United Benefit Advisors Insight and Analysis Blog

Agencies Provide Relief for Group Plans and Donation Programs Affected by Hurricanes/Wildfires

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Dec 12, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Guidance for Group Health Plans Impacted by Hurricane Maria and California Wildfires

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a news release to recognize that plan participants and beneficiaries may encounter problems due to Hurricane Maria and the California Wildfires. The DOL advises plan fiduciaries to make reasonable accommodations to prevent workers' loss of benefits and to take steps to minimize the possibility of individuals losing benefits because of a failure to comply with pre-established time frames.

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Topics: group benefits, leave-based donation program, hurricane relief

With Below Average Cost, Increasing Enrollment, CDHPs Have Big Impact

Posted by: Bill Olson    Dec 7, 2017 9:30:00 AM

When most experts think of group healthcare plans, Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans largely come to mind—though higher cost, they dominate the market in terms of plan distribution and employee enrollment. But Consumer-Directed Health Plans (CDHPs) have made surprising gains. Despite slight cost increases, CDHP costs are still below average and prevalence and enrollment in these plans continues to grow in most regions—a main reason why it was one of the top 7 survey trends recently announced.

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Topics: health plan benchmarking, CDHPs, UBA Health Plan Survey, group benefit plans, consumer-directed health plan

IRS Updates Guidance on Play-or-Pay Penalty Assessments

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Dec 5, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Beginning in 2015, to comply with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), “large” employers must offer their full-time employees health coverage, or pay one of two employer shared responsibility / play-or-pay penalties. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) determines the penalty each calendar year after employees have filed their federal tax returns.

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Topics: IRS, employer shared responsibility, Affordable Care Act, play or pay requirements

Climate Leave: PTO for when the Wind Blows

Posted by: Bill Olson    Nov 30, 2017 9:30:00 AM

This year, much of the United States had some form of major natural disaster—hurricanes, wildfires, floods, tornados—and millions of people were either directly affected, or had a family member or close friend who was affected. This life-changing disruption often meant that people couldn’t, or weren’t able to, go to work. While many companies were understanding and granted people the time they needed to take care of their issues, only a handful of those businesses kept paying their employees. Even worse, some businesses insisted that their employees report for work or risk termination.

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Topics: absence management, fringe benefits, personal time off, PTO

Employee Benefit Plans and the House Republican Tax Reform Bill

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Nov 28, 2017 9:30:00 AM

On November 2, 2017, House Republicans introduced a tax reform bill (H.R.1-115th Congress) called the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” that, if passed, would impact multiple aspects of the tax code. Many of these changes relate to employee benefit plans, particularly in relation to certain fringe benefits.

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Topics: dependent care flexible spending account, dependent care, tax reform, adoption assistance, education assistance

Top 3 Frequently Asked Questions about Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangements

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Nov 22, 2017 9:30:00 AM

On December 13, 2016, President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act) into law. The Cures Act provides a method for certain small employers to reimburse individual health coverage premiums up to a dollar limit through HRAs called "Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangements" (QSE HRAs). The provision went into effect on January 1, 2017. On October 31, 2017, the IRS released Notice 2017-67, providing guidance on the implementation and administration of QSE HRAs.

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Topics: health reimbursement arrangements, Affordable Care Act, 21st Century Cures Act, Qualified Small Employer HRA, QSE HRA

UBA Survey: Weary Families Get a Break While Singles See Out-of-Pocket Cost Increases

Posted by: Bill Olson    Nov 21, 2017 9:47:00 AM

While the rate impact of the regulatory environment plays out, one thing is clear from the 2017 UBA Health Plan Survey: employers continue to shift a greater share of expenses to employees through out-of-pocket cost increases. While this is just one of 7 mega trends uncovered in the survey, it is particularly interesting this year because singles were hit more heavily than families as compared to years past.

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Topics: UBA Health Plan Survey, health care trends, health care deductibles, out-of-pocket costs

Latest IRS ACA Round Up (Including 2018 Cost-of-Living Adjustments)

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Nov 16, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Recently, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued the instructions for Forms 1094/1095 for the 2017 tax year, announced PCORI fees for 2017-18, and announced cost-of-living adjustments for 2018. The IRS provided additional guidance on leave-based donation programs' tax treatment and released an information letter on COBRA and Medicare. Here’s a recap of these actions for your reference.

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Topics: ACA, COBRA, PCORI, Affordable Care Act, tax law, leave-based donation program

Agencies Issue Proposed Rules and Plans

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Nov 14, 2017 9:30:00 AM

October was a busy month in the employee benefits world. President Trump announced a new Acting Secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Eric Hargan fills the position vacated by Tom Price, who resigned in late September 2017. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a proposed rule to delay a disability claims procedure regulation's applicability date and HHS released its proposed rule on benefits and payment parameters for 2019. The U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) issued its Priority Guidance Plan for projects it intends to complete during the first half of 2018.

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Topics: ACA, Affordable Care Act, Benefit Payment and Parameters rule, Qualified Small Employer HRA, disability claims procedures

Build It and They Will Come? Group Health Plan Prevalence Doesn’t Always Drive Enrollment (Well, Except in CA)

Posted by: Bill Olson    Nov 9, 2017 2:32:41 PM

Though more expensive, PPOs still dominate the market overall in terms of plan distribution and employee enrollment. However, when you look regionally, PPO plans are most prevalent in the Central U.S., while CDHPs are most prevalent in the Northeast.

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Topics: health plan benchmarking, UBA Health Plan Survey