May 19, 2024
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Back to School and Back to Work: Challenges Employers and Employees May Face

By Mark Herschlag

We just have to make it through the lockdown. Then: We just have to make it through the summer—said employees and employers with children. But now, as the reality of schools being remote sets in for working parents across the county, employers may be forced to figure something out soon. Here are some options that employers can implement to help their employees: businesses can offer child-care benefits, provide child-care facilities in the building or contribute toward the child-care cost. Allow employees who could work remotely to do so, enabling more flexible scheduling. These are just a few options. It’s essential to have safety guidelines and virtual plans in place to adapt to being remote for both the workplace and school so everything can continue to run as smoothly as possible.

Group Benefits Strategies to Accommodate COVID Realities

These past few months have been quite a challenge for the world, especially to the economy and employers who are greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are living in a time where what was considered traditional workplace culture and practices has to be adapted to our “new normal”—wearing face masks, practicing social distancing, new sanitation protocols, telecommuting, among other health and safety concerns. In addition, many individuals and business owners are facing financial hardships that will most likely affect future decision making and planning. If these are the concerns that we are facing within our own companies and personal lives, how do we adapt to provide the benefits of telehealth services to our staff?

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, policies like shelter-in-place resulted in many companies accepting telecommuting and remote work as part of a necessity to keep their businesses running. It is safe to say that remote work may be an element that we all must integrate into future business practices. Companies can benefit from telecommuting by downsizing in office space and expenses, as well as maintain the safety of our employees. Also, employers will need their benefits consultants more than ever to guide and educate management and employees in order to reshape benefit strategies. Thus, Cosmo Insurance is helping employers in designing benefit strategies.

Should COVID-Related Premium Increases Be Passed on to Employees?

This question is important for employers to consider when thinking about employee benefits and coverage, especially during this unprecedented time. Many employers have passed on parts or all of an annual premium increase to employees in common practice. However, doing so at this time might hurt your business in the long term. Certainly, bearing the extra cost for healthcare insurance might place an extra burden on the employer’s bottom line, but looking at the long-term picture, there might be some solid reasons to avoid doing so. Employers may want to consider the following:

• Employers are hurting right now, but employees are suffering more than ever. Employees are facing the strain on their personal finances, and many have felt the pandemic’s effects quite emotionally through illness and the deaths of their loved ones.

• If employees are already dealing with financial strain, having higher health insurance costs or increased deductibles and copays may result in employees (and their covered dependents) skipping preventive healthcare or necessary medical procedures, thus negatively impacting the employer in both productivity loss and higher healthcare costs if and when any untreated medical conditions worsen for the employee.

• When workers are engaged in a pro-health care office environment, employee wellbeing is likely to be higher, resulting in more productivity. Increasing insurance costs to the employee could wreck the level of employee engagement, which could lead to a reduced level of employee happiness, higher employee absenteeism and turnover, and as a result, impact the employer’s bottom line. Employers need to know that most employees are more grateful when their employers treat them well during difficult times, like the one we are currently facing.

Incorporate Telehealth Services in Your Employee Benefits Package

Employers should start considering telehealth services in benefit portfolios as they transition to a remote workforce. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many patients were instructed to meet with their providers virtually instead of physical visits; as such, patients adapted to the new demands. During this time, telehealth services have been beneficial in lessening the risk of disease transmission and keeping people safe. Also, mental health care treatment has been on the rise since the wake of this pandemic. Incorporating telehealth services and programs for mental health treatment may be useful and convenient for employers to provide to their employees. Most insurance carriers are now including telehealth in their plans now.

Consider Utilizing Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangements (ICHRA)

Another option employers may want to consider for their employee benefits portfolio is Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangements (ICHRA). Based on current regulations, employers may offer ICHRAs as an alternative to offering traditional health insurance plans. According to HealthCare.gov, ICHRA allows employers the ability to better control costs by providing defined non-taxed reimbursements to employees for qualified health insurance costs. Employees have the flexibility to pick the individual health insurance coverage that is right for them and their families. Then you, the employer, reimburse the costs.

Cosmo Insurance is here to help provide you with solutions to maintain your business during this pandemic. As the pandemic continues to impact individuals and businesses throughout our country and the world, Cosmo Insurance will focus on providing resources to assist employers through this challenging period. Our dedicated and knowledgeable staff at Cosmo Insurance can provide innovative client-specific solutions to help you with all your new business efforts.

Mark Herschlag is the founder and CEO of Cosmo Insurance Agency, which is based in Ocean County. Cosmo Insurance Agency offers personalized solutions for individuals and businesses looking to obtain health, life, dental, long-term care or disability insurance.


For more information or for a free, no-obligation quote, please call (201) 817-1388 or email [email protected].

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