BAS Blog


 

Guidance on Wellness Programs in Group Health Plans

The government recently released new guidance in the form of proposed regulations addressing when a wellness program will be considered discriminatory. Wellness programs included in an employer health plan cannot discriminate on the basis of an adverse health factor. The new rules will apply to plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2014.

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EEOC Approves Strategic Enforcement Plan

The U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) approved a Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) to coordinate enforcement of EEOC Policies throughout the EEOC's branch offices. The EEOC's headquarters is in Washington, DC, but carries out its work through 53 field offices in all states.

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Question of the Week

Q.- We have an employee who is out on disability. He won't tell us if he is coming back to work or not. We want to remove him from benefits and offer him COBRA. We pay 10% of the premium and employees pay 90% of the premium. He has not been sending in his premium payments for coverage, and we have no way of recouping his contributions while he is on disability. Is there a problem with taking him off the plan and offering him COBRA?

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New Fee Assessment Increases Cost of Employer-Provided Health Coverage

Beginning in 2014, individuals and small businesses (companies with under 50 employees) will be able to purchase health insurance through state or federal based Exchanges. Individuals who enroll in health plans through an Exchange may receive premium tax credits for purchasing coverage through the Exchange. It is anticipated that this will increase the number of individuals with health coverage, particularly in the individual market. Health care reform tries to anticipate potential issues with the increased number of covered lives (presumably, many with adverse health factors) through the creation of premium stabilization programs. These programs, which include risk adjustment, reinsurance, and risk corridors, are intended to protect against adverse selection for newly enrolled individuals. Along with other programs, such as guaranteed issue, nondiscrimination based on health status, and stabilization of rates, premium stabilization programs are intended to help keep premiums reasonable for coverage in the individual market for 2014, 2015 and 2016- the first three years that health care Exchanges are in operation.

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Year End HR Checklist

As 2012 comes to a close and another new work-year begins, Human Resources Departments should take the time to review certain business practices. Getting processes and procedures in place will set the right start to 2013.

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Question of the Week

Q.- My company is an S corporation and I share ownership of the company with my brother. May I participate in our company's flexible spending account plan?

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New Fee Imposed on Health Plans

The Internal Revenue Service issued a final rule addressing new fees on insurers and plan sponsors under health care reform.

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Huge Penalty Awarded for Missed COBRA Notice

In a recent district court case, an employer was fined for not providing a COBRA election notice. Cobra Control Services, LLC can make sure that employers properly adhere to COBRA's administrative requirements and help employers manage potential liability.

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Question of the Week

Q.- We have an employee who is going to jail for 3-4 months. We are not firing him because of the incarceration, and he will most likely be coming back to work when he gets out of jail. Do we have to offer him COBRA?

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COBRA Email Correspondence from CCS

Cobra Control Services, LLC makes it easy to keep track of COBRA continuants and to confirm that requested qualifying event letters are processed properly. Each week, CCS sends emails to individuals on the document email list:

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Understanding De-Identification of PHI

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released guidance on the two methods for de-identifying protected health information (PHI) under the Privacy Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Once PHI is de-identified, it is no longer subject to HIPAA's privacy requirements.

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Notice of Exchange Must Be Distributed to All Employees

The Affordable Care Act requires all employers to provide their employees a notice about the upcoming health insurance exchanges. This notice must be provided by March 1, 2013.

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Hurricane Sandy Relief from both DOL and IRS

Hurricane Sandy's devastation impacted more than just physical building structures. The Department of Labor and the Department of Treasury recognized that employers and their benefit plans, as well as participants and beneficiaries in those plans, can experience compliance-related issues when dealing with Hurricane Sandy's aftermath. Toward that end, both Departments issued limited relief for employee benefit plans, plan sponsors, and service providers located in one of the counties designated by the federal government as disaster areas.

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Question of the Week

Q.- I am trying to use up my health FSA balance before the end of the year. Someone suggested that I go to the drug store and buy a lot of aspirin, bandages, shampoo and contact lens solution and then submit my receipts. Can I do this?

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