The Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust (Kaiser/HRET) have released their annual survey of employer-sponsored health benefits. In the survey, Kaiser/HRET analyzes the responses provided by 2,067 public and private employers with three or more employees during the first five months of 2013. According to the survey results, while health plan premiums increased in 2013 by an amount consistent with prior year increases, coverage and offer rates did not vary significantly.
Articles about the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and other issues relating to employee benefit topics
On July 2, 2013, in a surprise move, the Department of the Treasury announced that it is delaying the Affordable Care Act (ACA) employer pay-or-play mandate and accompanying employer reporting requirements by one year. Accordingly, employers will not be subject to penalties for failing to offer full-time employees healthcare coverage that meets certain standards until 2015. Under Section 4980H of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), “applicable large employers” must offer their full-time employees “minimum essential coverage” that provides “minimum value” and is “affordable” or pay a penalty. The question of whether to play by offering such coverage or pay the penalty has become an important issue for many employers, and one that involves strategic choices about benefits structure and workforce composition. The delay comes as a relief to employers who were scrambling to prepare for the mandate’s 2014 effective date. While the delay is certainly welcome news for employers, it does not mean that they can ignore the ACA or the critical decisions it calls upon employers to make.
A recently released Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) information letter (EEOC Letter),1 along with the new final wellness regulations under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), present new challenges for employer-provided wellness programs.
Executive Summary: The Obama Administration has released formal guidance on the delay of the Affordable Care Act’s (the “ACA”) employer mandate and certain reporting requirements.
Executive Summary: The Obama Administration has announced that implementation of the penalties under the Affordable Care Act’s (“ACA”) employer mandate (also known as the “pay or play” penalties) have been delayed until 2015.
Executive Summary: The Affordable Care Act added section 18B to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which requires certain employers to send out notices to employees regarding the availability of the state-based Health Insurance Exchanges (“Exchange Notice”). Under the FLSA, these Exchange Notices were supposed to be provided to employees no later than March 1, 2013. However, on January 24, 2013, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued guidance delaying the Exchange Notice requirement until the summer or fall of 2013.
Life, Health, Disability, and ERISA – a summary of decisions from across the country concerning life, health, and disability policies, including those governed by ERISA.
Executive Summary: The Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) recently announced that full implementation of the SHOP component of the state-based health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”) run in full or in part by the federal government will be delayed until 2015. States setting up their own exchanges will be given the option to elect to similarly delay full implementation of their SHOPs until 2015.
Executive Summary: The Department of Labor (“DOL”) recently released a series of final rules affecting health benefits provided through multiple employer welfare arrangements (“MEWAs”). Notably, the 2012 Form M-1 filing deadline has been extended to May 1. In addition, new guidance implementing portions of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) applicable to MEWAs has been released.
With 2013 in full swing, now is an excellent time to begin preparing for the changes that will take place as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Although most of these changes are set to take place in 2014, there is one important change that is right around the corner. Beginning on March 1, 2013, all employers with 50 or more full-time employees will be required to provide each employee at the time of hiring ‘ or, with respect to current employees, not later than March 1, 2013’ with written notice, in plain language, of certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including
Executive Summary: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) recently released long-awaited final HIPAA Regulations. The new regulations finalize many changes previously proposed to the Privacy, Security, and Enforcement Rules, and modify the Breach Notification Rule initially adopted in August 2009. In addition, the new regulations extend HIPAA application to Business Associates.
Executive Summary: As most everyone knows by now, Congress adopted, and President Obama signed, legislation – the American Taxpayer Relief Act (the “Act”) – that resolves many elements of the so-called “fiscal cliff,” i.e., the various tax increases and expiration of tax breaks, along with spending cuts, that were to have become effective with the new year. Much has been written and reported about applying the scheduled tax rate increases only to high-income taxpayers, changing the Alternative Minimum Tax so that it would not penalize the “middle class,” increasing estate tax for certain “large” estates, allowing the 2011 payroll tax cut to expire (along with other scheduled payroll tax increases), and other “newsworthy” aspects of the Act. Little has been mentioned, however, about the Act’s provisions applicable to benefit plans and programs. So here are a few of those provisions.
Executive Summary: In Announcements 2012-45 and 2012-46, the IRS has temporarily eased the eligibility requirements for employers to participate in the employment-tax Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (“VCSP”) that was begun last year. (See our Legal Alert dated 9/27/2011.) Specifically, employers may participate in a slightly modified version of the program (the “Modified VCSP”) even if they haven’t filed all required Forms 1099, as is required for the VCSP. In addition, the prohibition against participation by taxpayers under audit and the requirement to extend the limitations period for future assessments were both changed for purposes of the Modified VCSP.
Executive Summary: In addition to the other various employee benefit plan relief provided as a result of Hurricane Sandy, on November 16 the Internal Revenue Service announced, in Announcement 2012-44, that certain individual account plans, including Section 401(k) plans, Section 403(b) tax-sheltered annuities, and governmental Section 457(b) deferred compensation plans can provide plan loans and hardship withdrawals (including “unforeseeable emergency” distributions under 457(b) plans) to those participants who were (or who have certain family members who were) adversely affected by Hurricane Sandy. In addition, IRA owners may also qualify to receive distributions with reduced administrative procedures.
Executive Summary: With the reelection of President Obama, health care reform is here to stay. Challenges to the law are still pending; however, employers need to comply with existing requirements and begin preparations for compliance with future requirements. In addition, new guidance and regulations are likely imminent.