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Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

February 25, 2021

3 Jobs Today (scroll to view)


[Guidance Overview]

Health Plan Cost Transparency Rules Will Apply in 2022 and Beyond

"January 1, 2022: [Disclosure of] [1] negotiated rates for all covered items and services between the plan and in-network providers, except prescription drugs ... [2] historical payments to, and billed charges from, out-of-network providers.... [3] in-network negotiated rates and historical net prices for all covered prescription drugs.... January 1, 2023: Online shopping tool for 500 items (and January 1, 2024 for ALL covered items and services)."  MORE >>

McAfee & Taft

[Guidance Overview]

Upcoming Deadline icon Suspended Deadlines Under ERISA: Is It Time to Restart the Clock?

"In anticipation of any guidance, plan sponsors should be prepared to fire up any suspended timeframes effective March 1, 2021, and should talk with their third-party administrators to implement an administrative process to begin the clock on any suspended timeframes. Plan sponsors could also consider being more generous with the freeze[.]"  MORE >>

Morgan Lewis

[Guidance Overview]

IRS Provides Additional COVID-19 Relief for Cafeteria Plans

"The guidance provides for a lot of flexibility for employers ... however, the IRS holds firm on the idea that a plan may not offer a grace period and a carryover.... Employers will want to provide notice to employees of any modifications made to the plan under this guidance[.]"  MORE >>

McDermott Will & Emery

[Guidance Overview]

How to Provide Relief to Your FSA Participants Without Impacting Their HSA Eligibility

"All of these options add administrative burden to employers. So if you are considering adding or expanding a carryover or grace period provision, ... [review] your 2020 health FSA balances to determine if there are that many participants that will even benefit from the relief."  MORE >>


[Guidance Overview]

Retroactive COVID-19 Supplemental Leave Benefit Enacted in Unincorporated Los Angeles County

"This 2021 urgency ordinance takes effect immediately and is retroactive to January 1, 2021.... [It] provides all employees, regardless of the size of the employer, who are not food sector workers, healthcare providers, or first responders ... and who perform work in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, with COVID-19-related leave entitlement."  MORE >>

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

Ninth Circuit Rules in Favor of Medical Provider in Insurer Dispute Over Anti-Assignment Provisions

"The Ninth Circuit significantly limited insurers' ability to rely on anti-assignment provisions in ERISA health plans ... The case ... affirms that courts can reform an ERISA plan's non-benefit aspects to prevent inequitable results." [Martin Luther King, Jr., Community Hospital v. Community. Ins. Co., No. 19-55053 (9th Cir. Oct. 2, 2020; unpub.)]  MORE >>

Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP

Recent Court Ruling Illustrates Interplay Between ACA and ERISA

"[A federal] district court awarded a group of plaintiffs permanent injunctive relief against a provision of the [ACA] that required them to offer health coverage for gender-transition procedures." [Religious Sisters of Mercy v. Azar, No. 16-0386 (D.N.D. Jan. 19, 2021)]  MORE >>

Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP

High Risk Issue icon Is There a New Requirement to Pay Employees on Military Leave?

"[R]isk-averse employers who offer any voluntary (not statutorily mandated) paid leave to employees, including for jury duty, bereavement, sick leave, or other time off, may wish to start offering equivalent levels of paid leave to employees on military leave -- at least until the issue is resolved in the circuit courts, or possibly the Supreme Court."  MORE >>


Exceptional Usefulness and Quality icon 2021 Annual Report of ABA Subcommittee on the FMLA: 2020 Court Cases (PDF)

This 211-page report describes, and organizes by topic in detail, approximately 325 FMLA decisions of federal and state courts from November 1, 2019 through October 31, 2020.  MORE >>

American Bar Association Section of Labor and Employment Law, Committee on Federal Labor Standards Legislation, Subcommittee on the Family and Medical Leave Act

Private U.S. Health Plans Pay Hospitals 247 Percent of What Medicare Would Pay

"Some states (such as Arkansas, Michigan, and Rhode Island) had relative prices under 200 percent of Medicare. Others (such as Florida, South Carolina, and West Virginia) had relative prices that approached 350 percent of Medicare.... In many parts of the country, employers have options for high-value facilities that offer high-quality care at lower prices."  MORE >>

RAND Corporation

How Data Analytics Can Boost Employee Health and Wellness Program Effectiveness

"[S]elf-insured employers can immediately put their benefits data to use, working with their brokers to create effective employee health and wellness programs. These organizations can access demographic information, presentism and absenteeism data, compensation information, healthcare claims, biometric screening results, and aggregate personal health assessments."  MORE >>

HUB International

Few Employers Say Their Current Wellbeing and Caregiving Programs Effectively Support Employees

"[L]ess than three in 10 employers say their wellbeing (29%) and caregiving (27%) programs have been effective at supporting employees during the pandemic.... More than half of respondents (54%) report rising stress or burnout as the biggest wellbeing challenge connected to the pandemic, while 40% cite higher mental health-related claims as a top challenge."  MORE >>

Willis Towers Watson

Benefits in General

Implementation and Launch of a New Benefits Administration Solution

"Implementing your new solution ... Requirements gathering ... Site building and configuration ... Testing your solution ... Launching and communicating your solution."  MORE >>


Employee Benefits Jobs

View job as Assistant General Counsel, ERISA
for Transamerica

Assistant General Counsel, ERISA


Telecommute / CO / MN / NY

View job as Retirement Specialist
for Alerus

Retirement Specialist



View job as ESOP Client Service Manager
for Principal Financial Group

ESOP Client Service Manager

Principal Financial Group

Telecommute / Des Moines IA / Appleton WI

Webcasts and Conferences

Connecticut Paid Leave: What You Need to Know

February 26, 2021 WEBCAST


Flexible Spending Accounts: IRS Guidance on Permissive Changes

March 4, 2021 WEBCAST

Trucker Huss

COBRA Compliance

March 25, 2021 WEBCAST

Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor

Last Issue's Most Popular Items

IRS Clarifies Aspects of Recent FSA and Cafeteria Plan Accommodations


ERISA Compliance Is Getting Harder, and the DOL is Getting Serious

MZQ Consulting, LLC

Employers May Need to Pay Employees On Military Leave

Quarles & Brady LLP

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BenefitsLink Retirement Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9587.

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