Fall 2020 Insight Employer Newsletter


Open Enrollment sign

You can count on Independent Health for your group’s 2021 health coverage needs

Now that were in the midst of the fall season, thousands of employer groups from throughout Western New York are gearing up for their annual open enrollment period. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has caused considerable upheaval and challenges for both employers and their employees, you can rest assured that Independent Health is ready to assist in whatever way is most comfortable for our customers.

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Piggy bank

8 ways a Health Savings Account (HSA) can benefit your employees

By Richard Argentieri, Senior Vice President, Sales, Independent Health

A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a tax-advantaged account that can be offered to those enrolled in qualified high-deductible health plans (HDHPs). HSAs were created through the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 and became available in January 2004.

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Flu shot in arm

It’s important to encourage your employees to get a flu shot this year

By Dr. Deirdre Wheat, Medical Director, Quality, Disease & Case Management, Independent Health

Influenza (“flu”) season is now upon us. Managing the threat of influenza together with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges this year. Although most of us are making routine use of good hygiene practices, social distancing, face coverings, and specific workplace precautions, all of which can help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like the flu, there is more to be done.

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Bills HWC

Health & Wellness Challenge rewards participants for adopting healthy habits

Independent Health and the Buffalo Bills are encouraging Western New Yorkers to stay active and connected by taking part in this fall’s Health & Wellness Challenge. This fun and engaging program runs from October 19 through November 29.

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At a time when it’s become extremely important to manage your overall health and practice social distancing, the Independent Health and Buffalo Bills Health & Wellness Challenge incentivizes people to adopt healthy habits and provides helpful ways to do that – even at home! By moving more, eating wisely and drinking enough water, participants will earn points for a chance to win a variety of daily prizes, as well as the grand prize of an “At-Home Fitness Package,” which includes:

  • ProForm PRO TC Exercise Bike PFEX79920
  • Fitbit Versa 2TM
  • Fitbit Aria AirTM Smart Scale
  • 3-Piece (5, 10 and 15 lb) Kettlebell Set & Stand
  • TRX Go Suspension Training Bands
  • BOSU® Balance Trainer Ball, 65 cm, “The Original”
  • Yoga Mat

During the six-week initiative, a Fusion-style fitness class will be offered virtually every Monday at 6 p.m. Led by YMCA instructors, these Monday Night Fitness classes will be live-streamed on the YMCA Buffalo Niagara Facebook page. In addition, Buffalo Bills defensive lineman Harrison Phillips will once again provide participants with health tips and encouragement along the way.

“It’s key for our community to maintain daily healthy habits. I never would have gotten to the NFL, or returned from knee surgery without them,” said Phillips. “That’s why I’m encouraging fans to join the Independent Health and Buffalo Bills Health & Wellness Challenge. Let’s gear up together as One Family for a healthier you and have a chance to win great prizes along the way.”

How the Challenge works
The Health & Wellness Challenge was created as a way to help motivate individuals to live healthier lives by offering them opportunities to win prizes. Since its launch in 2014, more than 37,000 individuals have registered for this community-wide initiative.

Participants can earn points by achieving three main daily goals:

  1. Complete at least 20 minutes of physical activity
  2. Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables
  3. Drink eight glasses of water

There are also “extra points” challenges designed to push participants further and keep things interesting. These challenges can be modified to suit each participant’s fitness level and ability. The daily goals and “extra points” challenges are worth 5 points each. Plus, by referring friends and family starting October 12, participants can earn 10 extra points for each person who registers.

How to get started
Your employees can register for this fall’s Health & Wellness Challenge and keep track of their progress buffalobills.com/thechallenge. To be eligible to win a prize, participants must be at least 18 years of age and a legal resident of New York State at the time of entry.

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Insight Newsletter Archive: Fall 2020, Summer 2020, Spring 2020, Winter 2020

Managing diabetes is easier with Brook

With November being National Diabetes Month, we want to remind you that your employees can better manage their diabetes by using the Brook Health Companion. This mobile app provides personalized health coaching and advice, as well as 24/7 online chat. Brook will help your employees stay on track with their medications and keep their blood glucose levels in the healthy zone. The Brook app can be downloaded for free. Learn more by clicking here.

Worksite wellness program tax reminder

According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), rewards or incentives provided to participants of a worksite wellness program may be considered taxable. This includes any cash or cash equivalents (e.g., wellness cards, gift cards and nutrition benefits) that participants received. Independent health is prepared to provide an accounting of cash and cash equivalent awards received by your employees during the 2020 calendar year so that you may consider them in satisfying any related obligations under the applicable tax rules. If you would like us to provide a report specific to your company and employees who earned an incentive from one of our wellness programs, please contact your account manager. As always, when it comes to federal rules and regulations, we encourage you to speak with your legal consultant, accountant and/or tax advisor for professional advice.