The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a set of frequently asked questions relating to small businesses and the SHOP Health Exchange marketplace.
Employers may wish to review policies that regulate expression in the workplace to make sure the policies have a legitimate business purpose. A policy of Whole Foods Markets, Inc. restricting employees from recording conversations without prior approval from leadership was recently upheld by the National Labor Relations Board. The communication of the Whole Foods Policy explained its purpose as intending to eliminate a chilling effect on the expression of views when a person is concerned that a conversation with another is being secretly recorded.
Q.- An employee does not cover her son as a dependent on our medical plan. May she still be reimbursed for his expenses under her health flexible spending account plan?
Health care reform requires employers with 50 or more full time equivalent employees to provide their employees with minimum essential health coverage or pay a penalty. The penalty was originally set to be applied as of 2014, but the compliance date was extended to 2015. Even with the delay in the pay-or-play effective date, some employers will have to begin to count their employees now in order to be able to comply with the mandate in 2015.
Group health plans are not required to provide mental health or substance use disorder benefits, but plans that do provide such benefits may not impose financial or treatment limitations that differ from the limitations on medical and surgical benefits under the plan.
Q.- Should we be sending our COBRA notices by certified mail, return receipt requested?
The news has been buzzing with clips of President Obama’s past statements indicating that Americans can keep their health coverage even with the implementation of health care reform. It has now become clear that in the individual health insurance marketplace, many Americans will lose the policies they have held in prior years. This is largely because individual plans must make changes to comply with health care reform, and these changes result in changes to the insurance policies offered to consumers.
California is taking aim at insurers who are changing individual policies effective 1/1/2014. The California Department of Insurance threatened legal action against one of California’s largest insurers, Blue Shield of California, arguing that the insurer should have provided 180 days prior notice, rather than 90 days notice, before changing its plans. In response to the challenge, Blue Shield has agreed to allow individuals to keep their policies for an additional three months, through March 31, 2014.
Qualified Transportation Plans are offered by employers to assist employees with the cost of commuting to and from work. A qualified transportation plan is a reimbursement plan under section 132 of the Internal Revenue Code through which employees make pre-tax contributions to be used for transit and parking expenses.
Q.- We offer our employees an HRA plan through which we fund 75% of the deductible for our high deductible health plan. Can an employee have a health savings account and also participate in the HRA?
The IRS revised the use-it-or-lose-it component of health flexible spending account plans to allow for the carryover of up to $500 of unused FSA amounts into the next plan year. The carryover can be implemented immediately with respect to unused amounts from the 2013 plan year.