Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

November 21, 2017

BenefitsLink.com logo EmployeeBenefitsJobs.com logo
Get Retirement News | Advertise | Unsubscribe | Previous Issues | Search

Jobs


Webcasts, Conferences

Ethical Dilemmas in Executive Compensation
December 5, 2017 in NY
Worldwide Employee Benefits Network [WEB] - New York Chapter

Proxy Season 2018 and Tax Reform Update: ISS, Pay Ratio, Other Hot Topics
December 7, 2017 WEBCAST
American Bar Association Joint Committee on Employee Benefits [JCEB]

►See 90 Upcoming Webcasts and Conferences

►See 1348 Recorded Webcasts


Discussions

New Topics on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

New Comments and Topics

All Topics, Grouped by Forum


Subscribe Now to This Newsletter (free)

We also publish the BenefitsLink Retirement Plans Newsletter (free): Subscribe Now


[Guidance Overview]

In Brief: The Individual Mandate for Health Insurance Coverage (PDF)
11 pages. "This report provides an overview of the individual mandate, its associated penalty, and the exemptions from the mandate. It discusses the ACA reporting requirements designed, in part, to assist individuals in providing evidence of having met the mandate. The report includes some national- and state-level data on the application of the mandate's penalty in tax year (TY) 2014 and TY2015." [Report R44438, Nov. 16, 2017]
Congressional Research Service

[Advert.]

Online Learning Course: Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Sponsored by International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP]

Learn how to avoid common administration mistakes, implement best practices and be aware of interactions with other laws.


Employers Working to Keep Health Costs for Employees Down
"Two-thirds of employers (66%) say their company is extremely/very aware of the potential changes to health care policy coming out of Washington D.C., and more than one-quarter (26%) of employers report that the most common fear among their employees is losing health care due to a pre-existing condition."
PLANSPONSOR

White House Open to Striking Individual Health Coverage Mandate from Tax Bill
"Trump's budget director, Mick Mulvaney, said the White House is open to scrapping the provision ... Trump had pressed for the provision to be added to the bill, partly to show progress on the GOP goal of undoing the health care law ... 'If it becomes an impediment to getting the best tax bill we can, then we're OK with taking it out,' Mulvaney added."
InsuranceNewsNet.com

Small Business Owners Search for Ways to Avoid Large Health Premium Increases
"[I]nsurance brokers are inundated with current and would-be clients looking for help in finding some type of health insurance they can afford. Many of them are entrepreneurs, small business owners and early retirees who have purchased plans on the individual market and are now getting a look at premiums for next year that in some cases are running 70 percent higher ... Employers who continued to fund group coverage plans are also seeing increases."
InsuranceNewsNet.com

How Do Employers Calculate FMLA Leave Around the Holidays?
"If the employee gets Thanksgiving Day off as an employer holiday and then takes the entire rest of work week off for an FMLA reason, the employer should count the entire workweek as one full week of FMLA leave used. The same reasoning would apply if the holiday occurred on any other day of the workweek and the employee was otherwise absent for the remaining work days that week. However, if the employee works any part of the workweek (e.g., he works Monday then is gone the rest of Thanksgiving week on FMLA leave), the employer cannot count the holiday as FMLA leave."
FMLA Insights

[Advert.]

New COBRA Audit Guidelines

Sponsored by Lorman and BenefitsLink

Nov. 28 webinar. In addition to general COBRA compliance, we'll review the IRS Audit guidelines, to help you identify and prepare for the areas of focus in an IRS COBRA audit. Discount for BenefitsLink readers.


[Opinion]

ACA: The Health Care Law That Continues to Escape Death
"On an average daily basis, total sign-ups are up 60% over the start of last year's open enrollment period, and sign-ups among new consumers are up 53%.... One possible explanation for this apparent success is the peculiar math resulting from the termination of cost-sharing subsidy payments to insurers."
JAMA Forum

[Opinion]

In Defense of High-Deductible Health Plans
"Are these plans a smart way to avoid rising premiums or do they offer unaffordable coverage dressed up as something else? The answer, I think, depends on the patient. Young people in relatively good health, for instance, are perfectly suited to realize the benefits of HDHPs.... Those with serious chronic conditions may not have the same financial incentive to choose an HDHP; people with small children might want the peace of mind that comes with a more comprehensive plan.... Fortunately, there are viable alternatives for those who find themselves equally put off by high-premium plans and HDHPs."
Manhattan Institute for Policy Research

Benefits in General

[Official Guidance]

Text of IRS and DOL 'Extension of Time Frames' for Employee Benefit Plans, Participants and Beneficiaries Affected by Hurricane Maria
12 pages. "With respect to plan participants, beneficiaries, qualified beneficiaries, or claimants directly affected by Hurricane Maria ... group health plans, disability and other welfare plans, pension plans, and health insurance issuers offering coverage in connection with a group health plan must disregard the period from September 17, 2017 through March 16, 2018 for such plan participants, beneficiaries, qualified beneficiaries, or claimants located in Puerto Rico, and must disregard the period from September 16, 2017 through March 15, 2018 for such plan participants, beneficiaries, qualified beneficiaries, or claimants located in the United States Virgin Islands, when determining any of the following time periods and dates:

  • The 30-day period (or 60-day period, if applicable) to request special enrollment under ERISA section 701(f) and Code section 9801(f);
  • The 60-day election period for COBRA continuation coverage under ERISA section 605 and Code section 4980B(f)(5);
  • The date for making COBRA premium payments pursuant to ERISA section 602(2)(C) and (3) and Code section 4980B(f)(2)(B)(iii) and (C);
  • The date for individuals to notify the plan of a qualifying event or determination of disability under ERISA section 606(a)(3) and Code section 4980B(f)(6)(C);
  • The date within which individuals may file a benefit claim under the plan's claims procedure pursuant to 29 CFR 2560.503-1;
  • The date within which claimants may file an appeal of an adverse benefit determination under the plan's claims procedure pursuant to 29 CFR 2560.503-1(h);
  • The date within which claimants may file a request for an external review after receipt of an adverse benefit determination or final internal adverse benefit determination pursuant to 29 CFR 2590.715-2719(d)(2)(i) and 26 CFR 54.9815-2719(d)(2)(i), and
  • The date within which a claimant may file information to perfect a request for external review upon a finding that the request was not complete pursuant to 29 CFR 2590.715-2719(d)(2)(ii) and 26 CFR 54.9815-2719(d)(2)(ii)....
"With respect to group health plans, and their sponsors and administrators, that are directly affected by Hurricane Maria ... the period from September 17, 2017 through March 16, 2018 for those located in Puerto Rico, and the period from September 16, 2017 through March 15, 2018 for those located in the United States Virgin Islands, shall be disregarded when determining the date for providing a COBRA election notice under ERISA section 606(c) and Code section 4980B(f)(6)(D)."
Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], Department of Labor [DOL]; Internal Revenue Service [IRS], Department of the Treasury

[Official Guidance]

Text of DOL Additional Relief for Employee Benefit Plans, Participants and Beneficiaries Impacted by Hurricane Maria and October 2017 California Wildfires
"The [DOL] will not treat any person as having violated the provisions of Title I of ERISA solely because they complied with the verification procedures of IRS Announcement 2017-15.... [The DOL] will not -- solely on the basis of a failure attributable to Hurricane Maria -- seek to enforce the provisions of Title I with respect to a temporary delay in the forwarding of such payments or contributions to an employee pension benefit plan to the extent that affected employers, and service providers, act reasonably, prudently and in the interest of employees to comply as soon as practical under the circumstances.... With respect to blackout periods related to Hurricane Maria, the [DOL] will not allege a violation of the blackout notice requirements solely on the basis that a fiduciary did not make the required written determination....

"The Department recognizes that [group health] plan participants and beneficiaries may encounter an array of problems due to Hurricane Maria and the California Wildfires. The guiding principle for plans must be to act reasonably, prudently, and in the interest of the workers and their families who rely on their health plans for their physical and economic well-being. Plan fiduciaries should make reasonable accommodations to prevent the loss of benefits in such cases and should take steps to minimize the possibility of individuals losing benefits because of a failure to comply with pre-established time frames."
Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL]

[Official Guidance]

Text of DOL FAQs for Participants and Beneficiaries Following Hurricane Maria (PDF)
23 Q&As. "The Department is issuing these FAQs to assist employee benefit plans, plan sponsors, employers and employees who were impacted by the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria to better understand their rights and responsibilities under ERISA with respect to their ERISA covered employee benefit plans. In addition to providing this general guidance, the Department has also provided an extension of time for certain notices required to be provided under ERISA for those impacted by these disasters."
Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL]

[Official Guidance]

Text of DOL FAQs for Participants and Beneficiaries Following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and the California Wildfires (PDF)
22 Q&As. "My employer's place of business is closed. I cannot locate my plan administrator. Who do I contact to file a claim for benefits, or to obtain replacement identification documents? ... I think I may be losing my health coverage as a result of the events of one of the hurricanes or the California Wildfires. What can I do to obtain other health coverage? ... My employer's place of business is closed due to the events of one of the hurricanes or the California Wildfires. Who should I contact to file a claim for retirement benefits or make sure that I will continue to receive my pension payments on time? ... How can I make changes in the way my 401(k) plan account is invested if it was affected by the events of one of the hurricanes or the California Wildfires? ... If my employer faces economic difficulties as a result of the events of one of the hurricanes or the California Wildfires, can my employer terminate my retirement plan, and if so, what happens to my benefits? ... All of the records concerning my employment with the retirement plan sponsor and my participation in the retirement plan were destroyed as a result of the events of one of the hurricanes or the California Wildfires. What do I do?" [Editor's note: this document seems to supercede the FAQs for Participants and Beneficiaries Following Hurricane Harvey issued Aug. 29, 2017. It seems to contain few new provisions with respect to such persons, if any.]
Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL]

Press Releases

Connect   LinkedIn logo   Twitter logo   Facebook logo

BenefitsLink.com, Inc.
1298 Minnesota Avenue, Suite H
Winter Park, Florida 32789
(407) 644-4146

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 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.

Links to web sites other than BenefitsLink.com and EmployeeBenefitsJobs.com are offered as a service to our readers; we were not involved in their production and are not responsible for their content.

Unsubscribe | Privacy Policy