Headlines about "Health plans - info for employees"

Gathered from the web by the editors at BenefitsLink.com.
How to Create a Benefits Plan That Appeals to the Young and Cool
"Millennials care about their benefits.... Millennials want to choose what type of coverage they get.... Millennials have competing benefit offers; they need to be courted.... Millennials want real-time, instant information ... But they also crave face-to-face mentorship.... Insurance Cards will no longer do the trick." (Forbes)

Obama to Allow Two-Year Renewal of Old Health Insurance Policies
"Americans who kept their health plans that didn't comply with Obamacare requirements will be able to renew those policies for two more years, according to a person familiar with the matter. The Obama administration, which has been deliberating the issue since November, is expected to announce today the extension of the health plans, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the decision wasn't yet public." (Crain's Chicago Business)

[Guidance Overview] IRS Offers Health Care Tax Tips to Help Individuals Understand Tax Provisions in the ACA
"The IRS has designed the Health Care Tax Tips to help people understand what they need to know for the federal individual income tax returns they are filing this year, as well as for future tax returns. This includes information on the Premium Tax Credit and making health care coverage choices. Although many of the tax provisions included in the law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2014, most do not affect the 2013 tax returns." (Internal Revenue Service)

Financial Planning Considerations for Same-Sex Couples After Windsor (PDF)
"As a result of the new ruling, employee benefits and financial planning strategies once available only to opposite-sex married couples may now be available to same-sex married couples. This paper highlights several of the changes that have taken place, and details how same-sex couples may wish to incorporate them into their financial planning." [Includes a checklist.] (Prudential Retirement)

Text of District Court Opinion Finding that SPD Description of Conversion Rights Not Mandated by ERISA (PDF)
"Plaintiff argues that plan participants would not ... understand that 'conversion' referred to the ability to change a group policy into an individual life insurance policy. Unfortunately for Plaintiff, the provisions in the SPD about the conversion privilege are indisputably written in a user-friendly manner with clear language. Even if this were not true, Plaintiff cannot establish that Defendants committed any violation of their ERISA duties with respect to the SPD. The statute simply does not require that the SPD even include notification to participants and beneficiaries of any conversion rights." [Prouty v. The Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Co. and C&S Wholesale Grocers, No. 12-cv-12097-MAP (D. Mass. Feb. 12, 2014)] (U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts)

District Court Rules That SPD Can Be a Plan Document
"In a recent federal district court decision, the court concluded an SPD constitutes the plan document if there is no other plan document. The SPD precluded double dipping; the administrative services contract did not address the issue. The participant claimed that under Cigna v. Amara, the SPD could not be the plan document and that the plan document therefore had to be the administrative services contract. The federal district court disagreed, stating that if there is only an SPD, then the SPD is the plan document and it can be enforced." [L&W Associates Welfare Benefit Plan v. Wines, No. 12-cv-13424 (E.D. Mich. Jan. 13, 2014)] (Stinson Leonard Street)

Summary Plan Descriptions Used as Plan Documents Pose Risk
"Despite the risks associated with noncompliance, 66 percent of respondents said they have a formal compliance strategy and 69 percent said that they have teams devoted to governance, compliance, or to both ... Nearly a third of employers said that they have neither a governance nor a compliance team ... About half of the companies with a combined compliance and governance function or with one function or the other used their summary plan descriptions as plan documents[.]" (Bloomberg BNA)

HSAs Drive Greater Employee Health Engagement
"Employees and members of their families who are enrolled need to understand why it is important for them to take a more active role in managing their health and their health care spending. This usually requires communication focused on their role as a health care consumer. Once they understand their role, they also need access to resources that help them make informed health care decisions." (Idaho Business Review)

Balancing Wellness Programs and Employee Privacy
"From the beginning of any wellness campaign, an employer has to answer three important questions: [1] Why are employees being asked to share private health information? [2] How is the information protected? [3] What, if anything, will the employer do with the information once it is shared? ... [It] is the employers' imperative to clearly communicate how information will be used and for what purposes. If employers are not proactive with this communication, distrust around the program, and ultimately the employer, will develop." (Idaho Business Review)

The Little Sisters Case and EBSA Form 700
"It seems like a bureaucratic thing to do, but gaining an understanding of what it means to sign government form EBSA 700 is the key to a historic religious controversy now before the Supreme Court ... Signing that form, the federal government argues, is a simple way for a religious organization like the Little Sisters to avoid what they regard as a sin: providing contraceptives and other pregnancy-related services to their female employees. But signing, the Little Sisters counter, would be the very act of violating their faith by clearing the way for such services for those employees. In the government's view, that is a legal issue, easily resolved by a court. To the Little Sisters, it is a religious question, and only they can decide what their faith tells them about it. The Supreme Court may have to decide which it is, and soon." (SCOTUSblog)

Can Consumers Make Affordable Care Affordable? The Value of Choice Architecture
"Tens of millions of people are currently choosing health coverage on a state or federal health insurance exchange as part of the [ACA].... [The authors] conducted 6 experiments asking people to choose the most cost-effective policy using websites modeled on current exchanges.... Without interventions, respondents perform at near chance levels and show a significant bias, overweighting out-of-pocket expenses and deductibles. Financial incentives do not improve performance, and decision-makers do not realize that they are performing poorly. However, performance can be improved quite markedly by providing calculation aids, and by choosing a 'smart' default. Implementing these psychologically based principles could save purchasers of policies and taxpayers approximately 10 billion dollars every year." (E. J. Johnson, R. Hassin, T. Baker, A. T. Bajger, and G. Treuer, via PLOS [Public Library of Science])

Text of CMS Advice to Consumers on Using Health Insurance after Enrolling through the Marketplace (PDF)
"[If] you did sign up and your insurance card has not yet arrived your coverage may already be effective. If you need to see a doctor or get a prescription filled before you get your insurance card, call your insurer to confirm that your coverage is in fact effective.... All consumers must pay their premium after enrolling in a plan in the Marketplace. However, each insurance company sets their own payment deadline. Some insurers may accept your first payment after your coverage has become effective and pay for care you receive after January 1, 2014. Contact your insurer to find out when and how you need to make your payment and what flexibility they are able to give you." (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

ACA Can Survive Low Enrollment and Adverse Selection in the First Year (PDF)
"If enrollment grows throughout 2014 as technical problems are overcome and outreach efforts continue ... competitive pressures are likely to dissuade insurers from ratcheting up premiums. In a competitive market, insurers must set premiums for 2015 based on expected enrollment in 2015, not based on any losses that occurred in 2014. Simply put, insurers cannot recoup losses without achieving significant market share, and achieving market share requires that they price their products competitively for expected enrollees in the coming year." (Urban Institute)

HR Spends More Time Educating About Benefits
"Despite competing priorities, one-third of HR professionals in the U.S. (32 percent) have increased the time they spend educating employees about workplace benefits ... Over the past two years, HR practitioners have spent significantly more time on activities related to their health care plans (61 percent of respondents), their company's 401(k) plan (38 percent), recruitment and layoffs (32 percent), and other compensation and employee-benefit-related issues (22 percent). The larger the company, the more likely it was that the HR professional put more time into these areas." (Society for Human Resource Management)

Healthier Wellness Communication
"Employees don't know nearly as much as they should about benefits packages, healthcare reform and wellness programs, according to the results of a [recent survey] ... [T]he most helpful ways to talk to employees about wellness involve more personal interaction with experts. According to the survey, only 13.8 percent of employees prefer a live presentation as a way to get information about their benefits." (Human Resource Executive Online)

[Guidance Overview] Many Annual Notice Requirements Apply to Employer Group Health Plans in 2014
Checklist and discussion of health plan notice requirements, including those under: Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA); Medicare Part D Notice of Creditable or Non-Creditable Coverage; HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practices; Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA); Summary of Benefits and Coverage; and Notice Regarding Grandfathered Plan Status. (Miller Johnson)

What Employees Think About Your Benefits Communication (PDF)
"While the largest segment (29%) of employees said they preferred one-on-one interactions with their HR department, their employers most frequently use non-interactive, text-based formats such as email (62.5%), websites (53.5%), and direct mail (52.8%) to communicate benefits information.... [L]ess than one third (29.5%) actually understand that they're only able to change enrollment information during open enrollment or qualifying events.... When asked how important is it to include their spouses and partners when deciding which health plan to get, 71.5% say it's important or very important." (ALEX)

Communicating Total Compensation to Employees in a Meaningful Way
"[T]he total compensation message often goes unnoticed or underappreciated by employees who may not understand what they are reading....To ease the general overwhelm and confusion over total compensation ... [1] Include all benefits, incentives, and performance pay in the statement.... [2] Use a total compensation statement builder to make it personal.... [3] Focus on employee retention first, recruitment second.... [4] Communicate total compensation often, using multiple mediums." (PayScale)

Six Reasons That a Frozen Pension Plan Is Different
"Freezing a plan gives it a finite life span. The dynamics of plan demography change.... Funding decisions are normally less flexible ... [It] can be difficult to get money out again once it has been put in.... Investment policy needs to reflect not just what the plan is today, but what it will be in the years to come.... 'Fully funded' is a higher target ... Plan termination itself is a demanding and time-consuming exercise; the timeline typically exceeds two years at present (the majority of the time being taken up on the administrative process)." (Russell Investments)

Thirty-One Things We Learned in Healthcare.gov's First 31 Days
Includes a "Finger-Pointing Flowchart" and some useful points in an entertaining format. Excerpt: "The key date is no longer Oct. 1. It's Nov. 30. This is the third night of Hannukah, but, more relevant here, the day that the administration expects the Web site to be up and running. If it's not, health law supporters say, it will be difficult for some people to sign up by Dec. 15, the last day to get coverage beginning January." (Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post; subscription may be required)

Seventeen Percent of Americans Who Are Potentially Eligible for Coverage Have Visited Health Insurance Marketplaces; Sixty Percent Are Aware of Them
"One of five (21%) adults who visited the health insurance marketplaces said they enrolled in a health plan. Those who did not enroll said they were not sure they could afford a plan (48%), were still deciding on a plan (46%), and/or had technical difficulties with the website (37%)." (The Commonwealth Fund)

[Guidance Overview] Year-End Checklist for Plan Sponsors of Retirement and Group Health Plans
"Over the next few months, employers and plan sponsors will probably focus most of their attention on the changes mandated by the [ACA], for health plans, and the effect of U.S. v. Windsor on both retirement and group health plans. With all the planning, there will hardly be time to keep up with all the normal plan maintenance issues. This article will help ease the transition by serving as a to-do list for plan sponsors in meeting its annual notice obligations and any additional actions that may be required or need to be assessed in the wake of ACA and/or the Windsor decision." (Troutman Sanders)

Smokers Can Expect a Hefty Surcharge
"The state Department of Health said health care costs caused by smoking Floridians are about $6.3 billion a year, $1.2 billion of which is paid by Medicaid.... [A]bout 17 percent of Floridians are smokers, and 28,600 deaths a year in the state are caused by tobacco use.... Former smokers who use e-cigarettes may be subjected to the surcharge as well, but it will be up to insurers to define who is classified as a smoker[.]" (FLORIDA TODAY)

Helping Consumers Understand their Coverage Options
"[R]esources and responsibilities for consumer outreach, education, and enrollment assistance differ significantly between the state-based or state partnership marketplaces and the federally facilitated marketplaces.... These disparities may already be driving significant state-by-state variability in consumer awareness. A recent poll from Pew found that 59 percent of residents in states with state-based or state partnership marketplaces knew that a marketplace would be available in their state, compared with only 44 percent in states with a federally run marketplace." (The Commonwealth Fund)

Why Was My Plan Canceled? and What Do I Do Now?
"The canceled plans are most likely high-deductible, low coverage ones that do not qualify under the ACA because they don't adequately cover the ten required essential benefits (EHB). So, if you have been notified you that your plan has been canceled, check its terms, if you have them.... Remember, people under the age of 30 have the option to buy a catastrophic plan.... [If] you're not worried about going without coverage for the first couple of months in the year, you can sign up as late as the end of March without paying a penalty." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)

How to Make Smart Benefits Choices for 2014
"Learn to live with high deductibles.... Split up your family coverage.... Use a flexible spending account.... Be cautious about add-ons.... Take the time to collect extras." (Reuters)

New California Law Affects State Taxation of Employer Tax Gross-Ups for Domestic Partners
"Post-Windsor, same-sex married couples in California no longer need a tax gross-up for either state or federal tax purposes because they no longer have to be taxed on the value of the coverage provided to their spouse. Because of this treatment, application of California AB 362 would be limited to a situation where an employer provides a federal tax gross-up to an employee who is in a California-registered domestic partnership. Such a gross-up, which would have been taxable under prior state law, is now no longer taxable in California." (McDermott Will & Emery)

Individual Mandate Deadline Extended; What's Behind The Policy Cancellation Stories?
"HHS has broad authority under the ACA to grant an exemption from the shared responsibility provision to any person who has 'suffered a hardship with respect to the capability to obtain coverage under a qualified health plan.' In the October 28 release, HHS recognizes a hardship exemption for individuals who purchase coverage through the exchange between February 15 and March 31, 2014, and extends until March 31 the last day of the open enrollment period[.]" (Timothy Jost in Health Affairs Blog)

Carney Admits Some Americans Will Lose Existing Plans Under Health Care Law
"While many consumers are grandfathered under the law, there are two exceptions: people who signed up for a plan after the law was enacted in 2010, or those whose plans changed significantly. There is significant turnover in the individual market, according to several studies, with anywhere from 40 to 67 percent of consumers leaving their plan within one or two years." (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)

Health Policies Canceled in Latest Hurdle for Obamacare
"The Obamacare rollout is leading to the cancellation of hundreds of thousands of health insurance plans nationwide, contradicting President Barack Obama's repeated pledge that people who like their coverage can keep it.... As many as 80 percent of people who don't have a company-hosted plan or insurance through the Medicare or Medicaid government programs may have to find new health coverage, said Robert Laszewski, an insurance-industry consultant in Arlington, Virginia. About 19 million people are included in this market." (Bloomberg)

Are You Ready to Retire? Take This Quiz.
"Wherever you stand -- several years from leaving work or already retired-the following quiz highlights some of the most critical parts of planning for later life and can help you judge how successful your retirement might be.... Research by Fidelity Investments recommends that workers should aim to save what multiple of their ending annual salary at age 67 in order to meet basic income needs in retirement? ... A 65-year-old couple retires in 2013. How much money will they need to cover medical expenses throughout their retirement?" (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)

HHS Brings in Verizon to Help HealthCare.gov [Video]
"An informed source in the telecommunications industry said Verizon's Enterprise Solutions division has been asked by the Department of Health and Human Services to improve the performance of the HealthCare.gov site, which is a key component of the Affordable Care Act.... HHS office said Sunday the department would reach outside its government contractors to civilian companies that might be able to solve HealthCare.gov's problems more quickly." (USA TODAY)

Southern Baptist Convention Challenges ACA Contraceptive Mandate
"Three nonprofit religious organizations, including a division of the Nashville-based Southern Baptist Convention, are suing the federal government over a controversial contraceptives regulation. The organizations ... announced the class-action lawsuit against the federal requirement that employers cover the cost of contraceptives, including drugs that can cause abortions. The groups argue the requirement infringes on religious liberty.... The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Oklahoma ... is the 74th against the government over its mandate[.]" (The Tennessean)

Three Healthy Habits for Health Savings Accounts (PDF)
"Educate employees on how they can take advantage of available employer contributions in their HSAs.... Encourage employees to contribute enough into their HSA so that they have cash on hand to cover anticipated or unanticipated out-of-pocket qualified medical expenses for the year.... Suggest that employees consider contributing the maximum that they can afford to their HSA. For the portion of the HSA that employees are saving for the future, they might want to consider contributing to an investment option in line with their longer-term savings goals." (Fidelity Investments)

Eight Costly Benefits Mistakes Employees Will Make During Fall Open Enrollment Season
"If your employer-provided coverage is expensive or not comprehensive, definitely look at the exchanges. If you have coverage through a large employer, that's probably the better deal, but not necessarily.... [T]wo-earner spouses who each have employer-provided healthcare benefits have extra work to do comparing various scenarios, including surcharges, which gets more complicated if there are kids." (Forbes)

Marketplaces Create New Options and Questions for Employees as Open Enrollment Season Begins
"[B]efore making any choices, ... consumers [should] thoroughly research all options to make sure their new choices meet their health and financial needs.... Remember the Tax Man ... Match Your Plan to Your Profile ... Use Available Research Tools ... Read the Fine Print ... Stay Networked." (HighRoads)

[Guidance Overview] Employer Mandate Toolkit (PDF)
This 11-page "Toolkit" describes the ACA's employer requirements and the penalty for failure to provide health insurance to workers. It includes information about the delay in the mandate to 2015, analysis about its impact on employer-based coverage, and a detailed resource list. (Alliance for Health Reform)

Top Seven Benefits Enrollment Mistakes by Employees
"Topping the list was employees assuming they don't need the benefits being offered without first talking with a benefits counselor. This misstep was cited by 81 percent of survey respondents.... Mistakes number two through five were closely knotted in the rankings and also related to lack of information: Not reading the benefits information before the enrollment -- 69 percent. Not knowing what benefits they currently have and what they cost -- 69 percent. Forgetting to talk with their spouse about their family's needs before the enrollment -- 67 percent. Assuming the cost of a new benefit is unaffordable without seeing any prices -- 66 percent." (Colonial Life)

Understanding the New Premium Assistance Tax Credit Under Obamacare
"[T]he introduction of the premium assistance tax credit creates a new series of rules that financial planners must be aware of, for a wide range of clients who may potentially be eligible for the credit, which can apply for individuals with income up to $45,960 and a family of four earning $94,200 (in 2013, and adjusted annually for inflation). And given the dollar amounts involved for the credit itself (which can be worth several thousand dollars to a family), the ramifications of effective health insurance tax credit planning can be significant." (Michael Kitces in Nerd's Eye View)

Public's Biggest Questions About ACA Center on Costs and the Need for Basic Information
"[This poll] asked people who say they don't have enough information about the law (51 percent of the public overall) what their top questions are about the ACA. Their top two answers: they want more information about how much the law will cost them and how it is paid for; and they want an easily digestible summary of what the law is and how it works.... [M]ost people say news coverage of the law is focused on politics and controversies rather than the impact on people, and more report seeing advertising that makes arguments in favor or against the ACA rather than providing practical information about the law and how to get coverage." (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Ten Things Obamacare Won't Tell You
"[1] You might want to avoid signing up on Day One.... [2] Yes, some workers are being required to use exchanges -- but not these exchanges.... [3] Expect to be confused.... [4] Don't bother asking our staff for recommendations.... [5] Blue states do it better.... [6] Abuse our honor system at your peril.... [7] You'll still pay for this, even if you don't use it.... [8] We're a magnet for hackers and con artists.... [9] You might not be able to keep your doctor.... [10] Competition is for the greater good -- except when there aren't any competitors." (MarketWatch)

Achieving Corporate Wellness Through the Art of Presentation: Why the Medium Is the Message
"When making the case for corporate wellness, when advocating specific policies that can promote a culture focused on health and worker retention, there are facts aplenty -- more statistics, charts and graphs than we can remember -- but few intelligible presentations about this issue.... Without an easy-to-follow, informative series of PowerPoint slides (to illustrate a proposed plan) or a professionally designed Excel spreadsheet (to calculate savings) even the grandest idea will be nothing but indecipherable babble. Why? Because health care is a complex issue, perhaps the most complex social, economic and political matter to confront this country in the last few decades." (Healthcare Reform Magazine)

[Opinion] Obamacare Ads Are Starting to Get Weird and Kind of Creepy
"Obamacare's marketplaces open for enrollment less than two weeks from now, and that means we're now seeing a wave of advertisements, aiming to convince people either to buy health coverage -- or stay away from it completely.... As we've hit the final stretch before the health law launch, however, things have taken a turn for the decidedly weird. Here's [a sample] of Obamacare ads over the past few weeks." (Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post; subscription may be required)

When to Kick Adult Children Off Your Health Plan
"[W]hile many families will find it worthwhile to keep kids on the parents' health plan, that won't always be the case. Here are some of the issues: ... Plan Status: Is the parents' plan exempt from ACA rules? ... Does the young adult live in a different state? ... How old are the parents and young adult child? ... What does the employer pay toward dependent coverage? ... How much does the young adult earn and are they claimed as a dependent? ... How much does the child want parents to know?" (MarketWatch)

Almost All Large Employers Planning to Provide ACA Exchange Notices
"94 percent of respondents were planning to provide an Exchange notice to employees by October 1st. Only 6 percent said that they would not meet the deadline or were undecided, and most of those companies planned to provide the notice later in 2013.... 92 percent of the companies planned to use the model notice created by the [DOL] ... Thirty-six percent of companies were planning to make few changes to the notice, while 56% were planning to omit the 'optional' information." (The ERISA Industry Committee [ERIC])

Walgreens to Give Workers Payments to Buy Healthcare Plans
"Walgreen Co. is set to become one of the largest employers yet to make sweeping changes to company-backed health programs. [T]he drugstore giant is expected to disclose a plan to provide payments to eligible employees for the subsidized purchase of insurance starting in 2014. The plan will affect roughly 160,000 employees, and will require them to shop for coverage on a private health-insurance marketplace. Aside from rising health-care costs, the company cited compliance-related expenses associated with the new law as a reason for the switch." (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)

It's Time to Talk to Employees About the ACA (PDF)
"[N]ow is the time for employers that offer group health coverage to start seriously communicating with employees about the [ACA] and the Marketplaces to help them understand what they might need to do, or avoid doing, to retain subsidized employer coverage.... Employers that have worked diligently over many years to build credibility with employees as a reliable source of benefits-related information can play a critical role in getting the facts straight." (Sibson Consulting)

Workers Face Crucial Decisions During Open Enrollment, Yet Confusion About Benefits Options Continues (PDF)
"[S]even-out-of-ten (71 percent) American workers already admit they only sometimes or rarely understand the changes to their policies each year, yet 90 percent elect the same coverage every year. The wide-ranging changes anticipated by employers this open enrollment season, and 37 percent of workers believing it will be more difficult to understand everything in their policy this year, point to a greater potential this year for enrollment decisions that will leave workers struggling to cover financially." (Aflac)

[Opinion] What You'll Really Pay for Health Care
"Imagine if your auto insurance worked the way your health insurance does. For years, you probably would have paid a fixed monthly premium plus, say, $20 every time you took your car to the body shop, regardless of whether you got an oil change or your entire engine replaced. Now, your plan has switched, and in addition to premium payments you're responsible for the first few thousand dollars of bodywork each year. And here's an extra wrinkle: The mechanic won't tell you how much you owe until after your car has been serviced. That pretty much sums up the state of affairs with health insurance today for millions of people in the U.S." (MarketWatch)

Advocates to Launch an LGBT-Specific Obamacare Campaign
"The LGBT community is more likely to lack health insurance coverage than heterosexuals. Particularly, [Kellan Baker, associate director for the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress] thinks that reaching the LGBT community will be a tougher sell -- and one that requires more targeted messaging than other outreach campaigns will be able to provide.... [F]ocus groups showed a lot of skepticism from transgendered people that the health plans on the new marketplaces would meet their health care needs. And there was concern that, even if they called up the plan to find out, the person on the other end would likely have no idea." (Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post; subscription may be required)

[Guidance Overview] All Employers Face October 1 ACA Deadline
"Employers should pay close attention to these notice requirements to avoid common pitfalls, including: [1] My insurance provider is taking care of the notice requirement for me. Be careful! Employers are required to send the notice to all employees.... [2] I just looked at the DOL model notice, and we don't have time to fill out individualized information for every employee. Don't worry! The individualized information requested on page 3 of the DOL model notice for employers who offer health coverage is optional.... [3] I'm sure this requirement doesn't apply to my small company.... [T]he requirement applies to nearly all employers, large or small." (Fisher & Phillips LLP)

Most U.S. Employees Likely to See Changes When Enrolling in Health Benefits This Year; Workers Should Read the Fine Print and Take an Active Role in the Enrollment Process
"Some of the most notable changes employees may see include: A more expensive price tag ... A higher probability of being in a consumer-driven health plan ... More incentive opportunities for exhibiting healthy behaviors ... New eligibility rules... [Employees should:] Review coverage offered by your employer before making a decision about purchasing coverage through a marketplace in your state... Evaluate whether a CDHP is right for you....Take advantage of opportunities to improve your health and lower your health costs.... Consider any supplemental benefits your employer may offer.... Take a 'health and wealth' view to spend your dollars wisely." (Aon Hewitt)

Wrapping Your Health Insurance Marketplace Notice
"Helping employees understand the context of [the health insurance marketplace] and their options is important for ensuring employees receive coverage that is the best value and coverage level for them and their families. Reinforcing the need to understand the individual mandate is also important so an employer doesn't have to deal with the concerns of employees who find they have to pay the tax penalty -- and may protect an employer offering a qualified plan from being subject to a penalty audit if employees try to receive tax credits or discounts on the marketplace." (Idaho Business Review)

[Guidance Overview] HHS Finalizes More Exchange Regulations, Including Rules for Agents and Brokers and Eligibility Appeals
"Employers will want to study the process for appealing Exchange determinations that their employees are eligible for premium tax credits -- beginning in 2015 these employees may trigger shared responsibility penalties for the employer.... Employers and employees will both benefit from accurate eligibility determinations since employees can avoid having to repay unearned advance tax credits and employers can avoid the hassle of erroneous assessments of shared responsibility penalties." (Thomson Reuters / EBIA)

Proactive HR Can Help Clear Up Employee Confusion about ACA
"During open enrollment, employers traditionally had to focus only on describing their own health plans, consultants say. Now, they'll have to address a host of questions about insurance exchanges, the individual mandate to buy insurance and other features of the new law." (Human Resource Executive Online)

[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Proposed Regs and Notice of Public Hearing on Information Reporting by Applicable Large Employers on Health Insurance Coverage, with Transition Relief for 2014
72 pages. Excerpt: "This document contains proposed regulations providing guidance to employers that are subject to the information reporting requirements under section 6056 of the Internal Revenue Code, enacted by the [ACA]. Section 6056 requires those employers to report to the IRS information about their compliance with the employer shared responsibility provisions of section 4980H of the Code and about the health care coverage they have offered employees. Section 6056 also requires those employers to furnish related statements to employees so that employees may use the statements to help determine whether, for each month of the calendar year, they can claim on their tax returns a premium tax credit under section 36B of the Code (premium tax credit). In addition, that information will be used to administer and ensure compliance with the eligibility requirements for the employer shared responsibility provisions and the premium tax credit. The proposed regulations affect applicable large employers (generally meaning employers with 50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, in the prior year), employees and other individuals.... [T]he public hearing [is] scheduled for November 18, 2013, at 10 a.m.... Consistent with Notice 2013-45, reporting entities will not be subject to penalties for failure to comply with the section 6506 information reporting provisions for 2014 (including the furnishing of employee statements in 2015). Accordingly, a reporting entity will not be subject to penalties if it first reports beginning in 2016 for 2015 (including the furnishing of employee statements). Taxpayers are encouraged, however, to voluntarily comply with section 6056 information reporting for 2014 by using the general reporting method set forth in these regulations once finalized." (Internal Revenue Service)

How to Talk to Employees About the Affordable Care Act (PDF)
"Most full-time public sector employees may not feel the need to pay any attention to this barrage of messages because they have employer-provided medical and prescription drug coverage.... Now is the time to start seriously communicating with employees about the [ACA] and the Marketplaces to help them understand what they might need to do, or avoid doing, to retain subsidized employer coverage." (Segal)

[Official Guidance] IRS Revenue Ruling 2013-17: Federal Tax Treatment of Same-Sex Spouses and Domestic Partners (PDF)
"ISSUES: 1. Whether, for Federal tax purposes, the terms 'spouse,' 'husband and wife,' 'husband,' and 'wife' include an individual married to a person of the same sex, if the individuals are lawfully married under state 1 law, and whether, for those same purposes, the term 'marriage' includes such a marriage between individuals of the same sex. 2. Whether, for Federal tax purposes, the Internal Revenue Service ... recognizes a marriage of same-sex individuals validly entered into in a state whose laws authorize the marriage of two individuals of the same sex even if the state in which they are domiciled does not recognize the validity of same-sex marriages. 3. Whether, for Federal tax purposes, the terms 'spouse,' 'husband and wife,' 'husband,' and 'wife' include individuals (whether of the opposite sex or same sex) who have entered into a registered domestic partnership, civil union, or other similar formal relationship recognized under state law that is not denominated as a marriage under the laws of that state, and whether, for those same purposes, the term 'marriage' includes such relationships." (Internal Revenue Service)

[Official Guidance] Answers to Frequently Asked Questions for Individuals of the Same Sex Who Are Married Under State Law (PDF)
"These questions and answers reflect the holdings in Revenue Ruling 2013-17, 2013-38 IRB.... Q10. If an employer provided health coverage for an employee's same-sex spouse and included the value of that coverage in the employee's gross income, can the employee file an amended Form 1040 reflecting the employee's status as a married individual to recover federal income tax paid on the value of the health coverage of the employee's spouse? A10. Yes, for all years for which the period of limitations for filing a claim for refund is open. Generally, a taxpayer may file a claim for refund for three years from the date the return was filed or two years from the date the tax was paid, whichever is later. If an employer provided health coverage for an employee's same-sex spouse, the employee may claim a refund of income taxes paid on the value of coverage that would have been excluded from income had the employee's spouse been recognized as the employee's legal spouse for tax purposes." (Internal Revenue Service)

[Guidance Overview] FAQs on Grandfathered Health Plans for Consumers
"[C]onsumers should know the status of their plans since that may determine whether they are eligible for certain protections and benefits created by the health law. For example, an employee at a large company may wonder why his job-based insurance doesn't include the free preventive services he's heard about. Or someone who purchases her own coverage may wonder whether she will be eligible for broader benefits when new insurance marketplaces open next fall. To answer those questions, you must understand the status of your plan and how grandfathering works." (Kaiser Health News)

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