Shield Agency Small Business Health Insurance

Health Insurance Requirements for Small Businesses

As a business owner, it can be challenging to keep up with changing rules and regulations, especially those related to health insurance.

Business Medical Insurance with Shield Insurance Agency

What are the essential insurance requirements you need to know for this year? And what are the advantages of offering small business health insurance? Keep reading to learn what your employer obligations are for group health insurance requirements in 2020.

Are employers required to offer small business health insurance in 2020?

Even with the now-repealed Individual Mandate from the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employers were never required to provide small business health insurance. According to the insurance requirements of the ACA, employers with less than 50 full-time employees are considered to be small businesses and are still not required to provide group health insurance coverage to their employees in 2020. However, businesses with 50 or more full-time employees (applicable large employers, or ALEs) are still required to provide health insurance to their workers or face penalties in 2020.

How can employers qualify for the small business health insurance tax credit?

Although it is optional for small businesses to offer group health insurance, employers may be able to benefit from the health care tax credit. A small business can usually qualify for the tax credit if it meets the following insurance requirements:

  • The small business has 25 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employees.
  • Employees are paid an average salary of no greater than $54,200 (in 2019).
  • The small business pays at least 50 percent of employee premiums.
  • The small business buys a SHOP Marketplace Plan on the Marketplace, or from a partner such as Ehealth.

Smaller businesses can generally be eligible for a higher health care tax credit. For instance, a business with less than 10 employees and an average salary of less than $25,000 would qualify for the highest tax credit. Overall, the health care tax credit may help make the purchase of group health insurance more affordable for small businesses while ensuring that their coverage meets ACA insurance requirements.

How can employees save money?

Small businesses can still purchase group health insurance even if they do not qualify for a health care tax credit. For instance, small employers may still be able to deduct the cost of contributing to monthly employee premiums from their federal taxes as a business expense.

Since group health insurance is employer-sponsored coverage, small businesses can also ask employees to pay for a portion of monthly premiums (typically 50 percent or less) from out of their paychecks while still fulfilling employer cost-sharing requirements and ACA health insurance requirements. Browse affordable small business health insurance plans with eHealth to find the best options for your business.

What are small business requirements related to tax reporting in 2020?

There are certain tax reporting requirements for small businesses to keep in mind for 2020.

  • If your company decides to offer group health coverage after meeting insurance requirements, you must report the value of the insurance provided to each employee. This information goes on the employee’s Form W-2 using the code DD, as per IRS requirements.
  • According to the IRS, your business is required to withhold and report an additional 0.9 percent on employee compensation that is greater than $200,000, as per the ACA.
  • Your small business also must pay a fee toward funding the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund. You are required to report this fee through Form 720.

Why should employers offer small business health insurance?

Although in some cases, offering health insurance is beyond typical employer requirements, there are several advantages to offering a group health insurance plan to your employees.

  • Retaining and attracting employees – Providing group health insurance coverage may help your small business recruit better employees while also helping keep your best current employees. In a competitive talent market, offering health insurance as part of a compensation package may be an appealing incentive for people to join your company.
  • Helping your business stand out – According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about 55 percent of companies with less than 100 workers offered medical benefits through small business health insurance. Employees frequently sign up for group plans, even when they have to pay for part of the premiums.
  • Building a healthier workforce – When employees have health insurance, they may take less sick days and could help your small business be more productive. By having access to many health care resources, your employees can proactively attend to their medical needs with fewer disruptions to their work schedule.

Overall, offering group health coverage may be a worthwhile investment for your small business, regardless of your employer’s requirements.

2018 Small Business Health Insurance Report
Source: eHealth 2018 Small Business Health Insurance Report

Where can employers find small business health insurance?

As a small business employer, you quickly can find group health insurance coverage through eHealth. With eHealth’s online marketplace, you can easily compare group medical plans from multiple health insurance companies, including plans which may not be offered on the exchange. By quickly entering your number of employees and the company’s ZIP code, you can instantly get quotes for small business health insurance.

To explore all of your insurance options, browse our affordable small business health insurance plans or speak with one of our licensed health insurance agents today.

This article is for general information and may not be updated after publication. Consult your own tax, accounting, or legal advisor instead of relying on this article as tax, accounting, or legal advice.


For assistance with your small business health insurance, contact our specialist, Carlos Martinez Garcia | P: 616-777-3017 | Fax: 616-896-4601

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Michigan Medicare Insurance with Shield Agency

3 reasons to review & compare Medicare plans

Medicare’s Open Enrollment ends December 7. Even if you’re happy with your current Medicare coverage, it’s important to know your Medicare coverage options for 2021. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Your needs may change. You may find you’re going to the doctor more or less often, the prescription drugs you take may be different, or you may need better access to health care services.
  2. Benefits can vary. Not all Medicare coverage options offer the same benefits. Plan benefits can change from year-to-year.
  3. New, more affordable Medicare plans may be available. The total cost, provider network, and services offered are different between plans. Review plans to see if other plan options could better meet your news or lower your out-of-pocket costs.

Review your current Medicare plan & check for changes

Does your current Medicare plan offer the benefits you need? Review your health or drug plan’s information and note any changes in costs or benefits that will happen in 2021. If you have other types of health or prescription drug coverage, make sure you understand how that coverage works with Medicare.

Compare Medicare health & drug plans

Each year, plans can make changes to the items and services they cover and what you pay. Decide if your current Medicare plan will meet your health care needs for the year ahead. If you like your current Medicare coverage and it’s still available for 2021, you don’t need to do anything.

New plan options may be available to you. If you take insulin, this Open Enrollment you may be able to get a Medicare plan that offers broad access to many types of insulin for no more than $35 for a 30-day supply. You can get savings on insulin if you join a Medicare drug plan or Medicare Advantage Plan with drug coverage that participates in the insulin savings model. You can choose among plans that offer insulin at a predictable and affordable cost. Select the “insulin savings” filter in Medicare Plan Finder to find plans that participate in this new model that can help you save on your insulin costs.

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Halloween COVID Shield Insurance

Halloween & COVID-19: Have Fun While Staying Safe

​​Choosing costumes, decorating pumpkins, and getting special treats brings joy to many children at Halloween. Some Halloween traditions may look different this year to keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there are still plenty of ways families can have fun while avoiding the scare of being exposed to or spreading the virus.

Most importantly, keep doing what you have been doing: avoiding large gatherings, keeping a distance of six feet from others, wearing cloth face coverings, and washing hands often. Some ideas for ways to keep safety steps in place while celebrating Halloween:

Halloween & COVID-19: Have Fun While Staying Safe

Virtual Halloween costume parties & parades

Use video chats for an online party with friends and family and show off costumes and play games. Have fun with it! In cold climates, this may be the first time your child can wear a costume that isn’t buried under a parka! Outdoor costume parades are another option, if it is possible for everyone to stay at least 6 feet apart and wear cloth face coverings.

​Making masks part of the Halloween costume Encourage children to use their cloth face coverings as part of their cos​​tume (think surgeon or superhero!). However, be wary of painting the masks, since some paints contain toxins​. Also keep in mind that a costume mask is not a substit​ute for a cloth face covering unless it has multiple layers of breathable fabric and covers the mouth and nose snugly. Also, do not wear a costume mask over a cloth face covering, because it can make breathing more difficult.​

​Spooky Halloween movie night

Celebrate with a movie night and dress as your favorite characters. Do this as a family at home or consider letting your child watch with their friends while video chatting, with everyone starting the movie at the same time. For tips on finding age-appropriate movies for your child, read more here.

Decorating pumpkins

This is one Halloween tradition that’s as safe and fun as ever. As always, just be careful to avoid pumpkin carving injuries. Children can draw a face with markers. Then parents can do the cutting. When the carving is done, consider putting a battery-operated light rather than an open-flame candle inside. Roast the seeds​ from the pumpkin for a healthy snack!

​Halloween-themed treats​

Make some fun Halloween treats as a family. Decorate a pizza with toppings in the shape of a jack-o’-lantern, for example, or make tangerine pumpkins (peel the tangerine and stick a thin slice of celery on top to look like a stem). Make sure the treats are not choking hazards if you have children under age 3.

Halloween & COVID-19: Have Fun While Staying Safe

Outdoor community events

Look for community events focused on safe ways to have fun. These may include programs offered by a park district, arboretum, zoo or other outdoor venues in your area. Stay away from crowds and clustering, and follow safe distance rules even when outdoors.

Avoid indoor events such as haunted houses. A local haunted forest or corn maze may be a better option, as long as cloth face covering use, physical distancing and one-way walk through is enforced. If you think there may be screaming, leave extra distance to lower the risk of spreading respiratory virus. If you go to a pumpkin patch or apple orchard, also use hand sanitizer before and after touching what you pick.

If your children will be outside, mark their costumes with reflective tape. Remind them to be careful around cars, as drivers may not see them. Make sure shoes fit well and costumes are short enough to prevent tripping or contact with flames.

If there is trick-or-treating in your community…

Trick-or-treating may be discouraged or cancelled in some areas this year. A family scavenger “haunt” (hunt) for Halloween treats in your home or yard can be a fun alternative. If trick-or-treating is still on in your neighborhood, avoid large groups or clustering at doorsteps or anywhere else.

If you give out treats, consider sitting outside and lining up individually prepackaged goodies on a table for children to take (don’t forget to wear your own mask!). Or, think about other ways you can safely avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters. Some families are decorating old shipping or wrapping paper tubes to make chutes that deliver treats, for example. Non-edible treats are a good option, especially for children who suffer from food allergies.

How much touching objects spreads the COVID-19 virus isn’t clear. But if your child collects treats from a few, socially distanced neighbors, you may want to wipe the packages or let them sit for a couple days before giving them to your child. And, of course, good hand hygiene like washing hands or using hand sanitizer before and after trick-or-treating is always a good idea!

​Remember

Halloween during the COVID-19 pandemic is a chance for you and your children to get creative, and maybe even invent some new traditions for your family! It’s also a great opportunity to model flexibility and a positive spirit. If you’re excited and make it fun, your kids will have fun, too.

More importantly, this is a good time to teach children the importance of protecting not just themselves but others, as well. The decisions we make on this one day can have a ripple effect beyond our own families. Finding safe ways to celebrate can create magical memories.

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Shield Insurance Agency

National Do Not Call Registry

The National Do Not Call Registry was created to stop unwanted sales calls.

How do I add my number to the Do Not Call Registry?

Go to donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222 (TTY: 1-866-290-4236) from the phone you want to register. It’s free.

If you register your number at donotcall.gov, you’ll get an email with a link you need to click on within 72 hours to complete your registration.

How long will it take for sales calls to stop?

Your phone number should show up on the Registry the next day, but it can take up to 31 days for sales calls to stop. You can check whether your number is on the Registry at donotcall.gov or by calling 1-888-382-1222 from the number you want to verify.

Will my registration expire?

No, your registration will never expire. The FTC will only remove your number from the Registry if it’s disconnected and reassigned, or if you ask to remove it.

Can I add my mobile phone to the Do Not Call Registry?

Yes.

What the Registry Doesn’t Do

Will the Registry stop all unwanted calls?

No. The Do Not Call Registry stops sales calls from real companies. The Registry is a list that tells telemarketers what numbers not to call. The FTC does not and cannot block calls. The Registry can’t stop calls from scammers who ignore the Registry.

One reason people get a lot of unwanted calls is because it’s easy and cheap for scammers to call people anywhere in the world. To get fewer unwanted calls, look into blocking unwanted calls. There are different call-blocking options for mobile phones, traditional landlines, and landlines that use the internet (VoIP).

You can find a list of some call-blocking apps for mobile phones at ctia.org, a website for the U.S. wireless communications industry. For company-specific information about blocking calls on landlines and phones that use the internet, go to the FCC’s Call Blocking Resources.

Can a company still call me with a sales pitch?

Companies can call you if you’ve recently done business with them, or if you’ve given them written permission to call. But if you ask them not to call you, they have to stop. Be sure to write down the date you asked them to stop.

Are any other types of calls still allowed under FTC rules if I’m on the Do Not Call Registry?

Adding Your Number to the Do Not Call Registry

The rules allow:

But these calls can’t also include a sales pitch.

What about robocalls?

If a robocall — a call that plays a recorded message — is selling something, it’s illegal unless you’ve given a company written permission to call you that way.

So if you haven’t given the company permission, and the robocall isn’t purely informational — like your cable company confirming a service appointment — there’s a good chance it’s a scam. At the very least, it’s from a company you don’t want to do business with.

If you get an illegal robocall, hang up. Don’t press buttons to be taken off a call list or to talk to a live person. It might lead to more unwanted calls. Instead, report it to the FTC.

Learn more about robocalls at ftc.gov/robocalls.

Report Unwanted Calls

Where can I report an unwanted call?

Report unwanted calls at donotcall.gov. Report the number that appears on your caller ID — even if you think it might be spoofed or faked — and any number you’re told to call back.

Should I expect to hear back from the FTC?

The FTC gets millions of reports each year, so we can’t respond to each one. But your report matters. The FTC and other law enforcement agencies analyze reports to identify and take action against the people responsible for illegal calls and scams.

The FTC also takes the phone numbers you report and releases them each business day to help telecommunications carriers and other industry partners that are working on call-blocking solutions.

What’s the penalty for companies that illegally call numbers on the Registry?

Companies that illegally call numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry or place an illegal robocall can currently be fined up to $42,530 per call.

The number from my caller ID was faked. Why should I report it?

Technology has made it easy for scammers to fake or “spoof” caller ID information, so the number you’re reporting might not be the caller’s real number. But in some instances, the FTC and other law enforcement agencies can still trace the call based on the information you provide. The complaint also helps because the FTC analyzes complaint data and trends to identify illegal callers based on calling patterns. We also use additional information you report, like any number you’re told to call back, to track down scammers. Learn more about common phone scams.

To get fewer unwanted calls, look into call-blocking solutions.

What is the FTC doing to stop illegal calls?

The FTC has sued hundreds of companies and people responsible for unwanted calls, and has forced telemarketers making illegal calls to pay more than $100 million dollars in judgments. The FTC also brings enforcement actions against robocallers and has already stopped people responsible for billions of robocalls. You can read about recent FTC cases and other robocall-related actions in our press releases.

The FTC continues to work with other law enforcement agencies and encourages industry efforts to combat robocalls and caller ID spoofing. The FTC has led initiatives to develop technology-based solutions, including a series of robocall contests that challenged tech experts to design tools that block robocalls and help investigators track down and stop robocallers.

What do businesses and sellers need to know?

Generally speaking, telemarketers who sell goods and services must download the Registry and remove from their calling lists numbers listed on the Registry. Businesses and organizations must register with the FTC before they are allowed to access the Registry. It’s illegal for anyone to use the Registry for any purpose other than preventing telemarketing calls to the telephone numbers on the Registry. Read the FTC’s Q&A for telemarketers and sellers.

Registration Questions

Are mobile phones, or cell phones, treated differently than home phones on the Do Not Call Registry?

No. You register a mobile phone number the same way you do any other personal number. There’s no separate list or database for mobile phones. There’s no deadline for registering mobile phone numbers, mobile phone registrations don’t expire, and the government is not releasing mobile phone numbers to telemarketers.

In fact, mobile phones have an extra protection. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations prohibit telemarketers from using automated dialers to call mobile phones without your permission. Automated dialers are standard in the industry, so most telemarketers can’t call your mobile phone without permission.

Someone called and offered to put my name on the Registry. Should I let them?

No. It’s free and easy to register yourself at donotcall.gov or by calling 1-888-382-1222 from the phone you want to register (TTY: 1-866-290-4236).

What happens if I register more than one number online?

You will get an email for each number you register online. You must open each email and click on the link in it within 72 hours to register each number.

You can register up to three numbers at a time online. To register more personal phone numbers, just go through the registration process again. If you want to register your number by phone, you will have to call from each phone number you want to register.

Can I register my business phone number or a fax number?

The Registry is for personal phone numbers. Business-to-business calls and faxes are not covered.

Can I take my number off the Registry?

Yes. You can remove your number by calling 1-888-382-1222 from the phone you want to remove. Your number will be off the Registry the next day. Companies have to update their telemarketing lists within 31 days.

If I register, how will the FTC use my information?

The FTC stores your phone number so telemarketers can remove it from their call lists. If you register at donotcall.gov, we also collect your email address to confirm your registration. We store your email address securely, separate from your phone number, and never share it with telemarketers.

For more information about the privacy of your information, please see the FTC privacy policy.

When I called to register, a message said my number could not be verified. What should I do?

If the automated phone system can’t verify your number, you’ll need to register at donotcall.gov.

When I called to register, a message said the number I was calling from did not match the number I entered. What should I do?

To register, you must call from the phone you want to register. People in certain communities — such as senior living centers or university residences — have phone numbers that are hidden and can’t be verified by the FTC’s automated system. If that’s the case, you’ll need to register at donotcall.gov.

I moved and got a new phone number. Do I need to register the new number?

Yes.

Do I need to take my old phone number off the list when I get a new number?

No. The system removes numbers automatically when they’re disconnected and reassigned.

What happens if my phone number is disconnected but then reconnected?

If your number is disconnected and then reconnected, you might need to register your number again. You can verify that your number is on the Registry at donotcall.gov or by calling 1-888-382-1222.

If my area code changes or splits, do I need to register my number again?

If phone companies change your three-digit area code, you don’t have to register your number again. Your new number will be registered for you during the 90-day period when both the old and new area codes work.

Where can I get more information?

If you have questions or complaints about the Do Not Call Registry, please contact the FTC by email at crcforward@donotcall.gov.

Other Telemarketing Rules

Are there other rules telemarketers have to follow?

Yes, telemarketers have other rules they must follow under the Telemarketing Sales Rule.

Telemarketers can’t:

  • call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • be deceptive or abusive or lie about any terms of their offer
  • ask you to pay:
    • with a cash-to-cash money transfer
    • by giving the PIN from a cash reload card like MoneyPak and Vanilla Reload
    • by asking for your bank account information to create a type of check that you never see or sign, called a “remotely created payment order”

Telemarketers must:

  • connect their call to a sales representative within two seconds after you answer
  • transmit their telephone number and, if possible, their name, to your caller ID service
  • tell you right away what seller or charitable organization they represent and that the call is a sales call or a charitable solicitation
  • disclose all material information about the goods or services they’re offering and the terms of the sale
  • get your permission to charge you and to use a particular account number

To learn more about the Telemarketing Sales Rule, visit the FTC’s Business

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Oct. 20 National Teen Driver Safety Week

Oct. 20 National Teen Drivers Safety Week

Parents encouraged to talk to teen drivers about the importance of driving safely

How Parents Can Help Teen Drivers

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens 15-18 years of age in the United States, ahead of all other types of injury, disease, and violence. Inexperience and risk-taking behavior are factors that increase the crash risk for teens.

            “Parents can help protect their teens by talking with them about how to avoid risky driving behaviors,” said Michael L. Prince, OHSP director. “Because of their lack of experience, teen drivers are at a greater risk of being killed or injured in a crash. That is why it is so important to start a conversation with teens and encourage safe driving practices.”

            In Michigan, teens and young adults age 15-20 years old, accounted for 7.6 percent of all traffic deaths in 2018, with 55.4 percent of those deaths being the driver. In addition, 9,637 teenagers and young adults were injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2018, representing 12.7 percent of all people injured in a crash.

            Michigan, and other states, have adopted Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws for teen drivers as a way to promote safety behind the wheel and reduce serious injury and death in a crash. Teens face the greatest risk of a crash during their first year of driving. GDL programs limit high-risk driving among teens and can reduce teen crash risk by as much as 50 percent. For more information on the GDL program in Michigan, visit: www.michigan.gov/teendriver.

Opportunity

            A unique opportunity for teens to teach other teens about safe driving, is the Strive for a Safer Drive (S4SD) program. Students at every Michigan high school can participate in S4SD, with cash prizes awarded to the top five winning entries. Parents and teachers are urged to discuss the opportunity with teens and encourage participation in the program. Applications are due Nov. 14. Application information, including examples of winning campaigns, can be found at: https://www.michigan.gov

            The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also provides information parents can use to help keep teens safe including tips on seat belt safety, distracted driving, impaired driving, and speeding. For more details on Teen Driver Safety Week, including safe driving tips for parents and teens, visit: www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/teen-driving.

Be sure to visit our informative insurance Blog for more great articles!

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Shield Insurance is an Independent Agency, Endorsed by Dave Ramsey

Independent Agent: Dave Ramsey’s Number One Tip

“If you’re looking to save hundreds, even thousands, on your insurance costs, consider Dave’s number-one tip: Purchase your coverage through an independent insurance agent, which is an agent who represents several insurance companies instead of working for just one carrier.” – Dave Ramsey

Shield Insurance Agency is a 3rd Generation Agency providing all Independent Agents

In today’s economy we cut coupons, look for BOGO’s, and try to find the best insurance coverage for our buck. With insurance agents, there are two types – Captive and Independent.

A captive agent is one who works for one specific company and is able to provide one companies products.

An independent agent is one who sells insurance products for several different companies but does not work for a specific company. So as we spend our time looking for ways to trim costs, one easy way to do that is to contact your local independent insurance agency and see how they can help. 

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