BAS Blog


 

Availability of COBRA Reports

Cobra Control Services, LLC makes administration of COBRA easy and efficient. Toward this end, CCS sends emails with reports summarizing COBRA use.

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US-Russia Cyber Security Communications

The White House has reported that the United States and the Russian Federation have agreed to communicate about cyber security issues to reduce the risk of widespread cyber security events.

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Government PR for Health Care Reform

The Government has released several consumer tools to explain health care reform and the new Health Insurance Marketplaces. This public relations push coincided with the 100 day countdown to the Marketplace (Exchange) open enrollment period.

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Unconstitutionality of DOMA Impacts Employee Benefits

In a landmark decision yesterday, the Supreme Court held that Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. This ruling has a widespread impact on employers and the administration of their employee benefit plans.

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Question of the Week

Q.- We have an employee taking a leave in the fall, and she has a health care flexible spending account plan. How do we make sure that she takes out from the plan only the amount she has contributed when she goes on the leave?

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Termination Processes Should be Reviewed

A recently terminated employee of Spellman High Voltage Electronics Corporation allegedly hacked into his former employer’s network, causing thousands of dollars of damage to his former employer.

The employee was employed as a software programmer and systems manager. After being passed over for a promotion, the individual resigned. Before resigning, the individual allegedly copied files from the company onto a flash drive. He possibly used the information on the flash drive to steal credentials and corrupt the company network. The case is in the hands of the FBI. If convicted, the individual faces a maximum sentence of a year in jail and $250,000 in fines.

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Employer Role in Health Exchange Application

Employers should become familiar with the Health Insurance Exchange application, because employers will have to provide certain information as part of the Employer Coverage Tool.

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Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act Violation

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) makes it illegal for employers with 15 or more employees to discriminate against employees or applicants for employment based on genetic information. Employers may not ask about an individual’s genetic tests, the genetic tests of family members or the manifestation of disease of the individuals or his/her family members. This means that an employer may not request or require family medical history information, among other things.

Last month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) entered into a $50,000 settlement of a lawsuit alleging an employer violated GINA.

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Question of the Week

Q.- We employ 15 employees in the US, but employ an additional 40 employees in Europe. Are we subject to Federal COBRA or state mini-COBRA?

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Twitter Changes Its Authentication Process

Soon after several Twitter accounts were hacked, with the hackers releasing unauthorized tweets, Twitter has stepped up its account login verification process.

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Minimum Value Calculation Still Vexes Employers

The U.S. Department of Treasury released proposed regulations addressing how an employer can determine if its health plan offers minimum value. Health care reform imposes a penalty on a large employer for each full-time employee who purchases health coverage through an Exchange and receives a premium tax credit for that coverage. While any individual can purchase Exchange-based coverage, an individual is eligible for a premium tax credit for that coverage only if the individual’s employer-based coverage is unaffordable or does not provide minimum value.

This new guidance is intended to assist employers in determining if their plans provide minimum value (MV).

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Updates to Employer Identification Numbers Required

The IRS issued final regulations which require any person assigned an employer identification number (EIN) to provide updated information to the IRS. The regulations are effective January 1, 2014 and are intended to enhance the IRS’ ability to keep accurate information on individuals issued EINs.

EINs are issued for tax filing and other government reporting purposes. Individuals and businesses apply for an EIN using Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number.

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Question of the Week

Q.- Does the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) required under health care reform have to be provided to COBRA continuants?

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Idaho State University Penalized for HIPAA Breach

Idaho State University recently agreed to pay penalties of $400,000 to settle a violation of the HIPAA Security Rule. At issue was the breach of unsecured electronic protected health information of patients at the University’s Medical Clinic.

The Clinic changed it firewall policies which exposed servers, effectively leaving patient information, to the amount of 17,000 patient records, unsecure. The University also had to enter into a two year Corrective Action Plan to implement enhanced security procedures and increased reporting to the government.

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Wellness Program Guidance Issued

As discussed in prior News to Use articles, many employers implement wellness programs to increase worker productivity and decrease health care costs. The Departments of Labor, Treasury and Health and Human Services issued final regulations addressing wellness programs under health care reform.

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Distribution Options for Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC)

The new Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) required under health care reform must be distributed to employees as part of open enrollment. Employers should consider their options for SBC distribution.

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Question of the Week

Q.- Our employee’s wife gave birth to a baby in February. Our employee would have 30 days from the baby’s birth to enroll the child in our coverage. Our employee knew of the process, but did not enroll his child. Instead, the baby was covered under his wife’s plan. His wife is losing health coverage. Can the baby come onto our plan? Open enrollment does not start until the fall.

A.- Yes. The baby can be enrolled in your plan so long as the employee lets you know of the enrollment 30 days after the wife’s loss of coverage. This would be a special enrollment event under HIPAA that would allow the mid-year enrollment.

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