Serving over 200 companies and more than 2000 families since 1988

2882 Sand Hill Rd. Ste. 119 - Menlo Park, CA 94025 - (650) 854-8963 - (800) 564-4476
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Historically, employees of small businesses have enjoyed few options with regard to retirement planning. With only four out of ten small businesses offering any sort of retirement benefit, many Californians faced challenges with regard to their financial futures. Looking toward the future, and envisioning millions of citizens retiring at barely above the poverty line, lawmakers stepped in to create a state-operated retirement system. CalSavers is now open for enrollment, with small businesses employing five or more workers required to enroll. Enrollment deadlines are staggered over the next two years, with the end goal of enrolling seven million Californians into a retirement savings plan (unless they take steps to opt out). The set-up is relatively simple: CalSavers will provide an IRA (Individual Retirement Account) and eligible employees of participating businesses will be automatically enrolled at a 5 percent contribution rate. A one percent automatic escalation will apply, up to an 8 percent contribution rate. Accounts stay with employees even if they change jobs. Business owners, also, can enroll in CalSavers if they are also employees of their businesses. Those who are not employees of their businesses can participate, but must make contributions from their bank accounts rather than payroll deductions. Self-employed workers are also eligible to join the program via the same process. Are all business owners required to enroll in CalSavers? No, not necessarily. Enrollment in CalSavers is required of small businesses who employ more than five workers, but only if they do not already participate in a retirement benefits program. If you have already established a qualified retirement plan for employees, or decide to establish one through another provider, you will not be required to participate in CalSavers. Otherwise, yes, small businesses will be required to enroll in CalSavers according to the following schedule: Businesses with 100 or more employees should enroll by June 30, 2020Businesses with 50 or more employees should enroll by June 30, 2021Businesses with 5 or more employees should enroll by June 30, 2022 Of course, you can enroll earlier than those dates as well. Businesses that fail to comply with the mandate can be charged a penalty of 250 dollars per employee up to 90 days after the deadline, and 500 dollars per employee after 90 days have passed without compliance. For more information on enrolling in CalSavers, or to discuss other retirement benefit options, give us a call. We can help you understand your options and select the course of action that best suits your...

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You may have heard the alarming news reports regarding the coronavirus outbreak in China. Although this news is concerning, mostly for those in China, arming yourself with knowledge can be the best antidote for your own worry. What is coronavirus? Coronavirus is actually an entire class of viruses, and they’re nothing new. In fact, coronaviruses are one of the frequent culprits behind the common cold. Concern over this particular strain of coronavirus is due to its unusual strength, and the fact that it is a strain we haven’t previously encountered before. What are the symptoms of coronavirus? Those infected with this new strain of coronavirus present with coughing, breathing difficulties, and fever. It might appear as a bad cold at first. However, the progression of the virus into respiratory distress and pneumonia is the true risk in this situation. What is the treatment for coronavirus? As with other viruses, antibiotics are not effective. Antiviral drugs commonly used against the flu also will not work against coronavirus. Treatment includes admission to the hospital, fluids, rest, and support for infected lungs. Recovery mostly depends upon the patient’s immune system. How lethal is this coronavirus? As of February 7, the infection tally has reached 31,161 inside China, with an additional 280 cases in 28 other countries. The death toll includes 636 Chinese, one death of a Hong Kong resident, and one death in the Philippines. The mortality rate of the virus stands at 2 percent. Most of the deaths have occurred in individuals with already compromised immune systems, the elderly, and people who are otherwise in poor health already. Health experts have suggested that many cases of coronavirus have gone undetected because symptoms were mild, and the affected individuals assumed they simply contracted a common cold. In that case, the lethality of the virus would be even lower than the estimated 2 percent. Are we at risk of infection in the US? So far, five cases of this particular coronavirus have been diagnosed in the United States. These patients recently traveled to China or had close contact with a traveler. So far the virus seems contained to these five patients, and health officials don’t believe it was spread within their communities. With travel to China heavily discouraged at the moment, it is unlikely that we will see a widespread outbreak of this viral strain in the...

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Billing misunderstandings are common, due to the confusing nature of medical bills in general. But if you receive a bill that seems unexpected, it’s always a good idea to investigate it before paying it. In some cases you might have been billed erroneously. One problem that we see occasionally is a situation called “balance billing”. This practice goes against your group insurance provider’s rules, and is actually illegal.  For example, let’s say a medical practice normally charges 300 dollars for a particular service. As an in-network provider with your insurance company, they have agreed to accept a pre-negotiated amount for that service, which is always less than the “cash” price.  In this example, let’s assume that the pre-negotiated amount is $200. If this practice then sends you a bill for the remaining 100 dollars, this is called “balance billing” and it not only violates their agreement with the insurance provider, but it is also illegal. Unfortunately, that fact hasn’t completely stopped some providers from engaging in this practice.  Any time you receive an unexpected bill, you have the right to question it before paying it. In some cases the bill is simply a mistake. The first thing to do is call the physician and inquire about the charges.  Most often, the billing error is not intentional and the provider will fix the issue. However, if you believe your medical provider is engaging in balance billing and they refuse to adjust the charges, the next step would be to notify your health insurance company.  Of course, you also have the right to inquire about fees and insurance payments before scheduling an appointment with any doctor or healthcare provider. If you know what to expect, it can be easier to compare services and choose a provider that is right for...

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Many of us rely upon an annual physical exam, to detect developing health conditions and discuss prevention strategies with our doctors. But a lot can happen in a year’s time. You might be surprised to know that your dentist or eye care professional can also detect several serious health conditions, even those that seem unrelated to your mouth or eyes. By staggering your check-ups throughout the year, you might stand a better chance at early detection of several chronic health problems. For example, did you know that a routine eye exam can uncover signs of the following conditions? Each of these conditions produce changes that can be seen within the eyes. Diabetes High blood pressure Thyroid disorders Arthritis Several types of cancer High cholesterol Certain tumors Multiple sclerosis Sickle cell disease Early signs that you might be susceptible to a stroke Your dental health can also indicate concerning symptoms of more serious underlying conditions. During a regular dental exam, your dentist might detect early progression of health problems such as… Diabetes Leukemia Pancreatic cancer Oral cancer Heart disease Kidney disease An oncoming heart attack In fact, research has shown that over 90 percent of systemic diseases can include symptoms that manifest in your mouth! Your dentist might be the first to notice subtle signs of something going wrong. He or she won’t necessarily diagnose you with one of the above conditions, but will advise you to visit your primary care doctor immediately to conduct further investigation of a concerning oral health symptom. If your health insurance does not offer coverage for dental and vision care, you can actually add a supplemental policy for this purpose. Contact us to learn more about dental and vision care coverage, and we can match you with a policy that suits your...

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Although the Affordable Care Act resulted in healthcare coverage for the vast majority of Californians, a small percentage still are not enrolled in an insurance plan. Now, with the federal income tax penalty for coverage failure set at 0 dollars, some policymakers expressed concern that the number of uninsured California residents could grow. With that fear in mind, the state has now instituted its own mandate. Those who remain uncovered by a health insurance policy in 2020 will be subject to a penalty, this time on their state tax return rather than federal. The penalty will amount to $695 per uncovered adult in the household, and half of that amount for each uncovered child. The penalty goes into effect with regard to the 2020 tax year, with penalties charged in Spring of 2021 when California residents file their state income tax returns. Some exemptions to the law do apply. In order to avoid the potential penalty, health insurance coverage must be maintained throughout 2020. That makes the current Open Enrollment season vitally important for all Californians. If you are not currently enrolled in a health insurance plan, you must choose one by December 15 in order for coverage to begin on January 1, 2020. Get started today, so that you have time to adequately compare plans and select one that best suits your needs. Give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you protect your family, while avoiding any unnecessary tax penalties in...

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Many companies in the small group market want to offer health insurance coverage to employees, but are unsure of how to make that happen. What about the cost? Will employee participation be high enough? Will we get turned down if enough employees don’t want to participate? The small group special enrollment period is the answer to these questions. What is the small group special enrollment period? Once per year, the small group special enrollment period allows smaller companies to establish a group health insurance plan for employees without the usual minimum participation or contribution rates. During this one-month enrollment period, your company does not need to contribute to premiums. And, you only need one enrolled employee in order to establish a group plan. A tax-friendly strategy. As an added bonus, you can help your employees earn a valuable tax benefit as they pay their premiums. Premiums can be deducted from paychecks on a pre-tax basis, meaning they will reduce income tax liability by that amount each year. The strategy works in a manner similar to 401(k) contributions, adding a valuable benefit for your employees. When is the small group special enrollment period? This opportunity comes around each November 15, and lasts until December 15. During the special enrollment period, the usual participation and contribution requirements are not enforced. Those who enroll by the deadline of December 15 will have coverage that begins on January 1. Certain rules regarding employer contributions can feel a bit tricky to navigate. Contact us before November 15 so that we can answer your questions about the small group special enrollment period, and help you decide how to proceed with this important benefit for your...

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