United Benefit Advisors Insight and Analysis Blog

Best Practices for Initial COBRA Notices

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Jul 25, 2017 9:30:00 AM

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) requires group health plans to provide notices to covered employees and their families explaining their COBRA rights when certain events occur. The initial notice, also referred to as the general notice, communicates general COBRA rights and obligations to each covered employee (and his or her spouse) who becomes covered under the group health plan. This notice is issued by the plan administrator within the first 90 days when coverage begins under the group health plan and informs the covered employee (and his or her spouse) of the responsibility to notify the employer within 60 days if certain qualifying events occur in the future.

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Topics: group health insurance, COBRA continuation coverage, notice of coverage

FAQ on HIPAA Special Enrollment; QSE HRAs Released

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Feb 8, 2017 9:53:35 AM

Recently, the Department of Labor (DOL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Treasury (collectively, the Departments) issued FAQs About Affordable Care Act Implementation Part 35. The FAQ covers a new HIPAA special enrollment period, an update on women's preventive services that must be covered, and clarifying information on qualifying small employer health reimbursement arrangements (QSE HRAs).

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Topics: HIPAA, group health insurance, health reimbursement arrangements, HRA, Danielle Capilla, 21st Century Cures Act, Qualified Small Employer HRA, benefits enrollment, women's preventive services

Cafeteria Plans: Qualifying Events and Changing Employee Elections

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Feb 7, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Cafeteria plans, or plans governed by IRS Code Section 125, allow employers to help employees pay for expenses such as health insurance with pre-tax dollars. Employees are given a choice between a taxable benefit (cash) and two or more specified pre-tax qualified benefits, for example, health insurance. Employees are given the opportunity to select the benefits they want, just like an individual standing in the cafeteria line at lunch.

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Topics: ERISA, group health insurance, Danielle Capilla, change in status event, cafeteria plan, Section 125 plan, pre-tax benefits, taxable benefits

Interim Final Regulation on Maximum Civil Monetary Penalties

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Dec 29, 2016 10:30:00 AM

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently issued interim final regulations that adjust for inflation the maximum civil monetary penalties (CMP) that fall under HHS's jurisdiction. The regulations reflect changes required by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (the Act).

Adjustments under the Act were effective on August 1, 2016, and HHS's CMP adjustment regulations were effective on September 6, 2016. HHS issued its regulations for immediate implementation, without the notice and comment procedures that normally accompany new regulations.

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Topics: compliance, ACA, HIPAA, group health insurance, Danielle Capilla, Affordable Care Act, monetary penalties

Regulations Regarding Short-Term Limited-Duration Insurance, Excepted Benefits, and Lifetime/Annual Limits

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Dec 27, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Recently, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Department of Labor (DOL), and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (collectively the Departments) issued final regulations regarding the definition of short-term, limited-duration insurance, standards for travel insurance and supplemental health insurance coverage to be considered excepted benefits, and an amendment relating to the prohibition on lifetime and annual dollar limits.

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Topics: group health insurance, excepted benefits, supplemental health coverage, Danielle Capilla, travel insurance, short-term insurance

FAQs on Tobacco Cessation Coverage and Mental Health / Substance Use Disorder Parity

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Dec 20, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Recently, the Department of the Treasury, Department of Labor (DOL), and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (collectively, the Departments) issued FAQs About Affordable Care Act Implementation Part 34 and Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Implementation.

The Departments' FAQs cover two primary topics: tobacco cessation coverage and mental health / substance use disorder parity.

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Topics: group health insurance, Danielle Capilla, tobacco cessation, mental health, medical insurance, substance abuse

Final Marital Status Definitions and Spouse/Partner Coverage Trends

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Nov 15, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Recently, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued final regulations that define terms used in the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) describing the marital status of taxpayers for federal tax purposes. In general, for federal tax purposes, the terms "spouse," "husband," and "wife" mean an individual lawfully married to another individual. The term "husband and wife" means two individuals lawfully married to each other. A marriage of two individuals is recognized for federal tax purposes if the marriage is recognized by the state, possession, or territory of the United States in which the marriage is entered into, regardless of domicile.

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Topics: group health insurance, UBA Health Plan Survey, Danielle Capilla, nondiscrimination rules, spousal coverage, partner coverage, marital status

ALE Employers Ask: Should Benefits Be Offered to Variable Hour Employees?

Posted by: Danielle Capilla    Jul 12, 2016 10:30:00 AM

UBA’s compliance team leverages the collective expertise of its independent partner firms to advise 36,000 employers and their 5 million employees. Lately, a common question from employers is: How does an ALE determine whether or not a newly hired variable hour employee should be offered benefits?

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Topics: group health insurance, Danielle Capilla, applicable large employers, variable-hour employee, benefits compliance

Group Healthcare Premiums by State: How does your plan stack up?

Posted by: Bill Olson    Apr 11, 2016 12:00:00 PM

We recently highlighted the top five best and worst states for group health plan costs. See below for your state's average monthly premiums and read our breaking news release with the cost findings by industry.

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Topics: health plan benchmarking, group health insurance, health plan cost trends, UBA Health Plan Survey, group healthcare premiums

Top Five Best and Worst States for Group Health Plans

Posted by: Matt Weimer    Apr 8, 2016 12:00:00 PM

Top 5Health insurance premium renewal rates increased an average of 6.2 percent for all plans in 2015, up from the previous year’s 5.6 percent increase, according to UBA’s Health Plan Survey. Small businesses with fewer than 25 employees, which account for five million U.S. employers, were hit the hardest—see our breaking news with the details.

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Topics: health plan benchmarking, group health insurance, Group health plans, health plan cost trends, UBA Health Plan Survey, health insurance cost