Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

December 15, 2017

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[Official Guidance]

Text of 2017 Instructions for IRS Form 8941: Credit for Small Employer Health Insurance Premiums (PDF)
30 pages. "Eligible small employers... use Form 8941 to figure the credit for small employer health insurance premiums for tax years beginning after 2009.... The maximum credit is generally a percentage of premiums the employer paid during the tax year for certain health insurance coverage the employer provided to certain employees enrolled in a qualified health plan offered through a Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace." [Dec. 6, 2017, published online Dec. 15, 2017]
Internal Revenue Service [IRS]

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Medicare Fails to Recover Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in Lab Overcharges
"As the nation's bill for drug and genetic tests has climbed to an estimated $8.5 billion a year, there's mounting suspicion among health insurers that some testing may do more to boost profit margins than help treat patients.... Yet, getting these firms to repay Medicare and private insurers remains a formidable challenge."
Kaiser Health News

Teva's New Plan Is to Raise Drug Prices, But It Won't Be Easy
"Cost-cuts, including sweeping layoffs, figure prominently in Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.'s new two-year plan to turn its business around.... [T]he debt-laden company ... hopes to wring more from its generic drugs business by raising prices. There's just one problem: Generic drug prices have been declining all year, posing a crisis for the industry and prompting the very cost-cutting that Teva just announced."
MarketWatch

Health Insurance Exchanges: Changes in Benchmark Plans and Premiums and Effects of Automatic Re-Enrollment on Consumers' Costs (PDF)
"GAO analyzed changes in benchmark plans and premiums from 2015 through 2017 and found ... [1] Premium tax credits would limit the costs of increasing premiums for most consumers ... [2] Median net monthly premiums -- what consumers paid after premium tax credits -- increased less from 2015 to 2016 for those who actively enrolled ($5) than for those who were automatically re-enrolled ($22), although there was variation." [GAO-18-68]
U.S. Government Accountability Office [GAO]

GOP Tax Compromise Would Repeal Obamacare's Individual Mandate
"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the compromise tax bill from House and Senate negotiators will end the health law's requirement that all individuals buy insurance or pay a fine. Doing so could jeopardize Obamacare's already-shaky marketplaces, by reducing the number of healthier people who sign up for insurance."
Bloomberg

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Insurers Facing Impossible Scenario: Cover Everyone, But No Individual Mandate
"No one knows for sure how many young, healthy individuals will drop their health insurance coverage if the mandate is repealed ... For employer-sponsored plans, especially self-funded plans that tend to be less expensive than their fully-insured counterparts, it may be that healthy workers keep their coverage as part of their overall benefit packages."
HealthLeaders Media

Insurers Urge States to Counteract Trump Executive Order
"The executive order ... directs federal agencies to expand and extend short-term health plans, increase enrollment in association health plans, and relax rules for employer-based health reimbursement arrangements.... In practice, however, such policies could destabilize insurance markets that serve millions of individuals and employers, according to a letter from organizations including the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, America's Health Insurance Plans, the American Heart Association, March of Dimes and six others."
FierceHealthcare

Benefits in General

Text of IRS Notice 2018-03: 2018 Standard Mileage Rates (PDF)
"The standard mileage rate for transportation or travel expenses is 54.5 cents per mile for all miles of business use (business standard mileage rate).... The standard mileage rate is 14 cents per mile for use of an automobile in rendering gratuitous services to a charitable organization under Section 170."
Internal Revenue Service [IRS]

Executive Compensation
and Nonqualified Plans

Accelerating Deductions for Annual Bonuses and Stock Units Paid in 2018
"Companies whose 2018 bonus payments may not be accruable in 2017 because of [various] contingencies might still amend their bonus plans before the end of their 2017 fiscal year in order to accrue the liability and support a deduction in 2017.... [C]onsider the following steps: [1] establish a 'fixed minimum bonus payment,' and/or a 'fixed minimum RSU (restricted stock units)/PSU (performance stock units) payment' for the entire group of employees in the company's bonus and equity plans ... [2] communicate that 'minimum promise' to the affected employees; and [3] clarify or amend existing plans, to ensure that this minimum promised amount cannot be reduced after year-end."
Morgan Lewis

Selected Discussions
on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

Bankrupt Plan Sponsor; Form 5500 Needed for Fully Insured H&W Plan?
Company has gone bankrupt. They sponsor a fully insured Wrap Plan. Fees for most recent Form 5500 will not be paid. Is there any reason to file future 5500's, and who assumes responsibility?
BenefitsLink Message Boards

Nonqualified Deferred Comp Plan: Sponsor Can Make Vesting Elections on Behalf of Participants?
The plan offers two vesting elections that comply with the 409A fixed payment and timing requirement. So there is not a 409A compliance problem. But the company sometimes makes the election on a participant's behalf. Rather than giving two options, the company just goes with one. Is this allowed or must it be corrected? Should there be a retroactive amendment?
BenefitsLink Message Boards

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David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher  davebaker@benefitslink.com
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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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