Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

May 24, 2017

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[Guidance Overview]

Incorrect TINs: An Employer's Nightmare Returns with the 2016 Form 1095-C Reporting Season
"[O]ne of the most common errors employers received when submitting the Form 1094-C/Form 1095-C packet for the 2016 reporting season was an error message stating there is an incorrect taxpayer identification number (TIN).... This article is intended to explain how the IRS software searches TINs, the improvements that have been made, and what an employer needs to do if it received an error message indicating there is a TIN issue with one (or more) of the Forms 1095-C it submitted to the IRS. The good news is an employer still does not need to go through the solicitation process if it receives a TIN error message for an incorrect TIN!"
Accord Systems, LLC

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HHS Report: Average Health Insurance Premiums Have Doubled Since 2013
"Average individual market premiums more than doubled from $2,784 per year in 2013 to $5,712 on Healthcare.gov in 2017 -- an increase of $2,928 or 105%. All 39 states using Healthcare.gov experienced an increase in individual market premiums from 2013-2017. 62% of states using Healthcare.gov had 2017 premiums double what was measured in 2013. Three states -- Alaska, Alabama, and Oklahoma -- saw premiums triple from 2013-2017."
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS]

Anthem Weighing 2018 Obamacare Individual Participation by State
"Anthem Inc is looking at all 14 states where it sells Obamacare individual plans to determine to what extent it will participate next year, given the continued uncertainty around subsidies and regulations, its chief executive officer said on Wednesday. CEO Joseph Swedish, speaking at the UBS Global Healthcare Conference, said the No. 2 health insurer is talking to regulators in each state where it sells BlueCross BlueShield plans about total or partial participation or 'surgically extracting' itself from the market."
Reuters

Employers Continue to Address Health Care Cost Increases
"[E]mployers are primarily focused on offering high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) (69 percent), targeting wellness programs (58 percent), and increasing employee cost-sharing (49 percent) ... 51 percent will offer telemedicine services, 55 percent of employers are committed to create more effective communications, 47 percent plan to focus on creating a culture of health, and 43 percent see managing specialty drugs as their highest priority."
Wolters Kluwer Law & Business

Health Savings Accounts Continue Rapid Growth
"People saving in HSAs do not do so at the expense of a defined contribution (DC) retirement plan, such as a 401(k). Fidelity found that during 2016, people who had both DC and HSA accounts saved on average 10.7 percent of their annual income in the retirement account. Those with just a DC account saved on average 8.2 percent in it.... Seventy-six percent are satisfied with the ease of using their HSA for medical expenses, 77 percent with the quality of their health care coverage, and 77 percent with how the plan helps them manage their health care costs."
Fidelity

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GOP's Health Bill Could Undercut Some Coverage in Job-Based Insurance
"The bill would allow states to opt out of some of the requirements of the [ACA], including no longer requiring plans sold on the individual market to cover 10 'essential health benefits' ... [If] any single state weakened its essential health benefits requirements, it could affect large employer plans in every state ... [T]hese employers, who often operate in multiple states, are allowed to pick which state's definition of essential health benefits they want to use in determining what counts toward consumer spending caps and annual and lifetime coverage limits."
Kaiser Health News

President's Proposed Budget Seeks Six Weeks of Paid Leave for All Families
"[If] the president has his way, employees will be eligible to receive up to six weeks of paid parental leave by the year 2020. However, employers will not be on the hook to provide the compensation for this program. Instead, the administration proposes that paid parental leave would be 'fully offset' by a package of reforms to the state unemployment insurance system. While specific legislation still needs to be developed and approved by Congress to install this program, this marks the first time that such a leave proposal has been advanced in a presidential budget."
Fisher Phillips

Minnesota Legislature Gives Up on Bill to Preempt Cities' Safe and Sick Leave Ordinances
"[T]he preemption bill will be presented separately to Governor Dayton, who has pledged to veto it. Since the legislature's regular session ended at midnight on Monday, May 22, 2017 ... it appears that the preemption bill is dead for this session. This means that the Minneapolis and St. Paul ordinances slated to take effect on July 1, 2017, will become effective on that date."
Ogletree Deakins

Pittsburgh to Appeal Block of City's Paid Sick Leave Ordinance
"The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania has affirmed a lower court's ruling invalidating the Pittsburgh Paid Sick Days Act (PSDA), the ordinance adopted in 2015 requiring all employers of employees within the Pittsburgh city limits to provide paid sick leave to all full- and part-time employees. The Mayor's office has confirmed that it will appeal the May 17, 2017, court decision.... While the issue of the PSDA's validity ultimately may reach Pennsylvania's high court, a Senate bill under consideration would render the PSDA (and its Philadelphia counterpart) null and void."
Jackson Lewis P.C.

[Opinion]

Trump's Paid Parental Leave Proposal Is Not Enough
"[The] White House budget proposal includes something unprecedented in a Republican president's budget -- a proposal for paid parental leave.... But the proposal is as out of touch as the rest of the budget. The paid leave proposal provides inadequate time to care, excludes people caring for a sick relative or their own serious illness, fails to create a national baseline, and is paid for on the backs of those who have lost their jobs."
The Century Foundation

[Opinion]

Comments by American Academy of Actuaries to Senate Finance Committee on Improving the Individual Health Insurance Market and Changing the Approach to Medicaid Funding (PDF)
"Continuing uncertainty could lead to additional insurers exiting the market, leaving consumers with fewer insurance choices -- or none at all. Improving the market would entail funding cost-sharing reductions (CSR) reimbursements, enforcing the individual mandate (or other continuous coverage provisions), directing external funding to offset premiums, and avoiding destabilizing actions."
Health Practice Council, American Academy of Actuaries

[Opinion]

Halting CSR Payments Will Devastate Individual Markets
"CSRs are an important stabilizing mechanism that must not be held hostage by political vitriol for prior legislative and administrative errors. Congress and the President must act soon to protect the individual market from collapsing. Failing to fund these CSRs will be more costly to taxpayers in the long run and is simply irresponsible[.]"
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Discussions on
the BenefitsLink Message Boards

OK for Retiree-Only HRA to Reimburse Cost of Coverage Under Spouse's Employer-Sponsored Health Plan?
"Retiree-only HRA provides that eligible retirees are entitled to obtain coverage under any plan sponsored by the Employer, or any other health insurance plan of their choice, and will be reimbursed their premiums subject to limits (i.e. $700/per month). An eligible retiree obtains coverage through his spouse's plan and requests reimbursement for the increase in cost from employee-only coverage to employee-plus-spouse coverage under the spouse's plan (i.e. $250/month). Is this expense reimbursable?"
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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 2017 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 those materials. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notices from copies of the content.

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