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IPS / Lighthouse Insurance Group Blog: health insurance

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Running a company means you have certain responsibilities towards your employees. Often, you cannot expect them to work if you do not guarantee their safety and well-being. A variety of laws mandate how employers must provide for the welfare of the employees. In many cases, these laws govern howimage of employee benefits folder on desk the employer must offer benefits.

Employee benefits come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They all serve a purpose of safeguarding the recipients. Examine national, state and local laws to determine if you must offer benefits. Some of the options you might need include

1. Health Insurance

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires many employers to provide health insurance for workers. Most plans must contain certain elements of coverage. Employers, therefore, can often help employees access medical care. As a result, your business might even see an improvement in employee commitment, retention and overall company wellness.

2. Workers’ Compensation and Disability Insurance

Should something happen to an employee on the job, the business might have to pay for their losses. Most do so through workers’ compensation, which most states require businesses to carry. Injuries sustained at work could cause an employee to lose time at work, and thus lose income. Workers’ comp can assist an injured party’s recovery without them facing financial problems.

Some states also require disability benefits for employees with short- or long-term incapacitation. Though different from workers’ comp, disability benefits also provides supplementary income to affected employees.

3. Medical and Maternity Leave

Federal law requires most employers to allow workers to take time off in the event of illness, pregnancy or other medical needs. Generally, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) governs these benefits.

For example, if someone must leave work to have surgery, they might qualify for this coverage. In many cases, the employer will have to keep that person’s job open and available during their absence. In other words, they cannot replace you. Often, employees qualify for around 12 weeks of leave.

Keep in mind, extended leave might not come with pay. Some companies offer fully-paid leave for employees, while others do not. Some states require some companies to offer paid leave on certain occasions. However, what situations qualify for paid leave vary widely.

When determining the benefits you must offer your employees, take a look at local law. Various states have regulations in place to oversee the implementation of these plans. Then, contact an appropriate business insurance agent at 800-220-5582. They can often provide a variety of the benefits your employees might need.

Also Read: Employee Benefits: Providing Required and Offering Optional Benefits

image of woman working as a contractor

Contractors are a different classification of employee than a full-time worker. This classification may mean that contractors require special consideration for their workplace benefits.

Employee benefits to contractors often differ from those full-time employees. Therefore, employers need to understand who classifies as a contractor.

What Employees Are Contractors?

Understanding the difference between employees and contractors may help a business determine how to offer benefits.

Independent contractors are usually self-employed. They agree to work for a business based on the stipulations of a contract. But, what makes a contractor different from a standard employee? Don’t employees also assume responsibilities for an employer?

Classifying someone as a contractor often depends on the work expected of them. As a general definition, the IRS says contractors are those who agree to complete the work, but the employer cannot control what the contractor does to complete the work. The employer (or payer) can usually only control the result they expect from the work. Therefore, independent contractors retain a degree of independence from the employer. By contrast, full-time employees often have rules from employers on how they must work.

Benefits for Independent Contractors

Often, businesses have a legal obligation to provide their full-time employees with benefits. These may include health insurance, workers’ compensation and other forms of protection. They may not have to provide these benefits to contractors.

Business owners may decide to offer benefits to contractors. On the other hand, they may choose to forego benefits for these individuals. Nonetheless, they should abide by all lawful stipulations regarding employment classifications. This can help the business avoid potential penalties related to employment benefits.

If an employer misclassifies a full-time employee as a contractor, it may face penalties. This is because it did not accurately represent its employment practices. Likewise, by inaccurately classifying contractors as full-time, the employer may wind up providing benefits is may not legally have to provide. This may lead to costs the business might otherwise be able to save.

Interpretations of full-time or contractor classifications often vary. A review of local or industry law, and a clearer understanding of full-time and contractor classifications can help businesses provide the best benefits. Employers should make sure every employee or contractor has benefits they legally need.

Do you need Michigan employee benefits? Let us help. Call Insurance Planning Service at (800) 220-5582 for a fast, free quote on multiple policy lines.

Posted 9:22 PM

image of happy employeesProviding your employees with the benefits they want and need is good for your company. It can your company to retain top talent. It also might help you to keep your employees longer, reducing training costs and hiring fees. Importantly, it helps you to show your concern for the people who make your company possible. 

When it comes to employee benefits health insurance is one of the most valuable. Are you offering it?

Knowing Your Legal Requirements

The Affordable Care Act requires some businesses to provide employees with health insurance. This is often the case for businesses with a certain number of full-time employees or a large staff.

Requirements aside, consider what providing health insurance to your employees would mean to them.

  • With this type of employee benefit, your team can afford to have regular medical care. This allows your team to remain healthy and reduces the amount of missed time at work they have for illness.
  • Your employees appreciate being able to take their children to the doctor. Some employees say that having insurance for their children’s needs is important to them. This also reduces risks of employees missing work because of a child's illness.
  • Companies that offer health insurance can receive more applications and better applicants for positions. This is especially true for higher level positions and harder to fill positions.
  • Employees with health insurance can get necessary health screenings early on. This can help employees to fight off disease sooner. It can also help them tackle risks such as weight concerns, smoking, and mental health matters, sooner.
  • Providing employee benefits may help you qualify for federal tax breaks.

Most companies will find that offering health insurance is a key employee benefit. Benefits can help both you and your team. It may not be as expensive as you think. Benefits can also be exactly what your team expects and needs to keep them working harder for you. Take the time to learn more about the employee benefits that really impact your team. Learn what you can do to ensure your employees have the coverage they need.

Do you have questions about the right type of Michigan health coverage to offer your employees? Call Insurance Planning Service today at (800) 220-5582.

Medical SymbolMost of us are now aware that there is a tax penalty assessed if health insurance has not been purchased.  

> The penalty in 2014 was the greater of 1% of the annual household income OR $95.00 per adult and $47.50 per child under 18 years old, subject to a maximum of $285.00.  

> The penalty (or "fee" as it is called on the website) for not purchasing health insurance in 2015 increases sharply to the greater of 2% of the annual household income OR $325.00 per adult and $162.50 per child under 18 years old, subject to a maximum of $975.00.

> The penalty for not purchasing health insurance will increase again in 2016 to the greater of 2.5% of the annual household income OR $695.00 per adult and $347.50 per child under 18.  The Healthcare Marketplace Website ( does not indicate any maximum cut-off for 2016.

> The penalty will continue to be adjusted for inflation in years after 2016.

In spite of the penalties or fees being assessed by the government for not purchasing health insurance, the cost of medical costs in the absence health insurance can be staggering.

Be sure you have proper health insurance to protect your family!

White HouseWhile the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as the "ACA" or "Obamacare") brought about some positive changes to our healthcare system, it has also stirred up some changes that are less than positive for many Americans.  

Before the ACA took effect, approximately 86% of Americans were covered by some form of health insurance including individual or employer plans, Medicare, Medicaid, or a host of others.  Of the remaining 14%, a certain number of people living in the US are not eligible for Obamacare.  The primary goal of the new law was to make health insurance affordable and available to those who are uninsured and eligible - less than 10% of Americans.  Of this eligible group, many were not insured because they couldn't afford health insurance and others were not insured because they simply did not want to purchase insurance.  

Most Americans are now aware that the burden of making insurance affordable to this eligible but uninsured group of Americans has come at the expense of the 86% who were insured and happy with their insurance.  There are also numerous hidden taxes that have and will be coming into effect to cover the cost of government subsidized health insurance and the broadened Medicaid program.  

The first wave of major changes took effect on January 1, 2014.  Individuals were mandated to purchase health insurance and the ACA specified the plans that had to be made available to individuals and families - either on the website or by going directly to insurance companies.  Because of this, many insured on INDIVIDUAL health insurance plans found they were not able to keep the plan they had, and many insurance companies were forced to cancel all of their policyholders and offer completely new plans that met the new government requirements.  Many who had been insured found their premiums to be higher AND that their out-of-pocket costs within the plan were much higher. 

The second wave of major changes had been scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2015 - when the small business mandate was to take effect.  This change may affect the largest group of people in the country - more than the group of individuals or those employed by large businesses.  The effective date of this mandate has been pushed back until 2016 and many believe the primary reason was to avoid a new level of angst to Americans just prior to the mid-term elections.  

Another thing that has been quietly changed behind the scenes is the open enrollment period to purchase health insurance for the 2015 calendar year.  October 15 had been the date for open enrollment to begin but, with elections on November 4, the date has been pushed back until November 15, 2014.  USA Today has an interesting article on this, titled "Obamacare is in Hiding Until After the Election".  You may recall that, prior to 2014, a person could purchase health insurance at any time.  With limited exception, Obamacare allows only a window of time that will run from November 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015 to purchase health insurance for the 2015 calendar year.  

We're all hoping that the enrollment process will function more smoothly this year.  If you have questions or need health insurance contact us online or call us at 800-220-5582.

Image source:  vitasamb2010 /
Posted 4:32 PM

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Lighthouse Group Main Office in Grand Rapids, MI
Mailing Address | P.O. Box 530009, Livonia, MI 48153

Phone: 734.421.9900 | Toll Free: 800.220.5582 | Fax: 734.421.9911

Also serving these Detroit area communities in Michigan: Livonia, Farmington Hills, Ann Arbor, Southfield, Plymouth, Canton, Westland, Northville, Novi, Dearborn, South Lyon & Walled Lake