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View COVID-19 News and Resources

[Guidance Overview]

IRS Delivers Simplification Methods in Proposed 'Parking' Regs

"The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) amended section 274(a) to eliminate or limit the tax deductions for expenses related to certain employer-provided qualified transportation fringe benefits under section 132(f).... [S]ection 274(a)(4) is a completely new expense disallowance that many taxpayers have been struggling to calculate since its passage. In addition to providing simplified methods that taxpayers can optionally use, the proposed regulations define many terms that will make complying with those methods easier."


[Guidance Overview]

Editor's Pick No More Section 1557 Nondiscrimination Notice

"The two key takeaways for employers are [1] the onerous notice requirement is gone, but [2] nondiscrimination rules still generally apply.... [T]hese changes are expected to become effective on August 18, 2020. Therefore, between now and then, the notice is still required."

HUB International

[Guidance Overview]

New IRS Rule Has Pros and Cons for Direct Primary Care

"[T]he rule could expand DPC's use by employers that offer HRAs as part of their group benefits arrangement. It explicitly allows employers to use HRA funds to reimburse employees for DPC fees as qualified medical expenses.... Unfortunately, the proposed rule would make it virtually impossible for the more than 21 million people with HDHP coverage and an HSA to engage in DPC services. It also seems to rule out people using funds in an existing HSA to pay for DPC fees, even if they do not have HDHP coverage currently."

MZQ Consulting, LLC

[Guidance Overview]

COVID-19 and Cafeteria Plans -- To Amend or Not to Amend?

"If an employer chooses to amend its cafeteria plan to provide more flexible mid-year election changes, [1] it is not required to provided unlimited changes and may not want to due to the potential for adverse selection of health coverage by employees ... [2] it may limit mid-year election changes to amounts no less than amounts already reimbursed ... [3] there could be administrative challenges, particularly if the employer does not limit when and how many mid-year election changes employees may make."

Snell & Wilmer

[Guidance Overview]

DOL Tool for Employees: Determining Your FFCRA Eligibility

"This tool will quickly walk you through a handful of options to determine your eligibility as an employee for paid sick leave or paid expanded family and medical leave, or your obligations as an employer to provide paid sick leave or paid expanded family and medical leave."

Wage and Hour Division [WHD], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL]

Supreme Court's LGBTQ Title VII Ruling May Impact Your Employee Benefit Plan

"The conditions and privileges of employment includes compensation, and [ERISA] explicitly exempts Title VII from its broad preemptive authority. This means that the protective authority of Title VII for LGBTQ individuals generally extends to employer-sponsored healthcare benefits. The decision does, however, leave unanswered the question of to what extent certain religiously affiliated employers may claim a religious exemption to Title VII's mandates." [Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga., No. 17-1618 (S. Ct. June 15, 2020)]

McDermott Will & Emery

Editor's Pick DOL Mental Health Parity Enforcement Fact Sheet Identifies Potential Issues for Health Plans

"The [DOL] recently released its Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) Enforcement Fact Sheet (and Appendix). These documents give glimpses of the kinds of issues the DOL is seeing. They can serve as a roadmap for employers to watch out for these same issues in their plans.... [1] Annual visit limits.... [2] Restrictive financial requirements.... [3] Restrictive visit limits for outpatient mental health and substance use disorder treatment.... [4] Limits for drug screening removed."

HUB International

Key Observations from the 2020 Northwest Benefits Survey

"Average annual premiums for family health plans [sponsored by 138 organizations located in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington] came to $23,282 this year, up 2.6% from last year, with workers on average paying $6,210 toward the cost of their coverage.... [T]elehealth availability within medical coverage increased from 53% to 76% of reporting organizations.... 17% of organizations reported moving to a self-funded system compared to just 7% in [the] 2019 survey.... The number of organizations adding a wellness component to their medical plans was up 4% this year from 2019 to a total of 73% of those surveyed."


Early Look at Implications COVID-19 Pandemic for Health Coverage

"Among people who said they or a spouse or partner lost a job or were furloughed because of the pandemic, two of five had health coverage through the affected job. Among those who previously had coverage through an affected job, one of five said they or a spouse or partner were now uninsured."

The Commonwealth Fund

Benefits in General

Personalized Benefits: A Critical Employee Consideration

"Now is the ideal time for employers to step up their support through a benefits strategy that custom curates a distinct benefits plan for each segment of the employee population.... By applying data analytics to employee demographic information -- using census data, for example -- employers can improve their understanding of opportunities or gaps in their population on the benefits side. Reframing our offering and how we communicate its value is key."

HUB International

Serious Employee Benefit Plan Concerns Lingering as Pandemic, Recession Threaten Businesses

"Among organizations that have terminated employees as a result of the pandemic, 17% have been able to make it possible for the former employees to remain eligible for the ongoing health plan (without having to elect COBRA) and 42% are fully or partially subsidizing the cost of COBRA coverage.... More than 60% of companies that offer self-insured health care coverage expect that the pandemic will result in increased costs (moderately or significantly) in future plan years.... More than 17% of companies are taking action to reduce or eliminate matching contributions in their 401(k) plans, while another 10% are considering or anticipating doing so."

American Benefits Council

Press Releases

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David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher
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BenefitsLink Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9595. Copyright 2020, 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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