The Alcott Group   Good for Your Business ~ Good for Your People
    •  Program Highlights
    •  Client Spotlight
    •  Did You Know?
    •  Ask the HR Experts
    •  Dollars & Sense
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Welcome to the Fall issue of the Alcott Advisor.

It's that time of the year again - when most companies receive their annual increases in health premiums and go through the painful process of evaluating alternatives, in hope of finding a way to contain costs while maintaining coverage levels - easier said than done. Unfortunately, the coming year promises more double-digit increases in health premiums - not good news for companies whose benefits budgets are already over-extended.

This year, the buzz is about Consumer-driven Health Plans and the hope they bring for reducing premiums. Our 'Dollars & Sense' column, contributed by Kevin Arnstein of Cook, Hall & Hyde, Inc. clears up some of the confusion between MSAs, HSAs, HRAs and FSAs. 'Ask the HR Experts' answers the question about what's really important to employees when choosing a health plan. We also provide two very inexpensive options for improving your benefits program; EAPs - discussed in 'Program Highlights' and Wellness programs - discussed in 'Did You Know'. Our 'Client Spotlight' is on Central Nassau Guidance and Counseling Services, Inc., a Long Island not-for-profit company and long-time Alcott client.

Remember, if you have an HR question, please email it to us at and we'll be happy to reply - confidentially of course.


  Employee Assistance Programs (“EAPs”) are a valuable employee benefit that equally serves the needs of both employees and their employers. EAPs provide a wide-range of services to employees and their eligible dependents, 24- hours per day, 7 days per week. Essentially, an EAP is an organization consisting of trained counselors that you and your employees can reach out to, on a confidential basis, for help with a number of issues that can affect work-life balance.

The EAP counselors help by listening to and understanding the problem and either directly providing counseling and assistance or referring a specialist within their network. The payback comes in the form of increased productivity and possibly even the retention of a valuable employee whose job performance has slipped due to various issues affecting an employee’s personal life and therefore his/her job performance. These issues can include substance abuse, work-life balance problems, domestic violence, elder care, child care, etc..

Click here to read more


  Wellness Programs: Do-It-Yourself Pointers

Employee health should be of concern to every employer. Just as you would want your machinery running smoothly or your processes to be efficient, your employees will be more productive and happier if their health is good. Even if you’re an employer offering limited healthcare benefits or making limited employer contributions to coverage, you can influence employee health through the implementation of a Wellness Program.

An employer’s commitment to sponsoring a Wellness Program, or at least specific Wellness initiatives, promotes employee health, increases morale and raises awareness of how employees and their dependents may follow a safer lifestyle. It also helps modify employee behaviors by providing tools and resources for them to take more responsibility for health management. In our climate of soaring health costs and emphasizing cost-sharing, Wellness education is a natural support to this healthcare transition.

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  Comparing MSAs, HSAs, HRAs and FSAs: Which Approach Is Best?

Employers are hoping that the trend toward consumer-driven health plans will help soften the blow of continually rising healthcare costs. Depending on the model, these plans typically include Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs), Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs), Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), and most recently, Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Some plans allow employees to use the accounts to pay for medical expenses that are not covered by insurance, while employers use others to provide employees with a fixed dollar amount with which they can purchase healthcare services or a health insurance policy on the open market.

The explosion of these types of plans – or at least the explosion of discussion about these types of plans as a potential cure for rising healthcare costs – has left many consumers and employers confused about the right approach.

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  Spotlight On: Central Nassau Guidance & Counseling Services, Inc.

When Central Nassau Guidance & Counseling Services, Inc. (CNGCS, Hicksville, NY) realized that there was a better alternative for managing their employee-related services, they explored the HR outsourcing option. According to CNGCS CEO Barbara Bartell, “Our agency recognized that we could better utilize our staff within their areas of expertise and tap another resource more knowledgeable and focused on this area.” That resource was The Alcott Group, a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) headquartered in Farmingdale, NY.

Central Nassau Guidance & Counseling Services is a licensed agency whose mission is to provide clinical treatment, rehabilitation, housing opportunities, social and support services, counseling and guidance to individuals, families and the community affected by mental illness, psychological difficulties, addiction and/or dependency problems.

Click here to read more


  Click Ask the HR Experts to submit your question. Following is a question posed by another business owner.

What matters most to an employee when selecting health coverage?

To answer this issue's question we decided to take an informal survey of our internal staff as they regularly guide our client's employees in the selection of their health coverage.

At The Alcott Group, we serve over 250 clients with over 2,500 employees in the selection and enrollment of their health insurance benefits annually. Discussions take place when an employee is first eligible to enroll for health insurance and annually during our Open Enrollment period. More frequently, we speak with prospective new hires as part of our client’s recruiting process. Our client’s prospective new-hires want to know details about benefits before they go further in the selection process, since health insurance is an important part of the total compensation package.

Click here to read more


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Upcoming Events on Long Island

Manhattan Chamber of Commerce -
Meet Your Int'l. Business Partners, Oct. 7th, Thursday, 5:30 PM - 8:00 PM Baruch College Academic Complex 55 Lexington Ave., 14th Fl. (bet. 24th & 25th Streets)
For information click here

LIFT Business & Technology Expo -
Oct. 13th, Wednesday, 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM Huntington Hilton, Melville, NY
For more information click here

Long Island Capital Alliance -
Oct. 15th, Friday, 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM Fox Hollow Country Club, Woodbury, NY
For more information click here

HIA HR Symposium -
Oct. 19th, Tuesday, 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM Marriott Hotel, Walt Whitman Rd., Melville, NY
For more information click here

LISTnet Techmelt LITE -
Oct. 20th, Wednesday, 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM LI Business & Technology Center, Great River, NY
For more information click here

LISTnet HR Information Technology Forum -
Discussion of HR IT Tools Oct. 27th, Wednesday, 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM Adecco - 175 Broadhollow Rd., Melville, NY
For more information click here

LISTnet Emerging Companies SIG -
Taking the Risk Out of HR Oct. 28th, Thursday, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM Huntington Hilton, Melville, NY
For more information click here

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