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

Tax Credit for Employee Vaccination Leave

President Biden Announces New Tax Credit for Employee Vaccination Leave

In April 2021, President Biden announced from the White House a new tax credit in the American Rescue Plan that will fully offset the cost for small businesses and nonprofits who provide paid leave for employees to get vaccinated. In this initiative, President Biden calls upon every U.S. employer to offer full pay to employees who need time off to get vaccinated or time off to recover from the after-effects of the vaccination.

The paid leave tax credit will offset the cost for employers with fewer than 500 employees to enable them to provide full time pay. This is a company’s investment in the health, safety and productivity of employees in a company’s workforce and their local community. He claims that “No working person in this country should lose a single dollar from their paycheck to take time to get the shot or recover from it.”

Details of the Small- and Medium-sized Businesses American Rescue Plan

A paid leave tax credit will offset the cost for small- and medium-sized business and nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees for up to 80 hours (or 10 work days) up to $511 per day of sick leave offered between April 1 an September 30, 2021 at no cost to the employer. The tax credit will apply to almost half of all the private sector employees across the country.

According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), “Eligible employers are entitled to the paid leave tax credit for leave taken by employees who are not able to work or telework due to reasons related to COVID-19, including leave taken to receive COVID-19 vaccinations or to recover from any injury, disability, illness or condition related to the vaccines.” The paid leave credits are tax credits again the employer’s share of the Medicare tax and are refundable. If the credits surpass the employer’s share of the Medicare tax, the employer is entitled to the credit’s full amount.

In addition, the IRS states that “Eligible employers can keep the federal employment taxes that they otherwise would have deposited, including federal income tax withheld from employees, the employees’ share of social security and Medicare taxes and the eligible employer’s share of social security and Medicare taxes with respect to all employees up to the amount of credit for which they are eligible.”

To learn more about the paid sick leave tax credit and how to claim it on your quarterly tax filing, view the fact sheet provided by the IRS or contact Benefit Providers locally at 703-370-2226 or Typically the total quarterly paid sick and family leave can be reported on Form 941, the Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return.

Contact Benefit Providers to Learn More

Benefit Providers/ECCA Payroll Services can help explain the benefits of the American Rescue Plan tax credits and other benefits for which your company or nonprofit are eligible. We can also help with your tax planning and payroll services.


ePoster Services for Remote Workers

Affordable ePoster Services Keep Remote Workers Informed of Labor Laws

As a business employer, you are required by state and Federal law to communicate all laws and rights that pertain to employees—even if they are working remotely. Since this is a task sometimes overlooked by employers, but one that can carry serious and expensive penalties if compliance is not met, employers are turning to ePoster services.

Within the physical office, the legal requirements set by the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) require that labor law notices be physically posted where all can see them, such as in an employee break room. (See more in our previous post: Labor Law Compliance Services.)

You Must Notify Remote Workers

When employees are remote workers, or telecommuters, notifying workers of legal rights and law changes can be trickier. But it is still your obligation to post all Federal, State, county and city posters.

To simplify transmission of labor law posting to remote workers, employers rely on ePoster services where ePosters are automatically posted to your team members whenever updates to laws or notices are made.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, large numbers of employees began to work remotely. After restrictions are completely lifted, many of them will continue working in their home offices. The employer-employee landscape may be forever changed. This will affect how employers communicate, or can communicate with their off-site staff.

How ePoster Services Work

  • A number of features are included with your ePoster service:
  • It is a digital service accessed through an online platform
  • A simple, dashboard-style portal is created for each employee
  • You can aggregate all employee notices easily with the touch of a button
  • Employees are prompted to acknowledge receipt of all notices
  • Employers have access to a dashboard and reporting
  • Labor law content is backed by a $25,000 “We Pay the Fine” Guarantee

Affordable ePoster Service Pricing

Benefit Providers/ECCA Payroll Services offers its ePoster service at the affordable rate of just $1 per seat!

What is a Remote Worker?

A remote worker, or remote employee, is someone who is employed by a company, but who actually works elsewhere than in the traditional office. This can mean they work from home, in a coffee shop, or somewhere else in the world. A study by Global Workplace Analytics reports that “56% of the U.S. workforce holds a job that is compatible (at least partially) with remote work.” And that 25-30% of the workforce will continue to work from home in 2021 at least multiple days a week.

Related: What is Remote Work?

Contact Benefit Providers/ECCA Payroll Services

Learn more about the ePoster Services offered by Benefit Providers/ECCA Payroll Services, or simply contact us at 703-370-2226 or

Labor Law Compliance Services

Labor Law Compliance Services

As a business owner, you must understand and comply with government regulations regarding the requirements surrounding labor law compliance or you could face fines or penalties. Keeping up with the latest rulings can be cumbersome without a service to track them for you—like ours at Benefit Providers, ECCA Payroll Services.

What is Labor Law Compliance?

Labor law compliance sets the standards for maintaining a healthy and safe working environment, and ensures that all employees are treated fairly. It includes Federal, state and local regulations pertaining to these issues.

Common violations to Federal labor law can include:

  • Failure to obtain and record I-9 forms from employees
  • Hiring “under the table” to avoid paying taxes
  • Failure to pay according to minimum wage standards, and other violations of hourly pay requirements
  • Over-employing or mis-employing underage workers
  • Not properly addressing potential workplace hazards
  • Not properly documenting employee benefit plans
  • Misuse of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Not understanding proper use and requirements of Workers’ Compensation
  • Not following industry-specific guidelines, laws and requirements

Failure to display Federal labor law posters in appropriate locations puts the business in risk of being cite or fined for noncompliance, penalties, and potential damages from lawsuits.

Labor Law Compliance requires that labor law posters be displayed in a location that employees visit daily, like in a break room. For separate workplace areas, posters should be posted in each. Multilingual posters are required in specific states.

The only types of businesses that are not required to post labor law posters are:

  • Sole proprietor/no employees
  • Business using only contract employees/volunteers
Related: 7 Labor Laws You Might Be Breaking

Labor Law Poster Service

According to the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) it is a mandatory requirement that all businesses with at least one employee post state and Federal labor law notices in their workplace, including postings for:

  • OSHA
  • Federal Minimum Wage
  • FMLA
  • Employee Polygraph Protection
  • EEO, and
  • Various state-specific notices

To make it easy to keep abreast of the current regulations, at Benefit Providers, we offer both All-in-One State & Federal Labor Law Posters and an Update Service subscription that automatically notifies you of changes to labor law notices that affect your business. Because new posters need to be posted whenever a change occurs, we ensure that you receive the current posters to display in your office.

With these easy ways to stay up to date with changes in mandatory federal and state postings, and monthly subscriptions that can be activated or cancelled at any time, you’re guaranteed labor law compliance. We’re so confident of this that our update services are backed by a $25,000 We-Pay-The-Fine Guarantee!

Have remote workers? See our next post titled: Affordable ePoster Services Keep Remote Workers Informed of Labor Laws

Human Resources Services from Benefit Providers

Our HR services at Benefit Providers/ECCA Payroll Services can ensure that you are in compliance with all Federal, state and local labor laws and can help you avoid labor law violations that could cost you hefty fines. With our service, you’ll protect both your business and your employees.

For Labor Law Compliance and other HR issues, contact Benefit Providers, ECCA Payroll Services at 703-370-2226 or We’re glad to provide a free initial consultation to discuss your needs and how we can help.

Business Payroll and Taxes for 2021

Changes in Your Business Payroll & Taxes for 2021

Every year, something changes in your business payroll & taxes. This year is especially tricky with tax changes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. It caused several changes in your business taxes for 2021, with its new tax incentives, tax breaks and rules.

2020 Payroll Tax Holiday

In September, 2020, the Federal government allowed employers to defer taking payroll taxes until December 31, 2020. Now that tax holiday needs to be paid back. Employees need to know that the extra 6.2% that was added to their paychecks in 2020 will be taxed through this year’s Social Security withholding taxes.

Stimulus Checks

Through the CARES Act, stimulus checks will not count as taxable income.

PPP Loans

The CARES Act also provided Paycheck Protection (PPP) loans to help business owners through the pandemic. As long as the money was spent on specified business expenses like payroll, rent, utilities or mortgage interest, for example, the loan is forgiven. Eligible expenses paid with money from your PPP loan can be deducted from your taxable income as per a December 2020 IRS ruling). Get your loan forgiveness application approved by the Small Business Administration to qualify.


The Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) that is withheld from six-figure incomes increased to $142,800 in 2021, over $137,700 in 2020. This means taxes will be taken out of the first $142,800 earned in 2021.

FICA Taxes

FICA taxes will remain the same as in 2020. Expect to pay 6.2% for Social Security, 1.45% for Medicare on the first $200,000 earned, and 2.35% for wages exceeding $200,000 ($250,000 for joint returns and $125,000 for married, filing singly).

Related: Be Ready for Big Changes: 2021 Tax Planning

Health Flexible Spending Accounts

The limit remains at $2,750 for flexible health care spending accounts, however, the maximum you can carry over for 2021 has increased to $550 (a $50 increase).

Health Savings Accounts/High-Deductible Plans

HSA                                                                     $3,600 (self only) or $7,200 (family)

HSA catch-up                                                  $1,000

HDHP minimum deductibles                        $1,400 (self only) or $2,800 (family)

HDHP maximum out-of-pocket costs       $7,000 (self only) or $14,000 (family)

401(k) Contribution Limits for 2021

$19,500             Maximum employee contribution (unchanged)

$6,500              Catch-up contribution ages 50 and over (unchanged)

$58,000            Maximum employee + employer contribution, excluding catch-up

Set up Your Business Payroll & Taxes for Success with Benefit Providers/ECCA Payroll Services

Benefit Providers/ECCA Payroll Services offers payroll and tax filing services for business taxes that you can trust. We can help you set up the systems to make recording and administering your payroll easier.

Check out our variety of software applications designed to expedite your payroll, HRIS management, and timekeeping, along with our tax filing services with guaranteed on-time accurate compliance. Our services give you total control of your payroll and human resources information.

We are most often able to save our clients money over the payroll services they’re currently using. It’s worth a look!

Contact Benefit Providers/ECCA Payroll Services at 703-370-2226 or for more information and a no-cost, no-obligation review with cost-saving options.

As an Employer, Can I Require Employees to get a COVID-19 Vaccination?

covid 19 vaccine

As an Employer, Can I Require Employees to get a COVID-19 Vaccination?

The question of whether or not you can require your employees to get a COVID-19 vaccination is a tricky one, and to answer it we must turn the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for guidance.

According to the EEOC, “Employers may encourage or possibly require COVID-19 vaccinations, but policies must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and other workplace laws.”

There are, however, exceptions. If your employee objects on religious grounds, or has a disability, they may have a legitimate excuse for not getting vaccinated. Unions can come into play as well. If the union does not require vaccinations, you may not be able to enforce that requirement either.

If your employee does qualify for an exemption, you cannot automatically terminate them. You can prevent them from entering the workplace or jobsite physically. Accommodations for working from home or other arrangements can be made.

Your Rights with Employee Refusal

An employee may refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccination. If this is the case, employers do have options. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an employer can mandate a workplace policy that an employee shall not post a direct threat to the health or safety of other employees in the workplace. It is best to put this policy in writing. What needs to be determined, however, is whether the lack of vaccine would post a direct threat or significant risk that could not be reduced or eliminated with alternative accommodation such as remote working or a leave of absence.

The four factors the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines are: 1) the risk duration; 2) the nature and severity of potential harm; 3) the likelihood that harm could potentially occur; and 4) the potential harm’s imminence.

Handling Religious Exemptions

An employer is required to accommodate an employee’s sincere religious belief, observance or practice under Title VII, unless an “undue hardship” would be caused to the business. An undue hardship could be defined by the courts as more than a very small cost or burden.

As an employer, you should take an employee’s religious belief or practice exemption request seriously. If you have an objection or a serious doubt about their sincerity, you are justified in requesting supporting evidence or information.

Disability or Medical Conditions Exemptions

When an employee cannot be vaccinated due to a disability or medical condition, an employer must be careful to stay within the employee protections under the ADA. It states that employers cannot

discriminate against these employees and cannot require the employees to undergo a medical examination as a condition of their job, unless the employer can demonstrate that the testing is necessary to confirm that employee’s ability to do their job.

Part of what makes it tricky to try to require employees to get a COVID-19 vaccination isn’t the shot itself, it’s the pre-screening questions that may require an employee to disclose a disability, which is in violation of the ADA.

Related: See more on COVID-19 and EEO Laws.

Requiring a vaccination may depend on the type of industry you are in or the population you serve. Healthcare and other occupations that interact with customers and clients in vulnerable populations need to have their employees vaccinated, but may not be able to require vaccinations.

Remember also that it is unlawful to disclose any accommodations made to an employee requesting a religious, medical or disability exemption or accommodation.

Offer COVID-19 Vaccination Incentives

Instead of requiring COVID-19 vaccinations, you may want to consider incentivizing employees to get vaccinated. You can:

  • Cover the costs of the vaccine
  • Provide reward incentives for proof of vaccination, like a bonus or time off for recovery of any side effects
  • Make it easy to obtain the vaccine
  • Create an employee vaccination campaign and educate employees on the benefits of the vaccine to themselves and their workplace
  • Lead by example

Want to Know More About Whether if You Can Require Employees to Get a COVID-19 Vaccination? Contact Benefit Providers.

For decades, we’ve been assisting employers with their benefits administration programs and helping them to find answers on questions like whether they can require employees to get a COVID-19 vaccination. If you have questions or would like to look at the benefits your company can offer, contact Benefit Providers/ECCA Payroll Services.

Navigating Cobra

Navigating COBRA: What Employers Should Know

Perhaps you’ve had to downsize your business due to the pandemic, cutting hours or even jobs. If this has happened in your business, your employees could be left without insurance coverage. That’s why COBRA is available. In navigating COBRA, here’s what employers should know.

Definition of COBRA

COBRA is an acronym for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985. This is a Federal law requiring employers who have 20 or more employees and offer healthcare benefits, to be able to offer the option of continuing healthcare coverage in the case of termination, loss of job, reduction of hours, or other events. COBRA coverage is available for between 18 and 36 months, depending upon the type of event and the beneficiary. The rule is up to 18 months when an employee is terminated or their hours are reduced, or up to 36 months of coverage for other reasons.

While the COBRA Act covers the nation, each state may have variations. It’s important to know the laws in your state. For example, employers should know that Virginia mandates a “mini-COBRA” statute for employers with fewer than 20 employees that requires “each employee and other covered person under such a policy written notice of the availability of the option chosen and the procedure and time frame for obtaining continuation or conversion of the group policy.” This notice must be provided within 14 days of when the employer becomes aware of the date their employee is no longer eligible under the group health insurance policy.

As an Employer, What Do I Need to Know in Navigating COBRA?

Employers should be familiar with the law and how it works. Some of the most common questions include: How do you sign up employees? Who is eligible? What events make someone eligible for COBRA? What benefits are offered by COBRA? Who pays for COBRA coverage?

Who is eligible for COBRA?

Someone who has healthcare coverage under group plan up to the day before the event causing the coverage loss. This can include:

  • Employees
  • Their spouses and dependents
  • Retirees (unless eligible for Medicare)
  • Partners in a partnership
Who is not eligible?
  • Employees not yet eligible for your group healthcare plan
  • Employees who declined coverage in your group healthcare plan
  • Persons enrolled in Medicare benefits
What benefit plans are included in COBRA?

COBRA benefit plans can include the following, but do not have to include life or disability insurance, or retirement plans.

  • Healthcare
  • Medical spending accounts
  • Dental, vision and hearing
  • Prescription drugs
  • Alcohol and substance abuse plans
  • Mental health care
What are the qualifying events for COBRA coverage?

Employers should know the triggers, or qualifying events, that require you to offer COBRA coverage. There are many, including your company’s bankruptcy, or an employee’s:

  • Voluntary or involuntary employment termination (unless for gross misconduct)
  • Reduction in employment hours
  • Death
  • Divorce or legal separation of a spouse from a covered employee
  • Availability of Medicare coverage
  • Change in status, such as ineligibility of a dependent on a parent employee’s coverage
  • Active military duty (when not maintaining healthcare coverage)
  • Not returning to work following a leave of absence

It is your job, as the employer, to communicate to the employee their initial rights under COBRA to continue benefits following a qualifying event and when they join the COBRA plan. You also have 30 days for most losses to notify your plan administrator, or 60 days in the case of divorce or change of status by a dependent. Your administrator must notify the person entitled to COBRA benefits within 14 days of being notified themselves.

For Questions About COBRA, Contact Benefit Providers

There are numerous more rules in navigating COBRA that employers should know. That’s why we’re here. If you have questions about COBRA, the laws or its administration, please contact Benefit Providers/ECCA Payroll Services at 703-370-2226 or We’re glad to offer you a free consultation to see how we can help.

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