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Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

March 1, 2021

9 Jobs Today (scroll to view)


[Guidance Overview]

DOL Issues Guidance on Outbreak Period Extensions

"It is unclear how plans, TPAs, and insurers will be able to build their systems to create custom COBRA, special enrollment, and claims deadlines individual-by-individual ... Many may have to extend the deadlines for all while they determine how to proceed. This complexity will be even greater if COBRA subsidies are enacted ... DOL seems to be saying that plans may need to notify each individual when his or her one-year extension is about to be up[.]"  MORE >>

Groom Law Group

[Guidance Overview]

COVID-19 Deadline Extensions -- No More Time Outs But No Single Deadline Either

"[Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01] acknowledges that the agencies understand and appreciate the complications this latest guidance creates for plan administrators to immediately restart the clock of daily COBRA, HIPAA, and other deadlines and for individuals who now must immediately catch up monthly COBRA premium obligations to maintain health insurance under the employer's plan ... To be considered as acting in 'good faith and with reasonable diligence,' [here is a list of steps employers should take]."  MORE >>

Jackson Lewis P.C.

[Guidance Overview]

COVID-19 Relief for Employees Who Participate in Flexible Spending Accounts

"The centerpiece ... is to combine the grace period and carryover rules. Conceptually there is no distinction between the grace period and carryover for PYs 2020 and 2021 PYs. In order to avoid confusion, the IRS refers to the period as the 'temporary extension period.' An employer has the discretion to adopt all, some or none of the opportunities presented by TCDRA and Notice 2021-15."  MORE >>

Stradley Ronon

[Guidance Overview]

IRS Gymnastics with Code Section 125 for FSAs: Notice 2021-15

"While the Notice clarifies the permissible opportunities available under the Act, the IRS twists long established rules under Section 125 of the Code ... The Notice offers up a cornucopia of additional opportunities that create administrative burdens and may be too costly for a third-party administrator to implement given the emphasis in the Notice that these permissible opportunities are all temporary in duration."  MORE >>

Morgan Lewis

[Guidance Overview]

Visiting a Family Member and Need a COVID-19 Test? Your Health Plan Must Pay for That

"Group health plans must cover the required COVID-19 testing even for an asymptomatic individual with no known or suspected exposure to COVID-19.... This requirement does not, however, require group health plans to cover without participant cost-sharing, prior authorization, or other medical management requirements COVID-19 tests that are required for public health surveillance or employment purposes."  MORE >>

Miller Johnson

Requiring COVID Vaccinations

"Despite new EEOC guidance, employers must consider the impact of equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws, including the American Disabilities Act (ADA); Rehabilitation Act; Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA); and Title VII, including the Pregnancy Discrimination Act."  MORE >>

Employee Benefits Report

Educating Your Employees: When Health Insurance Will Cover an Oral Procedure

"When health insurance pays for oral surgery it typically pays as the primary payer with no yearly maximum.... Employees who understand the difference between a dental and a medically necessary procedure can remind their provider to bill medical insurance when applicable so the patient can afford to get additional coverage."  MORE >>

Employee Benefits Report

California Bill Proposes to Require Employer-Subsidized Backup Childcare Benefits

"A bill recently introduced in the California Assembly ... proposes a child care subsidy as a new form of employee benefit. This is not a leave benefit, or a job-protection benefit, but rather a fund to be used for emergency child care needs. The bill would apply only to the largest employers -- those who employ 1000 or more employees[.]"  MORE >>

Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP

New California Law Makes It Easier to Get Care for Mental Health and Substance Abuse

"A California law that took effect Jan. 1 ... [requires] state-regulated commercial health plans ... to use nationally recognized clinical standards established by nonprofit associations of clinical specialists to determine which mental health and addiction treatments they'll cover -- and for how long."  MORE >>

Kaiser Health News

Limiting Private Insurance Reimbursement to Medicare Rates Would Reduce Health Spending by About $350 Billion in 2021

"[This] estimate illustrates the extreme of what could be accomplished in terms of reductions in spending ... [The authors] discuss but do not model the potential effects of price reductions on the supply of services, utilization of health care services, or quality of health care."  MORE >>

Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation


How Would It the Proposed '10Plan' Affect Health Care Spending by Consumers and the Federal Government

"The 10Plan ... would cover the 28 million individuals who are uninsured and the nearly 20 million who purchase private coverage in the nongroup market ... Because the 10Plan allows payments for medical expenses to be spread over multiple years, understanding the plan's effects requires understanding the system dynamics around medical spending, income, and family structure over a 15-year period."  MORE >>

RAND Corporation

Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]

New Guidance from DOL Regarding the Suspension of Certain Employee Benefit Plan Deadlines Due to COVID-19

"[I]ndividuals and plans with deadlines that are suspended pursuant to the previously-issued rule will have the applicable periods under the Notices disregarded until the earlier of: [1] one year from the date they were 'first eligible for relief' ... or [2] 60 days after the announced end of the National Emergency."  MORE >>


[Guidance Overview]

Suspended Deadlines Under ERISA, Part Two: Sound the Alarm!

"The Notice encourages plan fiduciaries to be proactive about communicating these changes so participants and beneficiaries are aware that deadlines may expire soon. Plan fiduciaries will also need to revisit this once the National Emergency ends to decide whether to provide additional communications at that time. In fact, the Agencies suggest that supplemental notices may be necessary to fulfill ERISA fiduciary duties."  MORE >>

Morgan Lewis

[Guidance Overview]

Agencies Clarify Outbreak Period Relief Due to COVID-19

"[T]he DOL notes that prior disclosures made to plan participants during the pandemic regarding the mechanics of the Outbreak Period may need to be revised and reissued if they failed to provide accurate information regarding the time in which participants and beneficiaries were required to act."  MORE >>

Winston & Strawn LLP

Employee Benefits Jobs

View job as Compliance Counsel
for Teacher Retirement System of Texas

Compliance Counsel

Teacher Retirement System of Texas

Austin TX

View job as Payroll Analyst
for BlueStar Retirement Services, INC.

Payroll Analyst

BlueStar Retirement Services, INC.

Telecommute / Jacksonville FL

View job as Recordkeeping Specialist
for Definiti

Recordkeeping Specialist


Telecommute / The Woodlands TX / FL / PA

View job as Retirement Plan Recordkeeper
for Leading Retirement Solutions

Retirement Plan Recordkeeper

Leading Retirement Solutions

Telecommute / Seattle WA

View job as Defined Benefit Consultant
for Pension Plan Specialists

Defined Benefit Consultant

Pension Plan Specialists

Vancouver WA

View job as ESOP Consultant
for Swerdlin & Company, part of FuturePlan by Ascensus

ESOP Consultant

Swerdlin & Company, part of FuturePlan by Ascensus


View job as Client Relationship Manager
for Goldleaf Partners, part of FuturePlan by Ascensus

Client Relationship Manager

Goldleaf Partners, part of FuturePlan by Ascensus


View job as DC Retirement Plan Consultant
for National Professional Planning Group (NPPG)

DC Retirement Plan Consultant

National Professional Planning Group (NPPG)

Shrewsbury NJ

View job as Client Services Manager
for Newport

Client Services Manager


Folsom CA / Chicago IL / Saint Petersburg FL / La Crosse WI / Charlotte NC / Overland Park KS / Mobile AL / West Des Moines IA / Pittsburgh PA

Selected New Discussions

"Wrap" plans and 5500 forms

"Suppose an employer has been filing several 5500 forms - one for each plan - Dental, Disability, whatever. Has not been filing for certain plans due to less than 100 participants - say, Vision plan has only 40 participants. Now they institute a "wrap" plan. Are they required to include the Vision participants, or can they still exclude them? Do they have the option to include or not include, and still file multiple 5500 forms, or must it be one form? I'd assume they want to file just one form, and must all sub-plans then be included?"

BenefitsLink Message Boards

Webcasts and Conferences

New Transparency and Disclosure Provisions in the Year-End Spending Bill Create Additional Requirements (And Cause Confusion)

March 3, 2021 WEBCAST

Groom Law Group

Last Issue's Most Popular Items

COBRA/HIPAA Outbreak Guidance – an Answer (Finally)

Kushner & Company

Text of EBSA Extension of Certain Timeframes for Employee Benefit Plans, Participants, and Beneficiaries Affected by the COVID-19 Outbreak

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

Text of Agency FAQs About FFCRA and CARES Act Implementation, Part 44: Coverage of COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing Without Cost Sharing (PDF)

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS], U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS]; U.S. Department of Labor [DOL]; and U.S.Treasury Department

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

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