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The more I read, the more Health Care Reform is not about the reduction in costs, but the opportunity for more “players” to be involved.

We have had non-profit entities serve the community for many years, as advocates for people needing medical care, whether they are eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program).  These advocates are now being called Navigators or Assistors.   We, as insurance producers,  have answered those same questions for many people needing care, and are also advocates for people in need.  Brokers don’t get paid on Medicaid or CHIP enrollments.

Navigators now want to be involved in assisting people on individual/group health coverage because the broker is paid by the insurance carrier, and navigators don’t get paid in commissions by the insurance carriers but receive grant money, so are part of the savings solution with Health Care Reform?  Not so fast!

The Connect for Health Colorado (The Colorado Exchange) announced in the Denver Post  (dated Tuesday, May 7) $14 million (yes, you heard that right) in grant money would be available for “navigators” to walk new customers through receiving subsidy money.

Professional insurance brokers have done the same thing for many years.   Yes, we do get paid by the insurance carriers for what we sell to the tune of $25 per employee per month on group business, and about 5% of the premium for individuals in the first year.   Insurance brokers do not get paid in educating and advising.

Insurance is a complex system.  Insurance brokers have been servicing their clients for many years and offering many more services than just a rate with a plan attached to it.  You, the consumers, should have the best advice available.  You owe it to yourself to work with an insurance professional.

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Employers are required to comply with the following federal legislation;
Immigration Reform and Control Act (Form I-9) (1 or more employees)
Colorado Affirmation form (1 or more employees)
USERRA (1 or more employees)
Fair Labor Standards Act (1 or more employees)
Americans with Disabilities Act (15 or more employees)
Age Discrimination in Employment Act (20 or more employees)
Family and Medical Leave Act (50 or more employees)
EEO-1 Reports (100 or more employees; 50 or more for federal contracts)

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Rewarding Your Employees

In today’s economic times, there are still lots of ways to reward employees without handing them money. We have shown you 51 ways:

1. Let the employee dump the one project they like least to you.

2. Use of the president’s office for a day.

3. The front parking spot.

4. A handwritten thank you note.

5. Name the conference room or lounge after them.

6. Inviting their spouse in for a lunch on the company.

7. A reserved parking spot.

8. A video game for the employee to give to their child.

9. A vacation day.

10. Brand-new desk, chair, or other piece of office furniture.

11. Bouquet of flowers.

12. Prepare a short video montage that celebrates the employee’s accomplishments.

13. A public thank you.

14. Send a birthday card to them at their home address.

15. Pay for them to take a fun class, such as cooking or skydiving.

16. Find something they like to collect, such as stamps or coins, and give them one for their collection.

17. Let them suggest a way they would like to be recognized.

18. Write a note to their family, sharing how important the person’s contribution to the company has been.

19. Keep the break room stocked with their favorite drink or snack.

20. Buy them tickets to a concert, show or other event.

21. Give them a small gift card from their favorite store.

22. Pick up a book or CD for them by their favorite author or artist.

23. Pick up the tab for them to have a family portrait taken.

24. Pay for their child to go to camp.

25. Buy a few extra boxes of Girl Scout Cookies from their daughter.

26. Give them a pair of movie tickets.

27. Help them with gas prices by giving them a gas card.

28. Provide them with a formal letter of appreciation for their personal file.

29. Create a “day pass” that they can turn in to take any day off, no questions asked.

30. Find a deal on a couple of three-day cruise tickets and set them up with a short vacation.

31. Allow them to be flexible with their hours.

32. Let them choose one day a week to work from home.

33. Have a birthday cake delivered to the office on their birthday.

34. Get each employee to write something positive about the person on a piece of paper, and give them the box of collected sayings, or frame them for the employee.

35. Start a company “Wall of Fame” and add them to it.

36. Find out what they are passionate about and give them a gift that relates to it.

37. Create and give them an award that they can keep and frame for a job well done.

38. Surprise them with an outdoor catered picnic.

39. Have a mobile car wash come to the business and clean their vehicle.

40. Get them a subscription to their favorite magazine.

41. Pay for a membership in a trade association of their choice.

42. Have a staff appreciation day once a month to provide them with a catered lunch.

43. Give them and their colleagues a catered breakfast.

44. Give them a new, improved job title.

45. Provide them with some one-on-one mentoring.

46. Institute a “playtime,” where employees can play games or shoot some baskets.

47. Host an annual award ceremony and give awards to employees for their contributions.

48. Celebrate the anniversary of their joining the company.

49. Allow them to dress casually on Fridays.

50. Have a massage therapist come to the office once a month and give a massage.

51. Create a relaxation room, where the employee (and other people you are rewarding) can go during the day, to read or even play a video game on their break.

Money may not always be the best way to recogize your employee’s accomplishments. Something to think about.

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An employer may not discharge an employee nor threaten to discharge an employee who is called to jury service.

Employees must be paid their regular wages up to $50 per day for the first three days unless there is a mutual agreement between the employer and employee.

There are some circumstances; i.e., self-employed, small employer when paying compensation would cause the employer financial hardship.

Refer to your employee handbook for more detail.

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Dependent Audits

Is your company performing dependent audits on benefits?  Costs continue to rise on health coverage.  It is good business practice to review those members who are on your group benefit plans.   Do the members have dependents on the plan who don’t belong there?  Examples would include ex-spouses, grandchildren, common-law spouses. 

How to audit?  Employers are requiring employers to produce marriage licenses, birth certificates, and/or partial tax returns to prove their listed dependents are eligible for benefits.

To hear more tips on saving dollars, stay up to date with Trilogy Benefits, Inc., a Denver brokerage agency working with individuals, small, and large group accounts.  “Making a Difference in Benefit Solutions”

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Employers hiring new employees after February 3, 2010 and before January 1, 2011 may receive a tax break of 6.2% Social Security tax (up to $1,000). A new employee is identified as not having been employed for more than 40 hours during the 60-day period ending on the date employment begins, is not hired to replace another employee unless the other employee separated from employment voluntarily or for cause (including downsizing); and the new employee is not related to the company owner(s). Employers can take this credit on their 2011 tax return. See IRS Form W-11 for details.

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According to an independent study commissioned by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), E-Verify, the online tool employers can use to check the work-authorization status of new hires, wrongly clears illegal workers about 54% of the time. The systems does not currently identify identity fraud and therefore, individuals are “getting through” by obtaining and utilizing another’s employment records.

E-Verify is currently voluntary for most U.S. employers however certain Federal contractor’s have been required to use this program since last year. Congress gave the DHS about $100 MILLION to spend on E-Verify in its 2010 budget but it’s not for certain which of these services will be “tweaked” or targeted for change this year.

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