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Prioritizing Health for Business Success

Recent studies have shown that even incorporating moderate physical activity, balanced nutrition, and adequate sleep can help you reap the rewards of healthier weight, better immunity, sharper mind, and reduced risk of illness. These health benefits add up to business success.

Moderate exercise provides perks for the brain and helps boost immunity, making you better equipped to fight infection and certain diseases. The result? Lower absenteeism and better productivity at work.

Similarly, diet and nutrition are crucial to employee performance. Research led by the UN International Labor Office reveals that inadequate nutrition has a negative impact on worker productivity, physical work performance and capacity. Those with poor nutrition had increased sickness and risk for accidents as well as low morale. Obese workers were more likely to miss work too, compared with normal weight individuals.

Sleep is another important, yet often overlooked component of health and fitness. Sleep deprivation leaves you feeling tired during the day compromising your focus, learning, memory, problem solving, and mood.

Emphasizing healthier habits is essential to employee productivity. By educating your workforce on proper nutrition, physical activity, and the importance of adequate sleep you can decrease the likelihood of spending on health care and sick days. Remember, employees who eat, exercise, and sleep well have better mental acuity, focus, performance, and drive, increasing efficiency on the job.

Six Ways to Find Health Insurance If You Are Self-Employed

Among the millions of individual expected to buy health insurance through the Marketplace are sole proprietors. Under the Affordable Care Act, self-employed people without employees are considered individuals even if they hire independent contractors. This doesn’t exempt them from purchasing insurance.

Regardless of the job title, one problem remains the same: finding affordable coverage. If it is simply not within your means, help is available. The health care reform law tackles this issue.

Currently, many self-employed individuals lack health coverage and if you are scouring the web for the best ways to get insured, here are your options:

Keep your current health plan. If you have a grandfathered plan, you can keep it. However, these plans might not have the same protection, for example, it doesn’t have to cover you if you have a pre-existing condition. Many self-employed individuals are likely to purchase catastrophic coverage, but those plans won’t likely to meet the requirements under the new law.

Purchase a plan from the Marketplace. Solo entrepreneurs may benefit from federal subsidies through the Marketplace. From there you will be able to compare plans including deductibles, premiums, and out-of-pocket costs. All plans offer essential health benefits such as emergency services, lab works, hospitalization, prescription drug coverage and more.

Find a plan outside the Marketplace. You can also buy health insurance outside the exchange. We know the market well and can offer you options that suit your needs.

Hire full-time staff. Another option you have is to have an employee. As a micro business, you are not required to purchase health insurance for your employees. This makes you eligible for coverage in the SHOP Marketplace. Qualified small businesses may be eligible for tax credits that can help lower the cost of offering health insurance to employees. Outside the exchange, you can also look into group premiums for 2 or more employees.

A spouse’s plan. Some self-employed individuals are fortunate to have an insured spouse with an employer who offers family coverage. Typically, your partner will pay a higher premium for but it will still be less than having an individual policy.

COBRA. Employers are required by federal law to offer COBRA carry-over health and dental coverage for up to 18 months when you leave your job. For more details about COBRA coverage, go to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Not sure what type of health insurance you need? Contact us today

How to Choose a Plan That Works For You

Many business owners today are looking for affordable health insurance. If you are one of them, you can learn how to navigate the health insurance system with the help of IBG agents. When choosing healthcare coverage for your business, we recommend these steps:

Don't assume one size fits all. Every business has unique needs so don’t settle for an insurance plan with a generic package. For employers with a broad age span of employees, providing them with two to three plan options is recommended. Also, don’t limit yourself to traditional plans. We are working with a variety of insurance carriers making it easier for you to pick the plan that fits your needs.

Listen to employee opinion. Remember to include employees in discussions about health coverage for you to better understand their needs and encourage them to take responsibility for their health care spending. You can talk to them about adopting making healthy choices.

Re-evaluate your coverage. Medical costs continue to rise and the health care reform law will be changing rapidly. Stay on top of the latest happenings and keep track of the changes in the composition of your workforce that might be needing adjustments to insurance plans.

Reach out for help. Looking into your options has never been easier with IBG agents on your side. It’s a lot less overwhelming when you have someone working with you to narrow down your selection based on your needs. We can also help you navigate the SHOP Marketplace for benefits such as health insurance tax credits.

Eight Regulatory Changes that Will Affect Your Business

As a small business owner, you have to follow many regulations and ensure full compliance to avoid costly penalties along the way. Here are eight regulation changes that will impact your small business this year:

Tax extenders. With so many changes in the health care reform law, it has never been more important to be in the know. In late December, Congress lengthened about 50 tax breaks through the end of the year that could be particularly helpful for small business owners. There’s also a movement building in the Senate allowing the government to regulate tax preparers.

Health care law. Companies with over 50 employees are now required to offer insurance. Steve Chabot, the chairman of the House Small Business Committee plans to hold hearings to discuss the Affordable Care Act and its implications. The House recently passed a bill raising the requirement for employee coverage from 30 hours per week to 40 hours per week thereby reducing the number of workers who need to be covered.

Moreover, business owners must be prepared to meet new IRS mandates to file annual information returns with the IRS as well as providing statements to their full-time employees about the health coverage offers in 2015.

Online sales tax. A bill regarding taxation of online sales has passed, also known as the Marketplace Fairness Act. This would have allowed states to collect sales tax on purchases made by its state residents no matter where the seller is located. Business owners might be hearing more from this bill in the upcoming months.

Overtime regulations. Employers should also anticipate the need to track and pay overtime rates where applicable.

Data breach legislation. On the previous years, we’ve witnessed many high profile data breaches and there is a good chance that Congress will try to pass cybersecurity legislation.

Retirement changes. If you are currently offering a retirement plan to your employees or are planning to offer one, be prepared for a variety of changes this year, specifically the workplace savings program.

New employment-related legislation. Expect more discussions about minimum wage increases. Hiring procedures and employment applications will be needing revision for the “Ban-the-box” law that prohibits pre-employment inquiries into an applicant’s criminal background.

Mobile payments. Small businesses should also consider accepting secured mobile payment applications, such as Apple Pay, to attract tech-savvy customers. We will also be hearing more about payroll cards this year.

Keep track of the regulatory issues that will help your business stay ahead in 2015 and beyond. To learn more about the regulations with which your business must comply, check out these helpful resources:

How to Avoid Email Phishing Scams

Unscrupulous sellers of bogus health plans and those gathering contact information for non-existent health ID cards, have pocketed millions of dollars across the country. Research everything carefully before you give away any personal informaion or invest in any health plans. You want to avoid anyone trying to sell you discount cards or limited benefit plans, or they may try to overcharge for premiums. In some cases, they may even try to sell fake health plans that may seem real but have no value.

Since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed into law, health insurance scams are now everywhere. With that said, warns Marketplace consumers to beware of email phishing scams. The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) recently reported phishing emails claim to come from a U.S. Federal Government Agency and reference the Affordable Care Act in the subject line. If you get one of these emails or any other questionable emails, delete it immediately.

Here are more ways to stop scams:

  • Don’t click on links or download attachments from unknown sources. Rather, you can go to your carrier’s website or to

  • Don’t give any personal information such as username, password, bank account number,  or Social Security number by email.

  • Keep your antivirus software up-to-date.

The Marketplace aims to protect your information in accordance with the law. To get additional tips on how to avoid scams, click here.

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