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Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

April 21, 2010

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HIPAA covered entities, including health plans, health care clearinghouses, and covered health care providers, must comply with the HIPAA Security Rule. This regulation also requires compliance from business associates. Covered entities must create and document compliance with a HIPAA Security manual. This course will outline the security rules, safeguards and what is required for the manual.

[Guidance Overview]
Immediate Imputed Income Relief under the New Health Care Reform Law
Excerpt: "Effective March 30, 2010, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, together with the Health Care and Education Tax Credits Reconciliation Act of 2010 (collectively, the 'Act'), amend Section 105(b) of the Internal Revenue Code to provide that medical reimbursements made to an employee are not taxable with respect to any child of the taxpayer through the end of the taxable year in which the child turns 26. The purpose of this alert is to inform employers, particularly Massachusetts employers, of the immediate effects of this provision on taxation of health coverage provided to children of employees."
(Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo P.C.)

[Guidance Overview]
Questions About the Extension of Dependent Coverage to Age 26 under Health Care Reform
Excerpt: "This short summary answers basic questions about the dependent coverage expansion and explains how the new law will interact with current state laws."
(Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

[Guidance Overview]
The Health Care Reform Law Has Far Reaching Implications for Employers and Their Employees (PDF)
Excerpt: "Although a full understanding of the new law and its implications will require months of review along with significant regulatory guidance, we highlight here the major provisions and what employers need to consider in the short term. [Article includes comments by Buck Consultants.]"
(Buck Consultants)

An Overview of What Employers That Sponsor Group Health Plans Should Know About Health Care Reform
Excerpt: "While many of the changes do not apply directly to employers, every employer needs to understand which changes apply to its group health plan or plans, whether the employer's plan or plans can be treated as 'grandfathered' under the Acts and what new options are or will be available for providing health benefits to employees in the future. This Update describes some of the expected changes under the Acts; however, a more precise understanding of many of the changes will require further guidance and interpretation from the federal agencies responsible for implementing the Acts. Each summary . . . is followed by references to the primary sections in the PPACA and the RA where the changes can be found."
(Perkins Coie LLP)

Underestimating Health Care Expenses in Retirement
Excerpt: "Even as more and more employers drop their healthcare coverage for retirees, a new study shows that health-savings accounts will not provide retirees with adequate savings to pay for their healthcare expenses. HR leaders need to offer more education and assistance."
(Human Resource Executive Online)

Mail-Order Drug Provider Identifies $163B In Potential Prescription Drug Savings
Excerpt: "A study by Express Scripts, a mail-order prescription drug provider, said Tuesday that an 'estimated $163 billion in health care spending could be saved each year if patients took their medicines as prescribed, chose generic drugs and other low-cost alternatives, and had their prescriptions delivered by mail,' the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports."
(Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

Health Insurers Beat Health Care Reform Deadline on Adult Children Coverage
Excerpt: "Four large U.S. insurers have announced they will voluntarily allow college students to stay on their parents' health coverage past graduation before being mandated to do so by the health care reform law. USA Today reported that UnitedHealthcare, Humana, Kaiser Permanente, and WellPoint said they will put into effect some provisions of the new health care law ahead of schedule to let adult children stay on parents' plans until age 26. According to the news report, the insurers explained they were taking the step before the September 23 deadline so young adults won't have a coverage gap."

Senate Bill Sets a Plan to Regulate Health Insurance Premiums
Excerpt: "Fearing that health insurance premiums may shoot up in the next few years, Senate Democrats laid a foundation on Tuesday for federal regulation of rates, four weeks after President Obama signed a law intended to rein in soaring health costs. After a hearing on the issue, the chairman of the Senate health committee, Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, said he intended to move this year on legislation that would 'provide an important check on unjustified premiums.'"
(The New York Times; free registration required)

Health Care Reform in Massachusetts Works but Cost Containment Necessary
Excerpt: "Four years after Massachusetts enacted its ambitious health care reform, the state has achieved its goal: covering most of the uninsured without seriously straining its budget. Most citizens seem to like it. Massachusetts cannot stop there. It also needs to figure out how to rein in the escalating costs of medical care and health insurance. The new national reform law includes many provisions designed, over time, to reduce costs, but Massachusetts will have to move sooner."
(The New York Times; free registration required)

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Executive Compensation; Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]
Regulatory Brief: Electronic Notice Delivery (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "The Department of Labor (DOL) and IRS both have regulations regarding the electronic delivery of required notices to plan participants and beneficiaries. Now you can review key legal considerations for electronic delivery under each set of regulations in our new Regulatory Brief."
(The Vanguard Group, Inc.)

[Guidance Overview]
PPACA $500,000 Compensation Deduction Limit on Health Insurers May Have Broader Reach (PDF)
Excerpt: "The scope of the deduction restriction is broad - generally, any companies that are in the same 'controlled group' as a health insurer (as broadly defined in PPACA) may be subject to the $500,000 limitation. And the provision will impact the deductibility of compensation for services performed beginning in 2010. Thus, any company with a 'health insurer' in its controlled group should quickly become familiar with this new rule. This memorandum will outline how the new restriction operates."
(Groom Law Group)

Health and Financial Concerns Take Toll on Workplace Productivity, According to Study
Excerpt: "The economic crisis has created a significant shift in employers' benefits objectives. Controlling benefits costs is now the top benefits objective for employers, edging out employee retention for the first time since 2006, according to MetLife's 8th annual Employee Benefits Trends Study."
(Wolters Kluwer)

Webcasts and Conferences

ERISA Litigation Risk Avoidance Strategies
in Missouri on June 10, 2010
presented by Spencer Fane Britt & Browne LLP

Wrap Documents for Health and Welfare Plans: How They Work and Should You Have One?
Nationwide on April 15, 2010
presented by EBIA / Thomson Reuters

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