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<< Older News  |  September 18, 2021

News

All News > Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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California's COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Expires September 30, 2021
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Sept. 16, 2021

"Absent legislative action or an executive order, September 30 will be the end of mandatory paid COVID-19 leave under California law. But beware: Local ordinances will remain."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  FMLA and Other Leave

Editor's Pick Imposing Group Health Plan Monthly Surcharges on the Unvaccinated
Mintz Link to more items from this source
Sept. 16, 2021

"While efforts to impose workplace vaccine mandates are not new (and only heating up), Delta's approach based on an economic incentive has caused some to ask whether it is permitted under applicable law. This post explores that question."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Design

CRS Report: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) and COVID-19 (PDF)
Congressional Research Service [CRS] Link to more items from this source
Sept. 14, 2021

33 pages. "The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 gives OSHA the ability to promulgate an ETS that would remain in effect for up to six months without going through the normal review and comment process of rulemaking.... On September 9, 2021, President Joe Biden announced that OSHA is developing an ETS that would obligate employers with more than 100 employees to require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested weekly for COVID-19." [R46288, Sep. 13, 2021]

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Path Out of the Pandemic: Considerations for Employers and Government Contractors
Thompson Hine Link to more items from this source
Sept. 13, 2021

"An employer that provides or otherwise pays for vaccination or testing for employees will need to consider the following issues: Does paying for vaccination/testing create a group health benefit that is subject to ERISA, COBRA and HIPAA? If so, how will the employer comply with the plan documentation, employee disclosure, COBRA, HIPAA privacy and other compliance requirements applicable to group health plans? Will HIPAA require that the employer obtain an authorization from each employee to receive or use the vaccination or testing results for employment purposes?"

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  HIPAA  •  Health Plan Design

IRS Reminder: Cost of Home Testing for COVID-19 Is Reimbursable Under FSAs, HSAs
Internal Revenue Service [IRS] Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Sept. 13, 2021

"[T]he cost of home testing for COVID-19 is an eligible medical expense that can be paid or reimbursed under health flexible spending arrangements (health FSAs), health savings accounts (HSAs), health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), or Archer medical savings accounts (Archer MSAs).... [T]he costs of personal protective equipment, such as masks, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes, for the primary purpose of preventing the spread of COVID-19 are eligible medical expenses that can be paid or reimbursed under health FSAs, HSAs, HRAs, or Archer MSAs."

Tags: Cafeteria Plans  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  HRAs  •  HSAs  •  Health Plan Costs

Employers Need to Start Preparing for Vaccine Mandates Now
Mercer Link to more items from this source
Sept. 13, 2021

"In addition to private sector employers, the president's EO covers federal employees and federal contractors. [A chart] outlines some of the requirements outlined in the EO and the federal agencies charged with issuing guidance.... When will rules go into effect -- and what should employers be doing now?"

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Design

Employers Considering Health Strategy Changes
National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions Link to more items from this source
Sept. 13, 2021

"Employers continue to have significant concerns about the affordability of employer-provided health coverage for employees and their families ... Most employers view potential health reforms favorably overall ... Employers viewed a public option most favorably if pricing is available to all plan sponsors[.]"

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Costs  •  Health Plan Design  •  Health Plan Policy

Health Insurance Premiums Not Expected to Change Significantly for 2022
Treasury & Risk; free registration required Link to more items from this source
Sept. 10, 2021

"Premiums for health insurance for individuals and small group markets are not expected to see large adjustments from carriers in 2022 ... However, regional differences in healthcare delivery might result in some variation in premiums, due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic[.]"

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Costs

OSHA to Develop Rule Requiring All Employers with 100+ Employees to Implement Vaccine Mandate
Benesch Link to more items from this source
Sept. 10, 2021

"President Biden has directed OSHA to develop a rule that will require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work. The rule will also require covered employers to provide paid time off for the time it takes for workers to get vaccinated or to recover if they are ill post-vaccination."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  FMLA and Other Leave

President's Path Out of the Pandemic Adds Hurdles for Employers
Jackson Lewis P.C. Link to more items from this source
Sept. 10, 2021

"Employers who are impacted by the Plan, and who may be impacted by an ETS once issued, are advised to start thinking through how they will navigate many legal issues and operational challenges related to required vaccination and testing. These issues include policy requirements, workplace testing strategies, vaccination tracking and management, medical record collection and retention, and accommodations for religion, disability and pregnancy, as well as wage and hour implications, bargaining obligations for unionized workplaces, employee confidentiality and privacy issues."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  FMLA and Other Leave

FAQs on Employee Privacy Issues Related to the COVID-19 Vaccine
Reed Smith Link to more items from this source
Sept. 10, 2021

"Our company plans to require employees to provide proof of their vaccine status by emailing human resources a copy of their vaccine card. Does this present any data-privacy concerns? ... Our company plans to hire a third-party vendor to create a portal where information about vaccine status can be uploaded and stored. Does that present any additional data-privacy concerns? ... What if an employee lost their vaccine card, and asks their medical provider to send the vaccine-status information to HR directly?"

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

As Remote Work Becomes Normal, Could the Office Be a New Employee Benefit?
International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP] Link to more items from this source
[Opinion]
Sept. 9, 2021

"A company with an office needs to start thinking about how their space acts as a unique, long-term benefit. Whether it’s building a social group, professional development or engagement with the local community, working in an office has big advantages—The company just needs to protect, encourage and promote them."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID-19 Vaccination Mandates vs. Surcharge
Burnham Benefits Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Sept. 9, 2021

"Initial [EEOC] guidance on vaccination surcharges or incentives most closely follows how surcharges and incentives work as part of a wellness programs such as tobacco surcharges or smoking cessation programs.... An Applicable Large Employer (ALE) must calculate the affordability of the plan based on an employee receiving the vaccination surcharge, which might cause an employer to unintentionally create an unaffordable plan to a large portion of its employee population."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Design

Employers Consider Raising Premiums for Unvaccinated Workers
Holland & Hart LLP Link to more items from this source
Sept. 8, 2021

"If an employer wants to follow [Delta Airlines'] example, the (flight) path might seem confusing or difficult. HIPAA's wellness program rules are one of several laws to keep in mind. [The authors have] prepared a decision tree to show how a vaccine surcharge can be structured to fit within the limitations of HIPAA."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Costs  •  Health Plan Design

Can Your Company Institute a Premium Surcharge for Unvaccinated Health Plan Participants?
Graydon Link to more items from this source
Sept. 3, 2021

"[Y]ou would have to use the premium plus the surcharge when determining affordability even for those vaccinated employees who actually paid the lower amount. Many employers already struggle to offer an 'affordable' plan, so for them a surcharge may not be practical given increased exposure to ACA penalties."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Design

Paid Leave Rights Once Again Front and Center as COVID Variants Spike
McDonald Hopkins Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Sept. 2, 2021

"The paid leave rights of parents afforded under the federally enacted [FFCRA] expired on December 31, 2020. Since that time, a handful of states have passed paid leave rights, but not all guarantee coverage for school closures. Given the circumstances, time off for working parents remains a contentious issue."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  FFCRA  •  FMLA and Other Leave  •  Local Regulation

Drivers of 2022 Health Insurance Premium Changes (PDF)
American Academy of Actuaries Link to more items from this source
Sept. 2, 2021

9 pages. "For the 2021 rating cycle, the COVID-19 pandemic introduced new and significant uncertainties into the development of premium rates.... While much of those initial uncertainties have resolved, the 2022 rating cycle may see some related, secondary impacts of the pandemic such as the potential for ending of the public health emergency and the [ARPA] enhanced subsidies ... [C]arriers are more likely to include adjustments in their 2022 rates. However, those impacts are not expected to be material."

Tags: ARPA  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Costs

COVID Medical Bills Are About to Get Bigger
The New York Times; subscription may be required Link to more items from this source
Sept. 2, 2021

"Federal law still requires insurers to cover testing at no cost to the patient when there is a medical reason for seeking care, such as exposure to the disease or a display of symptoms. But more of the tests sought now don't meet the definition of 'medical reason' and are instead for monitoring. And insurers are now treating COVID more like any other disease, no longer fully covering the costs of care."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Costs

Using Wellness Programs to Incentivize COVID-19 Vaccinations
Nelson Mullins Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Sept. 2, 2021

"Although there is potential for conflict with a myriad of federal statutes -- including the ACA, HIPAA, ADA, and GINA -- this arrangement may be structured legally if done through a properly designed wellness program."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Administration  •  Health Plan Design

Wellness Plans Incentivizing COVID-19 Vaccinations Could Trigger ACA Penalties
Accord Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Sept. 1, 2021

"The clear language of the existing regulations ... would result in any wellness program incentivizing a COVID-19 vaccination to increase the amount the employer must report to the IRS on line 15 of the Form 1095-C by the amount of the penalty being imposed on employees who are not vaccinated.... [E]ven a fully vaccinated employee would have to have his/her amount that is to be reported by the employer on line 15 of the Form 1095-C increased by the amount of the penalty as the wellness program would not relate to tobacco use! ... This would have a dramatic impact on who would be eligible to receive a premium tax credit as a result of the employer's offer of coverage not meeting the ACA's affordability definition."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Costs  •  Health Plan Design

Weekly COVID-19 Testing of Employees: An Employee Benefits Perspective
Venable LLP Link to more items from this source
Sept. 1, 2021

"A weekly COVID-19 testing program ... can be expected to involve ongoing administration and therefore is likely to be [an employer group health] plan.... A weekly COVID-19 testing program does not comply with the ACA's requirements for preventive services. In order to avoid penalties, then, employers will want their testing program to provide only excepted benefits. There are two categories of excepted benefits relevant here: on-site medical clinics and employee assistance programs (EAPs)."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Design

Should You Offer Cheaper Health Plan Coverage in 2022 for Vaccinated Employees?
Akerman Link to more items from this source
Aug. 31, 2021

"Consider that a two-tiered premium pricing structure could be phrased in one of two ways -- as a penalty for unvaccinated workers, or as a discount for vaccinated workers.... [Be] mindful to not have too large a gap between the two price points.... [Separate] the health plan enrollment forms and any vaccine medical exemption documentation from the general employment files.... [Consider] whether a bifurcated premium must first be subject to the bargaining process prior to being imposed on that segment of the population."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Costs

Employer Vaccine Requirements: Frequently Asked Questions
Husch Blackwell Link to more items from this source
Aug. 31, 2021

"While [this commentary] is based on federal law and will apply in most jurisdictions, employers should consult applicable state and local laws. At least one state (Montana) has prohibited private employers from mandating COVID-19 vaccination and recognizes vaccination status as a protected category, prohibiting employment discrimination based on vaccination status."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Design

Vaccine Mandates: Denying Requests for Religious Accommodation in the Name of Safety
Foley & Lardner LLP Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Aug. 31, 2021

"Many employees are invoking religion to avoid getting the vaccine.... [P]olitical or social philosophies, as well as mere personal preferences, are not religious beliefs protected by Title VII.... [An] employer is not required to accommodate an employee's religious beliefs and practices if doing so would impose an 'undue hardship' on the employer's legitimate business interests.... Title VII does not require that the religious beliefs of an employee be prioritized above safety in the workplace."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Design

Survey Highlights COVID's Impact on Site of Care and Well-Being
HealthLeaders Media Link to more items from this source
Aug. 31, 2021

"More than 90% of employers are concerned about COVID's long-term impact on deferred care (particularly related to cancer diagnosis and treatment) and employee mental health.... While mental health service access is still the prevailing focus for 76% of employers, 57% named stigma as one of their top three areas of concern for employee well-being."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Design


<< Older News  |  September 18, 2021

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