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January 2021 Gulfshore Insurance Employee Benefits Compliance Webinar Feb 2021 Gulfshore Insurance Employee Benefits Compliance WebinarMarch 2021 Gulfshore Insurance Employee Benefits Compliance Webinar April 2021 Gulfshore Insurance Employee Benefits Compliance Webinar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gulfshore Insurance is a Naples, Florida based insurance agency specializing in employee benefits insurance including group medical, dental, vision, life insurance, short and long term disability, voluntary life, employee assistance programs, wellness programs, individual life insurance, and more. Our insurance and risk management advisors are experts can provide valuable services including benefits plan design and administration, human resources support, funding options, compliance assistance, benefit administration, and enrollment services. Gulfshore Insurance services Naples, North Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, and Southwest Florida. We have office locations in Naples, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, and Sarasota.

Emplyee Benefits Updated Guidance Regarding the COVID 19 VaccinesOn December 16, 2020, just days after the first doses of COVID-19 were administered in the United States, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued updated guidance providing employers with critical information regarding the intersections of mandated employee COVID vaccinations and federal employment laws. This guidance confirms the EEOC’s position that employers must first seek an accommodation for employees who refuse to be vaccinated for COVID-19 for disability or religious-related reasons before taking any action against them.

Employers cannot automatically terminate workers who refuse the vaccine because of a disability or religious beliefs before first conducting an individualized assessment that considers whether the workers pose a direct threat, said the agency in its update of COVID-19 related guidance.

In focusing on disability-related issues, the factors to be considered in determining whether there is a direct threat are: the severity of the potential harm; the likelihood the potential harm will occur; and the potential harm’s imminence. Employers cannot exclude the employee from the workplace “unless there is no way to provide a reasonable accommodation (absent undue hardship) that would eliminate or reduce this risk, so the unvaccinated employee does not pose a direct threat,” the guidance said.

Before terminating an employee, employers must also determine if any other rights apply under equal employment opportunity laws or other federal, state or local authorities. Similarly, employers must provide a reasonable accommodation if a worker refuses to be vaccinated because of “sincerely held” religious beliefs, unless it poses an undue hardship under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Among the other vaccine-related questions addressed by the new guidance, it states the vaccination itself is not a medical exam, although pre-screening vaccination questions may implicate the Americans with Disabilities Act’s provision on disability-related inquiries, and the employer must show that these questions are “‘job-related and consistent with business necessity.”

The guidance also states that requiring an employee to show proof of receipt of a COVID-19 vaccination is not considered a disability-related inquiry. The guidance does not address issues including whether an employees’ anxiety about receiving a vaccination can be considered in deciding whether a reasonable accommodation should be considered.

Click here to read the updated guidance

We will continue to share information as it becomes available and keep you informed.

Gulfshore Insurance is a Naples, Florida based insurance agency specializing in employee benefits insurance including group medical, dental, vision, life insurance, short and long term disability, voluntary life, employee assistance programs, wellness programs, individual life insurance, and more. Our insurance and risk management advisors are experts can provide valuable services including benefits plan design and administration, human resources support, funding options, compliance assistance, benefit administration, and enrollment services. Gulfshore Insurance services Naples, North Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, and Southwest Florida. We have office locations in Naples, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, and Sarasota.

Employee Benefits 3 End of Year HSA and FSA Reminders for EmployeesWith the end of the year quickly approaching, employees will need to keep FSA and HSA spending in mind. From use-it-or-lose-it deadlines to FSA-eligible products, it’s important to remind your employees how—and when—to use their funds.

Refresher: The Difference Between FSAs and HSAs

A flexible spending account (FSA), also called a flexible savings arrangement, allows employees to set aside pre-tax funds for healthcare expenses or dependent care expenses. Employees decide how much is put into their FSA, up to a limit.

Meanwhile, a health savings account (HSA) is a personal bank account with significant tax advantages that can be used by an individual to pay for medical expenses, typically on high-deductible health insurance plans.

While both account types are used to pay for qualified medical expenses pre-tax, there are significant differences between the two to keep in mind.

How Can Employers Help?

With everything to keep track of at the end of the year, employers can send employees key reminders regarding their FSA and HSA planning. Here are 3 key things to communicate with your employees during Q4:

  1. Deadlines: While HSA funds roll over year to year, FSAs tend to expire at the end of the calendar year (or at the end of the plan year). However, there may be a carryover or grace period, depending on the plan. It’s important for employers to remind their teams as those deadlines approach and whether or not there’s a grace period for FSA funds.
  2. FSA and HSA-Eligible Products and Services: There may be some health services and products that your employees aren’t aware of that they can use their FSA and HSA funds on. Surprising services and products include service animal expenses, thermometers, vision correction, and sunscreen. Be sure to share the FSA Store’s list of eligible items with your employees to make sure they know their options.
  3. CARES Act Changes: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) changed certain requirements for HSAs, FSAs, and HRAs that make it easier for employees to pay for certain everyday medical care and items. These changes removed the requirement for a prescription when purchasing over-the-counter medicine with HSA and FSA funds and made menstrual products FSA- and HSA-eligible. It also made it so that telemedicine services can be covered with HSA funds before a deductible has been met—unless extended, this update will expire December 31, 2021.

Ryan Laude is a Client Advisor at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in employee benefits. Ryan works with a wide range of businesses to create the best funding options that fit their needs. Comments and questions are welcome at rlaude@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Gulfshore Insurance is a Naples, Florida based insurance agency specializing in employee benefits insurance including group medical, dental, vision, life insurance, short and long term disability, voluntary life, employee assistance programs, wellness programs, individual life insurance, and more. Our insurance and risk management advisors are experts can provide valuable services including benefits plan design and administration, human resources support, funding options, compliance assistance, benefit administration, and enrollment services. Gulfshore Insurance services Naples, North Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, and Southwest Florida. We have office locations in Naples, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, and Sarasota.

Employee Benefits Amazon Launches Digital PharmacyAmazon recently announced the launch of Amazon Pharmacy, a section of its retail website and mobile application that lets people order medication. Amazon Pharmacy accepts most forms of insurance, and uninsured customers can receive up to an 80% discount on medications. This is the first time that Amazon shoppers can order prescription drugs directly on Amazon.

This expansion puts Amazon into more direct competition with pharmacy giants like CVS and Walgreens. The move also helps Amazon compete with Walmart and other big-box stores that already sell prescription drugs. An integrated pharmacy removes one of the few gaps in Amazon’s offerings compared with major big box and grocery rivals, some of whom have long filled shoppers’ prescriptions in the same stores where they sold flat-screen televisions or cans of soup.

The discounts are a clear play for people who pay for their medications with cash, whether they are uninsured or are looking to save money. Strong demand for transparency and better deals have helped fuel the rise of discount card programs like GoodRx. Amazon Pharmacy will display both the price when using insurance and the price without. Infusing transparency into a system that has been frustratingly opaque for consumers could alter the supply chain.

Amazon’s push comes as consumers are shunning stores and ordering more items online, a trend the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated. However, Amazon could find it difficult to quickly pry away customers from pharmacy chains. For many consumers, asking doctors to steer recurring prescriptions elsewhere is cumbersome, especially for those who rely on insurance to pay for their medication.

In some cases, such a switch might also require an office visit — at a time when Americans have been steering clear of the doctor’s office out of concerns about the pandemic. And the ubiquity of the biggest pharmacy chains means most consumers have one nearby, and shopping at them is an ingrained habit.

Amazon’s entry into a market doesn’t guarantee its dominance. Drugstores have long insisted that patients prefer to talk to their pharmacist at the counter, an experience Amazon will try to recreate digitally.

Amazon Chief Executive Officer, Jeff Bezos, has positioned Prime, Amazon’s paid membership program, at the center of the company’s efforts to create loyal customers. What was originally an unlimited shipping program has grown in recent years to include video streaming, games and digital storage, and discounts at Amazon-owned Whole Foods Market.

Ryan Laude is a Client Advisor at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in employee benefits. Ryan works with a wide range of businesses to create the best funding options that fit their needs. Comments and questions are welcome at rlaude@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Gulfshore Insurance is a Naples, Florida based insurance agency specializing in employee benefits insurance including group medical, dental, vision, life insurance, short and long term disability, voluntary life, employee assistance programs, wellness programs, individual life insurance, and more. Our insurance and risk management advisors are experts can provide valuable services including benefits plan design and administration, human resources support, funding options, compliance assistance, benefit administration, and enrollment services. Gulfshore Insurance services Naples, North Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, and Southwest Florida. We have office locations in Naples, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, and Sarasota.

Undertanding COVID 19 VaccineFrom the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cigna has focused on delivering peace of mind and made health care easier for the people and businesses they serve.

With headlines indicating that some vaccines are seemingly nearing the final stages of testing, they recognize that many clients will begin looking for guidance to help support and respond to their employees. Some of the areas that are top of mind include:

  • Availability of vaccine
  • How those in your workforce fit into the phased vaccine rollout
  • Vaccine costs for you and your employees
  • Understanding what you can do now to prepare

 

With the support and expertise of Cigna’s clinical team, they created a Understanding COVID-19 Vaccines FAQ to provide some grounding in what we know today. The FAQ also includes links to valuable resources and tips at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), and other sources.

Click here to download the Understanding COVID-19 Vaccines FAQ

We will continue to share information as it becomes available and keep you informed.

Gulfshore Insurance is a Naples, Florida based insurance agency specializing in employee benefits insurance including group medical, dental, vision, life insurance, short and long term disability, voluntary life, employee assistance programs, wellness programs, individual life insurance, and more. Our insurance and risk management advisors are experts can provide valuable services including benefits plan design and administration, human resources support, funding options, compliance assistance, benefit administration, and enrollment services. Gulfshore Insurance services Naples, North Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, and Southwest Florida. We have office locations in Naples, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, and Sarasota.