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Organizing the Workplace Kitchen Drawer: Best Practices for Addressing Employee Challenges in 2024



In the fast-evolving world of Human Resources, staying informed is key to ensuring the well-being of both employees and the organization as a whole. Recently, our team attended a conference, where we gained valuable insights into the latest updates shaping the HR landscape and impacting employees. In this blog, we'll delve into the key takeaways and provide additional information to help you stay informed in the ever-changing HR arena.


Vaccine as Preventive Care:

The conference emphasized the significance of vaccines as preventive care. In addition to encouraging vaccination, consider creating an employer seasonal flu prevention kit. This kit could include essential items such as hand sanitizer, Vitamin C, cough drops, and information on the latest COVID-19 testing rules.


Additional Tip: Encouraging employees to stay home when sick is a fundamental aspect of maintaining a healthy and productive work environment. This practice not only protects the individual's well-being but also prevents the spread of illness within the workplace. Employers should communicate and reinforce sick leave policies, emphasizing the importance of self-care and the collective responsibility to safeguard the health of the entire team. In addition to promoting a culture that prioritizes employees' health, providing clear guidelines for remote work or flexible scheduling when feasible can further support individuals in taking the necessary time off without compromising productivity. By fostering an environment where employees feel comfortable prioritizing their health, organizations contribute to a more resilient and considerate workplace.


Special Enrollment Period:

The traditional rules of HIPAA Special Enrollment Periods have seen some changes. The COVID-19 outbreak period ended officially on May 11, 2023, and there's a shift back to the 30-day period allowing enrollment due to loss of other coverage, or life events such as marriage, birth, adoption, or placement for adoption and a 60-day window for allowing enrollment after loss of CHIP or Medicaid. It’s crucial to understand the implications of these changes and ensure compliance with HIPAA regulations. If you have an employee who experienced a HIPAA Special Enrollment Right event on or after July 11, 2023, deadline extensions do not apply as the outbreak period has ended.


Additional Tip: Remind all employees of the special enrollment periods and what the timelines are to request to add or remove dependents outside of open enrollment. This will help prevent future frustrations for employees who miss important windows.


HSA (Health Savings Account):

Old school rules regarding HSAs were discussed at the conference and notably, pre-deductible coverage for COVID-19 testing and care that was covered pre-deductible during covered. Now that the emergency pandemic rules are sunset, those same services are not subject to the deductible. Understanding these nuances is essential for effective HSA management as employees who had high deductible health plans with an HSA may not understand why something that was paid by the carrier is now subject to the deductible.


Additional Tip: Educate employees about HSA rules and how they impact coverage for COVID-19-related expenses.


Telehealth:

During the pandemic, rules were changed that allowed telehealth services to be utilized by those covered by a high deductible health plan that had a Health Savings Account (HSA), without jeopardizing the HSA eligibility. That meant that someone with an HSA could use telehealth which was a zero cost to them.


Recent legislation authorized an extension of many of the telehealth flexibilities that were in place during the COVID-19 public health emergency through December 31, 2024. If legislation does not get extended or laws updated, those with an HSA will not be able to use telehealth services that have zero costs without jeopardizing their HSA eligibility.


Additional Tip: Stay informed on legislative changes and explore how they may affect your organization's telehealth offerings. If the telehealth rules are not extended, be prepared to notify your HSA-enrolled employees.


Medicaid:

It's crucial to remind employees of their Medicaid eligibility considering how the eligibility verification process halted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Clear communication about healthcare options helps employees make informed decisions about their coverage. Employers should proactively provide information on the criteria for Medicaid eligibility, emphasizing the importance of exploring available resources for healthcare coverage.


Encouraging an open dialogue and offering support in navigating the enrollment process can help alleviate any concerns or misconceptions employees may have about transitioning to Medicaid or employer coverage. By actively engaging in this communication process, employers contribute to the well-being of their workforce, ensuring that eligible individuals can access essential healthcare services and make informed choices for their health and financial security.


Additional Tip: Employees who are on Medicaid, or have dependents on Medicaid, may have moved since the start of the pandemic. If Medicaid can’t verify eligibility because they do not have a current address on file, the employee may find services denied the next time they go in for care. Remind them to connect with their case worker to make sure their demographics are up to date.


Mental Health Parity:

Employers play a pivotal role in providing mental health services on par with medical services. Mental Health parity describes the equal treatment of mental health conditions and substance use disorders in insurance plans. When a plan has parity, it means that if you provide unlimited doctor visits for chronic conditions like diabetes then they must offer unlimited visits for a mental health condition such as depression or schizophrenia. (Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness) Fully insured groups can get this information from your carriers. For a self-funded plan, make sure you have done your analysis and have that in case of a Department of Labor audit.


Additional Tip: Whether you are fully insured or self-funded, make sure to have a copy of your Non-Quantitative Treatment Limit (NQTL) Disclosure so you are prepared in the event of an audit.


Childcare:

Recognizing the critical link between childcare and employee productivity becomes even more imperative in the context of the diminishing workforce. The current trend of workforce shortages and demographic shifts underscores the necessity for businesses to actively address childcare challenges. In the face of a shrinking labor pool, companies that implement family-friendly policies and robust childcare support are better positioned to attract and retain top talent. By understanding and proactively meeting the childcare needs of employees, businesses contribute not only to individual well-being but also to workforce sustainability.


Additional Tip: Strategies such as flexible work arrangements, on-site childcare facilities, childcare reimbursement programs, and collaborative efforts with community organizations not only enhance the work-life balance of existing employees but also serve as attractive incentives for prospective talent, ultimately bolstering organizational resilience in the face of workforce challenges.


Staying informed and adapting to the ever-changing HR landscape is vital for the success and well-being of your organization. By keeping these kitchen drawer reminders in mind and staying updated on the latest trends and regulations, you can navigate the complexities of HR with confidence.


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