What Does Your Health Insurance Do For You?

Business Health Trust is more than just insurance. We are a source to help your small businesses navigate the complex world of health insurance and employee benefits — and our dedication to that task has never been more important than in these challenging times.

Immediately after Washington state became the site of the first U.S. deaths related to coronavirus (COVID-19), Business Health Trust took on a leadership role aimed at sharing best practices and streamlining communications, then started doing just that for members enrolled in Business Health Trust.

Since then, valuable information focused on supporting small businesses has been emailed to Business Health Trust members as quickly as possible, starting with a campaign to help small businesses obtain free or discounted cleaning and sanitizing supplies while they are in short supply, followed by a survey to find out what other needs members have.

Members have received helpful flyers such as 5 Ways to Avoid the Flu and Protect Yourself from Flu & Coronavirus: Handwashing, while the dedicated COVID-19/Coronavirus Resources for Employers page offers useful information to help employers find resources to keep their employees safe, including information on how to apply for a small business loan and unemployment information.

As the CARES Act (the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) has continued to develop, Business Health Trust has kept members up-to-date with FAQs, forms, links and other resources to help small businesses and individuals take advantage of its Paycheck Protection Program. The program is available to businesses with 500 or fewer employees to help with payroll, rent, utilities, healthcare costs and more, which you can learn more about in the following Business Health Trust articles:

Business Health Trust’s valued partners also have stepped up to offer even more to members: For instance, Archbright has enhanced the free online membership that already is available to Business Health Trust members to offer even more of its HR resources at no additional cost, including access to the HR hotline.

Meanwhile, Business Health Trust is also taking a leadership role in the free #WeGotThisWA Webinar Series offered through the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, the endorsing sponsor of Business Health Trust. For more information or to register, go to the Seattle Chamber’s events page.

Why? Because We Care

Business Health Trust understands that a healthy company provides the foundation for a healthy workforce. That’s why we are dedicated to doing more than offering comprehensive, affordable employee benefits to small and mid-size businesses in Washington state.

We are also a resource for small employers, offering the information and tools they need to keep up-to-date on policy issues that affect small businesses in the state. To do that we also advocate for small business insurance needs in Washington, so that small businesses and non-profits can offer their employees the health benefits they need to stay competitive, providing health insurance for groups that might not otherwise be able to afford coverage.

These are the values we abide by every day. Because we are Business Health Trust. We are here for you.

To learn more or to enroll today to get access to these great resources, contact 425.201.1972 or email info@businesshealthtrust.com.

Small Business Resources: Emergency Loans, Unemployment and More

Business Health Trust’s core value is to be a resource to employers, and that’s especially important now as we navigate the impacts of COVID-19 on our small-business community.

We’d like to share new information related to our previous post on the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

Last week, the U.S. Congress passed and President Trump signed into law the CARES Act (the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act). As a part of the new legislation, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has created a nearly $350 billion loan program called the Paycheck Protection Program. This program is available to businesses with 500 or fewer employees to help with payroll, rent, utilities, healthcare costs and more. The SBA has also expanded a number of their existing programs, including the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

The federal government is currently finalizing the details and protocols about how and when different programs and relief will be implemented, and how financial institutions will help facilitate the execution of these programs.

Find out if your small business is eligible and what other questions you need to know before you apply in the CARES Act Q-and-A.

Additional preparation tips include this list of documents your bank may request when you apply for the loan.

CARES Act Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Please be aware that the CARES act also includes two separate unemployment provisions, one which applies to individuals already eligible for unemployment compensation under state law, and another that creates a temporary, federally funded “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance” program, which provides benefits to individuals who would otherwise be ineligible for benefits under state or federal law.

For more information, please see the Summary of CARES Act Unemployment Insurance Benefits.

 

 

Roundup of COVID-19 Webinars from Business Health Trust Partner Associations

Looking for resources to help stay informed on the developing COVID-19 outbreak? With our core value to be a resource to employers, Business Health Trust would like to share how our partner chambers are working to stay connected with members.

Although all in-person events have been canceled for the coming weeks, our partners are utilizing their robust networks to host webinars featuring the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 among other resources. The below list is still preliminary, so please be sure to keep an eye on the different Chamber websites or sign up for alerts:

Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
#WeGotThisWA series – free, registration required

Bellingham Regional Chamber of Commerce

Economic Alliance Snohomish County
Keeping the Lights On: A Business Resiliency Webinar – free, registration required

View upcoming webinars and sign up at https://localsnoco.com/educational-resources/

Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce
Webinar on COVID-19; free and open to all; join at https://zoom.us/j/843841095 or click below times to learn more or for more accessibility options:

Thurston County Chamber of Commerce
Thurston’s Business Leaders Share What You Need to Know; free and open to all; click below to register or learn more:

Greater Yakima Chamber of Commerce
Free informational videos can be viewed on the following topics:

Governor Jay Inslee announces stay at home order for Washington State and closes many Washington businesses.

Washington State’s Stay at Home Order and Protecting Your Essential Employees from COVID-19

List of Ideas for Employers to Prevent Spread of Coronavirus and Protect their Essential Employees

While the President, Governor, and CDC have encouraged working from home, we know many workers have still been going into work because their responsibilities demand it. On March 23rd, however, Governor Jay Inslee announced a stay-home order that will close many more businesses and increase pressure on businesses to have their employees working from home.

Are you a business owner or manager and still have employees out and about as your business is considered an essential business in this time? Below are some ideas. Stay safe!

Facemasks/Surgical Masks. Should we get them?

No, donate them to a local hospital. The CDC has repeatedly said these should be saved for medical workers and those with symptoms. There is currently a shortage and healthcare workers are even resorting to making their own.

Meetings

In general, skip meetings or make them remote. If you must have in-person meetings, remember your social distancing etiquette and stay 6 feet apart.

Wear gloves so long as healthcare workers have theirs

Even non-sterile gloves can help your hands stay clean.

Hand washing

Require frequent handwashing throughout shifts, before and after shifts, or whatever milestones make sense in your business model.

Phones

Remind employees and partners to sanitize their phones.

Start times

Stagger start and stop times of shifts as to reduce amount of people commuting (via public transportation) at any given time.

Door handles

Prop restroom doors open slightly (when appropriate) to avoid touching handles.

Increase paper towels in bathroom so people can use the paper towels to open door handles.

Evangelize

Create a culture where teammates, partners, clients are all reminded to wash their hands when in the field or on the job.

Signage

Post “handwashing” signs throughout your facility.

Sanitize regularly

Wipe down products and surfaces often.

SBA to Provide Disaster Loans for Coronavirus-Related Economic Disruptions

Business Health Trust is more than just your source for employee benefits. We advocate for small business insurance needs in Washington state, and are vigilant about staying on top of changes in the small business health insurance market.

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues to impact small businesses in Washington and nationwide, we would like to offer resources in light of an announcement from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) that it will provide economic injury disaster loans for coronavirus-related economic disruptions.

Please view the SBA’s Fact Sheet as the loans pertain specifically to the COVID-19 impact in Washington state.

To determine whether your small business might qualify, the SBA’s Three-Step Process PDF outlines steps to apply and other details. You may download the following forms to apply for the loan:

For additional detailed information, please view a PDF presentation from the SBA.

More information also is available on the SBA’s Disaster Assistance website.

Tips to Stay Focused and Efficient While Working from Home

In the gig economy, working from home is already the norm for many Americans. But for workers more accustomed to a scheduled 9-5 office job, it can be a challenge to find work-life balance from a home office.

Whether you’re working on a laptop or a home computer, it’s important to create a space that puts you into work mode. It may be obvious that means turning off the TV and finding activities in advance for your kids, but your home likely offers a wealth of distractions you haven’t even thought of.

If you’re among the many Washington residents — and soon possibly the entire nation — in search of normalcy from your new home office, we’ve put together a few resources to help you remain focused and efficient when you’re on the clock.

Start with a Clean House

With both spring and potentially COVID-19 in the air, you’ll want to prioritize your annual spring clean if you haven’t already.

To properly clean and disinfect surfaces, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work, or you can make a bleach solution with 5 tablespoons bleach per gallon of water, or an alcohol solution of at least 70 percent alcohol.

Once your household is spic and span, try to keep it that way so cleaning doesn’t turn into a distraction during work hours. In the article 5 spring-cleaning tips for a healthier home, Kaiser Permanente recommends you set a schedule for upkeep so you can limit your tidying to a few minutes a day.

Get Up, Get Ready and Go

It may be tempting to throw on some sweats and grab a cup of coffee before plopping in front of your computer, but maintaining your normal morning routine also triggers a working mindset that can help improve productivity.

That means going to bed and waking up at a reasonable hour, and dressing appropriately for the workday, especially if there’s the potential for videoconferencing.

Be sure to also prepare any snacks or meals in advance so you’re not distracted by your growling stomach throughout the day!

Take a Break

If you’re the kind of person who has a hard time stepping away from your computer, find balance by setting a schedule that includes regular breaks from your desk and especially your screen.

Your eyes will thank you for taking a 20-second break to look at something at least 20 feet away every 20 minutes, also known as the “20-20-20” rule, as described in the VSP Vision Care Inc. article on Computer Vision Syndrome. And if you need help staying on track, of course there’s an app for that: Eye Care 20 20 20.

And when your lunch break rolls around, resist the temptation to continue working and be sure to take a break, maybe even go for a walk if that is an option. Maintaining your health is a priority during these uncertain times, and giving your brain and your body breaks is an important part of your overall health.

Commute Time Now Means You Time

Remember traffic? Now that you have the time back that you used to spend commuting, consider sharing these additional precious moments with your loved ones.

With schools closed for the foreseeable future, this means extra time with your kids while you’re not on the clock to help better manage this new version of work-life balance.

And for loved ones who aren’t in your household, be sure to pick up the phone and check in regularly on them. Premera Blue Cross reminds us that social distancing doesn’t mean mentally isolating, and recommends live video or video chat conversations to keep in touch with friends and family.

COVID-19 Anticipated Economic Impacts in Seattle and Washington

Business Health Trust (sponsored by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce) is Washington’s source for employee benefits, but we offer more than just insurance. Our core value is to be a resource to employers in Washington State to our 850+ employers in Washington State.

As part of our dedication to being a resource to employers, we partnered with Community Attributes to provide information that can aid business leaders in decision making as well as to highlight the needs of employers arising from the current COVID-19 pandemic in Washington State.

Download the analysis report here

March “Healthy Living” E-News Focuses on Coronavirus Resources

Usually during this time of year, Healthy Living with Business Health Trust turns its focus toward heading outdoors and fighting spring allergies. But with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continuing to impact us locally and globally, the March edition on Coronavirus Resources: Flyers, Links, Tips and More instead highlights tips to keep you safe and healthy, both at home and at the workplace.

Resources range from helpful flyers that encourage handwashing and other healthy behaviors, to links to our wellness partner including Premera Blue Cross and Kaiser Permanente, as well as information on how to access their virtual care resources.

Read more, sign up and and see past editions on our Healthy Living archive.

What are employers doing in response to COVID-19 in Washington State?

Many have issued remote work suggestions or guidelines. Many have restricted travel. Many have eliminated large meetings or gatherings of more than 10. Every company and industry is different, and not all employees can work remotely.

For workers who can remotely work:

  • Remote work for a period of time (some have done through March, some through end of next week and everywhere in between)
  • Limit meetings in-person
  • Reschedule or limit events or large gatherings

For workers who can’t work remotely:

  • Limit all-company meetings/ gatherings of 5+ people (some have indicated 5, 10, 20)
  • Janitorial service based gloves to be worn at all times
  • Requiring hand washing at the beginning of each shift
  • Taking hand washing breaks (or shifts)
  • Stagger start and stop times of shifts as to reduce amount of people commuting (via public transportation) at any given time
  • Prop restroom doors open slightly (when appropriate) to avoid touching handles
  • At restaurants, ask guests to wash hands before sitting down at the table
  • Increase paper towels in bathroom so people can use the paper towels to open door handles
  • Wipe down door handles, counters, credit card processing pads, areas that are commonly touched frequently
  • Post “please do not touch” signs on products (retail)
  • Wipe down products
  • Have employees use gloves when cleaning
  • Have employees sanitize their phones

What is your employer doing? Email us – let us know! We will update this listing.

BHT aims to be a resource to employers in Washington State. By sharing what others are doing, our hope is that companies will be able to identify ideas that might work in their own businesses.

Related articles:

SBA to Provide Disaster Loans for Coronavirus-Related Economic Disruptions

Coronavirus Resources from Business Health Trust Wellness Partners

Washington State’s Stay at Home Order and Protecting Your Essential Employees from COVID-19

Tips to Stay Focused and Efficient While Working from Home

COVID-19 Anticipated Economic Impacts in Seattle and Washington

What are employers doing in response to COVID-19 in Washington State?

Updated 5:11pm on 3/4/2020

Event: Elevate NW Conference on April 30, 2020

Join the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce for the third annual Elevate NW, a conference dedicated to the growth and success of small businesses in the Seattle metro region. From solopreneurs to companies that employ tens of thousands of people, we all play a role in building relationships that create an environment where small businesses can continue to flourish and innovate.

  • Event: Elevate NW Conference 2020
  • Date: Thursday, April 30, 2020
  • Time: 1 – 6 p.m.
  • Location: Fisher Pavilion
  • Address: 305 Harrison St., Seattle, WA, 98109
  • Cost: $99 pre-paid ($120 as of 4/24) for members; $120 pre-paid ($140 as of 4/24) for non-members
  • Questions: Contact Hannah Holman at 206-389-7216

This year, the Elevate NW will focus on engaged, peer-to-peer learning. Get prepared to connect with your fellow guests through structured conversations and interactive games, plus sign-up for coaching sessions with small business experts.

Elevate NW Conference 2020 will feature:

  • Conversations with local business and community leaders, who will share their success stories and relevant growth experience
  • Collaborative activities aimed to stimulate discussion and spark creative problem-solving
  • One-on-one coaching sessions will take place throughout the event
  • Keynote, Doug Baldwin, on why being engaged in your community is good for business

For more information, see the agenda on the Elevate NW event page.