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May 30, 2019 logo logo
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[Guidance Overview]

Get Ready for the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Law

"All employers must provide written notice to covered individuals of their rights under the PFML by June 30, 2019 ... The notice may be in hardcopy or electronic form but employers must collect a signed acknowledgment of receipt.... (A covered individual may also refuse (in writing) to sign the acknowledgement.) Beginning July 1, 2019, employers must provide all new covered individuals with the notice (and obtain a signed acknowledgment of receipt) within 30 days of his or her start date."
Sullivan & Worcester


Association Health Plans, Time to See Them From a Whole New View Point

Sponsored by Lorman and BenefitsLink

June 11 webinar will reintroduce you to Association Health Plans (AHPs) and Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements (MEWAs) and help you weigh the pros and cons of these programs. BenefitsLink discount.

[Guidance Overview]

EEOC May Soon Publish New Wellness Program Rules

"Pushing its deadline back for the second time, the [EEOC] recently announced that it plans to issue amended regulations related to incentivizing participation in employer-sponsored voluntary wellness programs under the [ADA and GINA] by the end of this year. What should employers know about the May 22 announcement, and why might it be different from prior deadlines set by the EEOC?"
Fisher Phillips

[Guidance Overview]

OCR Clarifies Direct Liability of Business Associates Under HIPAA

"In one illustrative example, OCR indicated it has enforcement authority directly over a business associate that has agreed in a BAA to satisfy individual rights (e.g., requests from individuals for access to copies of their medical records).... OCR's example demonstrates that the agency will hold business associates accountable for certain contractual obligations it has made with a covered entity, even if such obligations otherwise exceed the scope of business associate requirements under HIPAA."

2020 HSA and HDHP Limits Announced

"Given the increasing costs of health insurance, employers may find adding an HDHP option (with these new limits) to their welfare plan financially favorable.... Plan sponsors should ensure that all participant communication for the 2020 plan year reflects the new limits.... Payroll and HSA vendors must make sure their systems are updated for 2020 to allow for the increased contributions per the larger limits."

College Grads See Health Insurance as Best Employee Benefit

"About 54 percent of new grads said medical coverage is the top workplace benefit when it comes to looking for a job ... The respondents said paid time off was the second benefit they most desired, followed by student loan forgiveness ... Another 38 percent of young job seekers said working remotely was a work perk they looked for."
Fox Business


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Health Plan Deductibles Triple in 10 Years

"Between 2008 and 2018, the deductibles in employer health plans more than tripled -- growing much faster than earnings.... [Deductibles] now exceed $3,000 for individuals and $5,000 for families in the highest-deductible plans. Add to that a 50 percent hike in premiums during that time. Some 156 million people get health insurance through work ... They blame rising medical costs on insurers and pharmaceutical companies -- and not their employers and healthcare providers[.]"
Squared Away Blog, by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

Policy Options to Help Self-Insured Employers Improve PBM Contracting Efficiency

"The Lower Health Care Costs Act ... includes three key components that address PBM contracting inefficiencies for self-insured employers. [1] PBMs would be mandated to report to employers drug-specific and aggregated pricing, utilization, and spending details for all drugs they contract for on behalf of employers ... [2] PBMs would be prohibited from practicing 'spread pricing' ... [3] PBMs would be mandated to pass-through all price concessions to employers, including rebates, fees, alternative discounts, and other remunerations received from drug companies."
Ge Bai, Mariana P. Socal, and Gerard F. Anderson, in Health Affairs

HSAs Get AI Upgrades

"New users are asked questions about their health histories, income and risk tolerance. Machine learning is used to compare their answers against a large insurance-claims data set, analyze the information and then offer guidance. The tool analyzes claims and location data, for instance, to see if people are getting the most cost-effective care."
The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required

Father Wins Fight to Increase Parental Leave for Men at JPMorgan Chase

"The bank will pay $5 million to hundreds, possibly thousands, of men who filed for primary caregiver leave and were denied in the last seven years. Rotondo and his attorney said JPMorgan Chase changed its policy; the bank says its policy was always gender neutral, but said it has clarified its language."
National Public Radio [NPR]

Editor's Pick Paid Family Leave in the United States (PDF)

19 pages. "This report provides an overview of paid family leave in the United States, summarizes state-level family leave insurance programs, notes PFL policies in other advanced-economy countries, and notes recent federal legislative action to increase access to paid family leave." [Report R44835, updated May 29, 2019]
Congressional Research Service [CRS]

Nevada Legislature Defines 'Health Benefits' for Purposes of Nevada's Minimum Wage Laws

"[The] provisions defining health benefits for purposes of paying the lower-tier minimum wage do not take effect until January 1, 2020. Given the significant coverages that must be included to constitute 'health benefits' as defined in Senate Bill No. 192, the cost will likely exceed the one-dollar-per-hour cost to the employer required by the MWA per [a Nevada Supreme Court decision]. Accordingly, the debate about what constitutes health benefits for purposes of paying the lower-tier minimum wage may not be over."


Time to Pass Tax Relief for Student Loan Repayment Benefits

"In February, members of Congress reintroduced legislation that would let employers give tax-free student loan assistance up to $5,250 a year per employee. That's the same amount that Section 127 of the tax code now treats as tax-exempt for employer-provided tuition assistance."
Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM]; membership may be required to view article

Benefits in General

Law Professors Ask SCOTUS to Limit 'Forum Selection' Plan Provisions

"Eleven law professors called on the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that companies can't unilaterally limit the courts in which workers can sue over their health and retirement benefits.... The Supreme Court expressed interest in the issue in 2016, after the Sixth Circuit became the first appeals court to hold that forum selection clauses are permissible under ERISA.... Since then, the Third, Seventh, and Eighth circuits all followed the Sixth Circuit's lead in upholding these clauses from ERISA challenges."
Bloomberg Law

Selected Discussions
on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

Provide Employees with Choice of HSA Contribution or 403(b) Contribution?

Nonprofit (Code section 501(c)(3)) plan sponsor provides a lump sum number to each employee representing an amount which can be contributed to the HSA or, if not, to the 403(b) plan. It has always been my opinion that such a choice makes this money, when contributed to the 403(b) plan, an employee contribution because of the old cash or deferred rules. The employer would like it to be deemed an employer contribution. We could insert a Non-Elective provision with individual groups and test it, but I am just not certain that the fundamental question and answer are correct.
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David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher
Holly Horton, Business Manager

BenefitsLink Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9595. Copyright 2019, 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, 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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