Provide Additional Benefits Through a Cafeteria Plan

cafeteria plan
One of the most underrated and underused employee benefits for small business is a “cafeteria plan,” outlined in section 125 of the U.S. tax code. This plan allows employees to withhold a portion of their pre-tax salary to cover certain medical or child care expenses. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), this written plan offers employees a choice between receiving their compensation in cash or as part of their employee benefits.
  • These employee contributions are made pre-tax, and employer contributions towards an employee’s cafeteria-plan benefits are not taxes.
  • Employees win because these benefits are free from federal and state income taxes, therefore, an employee’s taxable income is reduced—resulting in a higher take-home pay.
  • Employers win by not having to pay FICA (workers’ comp premiums) on those dollars, and employees win by not having to pay FICA, federal and most state withholding taxes.

Three Specific Flexible Benefits of a Cafeteria Plan

  1. Pre-tax health insurance premium deductions, known as a Premium Only Plan (POP). POP plans allow employees the option to withhold a portion of their salary, pre-tax, to pay for their premium contribution for most employer-sponsored health and welfare benefit plans.
  2. Dependent care flexible spending account (DCA).The dependent care FSA is attractive for employees who pay for child care or long-term care for their parents. Employees may hold back as much as $2,550 if single and $5,000 if married annually of their pre-tax salary or dependent care expense. This includes expenses they pay while they work, look for work, or attend school full time.
    Qualified dependent care expenses may include, but are not limited to, the care of a child under 13, summer day camps, long-term care for parents, and care for a disabled spouse or a dependents incapable of caring for themselves
  3. Out-of-pocket unreimbursed medical expenses, known as a Flexible Spending Account (FSA).A FSA allows an employee to fund up to $2,550 of certain medical expenses on a pre-tax basis through salary reduction to pay for out-of-pocket expenses that aren’t covered by insurance. For example, this can include annual deductibles, office co-payments, prescriptions, eye care, and dental care including orthodontia. The average working American employee spends more than $1,000 annually on these types of services. By participating in a FSA, an employee’s taxable income is reduced, which increases the amount of take-home pay.

Cost or Coverage Changes Allowed

Under a cafeteria plan, says SHRM, an employee may change their election during a plan year if one of the following occurs:
  • The cost charged to the employee significantly increases or decreases. This includes when an employee or their spouse or dependents become eligible for COBRA coverage.
  • A benefit is significantly curtailed, including curtailments resulting in a loss of coverage or an increase in deductible, co-pay or out-of-pocket amounts
  • A benefit option is added or improved
Related: Read our post on Naviating COBRA coverage

Special Enrollment into a Cafeteria Plan

If an employee or their spouse and dependents initially decline group health insurance coverage during open enrollment but want to participate in the plan when certain circumstances occur, HIPAA allows them to under “special enrollment.”  The following events can trigger HIPAA special enrollment rights.
  • Loss of eligibility for other group health coverage
  • Termination of employer contributions toward other group health coverage
  • Certain life events, including marriage, birth, adoption or placement for adoption
  • Loss of coverage under a state Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or Medicaid
  • Determination of eligibility for premium assistance under CHIP or Medicaid.

Contact Benefit Providers

Do you have the best employee benefit program? If you’d like to look at options, or compare your current employee benefits program with others, we’d be glad to help with the range of services that fall under benefits administration. Learn more about Group Insurance, HRAs, HSAs, FSAs and 125 plans and how to customize benefits to meet the needs of your company. For more information about Cafeteria Plans and other benefits, contact Benefit Providers at 703-370-2226 or

MyStack Offers Employees Self-Service Payroll Options

navigating COBRA

MyStack Offers Employees Self-Service Payroll Options

As a business owner, do you struggle with payroll tasks? Tracking time worked and time off? Keeping up with historical tax information? Or answering employee payroll questions? If so, you may be ready for MyStack, a convenient self-service system that enables employees to help manage their own accounts.


MyStack, offered by Benefit Providers/ECCA Payroll Services, is an all-inclusive self-service payroll administration software that combines a truly flexible payroll solution with a modern mobile experience, allowing all employees access to their accounts.

With MyStack, your employees can quickly and easily view their:

  • Recent and previous paychecks
  • Direct deposits
  • Deductions
  • Taxes
  • Printable pay stubs
  • Recent W-2 and historical tax information
  • Available and used sick days
  • Used and remaining time-off
  • View personal information on file

Once your company is enrolled in MyStack, your employees can register their mobile devices into the employee kiosk. This gives them a self-service access point to view their payroll, time and personal information at a glance.

This system is exceptionally fast and accurate, and includes a built-in human resources functionality that can enable your company to go paper-free.

Additional Functionality with Stack+

Employers can upgrade their records access and HR functionality with Stack+, an enhanced version of MyStack that enables employees to instantly access information about their current employment and more via their mobile connection. Stack+ includes self-service payroll and HR access to:

  • Performance reviews
  • Tracking of licenses & certifications
  • Recording of skills & education
  • OSHA event tracking
  • Records of leaves of absence under the Family and Medical Leave ACT (FMLA)
  • Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) reporting
  • Employee screenings
  • Employee warnings
  • Used and remaining time-off, with access to new time-off requests (partial or full day, or set a date range)
  • Personal information on file to verify or make changes like a change of address

Benefit Providers’ HRIS Management Offers Employee Self-Service Payroll Options and Much More

MyStack is just part of the services Benefit Providers/ECCA Payroll Services offers for payroll tasks including HRIS management and time recording.

Our online systems are fully integrated with your payroll so that you can perform administrative tasks with ease, improve communication with your employees, save money and instantly access reports and analyses.

Contact Benefit Providers/ECCA Payroll Services

Do you want to make your payroll and human resources tasks easier and more accurate, and enable your employees to access their information? Whether you’re performing your own payroll tasks, or having us do your payroll for you, take a look at what MyStack can offer.

We offer a free consultation and can show you a range of self-service payroll options that can automate and improve your systems and most likely save you money at the same time. Contact us at 703-370-2226 or

Benefits of Telemedicine, and New Coverage Available January 2021


The Benefits of Telemedicine, and New Coverage Available January 2021

When it comes to the topic of telemedicine, or telehealth, we find three things to be true: 1) People don’t understand what it is; 2) they don’t realize how much it can help them take care of the easy healthcare issues; and 3) they don’t have an idea of how low the cost can be. In addition, from the employer’s point of view, they don’t know how best to use it.

  1. What is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine promotes the use of electronic communications and software to care for patients remotely when the provider and patient are not physically in the same location. In enables doctors and healthcare providers to communicate with patients via telephone, video or email for consultations, diagnoses and prescriptions.

According to GoodRX, the three most common types of telemedicine are:

  • Interactive or “live” telemedicine where healthcare providers and patients communicate in real time
  • Remote patient monitoring, where physicians can monitor patients through their mobile medical equipment to collect data on items like blood sugar levels, blood pressure, etc.
  • Store and forward, which enables providers to share a patient’s health information with other healthcare professionals or specialists.

Related: What is Telemedicine, and How Does it Work?

  1. How can Telemedicine Help?

Especially during the pandemic, people are afraid to go to their doctor’s physical office and may put off small issues that could grow to become large issues. Telemedicine offers a way to consult with a primary physician without having to physically be present. Smaller issues such as routine checkups, prescription refills, consultations, and treatments for minor issues such as colds and flu, diarrhea, cuts, and rashes can be addressed. With telemedicine, you can tie your virtual primary care into your primary physician. If they cannot handle the issue, they can refer you to another medical professional who can. Telehealth is also available for mental health issues in the forms of counseling or psychotherapy.

There are a number of healthcare plans in which telemedicine comes with no charge, as opposed to a co-pay for a physical site visit. This encourages patients to maintain their own healthcare on a more regular basis, resulting in a healthier individual.

The most basic usage for telemedicine is urgent care. For example, you get sick at 11 PM and normally would want to go to the emergency room or walk-in clinic. With telemedicine, you can pick up the phone and talk to a doctor who can prescribe what you need and send the prescription to your pharmacy, if that situation applies. For life-threatening emergencies, it is still recommended to go immediately to an emergency room or clinic.

  1. How Much Does Telemedicine Cost?

Employers should review the healthcare coverage they are currently offering. Telemedicine coverage may already be included. However, there’s a new low-cost option…

In January 2021, a New Telehealth Option is Available to Employers and Non-Covered Individuals

For individuals with no healthcare coverage, a virtual primary care option is available as of January 2021. Either individuals can enroll, or companies can offer it as a healthcare option for a very low fee. And discounts for prepaid half-year or yearly coverage are available.

This is a game-changer! For just a few dollars per pay period, this coverage can enable employees (or anyone without coverage) virtual access to a primary care physician via telemedicine without having to incur exorbitant monthly premiums, a high deductible, or expensive co-pays. Nearly 75% of all doctor, urgent care and ER visits can be handled safely and effectively via telehealth—at a fraction of the cost of in-person care. Hospital visits and office visits are not covered; non-insured rates would apply. Contact Benefit Providers to discuss how you can provide telehealth coverage.

See more about telemedicine’s coverage and benefits for both employees and employers on our Telehealth page.

Is Your Current Telemedicine Coverage Costing Your Company?

Some employers are surprised to find out that their current healthcare policy has a hidden telemedicine coverage cost wherein when a telehealth contact was made, that contact was listed as if it was a claim on the policy. When the next year’s premium is recalculated, those claims are taken into account and may raise the premium. Check with your provider to see your terms for telemedicine. Or contact Benefit Providers/ECCA Payroll Services to review your current policy and learn about recommendations for alternative coverage.

Trust Your Healthcare Coverage Needs to Benefit Providers

Contact Benefit Providers/ECCA Payroll Services for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation to see how you can reduce your healthcare costs and offer better coverage for your employees. 703-370-2226 or

Check Up on Your Employees’ Mental Health


Check Up on Your Employees’ Mental Health


Besides the physical ravages of COVID-19 illness, the coronavirus can take a heavy mental toll on your employees. This can manifest in increased absences, errors, or a lack of focus and concentration. Keeping a focus on your employees’ mental health could even be key to surviving as a business.


According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “Fear and anxiety about a new disease and what could happen can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Public health actions, such as social distancing, can make people feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety.”


Symptoms of Stress on Employees’ Mental Health

Stress during the pandemic can lead to the following conditions:

  • Fear and worry about a person’s own health and the health of their loved ones
  • Fear and worry about a financial situation or potential job loss, or loss of support services
  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping and concentrating
  • Worsening chronic health problems
  • Increased use of substances like tobacco, alcohol or drugs


How to cope with stress in a healthy way should be stressed. It will improve the lives of your employees and make a stronger community.


Related: Employees: How to Cope with Job Stress and Build Resilience During the COVID-19 Pandemic


Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress

  • Know and post the resources available to help employees deal with the stress of COVID-19
  • Notify employees that counseling and therapy is available either in person or through telemedicine
  • Offer ways to care for employee mental health
  • Advise on avoiding overindulgence in media stories about the pandemic
  • Stress healthy physical habits like eating right, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of sleep
  • Offer ways to cope as substitutes for substance abuses
  • Plan some fun, stress-reducing activities
  • Connect with others. Even if you cannot gather in person, hold regular Zoom calls and look for ways for employees to interact virtually.


Related: Taking Care of Your Emotional Health


Watch for Changes in Behavior

The mental health of employees with particularly stressful situations, mental health conditions or substance abuse disorders may be particularly vulnerable. Keep an eye out for new or worsening symptoms.


Look for signs of anxiety or depression, or changes in a person’s mood or behavior and address them early in an empathetic manner. Understand what the employee is dealing with and offer suggestions for ways to cope. Encourage them to use their telehealth and healthcare benefits, and post helplines where they can reach out in an emergency.


Be especially aware of the warning signs of suicide. Heightened stress and anxiety, depression, isolation, loneliness, and concerns about finances can be triggers that push people to suicidal thoughts and actions. In addition, states the CDC, “suicide risk is higher among people who have experienced violence, including child abuse, bullying or sexual violence.”


Telemedicine Can Help

Because of the pandemic, health care providers had to find ways to serve their patients, and most have instituted telemedicine, or telehealth programs wherein policy holders can consult with their primary physicians via a teleconference or telephone call. If additional resources are required to deal with a mental health crisis, the primary physician can refer the patient to trained professionals.


The cost for mental health care is surprisingly low. For example, an entire family under the same roof could opt for virtual primary care with behavioral mental health care for around $45 per month, for example. You’d have to check with your healthcare insurance provider, like Benefit Providers, for an actual rate.


Employers that have employees that have NO health care coverage can benefit from making  telemedicine programs available whether it’s just Urgent Care or Virtual Primary Care with or without Mental Health, onto their list of available healthcare coverage. It adds real value for just a few extra dollars per pay period.


Look for new telemedicine and mental health care options to become available after January 1, 2021.


For More Information, Contact Benefit Providers

If you have questions about telehealth and healthcare options for your employees’ mental health, contact Benefit Providers/ECCA Payroll Services at 703-370-2226 or




It’s Time to Rethink Your Old 401(k)


Chances are, you signed up for your 401(k) program and haven’t looked at it in a while. Possibly a long while. If this sounds like you, it’s time to rethink your old 401(k) because there are new and better options available.

Smaller business owners often take advantage of what is called a “pooled plan” or Multiple Employer Plan (MEP) for retirement savings, where several unrelated companies participate in one retirement fund that is administered by an overseeing party or trustee known as the sponsor, who has fiduciary responsibility for that plan.

Related: Multiple Employer Plan Definition


The “Bad Apple” Rule


In 2021 the rules become more favorable to pooled plan sponsors. One is called the “bad apple rule.” In the past, the sponsor of the MEP had to be careful to make sure that all participants in the plan, sponsors and co-sponsoring companies acted appropriately. If one participant failed, it could spoil the whole pool for all participants, like a bad apple in a barrel.

An example of a failure could be that one of the participants did not make their contributions on time. If the plan stated that an employee was eligible for benefits after a 60-day trial period, and at 90 days that employee realized they weren’t told that they could participate in the plan, that entire plan could be tainted, and all participating companies in the MEP could suffer the consequences. The sponsor had to keep on top of each participant to ensure that all aspects of the plan were constantly met. This took time and effort, and things could potentially slip through the cracks.

With the new rules, starting January 1, 2021, the sponsor has the ability to remove a company from the pool if conditions are not met, thus avoiding tainting the entire pool.


Why a MEP 401(k) Plan is Good for Small or Medium-Sized Businesses


Pooled Resources Gives Better Options:

When it’s time to rethink your old 401(k) plan, consider enrolling in a MEP. By combining the assets of a group of companies, you get the same benefits and leverage as if you were a larger company with millions of dollars to assign.


Shared Administrative Burden:

Several companies can join together to offer their employees a tax-advantaged retirement savings plan.


Easy Enrollment:

You can enroll at any time, and don’t have to wait until year-end to make your decision.


Low, Low Yearly Fees:

For just $890 a year, you can participate in a MEP that is managed by us here at Benefit Providers/ECCA Payroll Services. We’ve been in business for decades providing outstanding benefits to business owners just like yourself, and know how to find the best plan for your needs.


Trust Your 401(k) Administration to Benefit Providers

As outside specialists in 401(k) planning, you have the benefit of more than 30 years of experience and reduced potential personal liability, along with faster, easier and less expensive administration with Benefit Providers. It’s worth taking a look at how a pooled plan, or MEP, can benefit your small to medium-sized business. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation.


Contact Benefit Providers/ECCA Payroll Specialists today at 703-370-2226 or to find out how you can benefit.

The Best Business Lessons You Can Learn From Golf

If you don’t know it, we’re huge golf fanatics around here, and when we came across this article titled “4 Business Lessons to Learn from Golf” authored by Natalie Chladek and published by the Harvard Business School, we had to share its insights. We thought they rang true and hope you do too. Here are some of the business lessons you can learn from golf that we excerpted from the article.

Business Lessons from Golf


  1. Forget Mistakes and Focus on Your Next Shot

Not every shot in golf is a hole in one. There are many times when a slice or a bad lie puts a kink in your perfect game. “The best golfers realize they can’t go back and change their shot, and rather than agonizing over what is in the past, they focus their attention on making the best shot out of a bad lie,” Chladek says.


If you have devoted significant time and resources into building a business or product that doesn’t work, learn what you did wrong and look ahead to how you can make it better. Or put it behind you and focus on your next project. Don’t waste time or energy on failures.


  1. Take Your Next Shot From Where the Ball Lies

Only in golf do players impose penalties on themselves. It is a game based on trust and honesty, and tournaments have been won or lost by a player voluntarily taking penalty strokes. “This dynamic generates a level of trust between playing partners, regardless of skill of ability level, and breaking that trust will likely leave you without a foursome in the future.”


Trust is a crucial element of any business relationship. Business lessons from golf teach us to look to share value and negotiate to find creative solutions. Breaking this bond of trust can harm your business now and long into the future.


  1. Don’t Worry About Your Opponent; Play the Course

Worrying about what your competition is doing takes your eye and attention off your own chance to make your best shot. “Your biggest opponent is not your playing partner, but the environment of the course itself,” Chladek continues. “Understanding the landscape—which direction the wind blows, which holes play long, and how fast the greens are—should inform your strategy.” In both business and golf, focus on the big picture.


  1. Drive for Show, but Putt for Dough

You can impress others by driving a ball 300 yards down the fairway, but your true game lies in how well you can close the deal. It’s the precision of the final putts that can make or break your score. “Splashy ad campaigns and big PR announcements will drive buzz, but if you neglect other details like a properly-stocked inventory, sound financials, and a strong team, you’ll struggle to achieve your goals.”


According to Harvard Business School Professor Joe Fuller, “General management is defined as coordinated action in pursuit of performance.” As the business owner or manager it is your job to oversee the entire business across multiple departments and levels, and to pursue performance to meet your goals. You need to be adept at both the driving range and the putting green.



Benefit Providers/ECCA Payroll Services Puts You on the Right Course

As in the business lessons from golf, you need to focus on the big picture—the course. And that’s where Benefit Providers/ECCA Payroll Services comes into play. By outsourcing your payroll, benefit, retirement plans and HR needs to us, you have the time and energy to view the course and plan your winning strategies. Working ON your business rather than IN it gets you where you need to be faster and more effectively.


We are glad to review your human resources, benefit, retirement and payroll needs and custom design services that work for you. Plus, we can show you how to save money along the way. Contact us today for a quote at 703-370-2226. Or visit us at