Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

January 24, 2019

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Webcasts, Conferences

Digital Health Ecosystem: Finding the Sweet Spot between Value, Engagement and Satisfaction
February 7, 2019 in OH
Worldwide Employee Benefits Network [WEB] - Northeast Ohio Chapter

Open Enrollment - Local Companies Share Their Experiences
February 20, 2019 in MO
Worldwide Employee Benefits Network [WEB] - St. Louis Chapter

Evaluating Your Employee Health Benefits
February 27, 2019 WEBCAST
Lorman Education Services

Mid-Sized Retirement & Healthcare Plan Management Conference
May 5, 2019 in MA
University Conference Services

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[Official Guidance]

Text of CMS Proposed Information Collection and Comment Request: Rate Increase Disclosure and Review Requirements

"All issuers must continue to submit a Uniform Rate Review Template (URRT) (Part I of the Rate Filing Justification) for all single risk pool plans. Issuers that submit a rate filing that includes a plan that meets or exceeds the threshold must include a written description justifying the rate increase ... Issuers offering a QHP or any single risk pool submission containing a rate increase of any size must continue to submit an actuarial memorandum."
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS], U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS]

[Advert.]

Now is the time to become a member of ECFC

Sponsored by ECFC [Employers Council on Flexible Compensation]

ECFC is dedicated to maintaining and expanding employee benefit programs on a tax-advantaged basis. Members include employers, TPAs, health plan providers, brokers, payers, providers, payment networks, processors, and financial institutions.


[Guidance Overview]

2018 ACA Reporting: Filing Extensions, Forms Changes, and Good Faith Compliance

"For the third consecutive year, the IRS has provided an automatic extension for furnishing Forms 1095 to employees and has extended the good faith compliance standards for ACA reporting.... Generally, the relief will apply to missing or incorrect information such as social security number or date of birth. However, the relief does not apply to a failure to file, or timely file, any reports."
von Briesen & Roper, s.c.

[Guidance Overview]

Transportation Fringe Benefits for Not-for-Profits

"The normal additions to tax for underpayment of estimated tax won't be assessed if an underpayment results from the changes to the tax treatment of [qualified transportation fringe benefits (QTFs)].... Employers have until March 31, 2019, to change parking arrangements and reduce or eliminate the number of parking spots reserved for employees. The change can retroactively apply to past dates, dating back to January 1, 2018."
Moss Adams LLP

[Guidance Overview]

Editor's Pick Designing a Compliant Wellness Program (PDF)

70 pages. "These programs may provide very limited benefits such as educational health-related information, or they may be more extensive and involve biometric testing, individualized coaching, or even be part of a disease management program. Knowing what type of program you have is important because which federal laws apply (or don't apply) is largely determined by the type of program."
Gallagher

Employers Encouraged to Review Health Plan Administrators' Payment Practices After Recent Eighth Circuit Decision

"[It] is possible that while a plan document does not allow for this practice, an insurer (or claims administrator) is still engaging in cross-plan offsetting under the terms of its service provider agreement with the plan's sponsor.... The court noted that UnitedHealth owes a fiduciary duty to each plan separately and that the practice of cross-plan offsetting is in tension with such fiduciary duty[.]" [Peterson v. UnitedHealth Group Inc., No. 17-1744 (8th Cir. Jan. 15, 2019)]
Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP

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How to Position Consumer Directed Healthcare and HSAs with Your Employees

"By partnering with your employees and instilling the benefits of the HSA and coupling with an ownership mentality, you're helping set them up for success. Employers that make the move to a CDHP with an HSA, are in a great position to not only save on their healthcare offering to employees, but to help make real gains to improve their employees' healthcare picture."
HealthEquity

Including Drug Prices in TV Ads May Deter Consumers from High-Priced Drugs

"According to a new study, these drug price disclosures could significantly influence consumer thinking and behavior, especially for expensive drugs. However, the study also found that this effect was mitigated when the ad mentioned that patient out-of-pocket costs for the drug would be zero because of insurance and other discounts."
American Journal of Managed Care

How the Government Shutdown Impacts Employee Leave Requests

"Any previously scheduled FMLA leave will be treated as a leave without pay and will not be counted towards an employee's FMLA entitlement. If an excepted employee faces circumstances that would normally qualify them for FMLA leave, the employee is placed in a furlough status, which does not count against their FMLA leave entitlement.... [T]he furloughed employee will be entitled to his or her full leave once their employing agency or department resumes operations."
Jackson Lewis P.C.

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Access to and Use of Paid Family and Medical Leave

"This article examines this question, using data from four nationally representative surveys ... The article's most consistent finding is that Hispanic workers have lower rates of paid-leave access and use than their White non-Hispanic counterparts."
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS]

The Pressure is on to Modernize Time-off Benefits

"About two-fifths of survey respondents now offer paid parental leave for both the birth and non-birth parent ... Just 3% of respondents offer unlimited PTO to all employees, and only 4% are considering it.... The combination of expanding employer leave policies with the increasingly complex regulatory landscape has driven more employers to seek external help in administering these programs."
Mercer

Benefits in General

Financial Wellness Strategy: The Four-Pronged Approach to Get it Right

"More than half of all employees want to make their own financial decisions, but are looking to have someone to help validate that decision.... Evaluate workforce needs ... Provide choice in solutions ... Awareness and education ... Ongoing engagement."
Benefitfocus

Enhancing Work Incentives for Older Workers: Social Security and Medicare Proposals to Reduce Work Disincentives (PDF)

24 pages. "[The authors consider three proposals:] ... [1] eliminating the earnings test for participants between age 62, the early retirement age (ERA), and the full retirement age (FRA) ... [2] creating a paid-up status for Social Security, a point at which employees and employers would no longer be required to pay the payroll tax and earnings would not alter future benefits.... [3] a paid-up status for Medicare, coupled with a policy shift for Medicare that would return the program to its original status as the primary payer for covered expenditures rather than its current status as the secondary payer."
Robert L. Clark and John B. Shoven, for The Brookings Institution

Selected Discussions
on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

Paging Anyone with Knowledge of MEWAs under Tennessee Laws

Client is in the middle of selling a division and will be keeping those employees in its medical plan for the rest of the year to avoid disruption, thus creating a self-insured MEWA with two employers for this short period. I'm trying to determine the potential risks and requirements of keeping these employees in the plan for the rest of the year under Tennessee law.
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Press Releases

Most Popular Items in the Previous Issue

DOL Increases Civil Monetary Penalties for 2019
Thomson Reuters Practical Law

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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 2019 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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