Wellness Plans: Look Both Ways Before Crossing the Road
Renee Kuhs, Compliance Attorney, Vizance, Inc.
Look both ways before crossing the road. Does this advice sound familiar? Is it something your mother said to you every time you left the house? Is it advice you have passed along to your children? These words of caution are well suited for employers that have or are seeking to implement a Wellness Plan.
The EEOC recently filed lawsuits against three employers alleging their Wellness Plans violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. Two of these employers are located in Wisconsin; one employer is in Minnesota.
Employers are often surprised to learn that the Wellness Plan they have had in place for years violates federal law. Over the last seven years, I’ve worked with numerous employers to correct compliance problems with their Wellness Plan. Employers often rely upon an insurance carrier, insurance broker, or wellness consultant to help them implement their Wellness Plan. While these parties all bring expertise to the process, one important component is consistently missing – compliance with laws governing the employer. The three lawsuits that have been brought by the EEOC were filed against the employer. Neither the insurance broker nor the wellness consultant has been made a party to the lawsuits.
How will looking both ways before an employer crosses the road avoid litigation? Wellness Plans have typically been developed by focusing solely on the rules contained within the Health Insurance Portabilit
Same-Sex Marriages & Domestic Partnerships in Wisconsin
By Renee Kuhs, Compliance Attorney, Vizance, Inc.
Effective October 6, 2014, Wisconsin recognizes same-sex marriages. Wisconsin residents in a same-sex relationship may file for a marriage license in Wisconsin. Same-sex marriages that took place in another state will now also be recognized in Wisconsin.
Employers should consider how this change will impact their employment practices and health insurance plans.
In 2009, Wisconsin’s FMLA was modified to provide rights to individuals that were in a domestic partnership. In light of the recognition of same-sex marriages in Wisconsin, individuals in a same-sex marriage will also be entitled to the rights provided to legal spouses under Wisconsin’s FMLA.
Rights available under federal FMLA have been afforded to same-sex spouses if the marriage was recognized under the laws of the state where the individual resides. With the change in Wisconsin’s law on same-sex marriages, same-sex spouses are also entitled to protection under the federal FMLA effective immediately.
Health Insurance Coverage
Employers that offer a fully-insured health plan to its employees will be required to comply with Wisconsin insurance laws. The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance regulates fully-insured health plans in Wisconsin. To date they have not released official guidance in response to this change in law. However, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) prohibits insurance carriers from discriminating based upon sexual orientation. Beg
OSHA Issues New Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements
On September 11, 2014, OSHA announced a new final rule for reporting and recording severe work-related injuries and illnesses. Under the new rule, employers will be required to report any work-related fatality to OSHA within eight hours (same as current requirement) and any in-patient hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye within 24 hours (Updated requirement: Previously, employers only had to report in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees). The final rule also updates the list of partially exempt industries. The final rule becomes effective on January 1, 2015.
Dimas Ocampo is Finalist in BizTimes Media’s Nonprofit Excellence Awards
Congratulations to Dimas Ocampo, Principal at Vizance, who is a finalist in the BizTimes Media's Nonprofit Excellence Awards in the “Next Generation Leadership” category. This award is given to an executive who demonstrates leadership and significant contributions to single or multiple nonprofit organizations through active leadership on a board and/or strategic management/guidance.
Dimas will be honored on November 4th at the Awards Ceremony, which honors Southeastern Wisconsin's "Best Corporate Citizens" and "Most Effective Nonprofit Organizations."
Governor Walker visits Vizance, Inc.
Vizance was honored to receive a visit from Governor Scott Walker this morning. He met with the Leadership Team, toured the building, met associates and shared his vision. Thank you for the visit!
Vizance, Inc. of Hartland announces merger with Group Health Planning, Inc.
Vizance, Inc. and Group Health Planning, Inc., both of Hartland, Wisconsin, recently announced their merger, effective August 1, 2014. The two independent insurance agencies will operate under the “Vizance” name and will be headquartered at 1320 Walnut Ridge Drive in Hartland.
Both agencies have several decades of experience behind them. Vizance was founded in 1978 and Group Health Planning began operating in 1983. As an independent agency, Vizance provides Business Insurance, Employee Benefits, Personal Lines Insurance and Financial Services. The merger brings additional Employee Benefits services, including the extensive expertise of Bill Brazzoni and Tom Williams in the Self-Funded Health Plan arena.
Group Health Planning is the second company to merge with Vizance this year. In January 2014, SEBS Fond du Lac also merged with Vizance, providing the agency with its second location. Vizance plans to continue growing through acquisitions, and is seeking other partner agencies.
Understanding Common Aspects of Claims Resolution
This Work Comp Insights investigates some common situations and processes an employer will have to deal with during claim resolution. Understanding Common Aspects of Claims Resolution
Annual Food Drive Ends With Record Total
The 5th annual Vizance Food Drive has wrapped up, and we are proud to announce that we have a new agency record. The Vizance associates, together with our clients and company partners, gathered 19,224 food items and $3,955. Thank you to everyone who helped reach this amazing number!
Vizance Collects School Supplies for Local Students
Vizance recently took part in the Schoolkits for Kids program sponsored by the PIAW (Professional Insurance Agents of Wisconsin).
The associates of Vizance donated 62 backpacks, along with numerous school supplies, that were given to the Salvation Army for distribution to local students. This collection, valued at nearly $900, was the largest donation of any agency in Wisconsin.
Five Steps to Reducing Workers’ Compensation Costs
Learn more about the five steps your company can take to have a well-rounded safety program that produces a safe work environment, achieves OSHA compliance and reduces accidents in Five Steps to Reducing Workers' Compensation Costs.