BAS News-to-Use


 

COBRA Plan Renewal Dates

BAS’ Cobra Control Services (CCS) advises COBRA continuants about a company’s premium changes when renewal amounts are timely communicated to CCS. It is important to keep CCS advised about plan renewal dates, as well as the renewed premium amounts. CCS identifies the renewal date in its system, and sends an email to the employer requesting the new rates approximately 30 days before the plan rates are set to renew.

In anticipation of health care reform, some group health plans are changing their renewal dates to take advantage of lower premium increases. If a renewal date is changing, CCS needs to be advised of the date change in order to request new rates and administer COBRA properly for continuants. Please contact your account manager or service@cobracontrol.com if your plan’s renewal date changes.

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Premium Tax Credit under Health Care Reform

The IRS issued final regulations on the premium tax credit created under health care reform. Beginning in 2014, individuals and families that meet certain low-income criteria may be able to claim a tax credit to help pay for health coverage purchased through an Exchange. The premium tax credit is refundable which means even individuals with little or no income tax liability can benefit from the credit. The credit may also be paid in advance to a health coverage provider to assist with the cost of premiums.

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New Delaware Mini-COBRA Law

The State of Delaware enacted a temporary mini-COBRA law, joining several other states that require continuation of group health coverage for insured, small employer group health plans. Beginning June 21, 2012, participants in small-employer health plans in Delaware may be eligible for continuation of health coverage for up to 9 months upon the occurrence of certain qualifying events. The law specifically provides that it will not be in effect if the Affordable Care Act is deemed unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court, and it is intended to expire January 1, 2014.

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Welcome Guidance from IRS on new Health FSA $2,500 Contribution Limit Under Health Care Reform

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires health care flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to limit salary reduction contributions to $2,500 beginning January 1, 2013. Presently, health FSAs are not subject to an annual contribution limit, although employers typically design their plans to impose a contribution maximum.

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Employer Access to Social Media Password Information

Increasingly, employers are turning to social media for recruiting and as part of their overall business operations strategy. Consulting social media can provide an insight into an applicant's or employee's personality and judgment sense, and could serve as an inexpensive alternative or supplement to formal background checks.

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Some Aspects of Health Care Reform Costly, but Likely Here to Stay

The Supreme Court's decision on the constitutionality of health care reform is expected within weeks. Whatever the outcome of the decision, it is very likely that some provisions of health care reform that have already been implemented, such as age 26 coverage and elimination of lifetime limits, will probably be here to stay.

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Benefits Outsourcing a Desired Alternative for Many Companies

More employers are outsourcing benefits than ever before. Benefits outsourcing is a desirable alternative for many companies, particularly those companies in the mid to large-size market. Health care reform concerns and the complexities of compliance are cited as reasons for the increase in benefits outsourcing among organizations.

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Additional Guidance on the New Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC)

The Employee Benefits Security Administration issued additional guidance on the new Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) that must be distributed beginning September 2012 in accordance with the Affordable Care Act. The SBC is intended to enable consumers to easily understand their health coverage and determine the best health insurance options for themselves and their families. All health plans will provide a Summary of Benefits and Coverage, along with a uniform glossary of terms, to enrollees upon request and before they buy coverage. The SBC must meet specific format requirements, and the Department of Labor released a format SBC as a template for use. Please refer to our prior blog article for a general discussion of the SBC.

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Limits on HDHP/HSA Plan Structures

The IRS announced new inflation-adjusted Health Savings Account (HSA) contribution limits and High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) limits for 2013. The new limits reflect cost-of-living adjustments permitted under the Internal Revenue Code.

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Medicare Part D Creditable Coverage Values Increased for 2013

Employers sponsoring group health plans that offer prescription drug coverage to individuals eligible for Medicare Part D (generally those age 65 and older, including active employees, retirees, COBRA participants, and dependents) must disclose to those individuals whether the group health plan coverage is creditable or non-creditable. Prescription drug coverage is considered creditable for Medicare Part D purposes if the employer's coverage is, on average, at least as good as standard Medicare prescription drug coverage. To make this determination, the employer must determine if the plan's actuarial value equals or exceeds the actuarial value of standard Part D coverage.

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