Employees Satisfied with Plans, but Health Plan Costs a Burden

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

While health insurance premiums aren’t going up as much as they have in past years, both employers and their workers are still struggling with higher health care costs. Whether it’s higher deductibles or out of pocket maximums, health plan costs continue to be a financial burden on American families. According to the “2018 Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey,” published by the Employee Benefit Research Institute together with Greenwald & Associates, roughly half of all workers experienced an out-of-pocket cost increase in their workplace health insurance plans. That’s roughly the same percentage as in 2017, but lower than the 61%…
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DOJ Tells Court to Nullify ACA; What’s Next?

| posted in Blog

After a period of relative stability, the future of the Affordable Care Act has once again been thrown into uncertainty. In a surprise move, the Department of Justice announced that it would not further pursue appeal of a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor, and instead asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm the decision he made in December 2018. O’Connor had ruled that Congress eliminating the penalty for not complying with the law’s individual mandate had in fact made the entire law invalid. But, even though the DOJ won’t be pursuing defense of the…
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Deadline Extended to Provide ACA Tax Forms to Employees

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

The Internal Revenue Service is presenting employers with a gift by extending the deadline during which they are required to furnish essential Affordable Care Act-related forms to their employees. Applicable large employers (ALEs) to whom the ACA employer mandate applies will now have until March 4, 2019 to furnish their employees with Forms 1095-B and 1095-C for 2018. The old deadline was Jan. 31, 2019. Also, the IRS is extending relief from penalties to employers who file or furnish incorrect or incomplete statements if they can show they made a good-faith effort to comply. ALEs with 50 or more full-time…
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Getting a Head Start on Open Enrollment

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

As open enrollment is right around the corner, now is the time to gear up to maximize employee enrollment, help them make the best selections for their own personal circumstances, and stay compliant with relevant laws and regulations. It’s a lot to take in as uncertainty has been a constant during the last many years with the onset of the Affordable Care Act, and now that its future is hazy at best. Still, since health coverage and other employee benefits are an important part of your compensation package – and your competitive edge for talent – it’s important that you…
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New Rules Allow Short-term Plans to Last up to Three Years

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

The Trump administration has taken another step in its effort to roll out short-term health insurance plans by extending the amount of time such plans can be in effect. Under the new rule, which was issued August 1, short-term plans can be purchased for up to 12 months and policyholders can renew coverage for a maximum of 36 months. These controversial plans, though, do not have to comport with the Affordable Care Act. A few examples include not covering the ACA’s “10 essential benefits” or pre-existing conditions – and they can even exclude coverage for medications. Possible Impact As a…
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DOL Issues Final Rules for Association Health Plans

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

The Department of Labor in June issued its final rules for expanding employers’ access to association health plans, a move that could result in some increases in premiums for other plans, including Affordable Care Act-compliant small group health plans. The rule in its essence allows more small businesses and self-employed workers to band together to buy insurance. The final rule is part of the Trump administration’s plan to encourage competition in the health insurance markets and lower the cost of coverage. It does that by broadening the definition of an employer under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to allow…
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IRS Issues 30,000 ACA Penalty Notices

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

The IRS has been sending penalty notices to more than 30,000 businesses nationwide, advising them that they may be out of compliance with the Affordable Care Act employer mandate. The tax agency said those employers are on the hook for a total of roughly $4.3 billion in fines. While the individual mandate has been repealed starting in 2019, the employer mandate is intact and the IRS is pursuing penalties aggressively. Under the ACA, companies with more than 50 full-time employees are required to extend health insurance to their workers. Failure to do so can result in penalties as high as…
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As IRS Sends out Enforcement Letters, Be Prepared

| posted in Blog

Even though the Trump administration continues taking steps to try to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, the law applies to employers and the IRS is enforcing it by the book. Businesses are increasingly receiving IRS Letter 226J, which states that they may be in violation of the employer mandate, typically by either not offering coverage when they are legally required to do so or not offering “affordable” coverage to their employees. Under the law, employers with 50 or more full-time workers must offer coverage to their employees that covers the 10 essential minimum benefits and which will cost each employee…
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Drug Costs Starting to Drive Group Plan Inflation

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

Under the Affordable Care Act, group health insurance costs have been rising at a much slower rate than they had during the decade preceding its passage. In fact, the rate of annual premium growth in the group market has hovered around 5% – more than half of what it was between 2001 and 2010. Also, health care’s share of the national economy actually fell from 17.4% in 2010 to 17.2% by 2013. However, that trend hasn’t lasted and in 2016 the share was 17.9%. There has been a lot of debate about why rates have been increasing and some pundits…
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IRS Sends out ACA Compliance Letters, Employers Have 30 Days to Respond

| posted in Blog

The IRS has started sending out letters to employers who have failed to comply with the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions under the Affordable Care Act for the year 2015. The IRS seems to be moving forward with notifying employers after attempts to repeal and replace the ACA failed in Congress and since there has been no further rule-making, guidance or legislation that rolls back enforcement of the employer mandate. The IRS will send Letter 226J to applicable large employers (ALEs) if it determines that at least one full-time employee received a subsidy in 2015 in a marketplace to purchase qualified…
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