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R&R Insurance Blog

Wellness Mental Health Resources - Train Your Brain Into Positive Self-Talk

Posted by Taylor Almonte-Hahn

mindfull image

COVID-19 has changed the world in many ways.  When it comes to mental health in the United States, the CDC reports 31% of adults have had symptoms of anxiety or depression over the past year.

  • 13% reported having started or increased substance use
  • 26% reported stress-related symptoms
  • 11% reported having serious thoughts of suicide in the past 30 days
These numbers are nearly double the rates we would have expected before the pandemic.

Closer to home, according to the American Heart Association, 23% of Milwaukee County adults report having a mental health condition. During this time, it is crucial we take care of our entire well-being but especially mental health.

One thing you can control and take action on, to improve your mental health, is positive self-talk. Dr. Alan Chu, from the University of Wisconsin Green Bay, has three steps to train the brain into positive self-talk: recognize, re-frame and refocus.

  1. Recognize the negative self-talk occurring in your mind
  2. Re-frame those emotions
  3. Refocus to control your own outcome.
There are also apps such as Headspace and Calm that can help with guided meditation and deep breathing techniques. Even 5 minutes a day will make a tremendous difference but remember the key is practice.

 For more in depth mental health information see resources below:

Topics: Wellness

COVID-19 Vaccine Surcharges, Mandates and Incentives: What Employers Should Know

Posted by Taylor Almonte-Hahn

vaccine card

In a tight labor market, the inability to find talent could sink a company faster than having workers fall ill due to COVID-19. Yet, employee wellness is still of critical concern to employers. How can organizations protect workers while still respecting employees’ rights to make their own health choices? For many, the answer has been to encourage—rather than to mandate—vaccines through various methods.

What Are Companies Doing?

Getting employees vaccinated is a top priority for many organizations. In fact, it’s so important that companies are charging un-vaccinated employees fees in some cases and firing them in others.

However, any vaccine-related workplace policy comes with inherent legal risks. Employers considering any vaccine policy—whether it’s related to incentives, penalties or mandates—should first consult with legal counsel.

For more information on vaccine surcharges, mandates and incentives, read more here.

Topics: Wellness

11 Things Employers Can Do to Mitigate the Spread of Covid-19 at Work

Posted by R&R Insurance

On August 13, 2021 OSHA put out a release designed to help employers protect workers who are unvaccinated or otherwise “at-risk” individuals. It is important to note that OSHA did not create a new standard as these are only guidelines (for companies outside of Healthcare).

When the pandemic first emerged, all companies were forced to make adjustments to protect their employees. As the first wave of the pandemic began to lessen, there was an understandable desire to return to “normal operations”. Unfortunately, as the case rate begins to rise again we need to once more take precautions using the information that is now available to us. That being said, it is a good time to look at what your organization is doing to minimize the potential for spread of the variant of Covid-19. This time around is different than when the pandemic first started. Besides dealing with a very contagious variant, we now have vaccines in play and know more than we originally did about how Covid-19 is most often spread.

To that end, OSHA published "Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of Covid-19 in the Workplace."

11 Things Employers Can Do to Mitigate the Spread of Covid-19 at Work

  1. Facilitate employees getting vaccinated-OSHA has several ideas on how to best do this.

  2. Instruct any workers who are infected, unvaccinated workers who have had close contact with someone who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, and all workers with Covid-19 symptoms to stay home from work.

  3. Implement physical distancing in all common areas at work for unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers. This is a reboot of the six foot distancing rule.

  4. Provide workers with face coverings or surgical masks as appropriate, unless their work task requires a respirator or other PPE.

  5. Educate or train workers on your Covid-19 policies and procedures using accessible formats and in languages they understand.

  6. Suggest, or require, that all visitors wear face coverings when present on your company grounds.

  7. Maintain ventilation systems - this has been a key way to help prevent the spread of this virus.

  8. Perform routine cleaning and disinfection.

  9. Record and report Covid -19 infections and deaths, if the cases are work related.

  10. Implement protections from retaliation and set up an anonymous process for workers to voice concerns about Covid-19 related hazards.

  11. Follow other applicable mandatory OSHA standards including PPE, respirators, Bloodborne pathogens, and others.

The entire article can be found at https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/safework

Coronavirus Resources from R&R Insurance

From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, R&R Insurance has been providing updates of the ever evolving mandates and guidelines.  All resources to get businesses back to business can be found at https://www.myknowledgebroker.com/coronavirus-resources-back-in-business.

Topics: Safety

Stress Testing Your Insurance Program

Posted by R&R Insurance

pressure guages iStock-525501302(1)

In response to the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009, financial institutions of a certain size are required to undergo regular stress tests. These financial simulations were designed to determine a bank’s ability to withstand an economic crisis and support economic activity.

The pandemic of 2020 and current variant strains in 2021 have dramatically reshaped business and changed the way business operates and manages risk.

For many, their business is their largest financial asset. Should business owners feel comfortable their pre-pandemic approach to their insurance program will perform under a post-pandemic environment?

A few insurance simulations for consideration:

  • Phishing, Ransomware Demands, Social Engineering and subsequent lost income, cripple your business. How does your policy respond for each loss scenario?
  • Key components to your product are being delayed overseas, orders are backing logging and customers are cancelling orders? Is your business covered for these supply chain risks?
  • Does my policy contain virus, bacteria exclusions or limitations?
  • Have nuclear verdicts and social inflation rendered my limits of insurance inadequate?
  • Do my employees understand the value of tele-medicine options now offered?
  • Would a Wellness program improve employee morale, while help manage costs?
Insurance buyers should demand more than a low price quote or two from their agent or broker. If you broker is not asking these questions, along with many others, to “stress test” your current program, you are placing your largest asset at risk.

Real time insights, client focused solutions, custom designed around your business is what R&R does best. Please give us a call, or send us an email, and let an R&R Insurance Knowledgebroker stress test your current insurance program.

Exercise and Health Care Costs

Posted by Taylor Almonte-Hahn

Yoga Mat Computer

A new study regarding exercise and Medicare claims found that those individuals who are exercising before middle age save anywhere from $824 to $1,874 annually on health care after retirement. With people living longer in our society, think of the effects that could save an individual long term!

It’s no secret that physical activity lowers risk for serious chronic conditions, but despite knowing the significant benefits only half of Americans are exercising. Currently, chronic diseases are causing $0.75 of every $1 to be spent on healthcare. This could be avoided or reversed by being active, not smoking, not drinking, getting quality sleep, eating properly, etc.

Another past study shows that physically active older people spend less on health care than those retired due to needing fewer doctor’s visits and medication. While individuals who reported exercising moderately throughout their adult lives saved about 16% on healthcare costs compared to those who are sedentary, and those individuals in their 20’s that significantly focused on daily exercise saved an average of $1,874 on health care after age 65.

There is much more data in this article; however, we cannot deny the data concludes being active while young might have significant impacts on health care costs later. But remember, it is never too late to start!

Topics: Wellness

The Truth About Chronic Conditions

Posted by Taylor Almonte-Hahn

chronic condition

Despite the vast distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, a challenge is still occurring within our healthcare system. Individuals with preventable chronic health conditions continue to be a growing concern.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 60% of adults have one chronic condition and 40% of adults have two or more chronic diseases.

What’s interesting is majority of these chronic diseases can be avoided or reversed through things like adjusting lifestyle factors such as quitting smoking, getting your an annual exam, physical activity, proper nutrition, etc.

As we know, the effects of COVID-19 caused individuals to cancel non-emergency care services for months. This has caused signs of chronic disease to advance due to a lack of addressment in an earlier time frame. In fact, the CDC reported, 32% of adults, since last June, have reported that they avoided medical care due to COVID-19 and an additional 12% delayed going to urgent care.

To help combat this, providers have made the switch to integrating remote tools like telehealth, monitoring, and phone apps to help manage chronic diseases from home. Nevertheless, more developments are occurring to meet the needs of the individuals who are suffering. Specifically, the chronic conditions to watch out for are from individuals engaging in behaviors like overeating, being sedentary, drug or alcohol use, and smoking. Stress and anxiety levels can also play into an increase of symptoms.

With the surge finally beginning to subside, healthcare professionals highly recommend individuals get back to their scheduled visits. Especially since some conditions like diabetes and hypertension require continuous care and should not be delayed or symptoms will get progressively worse.

For more information about the chronic disease wave looming post-pandemic, please view this post.

Topics: Wellness

May is National Stroke Month

Posted by Taylor Almonte-Hahn

Stroke-Awareness-Month

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the number two cause of death worldwide and the leading cause of disability. That means one in six of us will experience a stroke in our lifetime.

In addition, approximately 80% of strokes are preventable. By controlling high blood pressure, not smoking, controlling blood sugar, implementing a healthy nutritional lifestyle, being physically active and reducing obesity are all some of the lifestyle recommendations one can implement to prevent a stroke. If you are curious about your risk factors for a stroke, feel free to take a minute to complete this quiz.

In terms of gender, strokes are more prevalent in women, so please consider viewing this infographic for risk factors and statistics to consider. In addition, an important concept to remember is F.A.S.T.

It’s good to be familiar with the following as they are the symptoms that indicate a Stroke:

  • Face drooping
  • Arm weakness
  • Speech difficulty
  • Time to call 911

If you see someone with any of the indicators above or you yourself are experiencing these, it’s time to call 911. This is an important step that can make a tremendous difference in terms of recovery.

For many more resources and quizzes relating to strokes, please visit the American Stroke Association.

Additional Resource: Heart at Work, AHA

Topics: Wellness

Health Savings Accounts and High Deductible Health Plan Limits Increase for 2022

Posted by R&R Insurance

SavingsOn May 10, 2020, the IRS released Revenue Procedure 2021-25 to provide the inflation-adjusted limits for health savings accounts (HSAs) and high deductible health plans (HDHPs) for 2022. The IRS is required to publish these limits by June 1 of each year.

These limits include:

  • The maximum HSA contribution limit;
  • The minimum deductible amount for HDHPs; and
  • The maximum out-of-pocket expense limit for HDHPs.

These limits vary based on whether an individual has self-only or family coverage under an HDHP.

Eligible individuals with self-only HDHP coverage will be able to contribute $3,650 to their HSAs for 2022, up from $3,600 for 2021. Eligible individuals with family HDHP coverage will be able to contribute $7,300 to their HSAs for 2022, up from $7,200 for 2021. Individuals who are age 55 or older are permitted to make an additional $1,000 “catch-up” contribution to their HSAs.

The minimum deductible amount for HDHPs remains the same for 2022 plan years ($1,400 for self-only coverage and $2,800 for family coverage). However, the HDHP maximum out-of-pocket expense limit increases to $7,050 for self-only coverage and $14,100 for family coverage.

You can download our convenient chart here: HSA HDHP Limits Increase for 2022

Topics: Employee Benefits

Employees Wellness Trends for 2021

Posted by Taylor Almonte-Hahn

2021 trendsIt is hard to believe we are already four months into the New Year! Employers are still adapting and elevating their wellness programs for the remainder of the year.

So, what are the employee wellness trends to still consider for 2021?

We know that COVID turned everyone’s world upside down and an emphasis is now being placed on holistic wellbeing and mental health. The Business Group on Health reported from their 2021 large employer plan design survey that:

45% of employees consider health care strategy to be a critical component in overall workplace strategy which was at 36% in 2019.”

Therefore, a greater focus on holistic wellbeing is needed instead of only focusing on physical activity. This, in turn, creates the need for programs to be more than just a step challenge, walking club, etc. They must incorporate the eight dimensions of wellness to round out a holistic wellbeing strategy for employees.

Companies that are switching to this mentality are focused on employee satisfaction and retention. In addition, by expanding mental health resources, it will help employee’s account for suffering that has occurred from the pandemic. The Standard says, “80% of employees report feeling highly distressed due to the pandemic.” Moreover, there is also an increase in employee assistance programs (EAP’s).

Those who do not have an EAP are researching one and those that have an EAP in place are updating the number of free sessions employees have to utilize. Employers are wanting to provide access online for convenience, as well as recognizing mental health issues are occurring and conducting anti-stigma campaigns around it.

Lastly, expanding financial wellness resources is among another trend for 2021. MetLife says, “81% of employees report feeling major financial stress since COVID.” The value to recognize here is that it’s not only your soon-to-be retirees who can benefit from financial wellness but all of your employees.

Overall, if you are still wondering how to enhance your wellness program for 2021, start with considering one of the three-wellness trends employees are searching for and interested about.

Topics: Employee Benefits, Wellness

Restaurant Revitalization Fund: Who is Eligible and How to Apply

Posted by R&R Insurance

Chef garnishing salads in the kitchen with others garnishing their salads

As part of the American Rescue Plan Act signed March 11, 2021, $28.6 billion is allocated to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund program.  Monies from this fund are to be paid as tax-free grants to restaurants, bars, and associated food and beverage related businesses in order to provide them with compensation for their reduced revenues of 2020.

Generally speaking, restaurants can apply for grants that are equal to 2020 gross revenue minus 2019 gross revenue. For businesses in operation for all of 2019 and 2020, the maximum grant size will be $5 million for restaurants and $10 million for restaurant groups. Grant funds will not be taxed like income.

According to Forbes.com, "In addition to qualifying as an eligible entity, a business must also show that they have suffered a pandemic-related loss. In order to do so, an entity only needs to show that they had less gross receipts in 2020 than they did in 2019, but PPP loan proceeds are considered to be revenues for purposes of this calculation.

Therefore, under this new law, if your business kept the same pricing, sold one less side order of fries in 2020 compared to 2019, and received no PPP loan, your restaurant has suffered a pandemic-related loss."

Quick takes for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund:

  • Amount given to restaurant in form of grant, not a loan. Does not need to be paid back if used for operating expenses. Grant is nontaxable.
  • Definition of restaurant as follows: “Food stand, food truck, food cart, caterer, saloon, inn, tavern, bar, lounge, brewpub, tasting room, taproom, licensed facility or premise of a beverage alcohol producer where the public may taste, sample or purchase products, or other similar place of business which the public or patrons assemble for the primary purpose of being served food or drink.”
  • Does not qualify if:
    1. State or local government operated business
    2. As of March 13, 2020 owns or operates more than 20 locations regardless of whether the location operates under same or different names
    3. Has a pending application for or has received a Shuttered Venue Operators gram
    4. Is a publicly traded company
  • Determining amount of grant for existing restaurants:
    1. Gross receipts of restaurant in 2019
    2. Less gross receipts of restaurant in 2020
    3. Less amount of any PPP loan from first or second draw
  • Apply at SBA.gov. No guidance yet on the application process from the SBA
    1. Priority in awarding grants (1) Women owned (2) Veterans (3) socially economically disadvantaged small business. Grant process will be open for 21 days.
    2. Max grant of $10,000,000 per application and grant limited to $5,000,000 per physical location.
    3. Eligible entity makes good faith certification that uncertainty of current economic conditions makes necessary the grant request to support its ongoing operations.

Is your restaurant still looking for tips on opening safely?  Download our complementary re-opening checklist for restaurants.Restaurant-Icon

 

Sources: Forbes.com, USChamber.com