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Understanding Employer Shared Responsibility

Before some of the Affordable Care Act employer and insurer reporting requirements go into effect, the IRS released guidance providing transitional relief until 2015. This includes the tax penalties for failure to provide the required health coverage to employees. The notice also encourages employers to voluntarily implement the ACA information reporting and get ready for the full application of the provisions next year. As a reminder, effective January 1, 2015, the employer shared responsibility requirements and penalties will be applied.

Last January, the Affordable Care Act requires employers with 50 or more full-time-equivalent employees to offer health coverage to full-time employees and their dependents; otherwise they will have to face tax penalties. This provision is known as the employer mandate or employer shared responsibility.

Moreover, small businesses with fewer than 50 full-time equivalent employees aren’t subject to obligations. For large businesses, offering minimal essential coverage to full-time employees and their child dependents is required. The coverage should be at least 60% of expected costs for an average person or family and is available to at least 95% of full-time employees or five of its full-time employees if that’s greater than 95%.

Employees may be eligible for premium subsidies if their income is 400 percent of the federal poverty level or less, if their employer-sponsored plan doesn’t cover at least 60% of the total expected medical costs of an average person, or if no employer-sponsored plan is available to them.

For more information on the employer shared responsibility payment, here are some helpful resources:

Contact us today if you need further assistance in choosing health insurance plan for your business.

Make Your Employees Happier With These Tips

Keeping your employees happy can profit your business in many ways - decreased absenteeism, healthier environment, and improved creativity all contribute to a good working relationship.

In fact, researchers agree that happy employees have increased productivity than disgruntled counterparts. Studies from Gallup-Healthways and Harvard Business Review pointed out that the happier and more engaged an employee is, they will likely perform better at the job and the more your business will benefit.

Another survey found that 70% of people are more likely to find a new job after vacation. With the holidays (and vacation days) just around the corner, there’s a chance that some of your employees are making a leap. And that’s bad news for a reason: it could reflect poorly on your business management and culture.

Chances are, you lack the time, money and effort to recruit new hires. Here are some of the best ways to keep your employees happy and productive:

Increase engagement. It is necessary for employees to stay engaged with the roles they are performing to promote commitment and motivation in getting the job done. Engagement is easily achieved by assigning a meaningful and rewarding task to your staff. Encourage them to live the brand and your mission – and that ignites their passion for serving your customers.

Focus on relationships. Don’t make your employees feel left out in their workplace. Focus on building and maintaining healthy workplace relationships. Employees should be encouraged to get to know their co-workers, supervisors, and employers so they feel supported through all levels of organization.

Encourage employees to disengage. You want your staff to have a better work-life balance. While you appreciate their efforts in staying focused with their job, allow them to split their time and energy between work and other important aspects of their lives.

Make it fun. Employees want leaders who understand their needs, are likeable, and can authentically influence people to generate the best results for the business. So make fun a regular part of the schedule. Conduct team building events or in-house competitions and give quarterly incentives when they complete certain goals.

Provide health benefits. Placing emphasis on wellness is essential to productivity. Employees can be given access to benefits such as health insurance. This will encourage them to go the extra mile for your business and increase staff retention and loyalty.

How IBG can help

If you want to improve happiness in the workplace, consider a group plan. For more information on health insurance for your business, get in touch with the IBG team.

What To Do If You Lose Your Job-Based Health Coverage

A recent job loss can impact you and your health coverage. If you lose coverage from your employer, you may be able to find affordable health plan in the Marketplace.

Here are some important things you need to know:

  • You can buy a private health insurance plan in the Marketplace even if you leave your job outside the Open Enrollment. You can also learn if you qualify for Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) when you apply for coverage.

  • The new health plans cover essential health benefits, preventive care, and pre-existing conditions. You can review the plans and prices based on your income and household size. Usually, people who apply will qualify for lower costs

  • If you have an existing COBRA coverage, you can keep it. If it ends outside of Open Enrollment, you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

  • If you are unemployed, self-employed, or a part-time worker, you may be eligible for Medicaid, CHIP, or a private insurance with lower monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

If you have questions about your options, you can contact me anytime at 503.972.4285.

Health Coverage for Oregon Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs

Small businesses account for more than 50 percent of the private sector jobs in Oregon, but as health care costs continue to increase, only about 34 percent with fewer than 10 employees offer health insurance.

Whether you’re a small business owner or a sole proprietor, the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) can help you in getting medical and dental plans for yourself and your employees.

The benefits are many: You can control the coverage you offer and how much you pay toward employee premium and start the coverage anytime. If you enroll by the 15th of the month, the coverage can start on the 1st of the following month. You can choose from four levels of coverage to find a plan that meets the needs of your business:

  • Broad choice - Employees can choose from multiple companies and plans.

  • Multiple companies/one plan - Employer chooses a benefit plan level, and employees can select a plan from all companies.

  • Plan bundling - Employer selects one insurance company but gives employees the ability to select from all plans offered by that company.

  • Traditional - Employer selects one insurance company and plan for employees.

When you buy health insurance for your employees through the SHOP Marketplace and you have fewer than 25 employees, you may  qualify for a tax credit worth up to 50% of your premium contributions.

Here’s what you need to know about the tax credit and applying for SHOP:

  • Federal tax credits are available for qualifying taxable and tax-exempt organizations.

  • Eligible employers can take advantage of the tax credit for two consecutive taxable years.

  • Tax-exempt employers could receive up to 35% of employer premium contributions. They can also access the credit as a refund.

  • The Small Business Health care Tax Credit is available is available for qualified employers who will purchase health plans through SHOP.

  • If you don’t qualify for a small business tax credit, you may still purchase coverage through SHOP.

  • For the most up to date information and guidance on claiming this tax credit, visit

Apply for SHOP coverage anytime, all-year round

SHOP is open to eligible employers anytime, all throughout the year. Start by completing an eligibility application. As a certified health insurance agent, I can assist you and your employees in selecting a carrier and health plan that best meet your needs. Call 503.972.4285 or email

7 Healthy Eating Tips for Thanksgiving



Thanksgiving is one of the hardest times of the year to eat healthy. With all the abundant food choices tempting you, it’s almost a tradition to overindulge. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can set reasonable portion sizes and serve healthier dishes so you won’t have to deprive yourself during Thanksgiving dinner.

These healthy eating tips can make you enjoy a guilt-free feast:

Trim off the turkey skin. Turkey makes a good choice for its protein content, but the skin is very high in fat (not the good kind). As you grab for a slice of turkey, toss the skin before you start eating, or else you’ll be tempted to nibble.

Eat breakfast and lunch. And even in-between snacks! Don’t show up at dinner starving, otherwise you'll be more likely to eat heavy meal which takes longer to digest.

Create healthy sides. It’s easy to get carried away with classic sides such as mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce.  Be sure to come up with guilt-free, flavourful sides without breaking your diet. For an instance, you can serve sweet potatoes instead of the traditional mashed potatoes.

Eat veggies. To keep you from overindulging in unhealthy food, fill two-thirds of your plate with veggies.

Stay hydrated. Drink enough water before and during your meal. This will help your stomach stay full preventing you from overeating. Also, you won’t get any additional calories from soda and other beverages.

Eat sweets in moderation. You can satisfy your sweet tooth the healthy way. For example, you shouldn’t drown your turkey with cranberry sauce, instead aim for just a teaspoon or two. Or if you are craving for more, get a small portion of ice cream or pies.

Leave the table after eating. There are a lot of things to do during the evening. So once you’re done eating, go to another room to spend time with friends and family. Hanging around the table will make you grab some leftovers.

This Thanksgiving, the only thing that should be stuffed is turkey! May your day be filled with great friends, family, and healthy food!

The Water Tower 5331 SW Macadam, Suite 260, Portland, OR 97239 Email: Phone: 503.972.4285 Fax: 503.972.4284