Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

November 7, 2019

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[Official Guidance]

Text of IRS Rev. Proc. 2019-44: Inflation-Adjusted Limits for 2020 (PDF)

28 pages. "For taxable years beginning in 2020,

  • "the dollar amount in effect under Section 45R(d)(3)(B) is $27,600. This amount is used under Section 45R(c) for limiting the small employer health insurance credit and under Section 45R(d)(1)(B) for determining who is an eligible small employer for purposes of the credit.
  • "the dollar limitation under Section 125(i) on voluntary employee salary reductions for contributions to health flexible spending arrangements is $2,750....
  • "the monthly limitation under Section 132(f)(2)(A) regarding the aggregate fringe benefit exclusion amount for transportation in a commuter highway vehicle and any transit pass is $270. The monthly limitation under Section 132(f)(2)(B) regarding the fringe benefit exclusion amount for qualified parking is $270....
  • "under Section 137(a)(2), the amount that can be excluded from an employee's gross income for the adoption of a child with special needs is $14,300 ... [and] the maximum amount that can be excluded from an employee's gross income for the amounts paid or expenses incurred by an employer for qualified adoption expenses furnished pursuant to an adoption assistance program for other adoptions by the employee is $14,300....
  • "the term 'high deductible health plan' as defined in Section 220(c)(2)(A) means,
    • "for self-only coverage, a health plan that has an annual deductible that is not less than $2,350 and not more than $3,550, and under which the annual out-of-pocket expenses required to be paid (other than for premiums) for covered benefits do not exceed $4,750....
    • "for family coverage, a health plan that has an annual deductible that is not less than $4,750 and not more than $7,100, and under which the annual out-of-pocket expenses required to be paid (other than for premiums) for covered benefits do not exceed $8,650."

Internal Revenue Service [IRS]

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[Guidance Overview]

2020 Health FSA Limit Increased to $2,750

"[F]or plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2020, the health FSA salary reduction contribution limit will increase to $2,750 ... [which is] a $50 increase from the current $2,700 ... limit for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2019.... [E]mployer contributions (including non-cashable flex credits) generally cannot exceed $500 per plan year for the health FSA to maintain excepted benefit status. Non-excepted health FSAs generally cannot comply with the ACA market reform mandates."
ABD Insurance & Financial Services

[Guidance Overview]

Washington State Paid Family Medical Leave Proposed Rules on Supplemental Benefits

"The proposed Phase Six Rules address [1] an employee's ability to top-off PFML benefits with supplemental benefits offered by employers (such as PTO, vacation, or sick time), [2] voluntary plan eligibility and notice issues, and [3] appeal issues.... [E]mployers can offer supplemental benefits, but they cannot require that employees use supplemental benefits while on PFML leave. This is different from the FMLA, where employers can require that employees use available paid time off benefits while taking FMLA leave."
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

Employers: Stop Designating Lengthy Approval Dates on Your FMLA Designation Forms

"[D]on't lock yourself in by including an 'approval' date in your designation notice or correspondence. Approve FMLA leave to date, and surely designate those absences in the future covered by FMLA where it's appropriate to do so. But don't let it be an open-ended approval for any period of time."
FMLA Insights

Why Employers Should Offer a Dependent Care FSA

"[C]hild care expenses grew by 16% over the course of six decades, far outpacing the rate of growth for housing and transportation ... 67% of companies offer a dependent care flexible spending account (FSA).... [T]hose tax-friendly funds have a high value of return in the form of dependable care coverage for working families, whether your employees require eligible care options for their children, or any dependents deemed incapable of caring for themselves."
Connect Your Care

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The Air Ambulance Billed More Than His Surgeon Did for a Lung Transplant

"The median cost to transport a Medicare patient by air ambulance is about $10,200 ... However, air ambulance companies are reimbursed a median rate of $6,500 per flight. 'The remaining 30% of patients with private health insurance end up paying over 70% of the costs,' said [Doug Flanders] of Air Methods."
Kaiser Health News

Medicare Increase in Prescription Drug Spending More Than Offsets Lower Beneficiary Costs for Other Services

"[T]otal spending [on prescription drugs] was up by $1,000 per person [from 2010 to 2016], a 38 percent increase. Out-of-pocket spending on drugs increased by 16 percent. Increased total spending on drugs was partially offset by a 22 percent decrease spending on hospital services and a 30 percent decrease on skilled nursing home care.... Medicare beneficiaries spent more out-of-pocket on prescription drugs in 2016 than on doctors' visits and hospital care combined."
The Commonwealth Fund

Connecticut Telecom Retirees Face Losing Health Benefits

"More than 100 Frontier retirees are expected to lose their health benefits under a new collective bargaining agreement, said Dave Weidlich, president of CWA Local 1298, which covers more than 2,000 Frontier workers.... Frontier isn't required by law to negotiate retiree medical benefits and company representatives declined to do so during recent negotiations, Mr. Weidlich said."
The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required

Kentucky Expands Medicaid Program to Pay for Employer Coverage

"[T]he program will now cover family members who live with a Medicaid enrollee. That might include parents who don't have Medicaid coverage, even though their children are enrolled in the program.... [T]he program ... increases [an enrollee's] potential network of doctors to both Medicaid and their employer's network. But it also requires enrollees to be much more vigilant, because if they visit a doctor that doesn't take Medicaid, they're on the hook for any costs associated with the visit that the employer plan doesn't cover."
WFPL

Benefits in General

2020 Employee Benefit Limitations (PDF)

Two-page reference guide provides key 2018-2020 annual limits for retirement plans along with health, fringe benefit and ACA figures.
Mercer

Press Releases

Most Popular Items in the Previous Issue

How Top Employers Are Upping Their Benefits Package to Attract Talent
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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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