Learn How To Stabilize The Cost Of Employee Benefits


With a defined contribution, your company can budget a set dollar amount for each employee to spend on employee benefits.  This allows your company to lock in costs associated with providing benefits for your employees and leave out the guess work.


Using a defined contribution allows your employees to choose which health insurance plan best fits their needs.  Based on the contribution from the company, the employee can choose from up to five different health plans that will suit them the best.  If they choose a plan that exceeds the employer contribution the employee will be responsible for the additional premium.


In order to assist employees decide which plan best fits their needs we provide one-on one-enrollments.  At Fortress Benefits, health insurance advisors are here to assist you with any and all questions related to employee benefits to help simplify the process.
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Employee Benefits Compliance

Is your company aware of compliance issues that may arise from offering employee benefits.  The Department of Labor has vowed to increase audits and take a much closer look at employee benefits to ensure compliance and proper administration.

What Are The Potential Consequences?

The Department of Labor can potentially impose fines up to $100 per day per employee or $36,500 per year for being out of compliance.  The IRS can also impose fines to employers not adhering to the rules of a cafeteria plan.

Fortress Benefits Can Help!

We have partnered with Advantage Administrators to ensure all employee benefits administered by our agency are 100% compliant.  The administration is a free service provided by our agency when we administering your employee benefits.

Contact Fortress Benefits today to learn more and ease your concerns!


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Iowa’s Individual Market Options

Iowa’s Individual Market Is Collapsing

Wellmark and Aetna both announced this month that they will no longer be offering health insurance on the individual market in 2018.  Those who were insured with these carriers, with plans that originated after 2014, have a distinct possibility of having no options for health insurance in the upcoming year.

How Can You Help Your Employees?

Wellmark offers health insurance plans to small businesses with as few as ONE employee.  By offering health insurance through your company you can ensure that your employees will have access to coverage today and in the upcoming year.

How Much Do Employee Benefits Cost?

Employers with less than 50 employees are not required to contribute towards the employees health insurance premiums.  The small group market premiums are typically 15 to 20% less than the individual market and can be deducted pre-tax increasing the savings.


Contact Fortress Benefits today to learn more and ease your employees concerns!
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One-On-One Enrollment

Are you aware that 70% of employees would like to take a more active role in their healthcare decisions but feel they don’t have the resources to make those informed decisions?

Fortress Benefits works directly with your employees on a one-on-one basis to empower your employees to make employee benefits decisions to fit their needs.  We provide the knowledge and resources necessary to ensure your employees are satisfied with your companies’ employee benefit package.

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Employer Flat-Dollar Contributions, an idea worth Exploring

Smart employers and their benefits advisers annually review their benefit offerings to identify areas in which they can control the cost of medical premiums. Employers and employees recognize that most of the increase in employee compensation during the last decade has not flowed to employee’s bank accounts, but rather to medical insurers in the form of higher employer contributions to premiums. As a result, a growing number of employers are exploring the advantages of a defined-contribution approach to funding employee benefits. Call us today for a review of your current benefit plan and let us show you how you can control your costs with a defined-contribution plan for all of your employee benefits.

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1094 and 1095 Questions

Many employers are asking questions about who is required to report 1094/1095-C and Forms 1094/1095-B. On December 28th, the IRS issued Notice 2016-4 that explains much of what employers are asking us about these forms.

First, the IRS requires all health insurance carriers to issue the 1095-B form to its members by February 1st. This is a carrier responsibility, not the employer. Second, in the same IRS notice, they have announced an automatic extension for Applicable Large Employers (ALE) additional time to prepare 1094/1095-C forms. An ALE is any employer who has 50 or more employees or 50+ FTEs with those employers who have many part-time employees. The extension applies to the reporting requirements under Code Section 6055 and Code Section 6056, which are both part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The February 1st deadline for furnishing Form 1095-C to employees is now extended to March 31st.

Thirdly, the most frequently asked question we have received lately from our clients is the IRS Notice also provides transitional relief for employees who file their personal income tax returns before they receive Form 1095-C from their employer or 1095-B from the issuer of their health coverage. Employees may rely on other information received from their employer to avoid non-coverage ACA penalties. Once they finally receive their 1095-C form, they need not file an amendment to their tax returns to reflect the information on those forms.

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Cadillac Tax Delayed until 2020

On Friday, December 18, 2015 President Obama signed an appropriations bill that included a delay in implementation of the excise tax on high cost health plans (Cadillac Tax) and making the tax a deductible expense for tax purposes.   The delay moved  the effective date from 2018 to 2020.  This is welcome news for the benefit industry as many employers were beginning to feel the pressure of changing their benefit plan designs now for their employees.

 This delay will allow employers  more time to formulate a benefit strategy into the future and additional time to advocate for the repeal of the tax or an exemption of the Health FSA and Health Savings Account benefits.


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DOL and IRS Enforce ERISA

As of July 1st, the IRS and the DOL are beginning to enforce regulations set out in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).  Does your employee benefit plan (health AND retirement) have all of the language required by both agencies of the federal government?  If not, you could be subject to a $100 per day, per plan, penalty for non-compliance.  An ERISA wrap document will satisfy the necessary language to keep your plan compliant.  Although all non-governmental and non-church businesses are subject to ERISA, most large employers are already aware of this, but most small employers, less than 50 FTE, have never had to worry about regulation enforcement.  Those days are over.  ALL employers, regardless of size, must adhere to the newly enforced “old” regulations.  Call us today to get an ERISA wrap document for your business.  Don’t leave yourself open to possible penalties in case of an IRS or DOL audit.

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IRS releases 2016 adjustments for Health Savings Accounts

For calendar year 2016, the annual deductions limits are $3,350.00 for individuals with self-only coverage under a high deductible health plan and $6,750.00 for individuals with family coverage under a high deductible health plan. For calendar year 2016, a ‘high deductible health plan’ is defined as a health plan with an annual deductible that is not les than $1,300 for self-only coverage or $2,600 for family coverage, and the annual out-of-pocket expenses (deductibles, co-payments, and other amounts, but not premiums) do not exceed $6,550 for self-only coverage or $13,100 for family coverage. (Internal Revenue Service).

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IRS Announces Temporary Relief for Small Employers Who Reimburse Employee Individual Medical Insurance Premiums

Compliance Dangers of Arrangements that Assist Employees with the Payment of Individual Health Insurance Premiums

By this time, all advisors should be aware that the IRS considers it a violation of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for an employer to maintain any type of arrangement that reimburses current employees pre-tax for individual major medical premiums.

In addition, recent IRS guidance has stressed that if the reimbursement is conditional on the employee having obtained health insurance coverage, such an arrangement will violate the ACA EVEN IF  the employer adds the payment to the employee’s W-2 as taxable compensation.

The penalty for continuing to maintain such an arrangement is potentially $100 per day PER EMPLOYEE with no maximum penalty amount.  Potentially, this could mean a penalty of $36,500 per employee per year.

Temporary relief for certain small employers.

On February 18th, the IRS issued Notice 2015-17 which gives small employers (employers with fewer than 50 FT equivalent employees) through June 30th, 2015 to end all non-compliant arrangements without being subject to the penalty tax.  This relief was NOT extended to employers in the 50-100 or over 100 employee groups.

New health savings account rules for 2016

Health and Human Services recently issued a statement which indicates that beginning in 2016 a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) cannot impose an out-of-pocket maximum for an individual that is greater than that imposed by the law for self-only coverage, even if the policy provides other than self-only (i.e., family) coverage.

This interpretation effectively embeds an individual out-of-pocket maximum limit in all family HDHP plans that have an out-of-pocket limit greater than the self-only out-of-pocket limit.  For example:  if a person purchased a family HDHP coverage with a $10,000 out-of-pocket limit, the plan would have to begin payment of benefits when ANY individual covered under the policy has incurred $6,850 of covered expenses (the annual limit on cost-sharing for 2016 for self-only coverage).


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