Withdraw Dependent Coverage – COBRA Rules and the Pay or Play Provision

With healthcare premiums continuously increasing year over year, many employers are searching for options to help reduce their benefit costs. A seemingly quick fix would be to eliminate dependent coverage, but you may want to consider eliminating dependent contribution rather than not offering coverage at all. First and foremost, the circumstances are different for Small Groups in comparison to Applicable Large Employers. If you are considered an ALE, with 51 or more full time equivalent employees, then you are required to offer dependent coverage by law, or you may face an employer shared responsibility penalty. Please note that the definition for Small Group plans has been expanded to include up to 100 employees, so it is possible to be an Applicable Large Employer and still offer Small Group plans (51-100 employee size). Per the Affordable Care Act, and the ‘pay or play’ provision, the definition of ‘dependent’ only applies to children under the age of 26. Spouses are not considered dependents, nor are step children or foster children. There are two types of penalties you may face if you do not offer proper coverage as an ALE. If you DO NOT offer minimum essential coverage to at least 95% of your full time equivalent employees and their dependents then you may face a penalty if at least one of your employees obtains premium assistance from the public marketplace (Covered CA). If just one of your employees receives premium assistance, then you are liable for a $2,000 penalty for each employee, after the first 30 employees. [Total employees – 30, multiplied by $2,000] If you DO offer minimum essential coverage...

SPD Requirements – Erisa Wrap Compliance

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) oversees group benefit plans, and with the onset of the Affordable Care Act, the ERISA Summary Plan Description (SPD) requirements are in the spotlight.  More often than not, a plan administrator assumes that a Certificate of Insurance qualifies as an SPD, and that either the insurance company or their broker is responsible for preparing and delivering SPD’s.  In this instance, the employer (plan administrator) is solely responsible for ERISA compliance. An employer must have a written SPD, which serves as the main vehicle for communicating plan rights and obligations to participants and beneficiaries.  An SPD that includes the plan’s terms and conditions, such as a Certificate of Coverage, and includes (or ‘wraps’) it with the specific ERISA disclosure language is considered a ‘Wrap SPD.’  One step further would be to produce a mega-wrap document which would encompass all benefit lines into one document, which is HIPAA compliant as long as none of the benefits are self-funded. ERISA requires that a SPD be distributed to enrolled participants within 90 days of coverage, or 120 days of a new plan being established.  If an SPD has not changed, an employer is required to furnish another copy to all participants every five years. An example of some of the information required in an SPD: Plan name Employer’s name and address Employer’s EIN Plan Administrator’s name, address, and phone number Type of plan and description of benefits Effective and End Dates of the plan Eligibility terms How refunds are allocated to plan participants Claims procedures ERISA legal disclosure of participants’ rights Sources of plan contributions Details...

(HSA) Health Savings Account – Eligible Medical Policies

As insurance premiums continue to rise, you may find yourself exploring coverage options you may not have considered in the past.  One of which is an HSA eligible policy that has risen in popularity over the years for multiple reasons.    Health Savings Accounts are associated with high deductible health plans – a plan with an annual deductible no less than $1,300, and an annual out-of-pocket maximum not to exceed $6,550; the overall cost of an HSA eligible policy can be less than other plans, while it still provides you with the same catastrophic coverage. Health Savings Accounts allows the account holder to pay for current health care expenses and save for those in the future.  Payments towards qualified medical expenses are withdrawn tax-free, and interest earned on deposits also accrue tax deferred.  Funds roll-over each year, and the account belongs to the individual and follows the individual throughout his/her career.  An HSA eligible policy can be purchased on both the individual and group marketplace, providing full flexibility. Contributions are tax-deductible or are deducted directly from payroll pre-tax. Employers may also offer to contribute towards an HSA, and contributions are excludable from an employee’s income and are not subject to federal income tax, Social Security or Medicare taxes.  In addition, employer contributions are deductible as a business expense to the company.  Employers may choose to contribute a set amount or make ‘matching’ contributions.  The IRS sets annual limits on the amounts that may be contributed to the HSA.  If funded from both the employer and employee, it is important to ensure that the total contributions remain within the annual IRS...

Small Group 51-100 Transition

As of January 1st, 2016 the definition of small group has been expanded to include groups with 51-100 full time equivalent employees.  For groups that will be making the transition, the changes are significant and should be reviewed in detail with a small group specialist.  Since 70-80% of renewals will take effect in Q4 of 2016, it is imperative that you consider all options as soon as possible to familiarize yourself with the new ACA mandates. Rating Regions – Large group rating regions vary by each carrier. Small group consists of 19 regions that are standardized for all carriers. Rating Structure – Large group rates are composite (same rate for each member) and are generated based on the average of employee ages, tiers, genders, and zip codes. Small group rates are determined on a member level based on employer location, where employees and dependents are rated independently.  While age bands can vary by carrier, you will typically see the same rates for age 0-20, one band for each year between 21-63, and one band for age 64+.  Dependents under the age of 21 will be rated individually, up to 3 children. In addition, the ACA has imposed a 3:1 ratio for small group rates.  The rate difference between the youngest to oldest may not exceed a 3 to 1 ratio. The biggest rate increases will hit groups with good medical and SIC risk, and employees with dependents age 20+.  Conversely, young employees may experience rate decreases. Carriers release one set of rates and all groups receive the same standardized rates based on the enrollee’s age.  Rate negotiations are not...

Common Summary Plan Description (SPD) Mistakes

Subject to ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) the SPD (Summary Plan Description) is one of the most important documents that participants under a health benefit plan must receive.  The Department of Labor has increased its company audits, and more often than not employers are failing to provide their employees an SPD.   Some may consider the information distributed by their insurance carrier as sufficient evidence of coverage and benefits to satisfy their SPD distribution requirement.  Unfortunately, this is not the case, and the responsibility lies solely in the lap of the plans administrator (the employer that sponsors the group plan).   Every employer that sponsors a group health plan must comply with this important ERISA requirement, or they run the risk of facing a hefty fine.  Penalties of up to $110/day per participant or beneficiary for failing to provide an SPD or plan document within 30 days of receiving a request.  The penalty accrues daily from the inception of the policy, not from the date of notification to furnish.   It is considered a best practice to distribute the SPD to employees and maintain proper records that each beneficiary has in fact acknowledged receipt.  This can be accomplished by employing an online administration system that can track and organize specific notices, and ensure compliance under ERISA.   To learn more about how we can assist your company reduce its risk of an audit, and eliminate the risk of arbitrary penalties -please contact us via telephone or...

ACA Reporting Requirements

Applicable Large Employers (ALEs) must report information to the IRS regarding the health care coverage offered to full-time employees and full-time equivalent employees (FT/FTE). Once you’ve collected all the necessary information from your workforce, you must complete the three documents required for ACA compliance: the 1094-C, 1095-C, and the Written Statement to each employee. Form 1094-C Employer Transmittal Accounts for each of the following, per 2015 calendar month: Full-time employees Total headcount Whether Minimum Essential Coverage was offered Whether an applicable 4980H “Safe Harbor” was used Deadline for documents to be mailed: February 29, 2016 Deadline for document to be transmitted digitally: March 21, 2016 Form 1095-C Employee Statement Accounts for each of the following, per 2015 calendar month: Proof of offer of coverage (with code) Employee’s share of the lowest cost monthly premium Whether an applicable 4980H “Safe Harbor” was used Deadline for documents to be mailed: February 29, 2016 Deadline for document to be transmitted digitally: March 21, 2016 Written Statement of Each Covered Employee The employer’s name, address, and contact information The information for the employee on the return being filed Deadline for Statement Sent to Employee: January 31,...