BAS Blog


 

Enrollment Wizard Helps Employees with Open Enrollment

BAS has tools designed to help employees navigate the open enrollment process. The Enrollment Wizard, available through MyEnroll.com, is an intuitive tool designed to guide employees through open enrollment.

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HIPAA Breach When Laptop Stolen

Arizona Counseling and Treatment Services Center reported a HIPAA breach of information relating to more than 500 patients. A company laptop containing personal health information (PHI) was stolen from an employee’s home in late March.

The laptop contained patient names, dates of birth and clinical treatment data. While the laptop was fitted with a tracking device, the information was not held in an encrypted format. For this reason, the electronic PHI was considered breached and notification was required to be made to affected individuals.

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Health Care Exchange Navigators

Under health care reform, individuals will be able to purchase health insurance through marketplaces known as Health Care Exchanges. Each state must offer an Exchange by January 1, 2014. If the Exchange is not operated by the state, it will be operated by the federal government.

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Breaks for Employees who are Nursing Mothers

Employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act must allow a worker to take a break from the work day to express breast milk for a nursing child. The obligation applies for the child's first year of life.

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Question of the Week

Q.- One of our employees is turning age 65 and his spouse is covered under our health plan. He wants to drop our coverage and enroll in Medicare. His spouse wont be eligible for Medicare for another year. Do we give a COBRA election to the spouse?

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Major Industry Leaders Partner with the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence

This week, 11 major companies have committed to work together toward the protection of IT infrastructure and business threats. A partnership with the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCOE), hosted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, was created to address business-specific security challenges.

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Guidance Issued on 90 Day Waiting Period

In keeping with the ever-expanding guidance on health care reform, the government released proposed regulations addressing the requirement that group health plans and insurers cannot apply a waiting period for participation that lasts longer than 90 days.

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Changes to HIPAA Privacy Notice

The Omnibus changes to the HIPAA Rules require that the HIPAA Notice of Privacy practices be updated and re-distributed to plan participants. Group health plans will want to pay attention to the required changes and revise their Privacy Notice appropriately.

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Question of the Week

Q.- A former employee’s COBRA qualifying event was termination of employment on January 1, 2013. The former employee provided a letter from the Social Security Administration on March 1, 2013 saying that his disability benefits from the SSA will begin May 2013. Is he entitled to extend the length of his COBRA coverage? I know he has to be disabled within the first 60 days of COBRA coverage, but the letter says his benefits will begin after the first 60 days of coverage.

A.- Under the disability extension rules, the maximum COBRA period can be extended to 29 months if (1) the qualifying event is termination of employment or reduction of hours, (2) the qualified beneficiary is determined under the Social Security Act to have been disabled at any time during the first 60 days of COBRA coverage (or before), and (3) the administrator is notified of the determination within 60 days after the latest of the date of the determination or the date of the qualifying event.

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Preparation for Open Enrollment

Employers that sponsor plans running on a July 1 through June 30 plan year are beginning preparation for open enrollment. MyEnroll.com provides both employers and employees with an easy and efficient open enrollment experience.

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Employers Should Review Email Privacy Policies

Harvard University has admitted to a search of faculty email accounts in an attempt to uncover information about an alleged cheating scandal. The purpose of the search was to review correspondence with two student-run newspaper reporters who were covering the scandal.

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Whistleblower Complaints

The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) issued an interim final rule addressing whistleblower complaints under health care reform. The Affordable Care Act adds a section to the Fair Labor Standards Act prohibiting retaliation against employees who receive tax credits or cost-sharing reductions for purchasing health coverage through an Exchange. The Act also prohibits retaliation against an employee who reports an employer's violations of health care reform, testifies against an employer's health care reform compliance, or refuses to participate in an activity that the employee reasonably believes to violate the Affordable Care Act.

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Civil Unions Recognized in Colorado- Impact on Health Benefits

Beginning May 1, 2013, Colorado will recognize civil unions entered into by same-sex and opposite-sex couples, giving these individuals benefits otherwise reserved for married people.

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Question of the Week

Q.- We are terminating an employee for gross misconduct. He was covered under our health plan, and we are not offering him COBRA continuation coverage. Do we have to offer COBRA coverage to his family members who were also covered under the plan?

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COBRA Dependent Qualifying Event Module

The Dependent Qualifying Event module available through MyEnroll.com allows administrators to generate COBRA Qualifying Event Letters specifically for dependents. This module is used when only a dependent experiences a qualifying event, which causes the dependent to lose coverage under the group health plan. This can happen, for example, when a dependent ages out of the plan or when a spouse is divorced from an employee.

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Disable Universal Plug and Play Features

The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team recently advised the public to disable Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) features that have not been updated. A UPnP allows computers to automatically identify and communicate with certain equipment such as printers, media players and routers through an open network.

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SHOP Exchange Implementation Delayed

Facing the realities of complying with the quickly-approaching January 1, 2014 effective date for health care Exchanges, the Obama administration announced a delay in availability of Exchange-based plans for small businesses and their employees.

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New FMLA Advisor Released

The Department of Labor released an updated version of its Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Advisor. The FMLA is a law that allows eligible employees of covered employers (generally employers with 50 or more employees) to take unpaid leave for certain reasons and maintain entitlement to their jobs upon return from the leave. There are many specific notification and compliance requirements associated with the FMLA.

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Question of the Week

Q.- We offer a Parking Reimbursement Plan under Section 132 of the Code. Employees contribute amounts on a pre-tax basis to the plan and can use those amounts to pay for their parking expenses for driving to work. If an employee terminates employment but has money in his account, can he get the money back? What if he no longer drives to work but still has money in the plan?

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