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Living Well

Fridays (with Benefits) - Taking wellness benefits beyond the workplace

Just when we were getting used to writing "employee wellness programs" it looks like things are changing a bit! Now, in an interesting development for the growing marketplace, individual buyers may be able to enroll in wellness benefits through state-run or specialty programs.

These offerings may not be common just yet, but this headline caught our attention. Let's dive in.

Health-Contingent Wellness Programs Enter Individual Marketplace - Kelsey Waddill, Health Payer Intelligence

According to the article, states that choose to participate will allow buyers to enroll in individual wellness benefits programs -- not only to improve health, but also to help lower health care costs. And the states even have some flexibility, with the option to package benefits as cost savings on premiums, or different types of financial incentives.

Of course, there's an approval process determined by each state. But as long as proposed programs meet the same standards as employer-based wellness rewards, there should be no problems with alignment.

For example, if a proposed plan design is based on healthy outcomes, "the desired outcome must be attainable and must have an alternative for those who cannot achieve it for health-related reasons" according to the author.

Additionally, all participating states must restrict their wellness program rewards to 30% of the individual health plan's cost. The only exception is if the wellness program includes tobacco prevention or cessation elements.

And most importantly, proposed wellness benefits can't negatively affect health care coverage to participants.

We're going to keep a close eye on this. While we're unclear how goals-based wellness incentives can efficiently be tracked, we're always happy to see the burgeoning wellness benefits market grow, allowing more people to reap rewards for positive growth. We'll report back if--and when-- these state-run programs expand to more people in more locations.

Wellness necessities

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Caring Mill™ Bundle

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Fridays (with Benefits) is a weekly roundup of the latest headlines about employee benefits -- from FSAs to fitness programs and everything workplace wellness. It appears every Friday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Accounts

Real Money: There's still time to map your FSA spending for the rest of 2019

Didn't 2019 just start last week? January 2020 may be closer than the previous one, but for many of you, FSA spending is still something you're planning for the remainder of the year.

You may have spent more of your FSA funds than you planned to early in the year. But before you start kicking yourself for overspending, you have plenty of time to still budget the remainder of your 2019 -- and use this planning to create a sustainable budget for next year, so you truly make the most of your funds each month.

Re-examine your monthly needs

We're all guilty of it -- starting a year with a budget in mind, then seeing that full allocation of funds and spending it early in the year. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, if that's your game plan. But many FSA users will agree that setting a budget for each month's needs allows these tax-free dollars to go a little further.

If you're interested in making a monthly budget for your FSA funds that can last you throughout the rest of the year, start by creating a list of your monthly necessities, take stock of what items in your home need to be replenished in the future (such as bandages, over-the-counter remedies, etc.), and set limits each month on how much you'll spend.

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See if there are changes to make

Since it's open enrollment season, also take some time to calculate how much you think you'll spend on qualified medical expenses. Our FSA Calculator can help you estimate your health spending!

The calculation takes into account:

  • Out-of-pocket expenses such as co-pays and deductibles for medical services including routine office visits, specialist office visits, and even hospitalization or acupuncture.
  • Over-the-counter FSA-eligible items and prescriptions.
  • Dental care and vision care.

Visit your doctor

If there's one extra expense you should always factor in, it should be medical appointments -- even basic trips to your primary care doctor to get a full assessment of your current state of health. With a clean bill of health in hand, you'll be able to settle into the winter (and have a much better idea of what your medical spending will amount to over the course of next year, to help your budgeting for the year ahead).

Buy items online as you need them - look for seasonal care, over-the-counter FSA items that you use often, and discover just how many products are FSA-eligible. Note that certain over-the-counter products will require a prescription to be reimbursed under your FSA.

By planning ahead, you'll easily avoid buying products in bulk (or unnecessarily stockpiling) and instead enjoy a variety of items - rather than ending up with multiple pairs of eyeglasses, or unneeded boxes of bandages (which isn't recommended ever, because the IRS frowns upon you buying more of one item than you would need for any given plan year)..

Think beyond prescriptions and standard appointments

Depending on the availability of your preferred physician and your need for prescription drugs, you may have limited ways to spend your FSA dollars. Review the rules of your plan and you may find out that you may be reimbursed for qualifying diagnostic devices and even smoking cessation and weight loss programs when needed to treat a diagnosed medical condition and prescribed by your doctor, chiropractor medical services, and many other types of expenses.

Even if you're healthy as a horse, don't forget to plan for the unexpected during these last few months of 2019. When putting together your budget, be sure to still leave about 10-20% of your funds aside to cover unexpected medical expenditures.

Whether this is for the cost of medication, an emergency room visit, or a trip to a specialist, this will give you additional breathing room to put toward major medical needs with your tax-free funds.

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Whether you budget week-to-week, or plan to use your FSA for bigger things, our weekly Real Money column will help you maximize your flex spending dollars. Look for it every Tuesday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Eligibility

Asked and Answered: Why can’t I use my FSA to pay for insurance premiums?

In running the FSAstore.com and HSAstore.com Learning Centers, there are some questions that always seem to pop up. And the subject of using flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to cover health insurance premiums is one of the most-common questions we get.

So, since open enrollment is about to kick off, and we probably have a whole new group of future FSA owners checking out the site, let's revisit this topic, to see if we can clear the air a little.

First, a quick overview of premiums

Premiums are amounts paid to an insurance company to cover the cost of coverage. Their value is heavily based on factors like:

  • Type of coverage
  • Likelihood of a claim being made
  • Where the policyholder lives or operates a business
  • Inherent risk of health problems or behavior
  • Competition with other insurance companies.

In short, premiums are an insurance company's way to cover any liabilities that come with the plans they underwrite. State insurance regulators work to make sure companies have enough reserves to cover any claims, to ensure that medical expenses are covered. Premiums can fluctuate after each policy period, based on a number of cost factors.

For policyholders to continue receiving coverage through their insurance plans, premiums must be paid according to the policy's payment plan schedule. It's left up to policyholders to decide where the funds should come from. And unfortunately, the IRS doesn't allow for those funds to come from your FSA.

But don't take our word for it - instead, review IRS code 213(d), which states the following about FSA spending:

"...medical care includes amounts paid for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease, or for the purpose of affecting any structure or function of the body."

In other words, health insurance premiums fall outside of this definition, since they pay for coverage, but aren't directly connected to the actual care.

Are premiums ever covered by health care accounts?

FSA holders can't count insurance premiums as eligible expenses, but health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) offer slightly more options.

In a small number of exceptions an HSA can cover long term care, or premiums for spouses and qualified dependents when the account holder is receiving health care continuation benefits (COBRA) or federal/state unemployment compensation. But, for the most part, they won't cover premiums. HRA coverage of premiums is even more complex, so don't count on it.

TL;DR?

If you have an FSA you can't use these tax-free funds on premiums. But don't let that be a deal breaker. Your FSA covers thousands of FSA-eligible items, alongside other vital out-of-pocket expenses like copayments, deductibles, over-the-counter items, and more.

Top sellers!

KT Tape Performance+™ Blister Prevention Tape

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From FSA basics to the most specific account details, in our weekly Asked and Answered column, our team gets to the bottom of your most-pressing flex spending questions. It appears every Wednesday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Living Well

Fridays (with Benefits) - More than half of workers are taking this risk

The cost of health care is a problem. But it's not just a physical one. And according to this week's article, people aren't considering the role medical expenses play in a person's overall financial wellness. In fact, going by one survey from 2018, managing health care costs ranked below all other expense types on the questionnaire.

Here's How 53% of Workers Are Putting Their Health at Risk - Maurie Backman, The Motley Fool

This is some disheartening news from Bank of America's 2019 Workplace Benefits Report which indicated that up to 53% of workers have have skipped or postponed necessary treatments to avoid having to pay for them. Treatments like the following:

  • Medical appointments - 32%
  • Medical test/procedures - 21%
  • Purchase of medications - 14%
  • Hospital visits or stays - 10%
  • Skipped health insurance - 7%
  • Purchase of supplies - 4%

And even worse, current health care expenses aren't workers' only concern. In retirement, Medicare may only cover up to 65% of certain employee medical costs, increasing the burden of health care premiums and out-of-pocket costs -- all of which can add up quickly, potentially destroying a retirement savings account.

What's worse, many employees are passing on tax-free health benefits like FSAs and HSAs, which could considerably lower the financial burden that basic medical expenses bring about each year. While nearly 90% of companies offer these accounts, not nearly enough employees are taking advantage of them. And without these protections in place, their focus is on saving money, which means their general health is suffering as a result.

Let's just take a stand here: if you don't take stock of your health through preventive care, there's a good chance you'll pay more down the line when your health becomes more of an everyday concern as the result of aging. That's why FSAs and HSAs are such great options for those looking to save money on health care - you can turn those yearly tax savings into a reinvestment into your overall health by being able to cover those preventive screenings like yearly physicals, eye tests, blood screenings and more.

So keep that doctor appointment you have on the calendar, you may just help save yourself thousands down the road.

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Fridays (with Benefits) is a weekly roundup of the latest headlines about employee benefits -- from FSAs to fitness programs and everything workplace wellness. It appears every Friday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Accounts

Fridays (with Benefits) - Better benefits through data

Data is everywhere. This isn't exactly "news." Mostly about how Big Data is affecting large industries. But we haven't heard much about how localized data can help smaller companies leverage the same types of insights, scaled to their specific needs.

This week, we look at an article that highlights an HR professional who leveraged her own love of data analysis to better craft employee benefit plans at her company. What might be the most interesting is how much of the data she uses is qualitative, addressing the targeted needs of people.

How one HR pro uses data to increase benefit utilization - Nick Otto, Employee Benefit News

Misty Guinn, the director of benefits and wellness at Benefitfocus, calls herself a "data nerd." Yet, HR hasn't traditionally been a line of work that relied heavily on deeper metrics -- even at a company that provides benefits services to other organizations.

And what struck her the most was how it seemed that her company's employees knew more about other people's benefits than their own. So, she tore down the existing model and built a new internal benefits education plan that treated the company's own workers like the customers they serve.

The result? An Employee Benefit News' 2019 Judges' Choice Benny Award.

Guinn's new approach was people-focused, aiming to ensure an entire wellness strategy -- physical, mental, emotional, financial and purpose-driven needs. These plans and options were crafted by analyzing the data at hand.

We won't get too deep into the specifics, but the data was telling, giving Guinn the insights necessary to rework entire communications plans, increasing engagement before, during and after open enrollment. She knew that employees were often confused by the wealth of benefits options in front of them, never making the most of what was offered.

Even more telling, by analyzing her company's enrollment data, Guinn saw ways to optimize benefits offerings by life accomplishments and milestones -- having children, buying homes, paying for college, etc. Not only did she make it easier for employees to understand their options, but also continued education and communication through these life-changing events.

Even for employees who aren't undergoing these changes, Guinn's data allowed her to create a thematic approach to internal communications, centering her outreach on awareness months, national observances and the like.

With these overhauls, Benefitfocus saw a 72% adoption rate into its high deductible health plans during the 2019 open enrollment period, above the national average of 25 to 30%. Additionally, there was a 27% increase in employee contributions to health savings accounts.

Yeah, this is the type of data we like to hear. Check out the rest of the article to hear more about how Guinn and Benefitfocus leveraged data to transform benefits into a personal journey.

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Living Well

Fridays (with Benefits) - Gen X showing highest job satisfaction in years

As you might have noticed, most benefits discussions center on things that need to be improved. Whether it's health offerings, wellness perks or just workplace environments, the conversation always seems to be focused on what we don't have. So it's nice to find out these efforts are starting to work, because job satisfaction is on the rise!

It's also nice to see that it's working for a generation of employees that we often overlook -- Generation X. For all the retirement plans and millennial think pieces published across the web, Gen X seems to be enjoying its time out of the spotlight, going to work happy and satisfied. Let's see what's going on.

Job satisfaction, wage satisfaction on the rise - Jack Craver, BenefitsPRO

According to a Conference Board survey of 2,000 workers across generations, 46% of workers under the age of 35 were happy with their salaries -- a 10% jump from just a year ago. But, as impressive as that is, Gen X workers are even more satisfied, with nearly half of 35-54-year-olds responding positively.

(For the record, only Baby Boomers showed any decline in satisfaction. But 44% of workers over 55 still reported wage satisfaction.)

Much of this can be attributed to money -- younger workers saw a 7.6% boost in pay over the last few years. But, proving that there's more to a career than a salary, the survey indicated that nearly 54% of respondents were satisfied with their jobs -- the highest it has been since 2003, and a significant jump over the record low of 42.6% satisfaction, reported during the 2008 recession.

The survey results go on to dive deeper into reasoning for these shifts, painting a positive picture for the next decade, as younger workers grow into their careers and Gen X'ers work their way toward happier retirements.

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Fridays (with Benefits) is a weekly roundup of the latest headlines about employee benefits -- from FSAs to fitness programs and everything workplace wellness. It appears every Friday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Living Well

Fridays (with Benefits) - Are wellness programs really succeeding?

Normally, we lead off these Friday recaps with a quick introduction, setting the table for the news at hand. This week, we're going to change the format and lead with a quote from the article, instead.

"... research suggests most workplace wellness programs are a waste of money."

While we're not going to say we agree with this sentiment, this week's article does raise a few interesting points about these programs, and how they might be able to evolve to live up to their initial promise.

Why Workplace Wellness Programs Aren't Working - Serenity Gibbons, ThriveGlobal

According to author Serenity Gibbons, (an equal rights advocate and former assistant editor at the Wall Street Journal) current wellness programs are too focused on physical health, but aren't accounting for "the whole person." And, as a result, this lack of overall well-being is rendering these programs ineffective for TEAM wellness.

To drive this point home, Gibbons reminds us of a joint Harvard University/University of Chicago study that showed wellness programs had no impact on employee health improvement, employer health spending, or time off of work. In other words, the primary goals of wellness programs weren't being met.

To rectify this, Gibbons recommends a larger focus on some key areas -- areas that encompass overall wellness, and not just physical fitness. We obviously can't cover them all here (that's what the article link is for), so we'll just highlight some of the more-surprising suggestions made in the piece.

Working to prevent employee burnout

Moving past general mental and emotional wellness, Gibbons feels burnout is a major problem for today's workers. And that is often caused by a lack of direction and challenge coming from above. By establishing professional wellness goals within these programs, she feels employees will come to work more focused on both immediate work and long-term career goals. But this isn't just 'career coaching' -- it's reminding employees of their value, while valuing their own needs.

Spiritual guidance… at work?

This entry surprised me a bit, since it's rare to see religion or spirituality ever discussed within the workplace. But Gibbons feels strongly about how spiritual people tend to be more motivated and community-minded, which carries over to work ethic and performance.

While no one is suggesting employers should organize in-office worship -- spirituality is far too personal, after all -- Gibbons sees some benefit in allowing workers to take breaks for prayer, meditations or even organizing worship sessions, as long as it doesn't affect work or the workplace.

The article goes on to highlight more unique ways to address employee health. No one is doubting that healthier employees are generally happier ones, as well. But not all wellness programs are hitting the mark. Gibbons surprised us with some of her suggestions… and there's clearly a lot of conversation still to be had before wellness programs can be considered a nationwide success.

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Fridays (with Benefits) is a weekly roundup of the latest headlines about employee benefits -- from FSAs to fitness programs and everything workplace wellness. It appears every Friday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Basics

Fridays (with Benefits) - Summer is actually a perfect time for benefits planning

It's hard to believe, but we're about a week away from September. Back-to-school is in full swing, and Labor Day barbecue menus are already being planned. And that means open enrollment discussions are going to happen sooner rather than later.

But, as we learned in this guest post in HR Technologist, it's possible these conversations should have already started. It seems that late summer -- July, August and September -- is the best time of year to start prepping employees for benefits selection. Let's see what's up.

HR Shopping: Why Summer is Benefits Season - Rachel Lyubovitzky, EverythingBenefits (posted on HR Technologist)

According to EverythingBenefits' platform data, summer is the busiest time of year for benefits providers and exchanges, with 70-75% of businesses entering the process at this time. The question is, "why?"

Because there's much bigger decisions to make, and more benefits options to choose from than ever before. We've come a long way from "medical/dental/vision" coverage being enough to lure and retain quality workers. So HR pros have to be extra diligent in educating, explaining and enrolling employees in the right packages.

Here are some of the things the author feels are most-pressing in the eyes of HR professionals:

Modern benefit types

When we say "modern" we're not just expecting an app or online portal. Instead, millennial and Gen-Z employees are looking for more tangible things to improve their quality of life. Things like college loan reimbursement, elder care and even PET insurance are all desirable… and now they're on the benefits buffet at open enrollment.

Regulatory changes

HR professionals are busy enough without having to deal with the onslaught of new and changing health care policies. And before they can help workers navigate the often turbulent benefits waters, they need to make sure benefits packages are compliant, both for the present and the future.

By starting this preparation earlier in the year, HR pros are able to stay on top of these changes, while factoring in the needs and desires of their companies' workforces.

The article goes on to explain how artificial intelligence (AI) can play a role in facilitating the role of HR administrator, so they spend less time learning benefits offerings, and more time addressing the human needs and concerns. That IS a big part of the job, after all.

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Fridays (with Benefits) is a weekly roundup of the latest headlines about employee benefits -- from FSAs to fitness programs and everything workplace wellness. It appears every Friday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Eligibility

That's Eligible?! Revisiting 3 products that just miss FSA eligibility

In case you're new to Asked and Answered, we get a lot of questions about product and service eligibility. And understandably, there's a lot of confusion when it comes to certain products that seem like they should be eligible, but don't quite make the cut in the eyes of the IRS.

On the surface, the regulations behind your FSA seem pretty cut and dry. After all, these accounts are designed to cover "diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or for the purpose of affecting any structure or function of the body."

But, this makes for a gray area, and some exclusions are more confusing than others. Let's revisit a few products that you would expect to be FSA-eligible, but unfortunately, haven't quite earned a spot on the list.

Toothbrushes/toothpaste/floss

I think we can all agree that good dental care is a healthy "must." Because not taking care of your teeth can lead to a wide range of potential health problems (not to mention social concerns). So, it would make sense for dental supplies to be eligible, right? Well, not quite … at least not yet.

Unfortunately, items like toothbrushes and floss fall under the umbrella of "general health," and don't make the grade just yet. We hope to see some changes in this area, but for now, these products are still taxed. That doesn't mean you should stop using them, though. There are better ways to make a point…

(It also doesn't mean there aren't any FSA-eligible oral care products available - there are plenty of ways to keep your mouth healthy using your tax-free funds.)

E-cigarettes and vaping devices

When we first mentioned these controversial products, they were becoming a hot-button issue. Today, vaping is quickly becoming a massive industry. It's also massively unregulated and largely unproven.

While there have been a metric ton of studies both in the U.S. and abroad proving the safety and effectiveness of e-cigarettes as a viable smoking alternative, the FDA won't designate them as "smoking cessation" products until countless other standards and regs are put in place. And that means the IRS isn't likely to budge, either.

So, while nicotine gums and lozenges might not be as popular as vape pens, they're still the only FSA-eligible (when prescribed) smoking cessation products around. But stay tuned, because the growing vape industry is bound to push for FDA approval each year until it gains some traction in Washington.

(But there are still some FSA-eligible smoking cessation tools worth investigating, though.)

Insect repellent

This might be the most-common product we hear about each day. We all know insects carry disease. And that their bites can transmit disease. So wouldn't a product that deters insects from biting be considered a preventive measure against disease?

However sunscreen is eligible and thankfully, your FSA does allow you the best of both worlds, thanks to sun protection that features insect-repelling ingredients. It might not be as potent as that industrial-size can of DEET you carry when you go hiking, but if you can get viable bug and sun protection in one bottle, it's a win-win, with tax-free funds.

BullFrog Mosquito Coast Bug Spray

BullFrog Mosquito Coast Bug Spray is engineered with a DEET-free insect repellent that deters bites for up to 8 hours and protects from the sun.

Oral Care Products

Oral care products like denture cleaner, filling materials and wax for braces are all FSA-eligible to keep you smiling.

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Don't waste time hunting for ways to spend your tax-free funds. In That's Eligible?!, we'll bring you these updates every Monday, so you don't have to. And for all things flex spending, be sure to check out the rest of our Learning Center, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Living Well

Fridays (with Benefits) - Is your financial wellness program really working?

Financial wellness programs are becoming more common these days, but to many employees, they're just sort of "there." Meaning, there might not be a clear reason for how companies are implementing these perks into their existing benefits offerings. And if employees aren't clear about how to best use financial training, how can we determine if they're successful?

Thankfully, research from Cerulli Associates has managed to track the ROI of financial wellness programs, and how they could better benefit employees in and out of the workplace.

Measuring the Success of Financial Wellness Programs - Lee Barney, PlanSponsor

As mentioned above, it's not always clear how financial wellness programs are being digested employees, so it helps when things start with clearly stated goals. This isn't surprising, of course. Especially when it comes to things like improving retirement planning. But when it comes to things like financial literacy and improving productivity, there's a little more gray area to explore.

Cerulli asked record keepers how they measure the effectiveness of their financial wellness programs, and the results werefairly straightforward:

  • 71% participation
  • 67% website activity
  • 62% contribution rates
  • 57% participant surveys
  • 38% retirement income replacement ratios
  • 38% financial wellness scores

These barometers do a good job addressing top-line items. But some experts cited in the article feel some deeper data will give a better idea into how financial wellness programs are changing behaviors for participants. Things like users getting 401(k) deferrals, 401(k) loans, hardship withdrawals, and even short-term payday loans are far more telling. Because they're measuring financial stress -- a key reason for having financial wellness programs in the first place.

And this same research is showing that financial stress is directly correlated with lower employee productivity.

According to Cerulli's survey of 1,500 401(k) plan participants it conducted in Q2 2019:

"...participants under the age of 40 are markedly more concerned about student loan debt. Those between the ages of 30 and 49 are most stressed about saving for retirement, while those 50 and older are most focused on health care expenses. Those with less than $100,000 in investable assets are more likely to cite lack of emergency savings and credit card debt as a financial concern compared to their more affluent peers. Women say their top stressor is retirement savings, and men say it is health care expenses."

In other words, there's a lot of financial training that needs to happen … for a lot of different reasons. The article goes on to highlight more-detailed research about financial wellness, but the takeaway is clear -- proper financial training is going to do a lot more than just give workers knowledge. It's going to give workers security and planning ability, which may just result in better productivity along the way.

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Fridays (with Benefits) is a weekly roundup of the latest headlines about employee benefits -- from FSAs to fitness programs and everything workplace wellness. It appears every Friday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Living Well

Fridays (with Benefits) - Are employers offering millennials the right benefits?

We live in a society that's all about "bigger," "faster" and "more." But, as we're learning in the workplace benefits arena, "more" doesn't always equal "better." At least that's what we're getting from the new employee research covered in BenefitsPRO, which told us that workers -- specifically millennials -- want more help for all-around wellness. It seems their needs simply aren't being met, even after companies continue to blindly pile on other offerings.

Millennials want more employer support for well-being - Katie Kuehner-Hebert, Benefits PRO

Let's get right to the numbers here. In a recent Welltok report, "Millennials: Raising the Bar for Wellbeing," this much-maligned, often-misunderstood generation isn't asking for the moon. They just want benefits that provide holistic support for physical, mental and financial well-being. Yet, of the 1,000 employees surveyed, 78% think their companies can do more.

In turn, just 23% felt they knew where (and how) to access the well-being resources being offered by their employers. In other words, the answers might actually be there, but employees are having a hard time finding them.

Despite all this automation, millennials have also shown an affinity for personalized experiences. And health and wellness is no exception. More than 60% of surveyed felt that their benefits were uniform across the board, even though employee needs varied widely. And it seems this "one size fits all" approach is preventing them from taking part in company programs, too.

So, how do employers change the story? Well, according to the article, adding incentives that encourage participation would help. These benefits aren't AS surprising, but it makes sense as to why millennials would want them. Here's what respondents seemed to want the most:

  • Extra vacation time (64%)
  • Wellness benefits (56%)
  • Flexible work schedules (53%)

And though it wasn't part of the incentives list, millennials are also (unsurprisingly) very interested in financial stability… and maybe the training to make it happen.

All in all, this was an interesting read that aligns with what we've said about what motivates millennials in the workplace. But it also reintroduces the biggest point -- companies likely need to adapt and evolve their benefits programs to help retain this diverse generation of workers.

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Fridays (with Benefits) is a weekly roundup of the latest headlines about employee benefits -- from FSAs to fitness programs and everything workplace wellness. It appears every Friday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Eligibility

That's Eligible?! Are Fitbit and Apple Watch FSA-eligible?

Admit it, you've looked at wearable devices and thought, "THIS is just what I need to get healthy and stay on track this coming year!" No judgment - we're guilty of the same thing. And we're just as guilty of wondering if we could find one of these fun toys in our stockings tax-free.

Wearable devices are getting more popular by the day - not only for those looking to get healthy, but also for employers looking to motivate workers into staying that way. (Because healthy employees mean fewer sick days and lower costs.)

Well, even though there have been some rumblings about changes, wearable fitness devices are still not considered FSA-eligible. If devices like the Apple Watch and Fitbit were specifically designed for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of a disease, this might be a different response. But general health and overall well-being aren't quite enough to make them qualify.

So, are there any alternatives?

The good news is that there are plenty of other hi-tech, FSA-eligible products that can help you stay on top of your health, using the latest technologies, including smartphone compatibility.

For example, the Qardio Arm Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor makes keeping track of your vitals easy. Qardio measures systolic and diastolic blood pressure and heart rate. The Qardio is compatible with iPhone and Android, and it's light and compact, so you can easily carry it with you!

If tech-focused pain relief is your goal, then the Omron ElectroTherapy Pain Relief TENS Unit provides relief for multiple types of pain, whether you're at home, in the office or traveling. The unit relies on electrical nerve stimulation to offer relief and the small size of the unit makes it extremely portable.

And for deeper pains, maybe deep tissue light treatment is the answer. The Nuve N72 goes beyond the surface to improve blood circulation, alleviate swelling, and relax muscles. Users will enjoy near-immediate relief from pain, right at the source, within seconds of using the device.

But this is no portable heating lamp. Deep penetrating light (DPL) treatment uses an advanced form of energy to reach deep into your body, helping to heal while helping you eliminate nagging pains. The Nuve N72 has a wide range of uses, for most external parts of the body.

Of course, there are a lot of connected health products that are fully FSA-eligible. We've compiled our best, most-popular selections right here, in our Top 10 FSA-eligible products for the hi-tech health fan. And if you're looking for inspiration across the entire FSA-eligible spectrum, we encourage you to check out our comprehensive FSA Buying Guide.

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