December 2011 Newsletter


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Wrapping Up 2011

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December 2011 Newsletter

  1. 1. December, 2011A Bi-monthly publication from The Gardner Group Keeping You Up to Date as 2012 Rolls In 2012 HSA Contribution 8 Ways Employees Can Use Their Limits FSA Balance Each year the HSA Contribution Limits are As 2011 comes to an end, it’s time for employees revised (or remain with health care and dependent care flexible unchanged) based on spending accounts to use up their remaining the inflation rate from balances before the end of their plan year, the previous year. For when any leftover money is forfeited. Here 2012, the HSA are eight ways your employees can spend Contribution Limits were down their FSAs before 2012, courtesy raised about 1.63% based on the rise of the of Save Smart, Spend Healthy. Consumer Price Index (CPI) in the previous year. This means that the contribution limit for an  Review list of eligible expenses individual increased $50 to $3,100 and the limit for A 2010 survey from Save Smart, Spend families increased $100 to $6,250. The catch-up Healthy found that nearly 80% of provision for those age 55+ remains at $1000. household decision makers had trouble -Free News Network, Inc. identifying expenses they could purchase with a health care FSA. There may be a number of items employees need to buy or have In tighter times, gift- already purchased that are eligible for reimbursement. Circulate a list of health care and dependent eligible expenses. giving develops a  Request prescriptions for OTC medications conscience If employees were directed by their doctors to use over-the- counter medications this year to treat an illness or for wellness In tighter times, gift- purposes, they can be reimbursed for these expenses through giving is becoming the FSA as long as they have a prescription from their doctor. more personal, and  Submit any outstanding receipts increasingly taking Encourage employees to submit any outstanding receipts for on a conscience. health care expenses such as prescriptions or doctor’s Although many appointments. smaller companies still do “Secret Santa”  Purchase medical supplies gift exchanges with employees, Kristina Hidas, vice- If employees need medical supplies on a regular basis, it can be president of research for the Human Resources helpful to have a backup supply on hand. This includes contact Professionals Association, said she’s seeing a lenses and solution, prescription glasses and even band-aids. growing number of workplaces replace the  Schedule routine medical appointments traditional chocolates and gag gifts with something Encourage employees to get routine check-ups with their more socially conscious. physician, dentist and optometrist. If some employees see “One thing Im finding more popular is that a specialty providers, such as a chiropractor or acupuncturist, workplace will adopt a family in need through encourage them to get needed care before the end of the year organizations like The Salvation Army or The as well. Childrens Aid Society, and people can give what theyre able, whether its $5 or $10,” she said. “To  Get a flu shot and vaccinations me, its great team-building, and people working Encourage employees and everyone in their household to get a together.” flu shot and to ensure dependents are up-to-date with vaccinations. Employers can also make donations to charities on behalf of their employees, whether to a local non-  Invest in wellness profit or an organization that helps communities in Smoking cessation is an eligible expense, as is weight loss developing countries. like Oxfam and Plan Canada. counseling, as long as receipts are accompanied by a letter of medical necessity. Building charity into celebrations is a great idea to attract and maintain employees, said Janet Salopek,  Log your miles president of Salopek Consulting in Calgary, because Gas and transportation fees to and from eligible medical, dental research shows that social consciousness can really and vision appointments are eligible for reimbursement, as are engage employees. visits to the drug store or pharmacy to pick up medications. The mileage rate for 2011 was 19 cents a mile for Jan. 1 to June 30, Shelley White and is 23.5 cents a mile for July 1 to Dec. 31. The Globe and Mail Employee Benefit News
  2. 2. December, 2011 Do You Have a 7 Ways to Help Your Employees Keep Successful their New Years Resolutions 401K/Retirement Plan? If life was easy, New Year’s resolutions would be much easier to keep. Some of the most popular resolutions sound attainable in principle, but in a few short weeks the everyday inconveniences, ineluctable temptations, and What do we mean continual hustle and bustle will have most people thinking “next year.” by “successful plan”? The According to Albrecht Powell’s article, Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions, the ultimate objective most popular resolutions include: of a retirement plan is to provide 1. Spend More Time with Family & Friends adequate and 2. Fit in Fitness secure retirement 3. Tame the Bulge income for 4. Quit Smoking participants. 5. Enjoy Life More Increasingly, the 6. Quit Drinking focus is on the 7. Get Out of Debt results achieved 8. Learn Something Newby plans and not just on attractive features 9. Help Others(though such features are still important). 10. Get Organized As a manager, you might think it’s in your own best interest to improve inMeasures of a Successful Plan: some of these areas yourself, which could very well be true. But there’s a 1. The adequacy of retirement flip-side to it as well. You may be able to improve your productivity at work benefits, expressed as monthly by finding a better work-health-life balance, but the same can be said for income in retirement. your employees. 2. This is influenced primarily by: So how can you do your part to help your employees keep their New Year’s a. Plan participation. Resolutions? b. Levels of deferrals. The Canadian HR Reporter recommends incorporating a wellness program to c. The quality of a plan’s support employee resolutions. The effectiveness of your program can investments reward your company through “increased morale, reduced disability costs d. The quality of participant and workplace absences.” investing. e. The availability of secure Below are the 7 tips the Canadian HR Reporter recommends to help lifetime benefits. employees achieve a work-health-life balance:Many plan sponsors are becoming 1. Offer flexible working arrangements.concerned about whether their 2. Reduce excessive workloads.participants will be able to accumulate 3. Provide gym memberships or flexibility in the schedule to allowenough to retire; we see this especially as employees to go to the gym.plans get larger. 4. Accommodate staff requests to attend classes for professional development.This evolution means that it is imperative 5. Encourage staff-run programs for a healthier workplace, such asto work with financial advisors that are walking clubs.well-advised to work with providers that 6. Provide incentives for staff seeking a healthier lifestyle, such asare focused on successful plan outcomes gift certificate to use towards gym classes or cash for staff whoin order to help their clients have successfully quit smoking.successful plans. 7. Lead by example and bring in a basket of fruit for meetings John K. Mitsis CRPS® rather than donuts. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Lab Manager Magazine - Incorporated 12 Ways to Feel More Financially Confident in 2012 MetLife reports that 58 percent of employers say financial “illness” plays a role in employee absenteeism. How can we improve our retirement prospection in the coming year, or at least get on the right track? The Financial Planning Association of San Francisco has 12 tips: 1. Get Started Today 2. Spend Less. Save More 3. Take Advantage of the Down Market to Harvest Tax Losses 4. Keep Contributing to Your 401K 5. Keep an Eye on Rates and Explore Refinancing if it Makes Sense 6. Consider Applying for a Reassessment of Your Home Value for Property Taxes 7. Update Your Estate Plan 8. Give a Gift or Make a Loan 9. Review All Beneficiary Statements for 401(K) plans, IRAs and Life Insurance Polices 10. Keep Up With Contribution Limits on Retirement Accounts 11. Keep Your Cool While Listening to Financial News 12. See a Financial Planner Jenny Ivy BenefitsPro