Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

February 10, 2021

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[Guidance Overview]

Upcoming Deadline iconConsolidated Appropriations Act Requires Mental Health Parity Analysis

"Employers with self-funded plans should consider engaging their existing mental health parity analysis vendor to assist in preparing this report.... While the February 10 deadline is not a filing deadline, it is not known when the federal agencies will begin requesting these reports." Icon to read more

HUB International

[Guidance Overview]

COVID-19 Tolling of Benefits Presents Challenges for COBRA and Medicare Administration

"Since the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, it is likely that a number of qualified beneficiaries may become entitled to Medicare before they have to make a COBRA election. Under the [joint agency Notice issued May 4, 2020] ... they will be able to 'test' their Medicare coverage limits prior to making a decision about COBRA election, which could create an undesirable selection issue for group health plans[.]" Icon to read more

Hall Benefits Law

[Guidance Overview]

Proposed Wellness Rules Mean More Headaches for Plan Sponsors

"The good news for employers is that the new rules propose an exception or 'safe harbor' to the de minimis standard for wellness programs that are part of, or qualify as, group health plans. Wellness plans that are part of group health plan may offer greater than minimal incentives." Icon to read more

Graydon

[Guidance Overview]

Paid Sick Leave Mandates Continue to Expand at State Level

"Colorado and New York are the latest states to enact laws requiring employers to provide accrued paid leave." Icon to read more

Mercer

[Guidance Overview]

New York State DOL Updates Guidance on COVID-19 Leave Law

"For large employers (those with 100 or more employees) the NYSDOL guidance would require not just 14 days of paid COVID-19 leave as the law's text provides, but potentially 28 or even 42 days of paid COVID-19 leave where an employee requalifies for an order of mandatory isolation because of a positive test result." Icon to read more

Mintz

Unpacking the Coverage Provisions in the House Pandemic Relief Drafts

"This post summarizes the coverage-related proposals in the February 8 drafts. These bills may be revised, and drafts from other committees ... should be expected soon. Unsurprisingly, the drafts generally track President Biden's American Rescue Plan proposal and parts of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act passed by the House in July 2020." Icon to read more

Katie Keith, in Health Affairs Blog

House COVID-19 Relief Package Includes ACA, COBRA Subsidy Boosts Through 2022

"If signed into law, the bill would ensure that any household that has income 400% above the federal poverty level and higher only pays 8.5% of their income on healthcare.... The bill also would provide premium assistance to cover 85% for COBRA continuous coverage for any eligible individuals and families through Sept. 30, 2021." Icon to read more

FierceHealthcare

ACA Round-Up: Health Plan Filing Deadlines, Affordability Data, Association Health Plan Litigation, and More

"[CMS] has released new guidance and data related to the [ACA].... [S]everal pending ACA-related lawsuits have been resolved or delayed. Litigation over a COVID-19 special enrollment period was dismissed, and pending appeals over the association health plan rule, the provider conscience rule, and the double billing rule have been put on hold[.]" Icon to read more

Katie Keith, in Health Affairs Blog

Renew Your 2021 Resolutions: Tips for Maximizing Your HSA Savings

"HSAs are a fantastic savings tool. Interest, dividends, and capital gains earned on HSA dollars are nontaxable. So any money in your HSA that you don't spend, can continue to grow and gain interest." Icon to read more

Connect Your Care

[Opinion]

Reducing Administrative Waste in the U.S. Health Care System

"The largest category of wasteful spending in the US (about 30%) is administrative costs.... The authority derived from the ACA should be used to implement the third wave of administrative simplification regulations, which requires autoadjudication of claims and prior authorizations and, as a by-product, creates long-awaited payment system and electronic health record interoperability." Icon to read more

Robert P. Kocher, MD, via JAMA Network

[Opinion]

Health Care and Employer Groups Announce Principles to Protect Patients and Achieve Universal Coverage

"The Affordable Coverage Coalition encompasses groups representing the nation's doctors, hospitals, employers and health insurance providers that collectively serve hundreds of millions of American patients, consumers and employers. The joint commitment by such a broad array of interests is a significant milestone on the path toward universal coverage, which has remained an elusive goal within the U.S. healthcare system." Icon to read more

Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

Benefits in General

Why CAA Healthcare Provisions Offer a Major Opportunity for 401(k) Advisors

"Transparency is coming to health care much as it did with the retirement industry. The CAA removes gag clauses on price and quality information and requires 408(b)(2)-style broker compensation disclosure." Icon to read more

401(k) Specialist

Some Participants Reducing 401(k) Deferrals to Contribute to HSAs

"More than half (56%) of 401(k) participants reduced their retirement plan contributions in the first year that they made health savings account (HSA) contributions ... The median dollar reduction in participant 401(k) contributions in the first year of HSA contributions was $34. However, deferral rates decreased by $5,127 at the 10th percentile." Icon to read more

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Press Releases

Greater Orlando Society for Human Resource Management (GOSHRM) Announces 2021 Leadership Team
Greater Orlando Society for Human Resource Management [GOSHRM]

Most Popular Items in the Previous Issue

The Health Costs of Cost-Sharing (PDF)
National Bureau of Economic Research [NBER]

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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 2021 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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