Important Tips for Men’s Health

Important Tips for Men’s Health

We have certainly been focused on improving our health this year. June is Men’s Health Month and provides a great opportunity to focus on some simple tips that men can follow to shore up their health. These five guidelines will not only assist with a man’s physical health, but also their mental health.

Make Annual Appointments

Men are notoriously the punchline for jokes about not going to the doctor until they are on their death bed. Let’s stop the joking! Annual check-ups ensure you and your doctor are both aware of your health issues. Annual exams and blood tests can look at blood pressure, warning signs of heart disease, obesity, and cholesterol. Staying on top of these health issues through regular doctor’s visits can extend your life and improve your overall health.

Eat a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet does not mean eating just salads. Look at to see what a healthy plate should look like for each meal. Cut down on sugar intake, make half your meal fruits and vegetables, and vary up your protein routine. Healthy food choices do more than assist with weight loss, they also decrease your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

Know Your Family History

Does your family have a history of cancer? What about heart disease? Men who know their family’s medical history can share this information with their doctor so that they can be better informed about possible issues in the future. Knowing that your family has certain proclivities to disease, allows you to go on the offensive with your health. Write down your medical history and that of your parents and close relatives.

Get Your Sleep

Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night. According to the Sleep Foundation, “Sleep allows the brain and body to slow down and engage in processes of recovery, promoting better physical and mental performance the next day and over the long-term.” Men should make sure they get enough sleep each night because poor sleep is also closely related to increased chances of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and depression. Sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle.

Strengthen Your Relationship Bonds

Connecting with others has been proven to improve your overall health and even extend your life. As we grow older, relationships are harder to build as families are built, jobs change, and interests evolve. We’ve all seen how isolation and social distancing negatively affect our mental health this year. Solid relationships allow you to have accountability with others about struggles you may have, give you a network of support in a health crisis, and even improve your self-esteem. When you have good mental health, your physical health will also be affected. Men must work to create and maintain relationship bonds for the sake of their mental and physical well-being.

The mental and physical health of the men in our lives can easily be improved by following these simple tips. From getting enough sleep to eating a healthy diet, these guidelines are certainly a great way to kick-off a healthy routine in your life.

Data Drop: D&I Appetite, Mental Health Struggles and the Expanding Gig Economy

Data Drop: D&I Appetite, Mental Health Struggles and the Expanding Gig Economy

There are certain issues that have taken center stage in the collective conscious when talking about the workplace, the future of work and how the current workforce is faring under the current conditions. Naturally, as those things enter the collective conscious, researchers find themselves asking what exactly holds true and what can we learn from it?

As usual, my inbox is full of the latest studies and surveys being conducted by HR vendors, researchers and employers of all sizes. In today’s data drop, we’re going to take a closer look at how employees view diversity and inclusion efforts, what challenges they’re facing when it comes to mental health and the impact the gig economy is having.

The D&I Appetite

At this point, there should be little doubt around the importance of D&I or DEI in your organization. It’s been well established the impact it has on the bottom line and employer brands, but if you needed more reassurance, the latest study from Boston Consulting Group should hammer it home.

The study asked questions of more than 200,000 employees across 190 countries and the results shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s been following sentiments around DEI over the last year. Results included the following:

  • More than half (51%) of U.S. respondents said they would exclude a company from their job search if its values and stance on diversity and inclusion (D&I) didn’t match their own beliefs. This number was even higher among respondents 30 years and younger (56%).
  • D&I became more important over the last year across all age groups globally. In the U.S., respondents 30 years and younger (72%) were most likely to agree with this statement compared to all U.S. respondents (63%) and all respondents globally (69%).

It’s a notable sentiment following the release of research by diversity platform Headstart as part of its “Discrimination in American Hiring” report. The findings show that 54% of those seeking a new job in the last two years felt they were frequently discriminated against. That number rose to 66% for Black Americans and 83% for those who identify as gender-diverse. Interestingly, however, 30% of respondents who faced recruitment discrimination would consider reapplying for the same company.

Mental Health Struggles

In June of last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data which showed that 40% of Americans were struggling with mental health. That number hasn’t decreased as the pandemic has continued and the months that followed included a hectic election and numerous other crises.

A more recent report from The Standard, an Oregon based insurance company, showed that 55% of workers surveyed said that a mental health issue had affected them more since the pandemic began. MetLife’s annual Employee Benefits Trends Study backs this up, with 54% saying mental health has been their biggest concern during the pandemic.

This won’t come as a surprise to HR teams that have been working toward developing mental health support tools for their workforces, but it should also be extended to talent teams as they consider their hiring processes.

Among the unemployed, one in five are or have been treated for depression in the last year. Many suffer from sleep loss and high levels of stress that can impact their ability to search and interview for a new job. Long term unemployment can lead to serious health issues such as obesity and other conditions related to stress and inactive lifestyle.

Expanding Gig Economy

Globally the gig economy has seen a boom as layoffs and needs for flexible scheduling have seen more people around the world adopt gig work than ever before. In the U.S., around 40% of Americans are currently working in gig or contract roles.

Job boards are now seeing a stark rise in contract job postings, with Resume-Library noting a 58% increase in the demand for handyman roles month over month. While many think of rideshare drivers and freelancer graphic artists when they think of gig work, the top five gig postings on the site now include the following:

  • Handyman +58.3%
  • Market Researcher +50%
  • Packer +20.3%
  • Social Media +4.5%
  • Photographer +4.3%

The U.S. is currently the fastest growing freelance market in the world, experiencing a 78% growth in gig positions over the last year, with the UK following behind at 59% and Brazil at 48%.

By David Rice

Originally posted on ThinkHR

Advance Child Tax Credit Payments in 2021 | CA Employee Benefits Agents

Advance Child Tax Credit Payments in 2021 | CA Employee Benefits Agents

There have been important changes to the Child Tax Credit that will help many families receive advance payments starting this summer. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 expands the Child Tax Credit (CTC) for tax year 2021 only.

The expanded credit means:

  • The credit amounts will increase for many taxpayers.
  • The credit for qualifying children is fully refundable, which means that taxpayers can benefit from the credit even if they don’t have earned income or don’t owe any income taxes.
  • The credit will include children who turn age 17 in 2021.
  • Taxpayers may receive part of their credit in 2021 before filing their 2021 tax return.

For tax year 2021, families claiming the CTC will receive up to $3,000 per qualifying child between the ages of 6 and 17 at the end of 2021. They will receive $3,600 per qualifying child under age 6 at the end of 2021. Under the prior law, the amount of the CTC was up to $2,000 per qualifying child under the age of 17 at the end of the year.

The increased amounts are reduced (phased out), for incomes over $150,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return and qualifying widows or widowers, $112,500 for heads of household, and $75,000 for all other taxpayers.

Advance payments of the 2021 Child Tax Credit will be made regularly from July through December to eligible taxpayers who have a main home in the United States for more than half the year. The total of the advance payments will be up to 50 percent of the Child Tax Credit. Advance payments will be estimated from information included in eligible taxpayers’ 2020 tax returns (or their 2019 returns if the 2020 returns are not filed and processed yet).

The IRS urges people with children to file their 2020 tax returns as soon as possible to make sure they’re eligible for the appropriate amount of the CTC as well as any other tax credits they’re eligible for, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Filing electronically with direct deposit also can speed refunds and future advance CTC payments.

Eligible taxpayers do not need to take any action now other than to file their 2020 tax return if they have not done so.

Eligible taxpayers who do not want to receive advance payment of the 2021 Child Tax Credit will have the opportunity to decline receiving advance payments. Taxpayers will also have the opportunity to update information about changes in their income, filing status or the number of qualifying children. More details on how to take these steps will be announced soon.

The IRS also urges community groups, non-profits, associations, education groups and anyone else with connections to people with children to share this critical information about the CTC. The IRS will be providing additional materials and information that can be easily shared by social media, email and other methods.

The IRS will provide more information about advance payments soon.

Additional information can be found at

Exploring In-Network and Out-of-Network Benefits

Exploring In-Network and Out-of-Network Benefits

You have surely heard the terms “in-network” and “out-of-network” when referring to doctors or care facilities and your insurance plan. It can be confusing and make you wonder why it matters to you, as the consumer. Let’s explore these terms and find out more!

What are Health Insurance Plan Networks?

Health insurance plans create networks of doctors and facilities with which they have contracted to accept negotiated rates for the services they provide.  When you subscribe to a specific insurance plan, you can look up the list of these contracted providers to see which ones are “in-network.” Most plans have helpful search tools online like “Find a Doctor” to save you time as you look for your specific doctor. You can also call the facility or healthcare provider and ask if they are considered “in-network” or “out-of-network” for your particular health insurance plan.

Why Choose “In-network” Providers?

When you make the choice to see an “in-network” healthcare provider or visit an “in-network” facility, you will typically pay less for the service (doctor visit, screening, hospital stay, etc.) than if you chose to use a provider outside of the plan’s network. Your insurance plan has negotiated a discounted cost for the service and passes that savings on to you, the subscriber. See the table below for an example.

Additional Benefit to “In-Network” Care

Some health insurance plans allow you to visit “out-of-network” doctors and facilities with the understanding that you will pay more for these services since they are not in an agreement with one another. However, you may not be able to apply these expenses towards your annual deductible.  This means it may take you longer in the year, with more out-of-pocket expenses, to reach your deductible. Staying “in-network” alleviates this delay and any added costs.

Staying with “in-network” providers truly equals greater cost-savings to the consumer. By doing a little research upfront to find the doctors and facilities in your plan network, you will end up with less out-of-pocket expenses for your health care each year. While the choice is ultimately up to you on who you see for your care, looking within your plan network will reap you great benefits.

IRS Announces HSA Limits for 2022

IRS Announces HSA Limits for 2022

On May 10, 2021, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Revenue Procedure 2021-25 announcing the annual inflation-adjusted limits for health savings accounts (HSAs) for calendar year 2022. An HSA is a tax-exempt savings account that employees can use to pay for qualified health expenses.

To be eligible for an HSA, an employee:

  • Must be covered by a qualified high deductible health plan (HDHP);
  • Must not have any disqualifying health coverage (called “impermissible non-HDHP coverage”);
  • Must not be enrolled in Medicare; and
  • May not be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.

The limits vary based on whether an individual has self-only or family coverage under an HDHP. The limits are as follows:

  • 2022 HSA contribution limit:
  • Single: $3,650 (an increase of $50 from 2021)
  • Family: $7,300 (an increase of $100 from 2021)
  • Catch-up contributions for those age 55 and older remains at $1,000
  • 2022 HDHP minimum deductible*
  • Single: $1,400 (no change from 2021)
  • Family: $2,800 (no change from 2021)
  • 2022 HDHP maximum out-of-pocket limit:
  • Single: $7,050 (an increase of $50 from 2021)
  • Family: $14,100** (an increase of $100 from 2021)

*   The deductible does not apply to preventive care services nor to services related to testing for COVID-19. An HDHP also may choose to waive the deductible for coverage of COVID-19 treatment, and/or telehealth and other remote care services.

**   If the HDHP is a non-grandfathered plan, a per-person limit of $8,700 also will apply due to the Affordable Care Act’s cost-sharing provision for essential health benefits.

By Kathy Berger

Originally posted on