per month. But many people have not bought long-term care protection, even though they medically qualify, because they don’t want to pay premiums for a plan they may never use, or they are concerned about future premium increases. In recent years, insurers have created a number of innovative solutions that may address these concerns.   Life insurance/long-term care hybrids These are essentially life insurance policies that come with a meaningful long-term…
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Addressing Workplace Bullying Can Head off Lawsuits

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While poor employment practices, harassment and discrimination are coming to the forefront in the U.S., one workplace liability that organizations should not overlook is bullying. Social media trends have shined the spotlight on a variety of ways people are treated poorly, but the bullying focus has mostly been on schools and not workplaces, which can be breeding grounds for bullying as well. And workplace bullying can lead to lawsuits against your organization, in addition to possible workers’ comp claims. There has been a bit of an epiphany recently that many employment practices lawsuits concerning stress in the workplace, psychiatric injury,…
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Workplace Distractions Hurt Your Employees and Your Business

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Workplace distractions are ever-present. They reduce workers’ productivity, increase their stress, cause injuries and lower morale. Some are the result of modern technology, but others have been around a lot longer. Following an interruption, it typically takes a couple of minutes to return concentration to work. These short interruptions and recovery periods add up to large amounts of lost productive time. There are a multitude of distractions that can affect employee safety and productivity that employers need to be aware of.   Smartphones– Smartphones and tablet computers are a major distraction, especially in office environments. Text messages, alerts and the…
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When to Call Your Financial Advisor

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If you’re experiencing a major life change of any kind, or facing a crucial financial decision, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your financial planner. Here are some examples of major life passages when you may need some good financial advice – and some action items to bring up: 1. Marriage. At a minimum, it’s critical to have life insurance in place to protect both spouses. Many planners also assist with budgeting tools, provide advice about spousal communications concerning money, and can help you develop a long-range financial plan together, as a couple. Other critical items to…
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Hi-Tech Safety Features Cost More to Insure

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Many people assume that safer cars always mean lower insurance rates. While this used to be true in the days of daytime running lights being a major safety innovation, many of today’s advanced safety features do not lower premiums. Hi-tech features that require apps, computers and other expensive electronics to function are actually more expensive to insure. High safety vs. high cost Some of the best modern cars boast crash-prevention systems and other state-of-the-art technologies. From blind-spot detection to parking assist, features that include sensors and cameras are costly but are included on most modern vehicles. One of the reasons…
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Protect Yourself against Liability Exposure from Contractors’ Employees

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As a business owner, you could be held liable for the actions of other peoples’ employees. U.S. employment law has long recognized that workers may have an employment relationship with multiple entities at the same time. That means your company could get stung with OSHA fines, Title VII discrimination claims and other actions that arise from the actions of an employee that you thought was a subcontractor. Here’s why: In Secretary of Labor vs. Summit Contractors, the 8th Circuit ruled that companies that exercise overall control of a job site can be held liable for workplace infractions – even when…
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Belong to a Homeowners’ Association? Know Your Insurance Obligations

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If you reside in a community that’s part of a homeowners’ association (HOA), you should understand what the association’s insurance obligations are relative to your own. If you don’t carefully assess this dynamic, you could find yourself with a coverage gap if you assume that the association’s insurance covers something it actually doesn’t. HOA rules usually require that all residents within the association’s jurisdiction become members and pay a fee. Associations can create their own bylaws for the community or building, and sometimes hire an outside property management company in order to enforce maintenance and other standards. The association’s obligations…
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