Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

October 26, 2016

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Webcasts and Conferences

Legal Landscape for Employer-Sponsored Wellness Programs: Navigating HIPAA, ADA, and GINA Requirements for 2017
RECORDED
Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP

Retirement Plan Risk Management: An Overview
November 2, 2016 WEBCAST
PRMIA

Federal Contractor Paid Sick Leave Final Rule
November 14, 2016 WEBCAST
Littler Mendelson

What the Healthcare Law Means for Your Small Business
December 22, 2016 WEBCAST
Small Business Majority

New Trustees Institute Level I: Core Concepts
February 20, 2017 in FL
International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP]

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[Official Guidance]

Text of IRS Rev. Proc. 2016-55: Health and Welfare Plan Inflation-Adjusted Limits for 2017 (PDF)
30 pages. "For the taxable years beginning in 2017, the dollar limitation under Section 125(i) on voluntary employee salary reductions for contributions to health flexible spending arrangements is $2,600.... For taxable years beginning in 2017, the monthly limitation under Section 132(f)(2)(A) regarding the aggregate fringe benefit exclusion amount for transportation in a commuter highway vehicle and any transit pass is $255.... For taxable years beginning in 2017, the term 'high deductible health plan' as defined in Section 220(c)(2)(A) means, for self-only coverage, a health plan that has an annual deductible that is not less than $2,250 and not more than $3,350, and under which the annual out-of-pocket expenses required to be paid (other than for premiums) for covered benefits do not exceed $4,500.... [and] for family coverage, a health plan that has an annual deductible that is not less than $4,500 and not more than $6,750, and under which the annual out-of-pocket expenses required to be paid (other than for premiums) for covered benefits do not exceed $ 8,250." [Editor's note: retirement plan limits for 2017 are not included.]
Internal Revenue Service [IRS]

[Guidance Overview]

2017 Health FSA Limit Increases to $2,600
"Keep in mind that the $2,600 limit applies only to employee salary reduction contributions. Employer contributions (including non-cashable flex credits) cannot exceed $500 per plan year for the health FSA to maintain excepted benefit status."
ABD Insurance & Financial Services

Beyond Health Care: Are These Extreme Perks the Future of Benefits?
"Following a well-received autism awareness event in 2013, JPMorgan Chase began offering autism benefits to its 160,000 U.S. workers.... Boxed CEO Chieh Huang recently took employer-sponsored benefits to previously uncharted territory when he announced the company would foot the bill for wedding expenses of all of his unmarried employees.... Beginning in January, Microsoft started matching 50% of workers' 401(k) contributions up to $9,000 per year."
HR Benefits Alert

Five Things Federal Contractors Need to Know About DOL's Final Rule Establishing Paid Sick Leave
"If foreseeable, employees must request paid sick leave in writing at least seven days in advance. If not foreseeable, employees should submit requests as soon as practicable. Request denials must be communicated in writing, documenting the reason. If sick leave consists of three or more consecutive days, the employer may require certification of the reason for the absence, provided the employer gives notice of the certification requirement before the employee returns to work."
Kilpatrick Townsend

AARP Lawsuit Aims to Stop EEOC's New Wellness Rules
"New rules governing incentives offered as part of employee wellness programs are now the target of a lawsuit from a large advocacy group representing older Americans. AARP filed the suit against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in Federal District Court in Washington, D.C., on October 24, arguing that wellness programs can violate employees' privacy and may not be truly voluntary."
HR Daily Advisor

State-by-State Look at Health Insurance Costs for Employees
"Employees' contributions to their health insurance premiums rose more slowly between 2010 and 2015 in 30 states and Washington, D.C., and their deductibles grew more slowly in 27 states ... Still, many families are spending, on average, a bigger share of their income on health care than they were prior to 2010. That is because median incomes, despite their recent surge, have not kept pace with health care costs."
The Commonwealth Fund

Obamacare Death Spiral?
"2017 health insurance premiums may be high, but premium hikes in 2015 and 2016 may have been unnaturally low.... Health insurers such as Aetna and UnitedHealth that are more used to group plans may have underpriced.... Reinsurance goes away.... Similar to the reinsurance system, the risk corridors are going away in 2017."
Healthcare Economist

2017 Obamacare Average Premiums and Average Deductibles
"[This] analysis provides a detailed overview of market conditions facing consumers who have neither premium subsidies nor subsidies for healthcare out-of-pocket costs."
HealthPocket

House Committee Asks Administration for Obamacare Cost Calculations from Taxpayers Perspective (PDF)
"While the Administration continues to focus on premium 'affordability,' it ignores the undeniable fact that federal taxpayers are subsidizing the premium increases through tax credits.... [T]he Committee requests that CMS provide to the Committee with estimates of the amount of taxpayer dollars that will be spent to subsidize the cost of rising premiums, by November 7, 2016. Specifically, this projection should compare approved 2016 rates and enrollment estimates with 2015 rates and effectuated enrollment."
Energy and Commerce Committee, U.S. House of Representatives

Health Benefit Cost Growth Slows to 2.4% in 2016 as Enrollment in High-Deductible Plans Climbs
"Average total health benefit cost per employee rose just 2.4% in 2016, one of the lowest increases in decades. Enrollment in account-based high-deductible consumer-directed health plans reached 29% of all covered employees, up from 25% in 2015. More employees have access to less-expensive care: 59% of large employers offer telemedicine, up sharply from 30%; and 82% include retail clinics in their plan network."
Mercer

[Opinion]

Another Obamacare Shock: Premiums for Some Are Spiking
"Liberals used to dismiss insurance premium shock by saying that the subsidies will offset any increase and, anyhow, beneficiaries can shop around for a cheaper plan. But the 25% figure refers to the rate spike for the second-cheapest 'silver' plan on each exchange from state to state, which is a key benchmark in the subsidy formula. In other words, these are the mid-level insurance plans that are performing the best, not the average increase of all ObamaCare coverage. HHS also disclosed the premium jumps for a 27-year-old buying the second-cheapest silver plan in individual states. Our condolences for such young people in Arizona, where their premiums will climb by 116%. Likewise for Oklahoma (69%), Tennessee (63%) and Minnesota (59%)."
The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required

[Opinion]

Obamacare Premiums Are Going Up -- What Does That Really Mean?
"More than 60 percent of Americans get health insurance through an employer. Another 16 percent use Medicare or Medicaid and 9 percent are covered by individual insurance plans -- including Obamacare. Another 2 percent are covered by military plans such as Tricare or the Veterans' Administration. Premiums for employer-sponsored plans have also been rising for years, although not at the sharp annual rates that the Obamacare exchanges will see in 2017."
NBC News

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Lois Baker, J.D., President  loisbaker@benefitslink.com
David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher  davebaker@benefitslink.com
Holly Horton, Business Manager  hollyhorton@benefitslink.com

BenefitsLink Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9595. Copyright 2016 BenefitsLink.com, Inc. All materials contained in this newsletter are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of BenefitsLink.com, Inc., or in the case of third party materials, the owner of that content. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.

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