Number of Employers Offering Coverage Grows

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

The number of companies offering health insurance to their employees has risen for the first time in a decade, according to new research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute. In 2017, almost 47% of private-sector employers offered health insurance, up from 45.3% in 2016. The percentage had previously been dropping steadily since 2008, when more than half (56.4%) were providing coverage. The trend continues that the larger the company, the more likely it is to offer coverage, with 99% of firms with 1,000 or more employees offering health benefits. Interestingly, the pre-Affordable Care Act numbers are higher than the post-ACA…
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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 While the individual mandate has been repealed starting in 2019, the employer mandate is intact and the IRS is pursuing penalties aggressively.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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New Rules Issued for Small Group, Individual Plans

| posted in Blog

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released its final rules on giving states more power to regulate individual and small group health insurance markets. The new rules are part of the Trump administration’s effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act after numerous GOP efforts to repeal the law failed in 2017. The rules give states more control over which essential health benefits plans must offer, scrap rules that require all rate hikes to be reviewed by regulators, and allow exchanges to grant more waivers for having to purchase health coverage. The move will have varying effects depending…
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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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Top 10 Laws, Regulations and Trends for 2018

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

In this article, we focus on the top 10 laws, regulations and trends going into 2018 that employers need to be aware of. New Parent Leave Act Effective Jan. 1, 2018, employers in California with 20 or more workers will be required to provide eligible employees with 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to bond with a new child. This builds on a 20-year-old law that required only employers with 50 or more staff to provide employees with time off for child bonding. Like the current law, the New Parent Leave Act applies to newborns or a child placed with…
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New Summary of Benefits and Coverage Template Must Be Used Now

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

There is a new Summary of Benefits and Coverage template that health plans will be required to use during open enrollment for the 2018 plan year. The new templates were introduced in 2016 and took effect for plan year or open enrollment periods beginning on or after April 1, 2017. The new template is the first major revision of the SBC template since 2012, the first year that health plans were required to use them as required by the Affordable Care Act. The new template has a number of changes that you should know about: There is a new row…
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With Health Insurance Laws in Flux, Flexible Spending Accounts Can Save Your Workers Money

| posted in Blog

The Internal Revenue Service is reminding eligible employees that now is the time to begin planning to take full advantage of their employer’s health flexible spending arrangement for next year. If you don’t offer a flexible spending account (FSA) for your employees, you should consider starting one as they allow them to use tax-free dollars to pay medical expenses not covered by their health plan, including deductibles, copays and any pharmaceuticals. Now that the year is winding down, even if your employees were using an FSA this year, they must decide again how much they want to set aside pre-tax…
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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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Senate Works to Save CSR Payments, but Too Late for 2018

| posted in Blog

The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to reduce cost sharing (deductibles and copays) in silver-level plans for marketplace enrollees with incomes below 250% of the federal poverty line. Until now, insurers have relied on offsetting payments from the federal government to provide this feature. These payments amounted to $7 billion for fiscal year 2017, $10 billion for 2018 and will reach $16 billion by 2027. However, the Trump administration in August moved to end the controversial set of payments to the insurance industry designed to encourage carriers to remain in the ACA exchanges. These payments – known as “cost-sharing reduction…
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