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All News > Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Editor's Pick Building Better Retirement Systems in the Wake of the Global Pandemic
Olivia S. Mitchell, via SSRN Link to more items from this source
Nov. 17, 2020

"In the wake of the global pandemic known as COVID-19, retirees, along with those hoping to retire someday, have been shocked into a new awareness of the need for better risk management tools to handle longevity and aging. This paper offers an assessment of the status quo prior to the spread of the coronavirus, evaluates how retirement systems are faring in the wake of the shock ... [and examines] insurance and financial market products that may render retirement systems more resilient for the world's aging population. Finally, potential roles for policymakers are evaluated."

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

Text of IRS Notice 2020-82: Implementation of the CARES Act's Extended Due Date for Contributions to Defined Benefit Plans (PDF)
Internal Revenue Service [IRS] Link to more items from this source
[Official Guidance]
Nov. 16, 2020

"This notice provides that the IRS will treat a contribution to a single-employer defined benefit pension plan with an extended due date of January 1, 2021 pursuant to Section 3608(a)(1) of the [CARES Act], as timely if it is made no later than January 4, 2021 (which is the first business day after January 1, 2021)."

Tags: CARES Act  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Funding of DB Plans  •  Retirement Plan Administration

Group Health Plan Coverage of COVID-19 Testing and Vaccines
HUB International Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Nov. 16, 2020

"Since this is a mandate, stop-loss carriers should cover these claims, but employers will want to work with their stop-loss carrier to confirm. Individual claims for testing are unlikely to trigger an individual stop-loss deductible/attachment point, but a large volume of tests, combined with other claims, may exceed an aggregate deductible/attachment point."

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

What Happens When COBRA Deadlines Become Suggested Time Limits?
Paul M. Hamburger of Proskauer Rose LLP, via HR Daily Advisor Link to more items from this source
[Opinion]
Nov. 16, 2020

"From a public policy perspective, it is ... hard to see how open-ended COBRA notice, election, and premium payment periods are a good thing.... [A]nother way to balance the need for relief with the need for structure would have been to double all the applicable time periods. Perhaps the guidance could have also added another option for adversely affected qualified beneficiaries to request an additional 30 days on top of that if they request relief in a timely fashion."

Tags: COBRA  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Steer Clear of Misconceptions About FFCRA Tax Credits
Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM]; membership may be required to view article Link to more items from this source
Nov. 16, 2020

"The group aggregation rules for determining whether an employer is eligible for the paid-leave tax credits under the FFCRA are the same for determining employer eligibility for other COVID-19-related relief, such as the employee retention credit under the CARES Act.... Employers must choose between claiming tax credits for paid leave under the FFCRA or for wages paid to employees under the employee retention credit, but they may not claim both."

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

What We Learned About 401(k) Participant Behavior Amid COVID-19 and the CARES Act
401(k) Specialist Link to more items from this source
Nov. 11, 2020

"Participation and deferral rates remained largely unchanged year-to-date through September when compared with the same period in 2019.... 12% of participants increased their payroll deferral percentage, vs. 14% last year. 7% of participants decreased their payroll deferral percentage, vs. 6% in 2019. 3% of participants stopped contributing, the same as last year. 24% of participants saw deferral rates rise because of automatic increases, compared with 23% in 2019."

Tags: 401(k) Plans  •  CARES Act  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Employers to Experience Lower Health Benefit Costs in 2020 Due to COVID-19 Impact
Aon Link to more items from this source
Nov. 11, 2020

"While carrier responses varied significantly, 2020 medical claims are projected to increase at a rate that is on average 5 percentage points lower than initially projected by U.S.-based insurance carriers due to COVID-19 ... [C]arriers forecast COVID-19 will increase U.S. employer medical claims by an additional 2 percentage points on average above normal trends in 2021. This will include costs for care that was postponed or skipped in 2020 as well as COVID-19 prevention and treatment that will be delivered next year."

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

Most Plan Sponsors Not Expecting Delays in Future Pension Buy-Out Activity Due to COVID-19 (PDF)
MetLife Link to more items from this source
Nov. 9, 2020

"Just 19% of plan sponsors interested in an annuity buyout with a specific timeframe in mind reported that the pandemic has decreased or delayed the likelihood of transacting ... A vast majority (81%) said there had either been no change in plans due to COVID-19 (27%), or that the pandemic has actually increased or accelerated the likelihood they would transact (55%)."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Funding of DB Plans

Coronavirus Implications for Short- and Long-Term Disability Plans
Hall Benefits Law, via Lexology; free registration required Link to more items from this source
Nov. 9, 2020

"For a majority of employer-sponsored group disability plans, coverage for a disability linked to COVID-19 is likely to depend on each individual plan's definition of 'disability.' Although definitions may differ from plan to plan, most plans typically state that an employee is considered disabled if he or she is unable to perform the duties of his or her occupation. Employees that test positive for COVID-19 but only experience minor symptoms will probably not qualify as disabled under their employer's group plan; however, those who are severely affected by coronavirus may be eligible for benefits."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Disability Plans

Agencies Issue Regs on Coverage of COVID-19 Vaccines
Thomson Reuters / EBIA Link to more items from this source
Nov. 6, 2020

"The regulations implement the CARES Act requirement that most group health plans cover, without cost-sharing, qualifying coronavirus preventive services, including immunizations, that receive specified recommendations from the CDC  ... To address plan concerns about providers failing to post cash prices, the regulations provide further posting instructions and details about how the requirement will be enforced. The agencies seek comments on related issues[.]"

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

Future of Health Benefits in the Workplace: Employers’ Perspectives During the COVID-19 Crisis
Employee Benefit Research Institute [EBRI] Link to more items from this source
Nov. 6, 2020

"Interviewees expressed optimism about the future of telemedicine.... Instead of using the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to rework their benefits programs, most firms are retrenching their current benefits offerings and taking a wait-and-see approach.... [T]here was little appetite for severing the link between employment and health benefits."

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

California Employers Cannot Forget Local Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Yet
Jackson Lewis P.C. Link to more items from this source
Nov. 6, 2020

"AB 1867 provides that its leave provisions will sunset on the later of December 31, 2020, or expiration of any federal extension of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act established by the [FFCRA]. However, several local ordinances differ, including the City of Los Angeles ordinance (2 weeks after the expiration of the COVID-19 local emergency period) and the San Francisco ordinance (currently December 12, 2020, unless extended by the Board of Supervisors). Other ordinances, including the City of Oakland, City of San Diego, and County of Los Angeles contain language which allow for extensions beyond December 31, 2020[.]"

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

Americans Were Given the Coronavirus Option to Raid Their 401(k); Most Didn’t.
The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required Link to more items from this source
Nov. 5, 2020

"Fidelity Investments, the largest 401(k) provider in the country, has seen 4.6% of eligible people take some money out through Sept. 30 due to the virus. An additional 1% have taken a so-called hardship distribution that allows withdrawals for reasons including buying a home, preventing foreclosure or paying medical bills. That is compared with about 2% a year that typically take a hardship distribution."

Tags: 401(k) Plans  •  CARES Act  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Retirement Plan Administration

Cost of Employer Health Benefits to Be Impacted by COVID-19
Reinsurance News Link to more items from this source
Nov. 5, 2020

"68% of insurers expect increased medical claims driven by COVID-19 diagnostics, care and treatment. Insurers also said they expect increases in medical costs to continue to vastly outstrip inflation in 2021. In 2019, insurers reported cost increases of 9.7%, which was just under 3 times the rate of inflation. In 2020, they expect a rise in medical costs of 9.5%, which is roughly 3.5 times the inflation rate. For 2021, 90% of insurers expect the trend to sustain or increase."

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

2021 Challenges for 401(k) Plan Providers (PDF)
Ary Rosenbaum, Esq. Link to more items from this source
Nov. 5, 2020

"The further consolidation of this business ... COVID is still a thing ... The permanency of COVID ... That PEP Thing."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Retirement Plan Administration

A New Item on Your Medical Bill: The ‘COVID’ Fee
The New York Times; subscription may be required Link to more items from this source
Nov. 5, 2020

"The coronavirus pandemic has made the practice of health care more costly as providers must wear protective gear and sanitize equipment more often, even as they face declining revenue.... Surprise 'COVID' and 'PPE' fees have turned up across the country ... Some of these fees ... have drawn the attention of state attorneys general who say that charging patients directly can take advantage of vulnerable consumers or violate health insurance contracts and consumer protection laws. The new charges range from a couple of dollars to nearly $1,000."

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

Employers Facing ‘Onslaught’ of New Litigation Under FFCRA
HR Daily Advisor Link to more items from this source
Nov. 5, 2020

"[E]mployers are facing an onslaught of litigation primarily alleging they retaliated against employees for seeking and/or using the FFCRA's leave and sick pay provisions. While most of the cases haven't yet been adjudicated or resolved, it's helpful to review the allegations to get a sense of where and how the conflicts tend to arise."

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

States, Cities Tackle COVID-19 Paid Leave
Mercer Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Nov. 4, 2020

38 pages; rev. Nov. 2, 2020. "To alleviate some of the economic strain on employees unable to work due to COVID-19, some state and local authorities have implemented new paid leave requirements. Other jurisdictions modified existing leave laws or benefit programs to accommodate employees' needs during the pandemic. This GRIST provides brief summaries of the new state and local paid leave benefits, as well as guidance addressing how current paid leave benefits apply during the COVID-19 pandemic."

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

Supporting Caregivers Can Help Create Competitive Advantage for Employers
Voya Link to more items from this source
Nov. 3, 2020

"[1] Offer a financial wellness program with specialized retirement planning solutions that can help caregivers and people with special needs find a balance between living for today and planning for tomorrow. [2] Incorporate access to ... paid family care leave, disability/long term care insurance, [and] HSA/FSA ... [3] Initiate Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) for people with special needs, disabilities and caregivers to harness the power of peer-to-peer support ... [4] Provide access to an Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) with services specific to caregivers and people with special needs ... [5] Offer child care and caregiving support for parents and health care workers who are impacted by COVID-19."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  FMLA and Other Leave  •  Health Plan Design  •  Misc. Benefits  •  Retirement Plan Design

Can an Employer Terminate COBRA Coverage During the Pandemic’s Outbreak Period?
Kushner & Company Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Nov. 2, 2020

"The question the employer should ask themselves is, 'How do I normally (in a non-pandemic time) treat those individuals from the date of the qualifying event until the first payment is received?' A similar question is 'How do I normally (in a non-pandemic time) treat individuals who are in the [normal] 30-day grace period for payments?' "

Tags: COBRA  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)

D.C. COVID-19 Leave Law Is in Effect and Will Be Enforced
Epstein Becker Green Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Nov. 2, 2020

"Washington, D.C. employers must remember to provide both paid and unpaid leave under the new District of Columbia Coronavirus Support Temporary Amendment Act of 2020.... [T]he Act formally became effective on October 9, 2020 and will remain in effect through the end of the declared COVID-19 public health emergency -- currently December 31, 2021. The law repeals the emergency laws ... but carries over the additional obligations to provide employees with paid and unpaid leave for COVID-19-related reasons."

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

Editor's Pick Loans and Distributions Under the CARES Act: Questions and Concerns
Ferenczy Benefits Law Center Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
Oct. 30, 2020

"Several sections of the [CARES] Act relate to retirement plans, specifically those relating to distributions and loans to qualified individuals, which provide relatively ready access to money for those suffering financially from the pandemic and the related quarantine.... This article reviews these provisions of the CARES Act, as well as the questions and concerns that have arisen in its wake."

Tags: 401(k) Plans  •  CARES Act  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Misc. Distribution Issues  •  Retirement Plan Administration

State Preemption of Local Paid Sick Days Ordinances
Urban Institute Link to more items from this source
Oct. 30, 2020

"Before the pandemic, 11 states, the District of Columbia, and 23 cities or counties had paid sick days (PSD) policies in place. At the same time, 23 states had preempted localities from enacting their own laws.... [This brief examines] how state preemption of local PSD policies affected states' ability to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and whether localities in states without PSD preemption have adopted new policies or innovations to respond to the COVID-19 crisis."

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

Public’s Attitudes Toward Health Care During Pandemic Signal Long-Term Shift in Care Delivery
Morning Consult Link to more items from this source
Oct. 30, 2020

"68% of adults said they would likely see their primary doctor in light of COVID-19, up from 65% in July and 39% in April. Adults were least likely to say they'd see a mental health specialist, at 37%. Adults said they would put off health care because they don't need to see a doctor, are afraid of being infected with the coronavirus or are delaying all non-urgent care until the pandemic is under control."

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

Retirees Maintain Savings and Investment Plans in Short Term, Cautious About 2021 Economic Outlook
Principal Financial Group Link to more items from this source
Oct. 29, 2020

"[T]he percentage of retirees who report they are happier in retirement decreased from first quarter Principal research conducted before the pandemic (from 51% to 41%). Retirees share that they struggle with imagining their life in retirement and are unsure how they'll spend their time -- citing not being able to travel (61%) or see family (58%) and planning for health care and long-term care costs (44%)."

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


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