United Benefit Advisors Insight and Analysis Blog

Linda Rowings

Chief Compliance Officer at United Benefit Advisors

Recent Posts

Definition of "Spouse" Updated for FMLA

Posted by: Linda Rowings    Mar 26, 2015 12:00:00 PM

The Department of Labor has issued an updated definition for “spouse” under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to make compliance with FMLA easier for both employers and employees. The new regulations will be effective on March 27, 2015, and will define “spouse” as a husband or wife, which refers to a person “with whom an individual entered into marriage as defined or recognized under state law.” The governing state law is that of the “celebration state” or where the marriage took place. Residency of the employee or the state of the employer will no longer have any bearing on the definition of “spouse” for purposes of FMLA. This change means that the same criteria for determining whether an employee is legally married will apply to both benefits and FMLA eligibility determinations.

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Topics: FMLA, same sex marriage, spouse, common law marriage, Family and Medical Leave Act

Final Rule Issues Standards for Insurers and Marketplaces in 2016

Posted by: Linda Rowings    Mar 24, 2015 12:00:00 PM

Recently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Department of Health and Human Services issued a Final Rule with standards for insurers and Marketplaces in 2016, covering topics such as transparency in health insurance rate increases, formulary drug lists, drug mail order opt out provisions, determination of minimum value, and benefits discrimination. Open enrollment for the 2016 benefit year will begin on November 1, 2015, and end on January 31, 2016.

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Topics: PPACA, essential health benefits, PPACA Affordable Care Act, Transitional Reinsurance Fee, cost-sharing limit, transparency in health insurance rates, insurance Marketplace, benefits discrimination

IRS Provides Details on Reimbursing Premiums for Individual Health Coverage or Medicare Part B, Part D, or Medigap for Active Employees

Posted by: Linda Rowings    Mar 17, 2015 12:00:00 PM

On February 18, 2015, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2015-17. This Notice addresses employer payment or reimbursement of individual premiums in light of the requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). For many years, employers were permitted to reimburse premiums paid for individual coverage on a tax-favored basis, and many smaller employers adopted this type of an arrangement instead of sponsoring a group health plan. However, these “employer payment plans” frequently are unable to meet all of the PPACA requirements that took effect in 2014, and in a series of Notices and frequently asked questions (FAQs) the IRS has made it clear that an employer may not either directly pay premiums for individual policies or reimburse employees for individual premiums on either an after-tax or pre-tax basis. This is the case whether payment or reimbursement is done through a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA), a Section 125 plan, a Section 105 plan, or another mechanism.

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Topics: ACA, PPACA, IRS, employer payment plans, Medicare Part B, premium reimbursement, Medigap, Medicare Part D, two-percent shareholder, TRICARE

Agencies Provide Guidance on Single Benefit Products and Excepted Benefits

Posted by: Linda Rowings    Mar 12, 2015 12:00:00 PM

On February 13, 2015, the regulatory agencies issued an FAQ on whether supplemental health insurance coverage that provides additional categories of benefits may qualify as supplemental excepted benefits. Many provisions of PPACA do not apply to excepted health benefits. Supplemental excepted benefits are those that are provided under a separate policy, certificate, or contract of insurance and are Medicare supplement insurance (Medigap), Tricare supplemental programs, or “similar” supplemental coverage.

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Topics: ACA, health care reform, PPACA, excepted benefits, supplemental health coverage

IRS Requests Input on the Cadillac Tax

Posted by: Linda Rowings    Mar 10, 2015 12:00:00 PM

Beginning in 2018, plans that provide coverage that exceeds a threshold will owe an excise tax that is frequently referred to as the “Cadillac tax.” The threshold generally will be $10,200 for single benefits and $27,500 for benefits provided to an employee, retiree, or member of a bargaining unit and dependents. The tax is 40% of the value of coverage provided over that threshold level.

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Topics: compliance, ACA, IRS, compliance with health care reform, HRA, excise tax, Cadillac Tax

Highlights of Employer and Insurer Reporting Requirements

Posted by: Linda Rowings    Mar 3, 2015 12:00:00 PM

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) provides that individuals who do not have minimum essential (basic medical) coverage will owe a penalty unless they qualify for an exemption. Employers with 50 or more employees that do not offer affordable, minimum value coverage to their full-time employees also will owe a penalty. In addition, individuals who have lower incomes and meet other requirements may be eligible for advance tax credits to help pay for health coverage if they purchase coverage through a Marketplace. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is generally responsible for verifying that individuals have the required minimum essential coverage, individuals who request premium tax credits are entitled to them, and large employers are meeting their shared responsibility (play or pay) obligations. The IRS will be using IRS Forms 1094 and 1095 to gather the information it needs to administer penalties on those who owe them and to verify that tax credits are accurate.

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Topics: PPACA Affordable Care Act, IRS Form 1095, IRS Form 1094, PPACA reporting, minimum essential coverage

2015 Federal Poverty Guidelines

Posted by: Linda Rowings    Feb 12, 2015 12:00:00 PM

The federal poverty level guidelines (FPL) are used for many purposes, including assessing eligibility for a premium tax credit for coverage purchased through the health Marketplace.  Premium tax credits are available to individuals who have household income of 100% to 400% of FPL in states that have not expanded Medicaid eligibility to 133% of FPL and to those who have household income of 133% to 400% of FPL in states that have adopted expanded Medicaid – an individual who is eligible for Medicaid is not eligible for a premium tax credit.

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Topics: 2015, Federal Poverty Level, guidelines

IRS Releases Information and Forms for Satisfying the Individual Mandate and Claiming 2014 Premium Tax Credits

Posted by: Linda Rowings    Feb 5, 2015 12:00:00 PM

Although employers are not required to offer coverage during 2014, individuals are generally required to have health coverage during 2014 and must report on that coverage through their 2014 federal income tax return. In many cases, the employee will be able to simply state through a “yes/no” question on their federal income tax form that all individuals claimed on the tax form had minimum essential coverage during all of 2014. Individuals will not be required to attach proof of coverage, and employers and insurers are not required to supply proof of coverage provided during 2014. Individuals may wish to maintain evidence of coverage (such as pay stubs showing deductions for premiums or explanations of benefits) in case they are audited, but this is not required.

Individuals who did not have the needed coverage for the entire year, or who are claiming an exemption from the individual mandate, must use Form 8965 to claim an exemption or determine their penalty (which is determined on a month-by-month basis). The penalty for failing to have coverage in 2014 is the greater of 1% of income and $95 per person or $295 per family.

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Topics: IRS, 2014 premium tax credits, Individual mandate

Top 5 Questions About The “Cadillac” Tax

Posted by: Linda Rowings    Jan 29, 2015 12:00:00 PM

The excise tax on high cost plans (also referred to as the Cadillac tax and the 4980I tax) is scheduled to take effect in 2018. To date, regulations have not been issued, so many of the details about how the tax will operate are unclear. (The regulatory agencies are responsible for interpreting the law, adding needed details, and reconciling any parts of the law that may be inconsistent.) Based upon how the law itself is written, this is what is known and expected.

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Topics: UBA PPACA Advisor, highlights, 2018, top 5, excise tax, Cadillac Tax

Proposed Changes to Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC)

Posted by: Linda Rowings    Jan 27, 2015 12:00:00 PM

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