BAS Blog


 

Question of the Week

Q.- Can a participant in a health care flexible spending account plan be reimbursed for the cost of traveling to a doctor’s appointment? 

A.- Yes, if the appointment is a medical expense eligible to be reimbursed through the health FSA, and if the participant provides proper documentation for the travel.  Proper documentation would include a receipt for a cab ride or a map showing the mileage traveled by car from the participant’s home to the appointment.  Just providing a summary of the mileage would not be sufficient documentation for payment.  Reimbursement will be paid at the IRS approved travel rate.

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Wellness Programs

Many employers look to wellness programs in an effort to contain costs.  Healthy employees tend to be productive employees, and require less time off for illness and injury.  Healthy employees can also save an employer in health care expenditures. 

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Guidance on 90 Day Waiting Period and Orientation

The government released final guidance on the maximum permissible length of an orientation period consistent with the 90 day waiting period under health care reform.  The final rules apply for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2015. 

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Question of the Week

Q.- Our Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account Plan allows reimbursement for dependent day care expenses.  Can an employee claim an amount he pays his 14 year old for watching his younger children after school until he comes home from work? 

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Consider Revisions to Employee Handbooks for Health Care Reform

Employers should review employee handbooks to ensure that any description of benefits is consistent with changes made to health plans for health care reform. 

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Understanding the Individual Shared Responsibility Provision

Health care reform has an impact on both employers and employees.  In fact, health care reform’s mandates reach all U.S. citizens, whether working or not. 

The Individual Shared Responsibility Provision of the Affordable Care Act requires U.S. citizens, and each member of their family, to 

  • Have minimum essential coverage, or
  • Have an exemption from the responsibility to have minimum essential coverage, or
  • Make a shared responsibility payment upon filing a 2014 federal income tax return in 2015. 
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Penalties for Reimbursing Employee’s Premiums for Marketplace Coverage

With the requirement for large employers to offer health coverage to full-time employees quickly approaching, employers are seeking creative, cost effective options for providing benefits. 

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Dependent Care FSA or Tax Credit

A dependent care assistance program (DCAP) is a separate, written plan of an employer for the exclusive benefit of employees to provide coverage for dependent care expenses.  A dependent day care flexible spending account plan is a type of DCAP. 

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Question of the Week

Q.- We terminated an employee who left for military duty.  Do we offer him COBRA coverage? 

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Question of the Week

Q.- I know there is a new special enrollment period for COBRA participants to cancel COBRA and enroll in a federal Marketplace plan.  But can’t COBRA participants cancel their COBRA coverage at any time and look to the Marketplace for coverage? 

A.-  COBRA participants can cancel their COBRA coverage at any time, but individuals can buy Marketplace coverage only during the open enrollment period or if they experience a life event. Open enrollment runs from about November through February.  Outside of that window, enrollment is closed, except if there is a life event.  Dropping COBRA is not a life event, but finishing the COBRA period (18/29/36 months) would be considered a life event to allow enrollment through the Exchange.

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New and Small Businesses

The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor publishes many resources for employers.  One such resource, Labor Standards Information for New and Small Businesses, offers a summary of rules that businesses must follow for compliance with DOL requirements. 

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Medical Loss Ratio Reporting

Each year, health insurers must report information about their medical loss ratio to the Department of Health and Human Services.  The medical loss ratio (MLR) is the cost of claims plus the amounts expended on health care quality improvement as a percentage of total premiums.  If an insurer spends too much on administrative expenses instead of on providing benefits, it will fail the MLR requirements. 

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