COBRA requires group health plans to provide notices to covered employees and their families explaining their COBRA rights when certain events occur.
Posted: July 6, 2017, 4:00 am
On January 20, 2017, the IRS released a Memorandum on the tax treatment of benefits paid by fixed indemnity health plans that addresses two questions.
Posted: January 24, 2017, 4:00 am
National origin discrimination is discrimination because an individual is, or the individual’s ancestors are, from a certain place or has the physical, cultural, or linguistic characteristics of a particular national origin group, including Native American tribes.
Posted: December 7, 2016, 4:00 am
UBA has created a flow chart with decision trees to help employers ascertain which rules apply to their wellness program as a result of its design.
Posted: August 19, 2016, 4:00 am
The program enables the IRS, Social Security Administration, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to share information about whether Medicare beneficiaries or their spouses are working.
Posted: May 25, 2016, 4:00 am
After a long wait, the Department of Labor has released the revisions to the white collar overtime exemption rules in the Fair Labor Standards Act. The new rule becomes effective on December 1, 2016.
Posted: May 19, 2016, 4:00 am
From 2013 to 2015, a series of Supreme Court cases and government updates have changed the landscape of the way employers must consider same-sex spouses in relation to employee benefits.
Posted: April 29, 2016, 4:00 am
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) was signed in 1974. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is the agency responsible for administering and enforcing this law. For many years, most of ERISA's requirements applied to pension plans.
Posted: March 24, 2015, 4:00 am
The regulatory agencies have recently issued guidance that may affect employers that have been reimbursing premiums for individual health coverage or Medicare Part B, Part D or Medigap premiums for active employees.
Posted: February 26, 2015, 4:00 am
The first massive data breach of 2015 hit one of the country's largest insurance issuers, Anthem, Inc., including Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and other related entities (Anthem).
Posted: February 13, 2015, 4:00 am
On October 6, 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to review seven cases in which the lower appeals court had ruled that a state law or constitutional provision that prohibited same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.
Posted: October 17, 2014, 4:00 am
The Department of Labor (DOL) requires that participant notices and other plan information ("disclosures") be provided in a way that is reasonably calculated to ensure delivery to all plan participants. The Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) typically follows the DOL's rules. There are two primary ways to deliver plan information -- by paper and electronically.
Posted: August 19, 2014, 4:00 am
With all of the recent changes flowing from PPACA, it is important not to forget some very basic and long-standing aspects of plan compliance, design, drafting and administration, particularly those rooted in significant part in a law enacted 40 years ago, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, also known as “ERISA.”
Posted: July 15, 2014, 4:00 am
The Department of Labor has published a new model COBRA general notice and a new model COBRA election notice. The new model notices reflect that coverage is available in the public health insurance exchanges, i.e., the “Marketplace,” and include information on special enrollment rights in the Marketplace.
Posted: July 9, 2014, 4:00 am
The IRS has released the 2015 minimums and maximums that apply to health savings accounts (HSAs) and related high-deductible health plans (HDHPs). These increases occur annually based on a cost-of-living formula. Because the inflation rate is fairly low, the amounts have not increased very much -- the out-of-pocket maximum is increasing by $100 for single coverage and by $200 for family coverage. Both the minimum deductible and the maximum contribution are increasing $50 for single coverage and $100 for family coverage.
Posted: April 30, 2014, 4:00 am
The regulatory agencies issued a number of documents during the month of March, as they have tried to provide needed information with respect to 2014 and 2015 obligations under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Many employers will need to provide reporting on the coverage they offer during the 2015 calendar year; the IRS has now issued final regulations that provide details on this requirement.
Posted: March 31, 2014, 4:00 am
February brought two significant final regulations that affect an employer's compliance obligations under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The first, on the employer-shared responsibility ("play or pay") requirements, delays this requirement for many employers with 50 to 99 employees and includes a number of clarifications from the rules described in the proposed regulation. The second, on eligibility waiting period requirements, is very similar to the proposed rule.
Posted: February 28, 2014, 4:00 am
The U.S. Treasury Department released the final regulations implementing the employer shared responsibility penalty provisions of the 2010 health care reform law on February 10, 2014. In many ways, the final regulations resemble the proposed regulations issued over a year ago, but there are several - mostly welcome - changes and transition provisions for employers.
Posted: February 11, 2014, 4:00 am
Coverage first became available through the health marketplaces/exchanges on January 1, 2014, with a number of temporary provisions in effect to address some of the technical problems experienced in many of the marketplaces. Perhaps as a result of the government's focus on launching the marketplaces, there was not very much released during January that affects employer's compliance efforts.
Posted: January 31, 2014, 4:00 am
December usually brings a number of releases from the regulatory agencies and 2013 has carried on that tradition.
Posted: December 30, 2013, 4:00 am
November brought several developments of interest to group health plans.
Posted: December 4, 2013, 4:00 am
The IRS and HHS have issued a variety of updates and clarifications over the past two weeks, much of which are quite technical.
Posted: November 14, 2013, 4:00 am
The Department of Labor (DOL) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) jointly issued guidance on Sept. 13, 2013, that addresses health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) and premium reimbursement arrangements. These releases are extremely technical, cover a range of issues, and make some significant changes in what is allowed.
Posted: October 9, 2013, 4:00 am
Details continue to emerge on how the federal government will implement the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court that part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. On Sept. 18, 2013, the Department of Labor's Employee Benefit Security Administration (EBSA) issued Technical Release 2013-04.
Posted: September 26, 2013, 4:00 am
On Sept. 23, 2013, the IRS issued Notice 2013-61. This notice provides a special process for employers to make refund claims or internal adjustments of FICA and federal income tax (FIT) that was withheld or paid in connection with same-sex spouse benefits.
Posted: September 26, 2013, 4:00 am
United Benefit Advisors' Chief Compliance Officer Linda Rowings recently spoke with 1310 AM, Madison, Wisc. about Health Care Reform.
Posted: September 12, 2013, 4:00 am
Final privacy and security regulations were published early this year and are generally effective as of September 23, 2013.
Posted: August 27, 2013, 4:00 am
The U.S. Supreme Court's finding that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) provision denying recognition of the marital status of same-sex couples under federal law is unconstitutional leaves many questions about the post-DOMA application of various federal employee benefit and tax rules.
Posted: August 19, 2013, 4:00 am
The U.S. Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs ("OFCCP") has announced a new initiative to scrutinize employers' use of criminal histories during pre-employment background checks for possible systemic discrimination.
Posted: July 31, 2013, 4:00 am
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("PPACA") added Sections 4375-4377 to the Internal Revenue Code ("Code") to require certain issuers of health insurance policies and employers sponsoring self-funded health plans to pay a fee to fund the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute that was established under PPACA ("PCORI Fee").
Posted: July 11, 2013, 4:00 am
UBA has prepared a Q&A to address recurring questions about the PCORI fee.
Posted: June 27, 2013, 4:00 am
On May 29, 2013 the Department of Health and Human Services, the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor jointly issued a final rule that addresses how wellness programs must operate under PPACA beginning in 2014. In many respects the final rules carry forward the rules that have been in effect for wellness programs since 2006, and most of the updates that were proposed last November have been adopted.
Posted: May 31, 2013, 4:00 am
Do you know the difference between "essential health benefits" and "minimum essential coverage"? How about "minimum value coverage"? Read on and find out!
Posted: April 9, 2013, 4:00 am
United Benefit Advisors (UBA) announces the launch of its compliance solutions aimed at helping employers understand their obligations and opportunities under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
Posted: April 8, 2013, 4:00 am
Federal agencies continue to issue details on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The latest cover eligibility waiting periods, employee notices and claims appeals regulations.
Posted: March 25, 2013, 4:00 am
Need help wading through all those provisions and decisions related to the health care reform law? We have the top four resources that can put you on the right track and help you stay compliant.
Posted: March 15, 2013, 4:00 am
The U.S. Department of Labor has released revised model Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) forms to administer federal FMLA leave and a notice poster.
Posted: March 5, 2013, 4:00 am
Significant Changes for Health Care Providers, Health Plans, and Their Business Associates and Subcontractors in Final HIPAA Privacy Regulations
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published its long-awaited final privacy and security regulations under HIPAA.
Posted: February 6, 2013, 4:00 am
The IRS has released proposed rule provides some information on how employers will be notified if an employee applies for a premium subsidy / tax credit and how an employer may appeal a determination of premium subsidy eligibility that it believes is incorrect.
Posted: January 28, 2013, 4:00 am
The IRS has released proposed regulations on the health care reform employer "shared responsibility" penalty provision.
Posted: January 7, 2013, 4:00 am
Over the past decade, plan sponsors have become familiar with the voluntary correction programs offered by the IRS and Department of Labor, including the Service's Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS) and the DOL's Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program (VFCP). These programs offer formal ways for sponsors to correct certain administrative errors in the operation of their plans.
Posted: January 2, 2013, 4:00 am
The EBSA has updated its audit protocols to include a review of plans' compliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), and wellness programs, in addition to the laundry list of other federal benefits laws pertaining to group health plans.
Posted: December 28, 2012, 4:00 am
The circumstances behind a recent court decision were typical, and their consequences painfully predictable. Although the plan administrator "won," that victory does not reflect the huge -- and entirely unnecessary -- cost to the plan sponsor in terms of overhead and legal fees.
Posted: December 27, 2012, 4:00 am
Sponsors of 401(k) plans often fail to timely use or allocate forfeitures, thereby potentially disqualifying the plan. Recent IRS audits have revealed a renewed focus on the proper use of forfeitures -- making compliance a top priority for plan sponsors.
Posted: December 17, 2012, 4:00 am
In a somewhat surprising opinion, a Michigan federal trial court recently held that a third-party administrator (TPA) of two self-funded employer health plans was an ERISA fiduciary. As a result, the TPA was held liable for breaching its fiduciary duty by not disclosing certain fees that had been charged to the plans.
Posted: December 10, 2012, 4:00 am
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has recently issued guidance, through answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs), clarifying how same-sex couples who are in state-recognized domestic partnerships, civil unions, or marriages should file their federal income tax returns.
Posted: December 3, 2012, 4:00 am
The federal government has issued a proposed rule that addresses some of the questions surrounding essential health benefits and determining actuarial and minimum value.
Posted: November 30, 2012, 4:00 am
The federal government has issued a proposed rule that addresses how wellness programs may operate under the health care reform law beginning in 2014.
Posted: November 29, 2012, 4:00 am
The "status quo" in Washington D.C. means that health care reform will proceed, and employers must be ready to comply.
Posted: November 8, 2012, 4:00 am
Following recent announcements by both the IRS and the Social Security Administration, we now know most of the dollar amounts that employers will need to administer their benefit plans for 2013.
Posted: October 29, 2012, 4:00 am
Sponsors of self-funded health plans often fail to offer COBRA coverage on a timely basis to employees who are placed on a leave of absence. This mistake can lead to a most unpleasant result – the denial of stop loss coverage.
Posted: October 23, 2012, 4:00 am
Sponsors of single-employer defined benefit pension plans will need to amend those plans soon to comply with a critical requirement of the Pension Protection Act of 2006.
Posted: October 19, 2012, 4:00 am
Employers will have a number of obligations and opportunities as the heart of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) is implemented in 2014. But if they are only listening to the chatter of the debates, they are not getting the whole story.
Posted: October 15, 2012, 4:00 am
It happens all the time: Employees who are considering retirement ask HR staff about their post-employment benefits. If the answers those employees receive turn out to be incorrect, the responders may be accused of violating their fiduciary duties under ERISA, and the plans at issue may be required to pay unexpected benefits.
Posted: October 15, 2012, 4:00 am
By now, most retirement plan sponsors will have received a flurry of disclosures from vendors who provide services to their plans. Those disclosures (commonly known as 408(b)(2) notices) should have been provided by July 1, 2012. Employers may think that, once received, these disclosures may simply be filed away with other plan documents but that could prove to be a costly mistake.
Posted: October 8, 2012, 4:00 am
Check out the latest episode in the sprawling saga of equitable remedies under ERISA. The question, as always, is whether a participant is entitled to something for which the plan document does not expressly provide. This time, the answer appears to be "yes."
Posted: October 1, 2012, 4:00 am
Recent activity by regulators suggests a trend toward stricter HIPAA enforcement.
Posted: September 28, 2012, 4:00 am
In the last two years, the IRS has issued several pieces of guidance regarding the correction of deferred compensation arrangements that violate the requirements of Code Section 409A.
Posted: September 17, 2012, 4:00 am
Starting in 2014, larger employers (generally, those with 50 or more employees) may face "shared responsibility" penalties if any of their "full-time" employees receive subsidized health coverage through an "Affordable Insurance Exchange."
Posted: September 12, 2012, 4:00 am
"Grandfathered" health plans that have not undergone significant changes since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was enacted in March 2010 will once again have to assess whether the plan can and/or should try to retain such status for 2013.
Posted: September 10, 2012, 4:00 am
In this case, sponsors of defined benefit pension plans received the funding relief they had sought, but only because the added tax revenues will help pay for transportation projects and prevent student-loan interest rates from doubling.
Posted: September 4, 2012, 4:00 am
Find out what you may need to do to comply with with the patient-centered outcomes provision of the health care reform law.
Posted: August 16, 2012, 4:00 am
As enrollment time approaches, employers should be aware of the new contribution limits on flexible spending accounts (FSA) imposed by the health care reform law.
Posted: August 13, 2012, 4:00 am
As enrollment time nears, employers should be aware of the new summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) rules under the health care reform law.
Posted: August 8, 2012, 4:00 am
Find out what you need to know regarding the medical loss ratio (MLR) rebates stemming from the health care reform law.
Posted: July 19, 2012, 4:00 am
Medical loss ratio (MLR) rebates are due in August, which means employers should plan how they will handle any rebates they may receive.
Posted: July 2, 2012, 4:00 am
In some ways, the Ninth Circuit's recent decision in Skinner v. Northrop Grumman Retirement Plan B is a garden-variety example of a classic fact pattern: The terms of a summary plan description (SPD) promise better benefits than the plan document it summarizes and participants sue for the difference.
Posted: July 2, 2012, 4:00 am
Posted: June 29, 2012, 4:00 am
Sponsors of 401(k) plans often fail to make the proper employer matching contribution called for under the terms of the plan document. Although there are any number of causes for this failure, a common one involves the timing of matching contributions.
Posted: June 26, 2012, 4:00 am
How the Court rules is anybody's guess. What is certain, however, is that the decision will seriously shape employer-sponsored benefits in the short and long term.
Posted: June 20, 2012, 4:00 am
After more than four years of regulatory starts and stops, plus the threat of a legislative solution, two separate sets of fee disclosure regulations issued by the Department of Labor (DOL) will finally become effective this summer. These regulations will add significant new responsibilities for fiduciaries of ERISA-covered retirement plans, as well as those who provide services to such plans.
Posted: June 18, 2012, 4:00 am
The health care reform bill created an institute that is charged with advancing research into comparative clinical effectiveness. To fund this institute, the law imposes a fee on both insured and self-funded health plans for the seven-year period from 2012 through 2019.
Posted: June 11, 2012, 4:00 am
The IRS has clarified that the $2,500 limit for health FSAs under the health care reform law does not apply for plan years beginning before 2013.
Posted: June 4, 2012, 4:00 am
The IRS has issued three new notices concerning key aspects of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Posted: May 24, 2012, 4:00 am
The IRS has announced new contribution limits for health savings accounts and qualifying high-deductible health plans.
Posted: May 17, 2012, 4:00 am
The federal government has issued a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) addressing various topics under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Posted: February 22, 2012, 4:00 am
Federal agencies have issued a final rule that eased a few requirements on the summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) and moved the deadline to comply.
Posted: February 14, 2012, 4:00 am
After months of delay, the Department of Labor (DOL) has just released final regulations under Section 408(b)(2) of ERISA.
Posted: February 6, 2012, 4:00 am
The IRS has issued more guidance on W-2 reporting of health care coverage.
Posted: January 19, 2012, 4:00 am
Designating the "company" or "employer" as an ERISA fiduciary can unintentionally subject the employer's executive officers and board of directors to ERISA's fiduciary standards, and potentially to personal liability.
Posted: January 16, 2012, 4:00 am
A new statutory exemption from the prohibited transaction rules (designed to expand the availability of fiduciary investment advice to participants in individual account plans and IRAs, subject to specific safeguards and conditions) are now in effect.
Posted: January 9, 2012, 4:00 am
Among ERISA’s many notice and disclosure obligations, the requirement to timely inform participants of important plan changes is one that is too often overlooked.
Posted: January 3, 2012, 4:00 am
The Trade Act of 2002 created a health care tax credit (HCTC) for certain individuals who become eligible for trade adjustment assistance (TAA eligible individuals), as well as for certain retired employees who are receiving pension payments from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC recipients).
Posted: December 28, 2011, 4:00 am
A federal appeals court has held that the Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) Act authorizes a medical provider to sue an employer health plan for double damages when the plan fails to comply with the MSP Act.
Posted: December 19, 2011, 4:00 am
A divided National Labor Relations Board has voted to move ahead with union-backed election rule changes.
Posted: December 19, 2011, 4:00 am
Once again, amendment season is upon us. Sponsors of tax-favored retirement plans should keep in mind the many required amendments for which a year-end deadline is fast approaching.
Posted: December 12, 2011, 4:00 am
The tide of regulations interpreting the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) began to ebb in 2011, and portions of the law have even been repealed or put on hold.
Posted: December 5, 2011, 4:00 am
Posted: October 25, 2011, 4:00 am
The National Labor Relations Board has pushed back the deadline for nonunion employers to post a notice on workers' rights to 2012.
Posted: October 13, 2011, 4:00 am
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has just issued a final rule obligating the vast majority of private sector employers to notify employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
Posted: August 29, 2011, 4:00 am
The federal government has released new rules and forms pertaining to how employers communicate information about group health plans.
Posted: August 25, 2011, 4:00 am
Group health plans (other than those that are "grandfathered") must comply with a number of internal claims and appeals procedures that go beyond those previously required under ERISA.
Posted: July 8, 2011, 4:00 am
As explained in our November 2010 article, last year's Affordable Care Act (ACA) restricted the ability of employer health plans, including flexible spending arrangements (FSAs) and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), to reimburse expenses incurred for over-the-counter (OTC) medications.
Posted: June 9, 2011, 4:00 am
With the exception of insulin, expenses for OTC medications may now be reimbursed only if the medications are prescribed by a physician.
Posted: May 27, 2011, 4:00 am
On April 1, 2011, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued revised Medicare Part D creditable and non-creditable coverage notices to reflect an amendment made to the Social Security Act by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Posted: May 18, 2011, 4:00 am
The final legislation achieves this offset by requiring larger repayments of excess "federal assistance credits" received by individuals who purchase health coverage through one of the ACA's state-wide "Exchanges."
Posted: April 28, 2011, 4:00 am
As a part of the recent compromise allowing for passage of a federal budget for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011, congressional Republicans succeeded in repealing a significant provision of last year's Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Posted: April 27, 2011, 4:00 am