Friday, October 28, 2016

Friday Benefit Clips: New PPACA Enforcement; 25% Exchange Rate Increases; New FSA Limits and More

It was a particularly news-filled week in benefits, here are the highlights:  

Health Care Reform News

Average premiums for popular ACA plans rising 25 percent
October 24, 2016 – The Washington Post
Excerpt: “The 25 percent spike is the average increase, among 38 states that rely on the federal insurance exchange, for the health plans on which the tax credits are based — the policy in each part of the country that has the second-lowest rate among plans offering a “silver” tier of coverage…Among the states relying on, the typical number of plans available is declining by more than one-third, from 47 to 30. Competition is falling in all but four of those states, though the decrease varies significantly. In Florida, the average marketplace customer will actually have three more plan choices. In Arizona, however, the number of plans will plummet from 65 to four. And 21 percent of the customers shopping in the federal exchange will find only one insurance company, compared with just 2 percent for 2016.”

Health Care Information Reporting: Seven Things Employers Can Think About Now
October 26, 2016 – The Internal Revenue Service
Excerpt: “The ACA Assurance Testing System opens November 7, 2016 for tax year 2016 testing. Software developers – including employers and issuers who passed AATS for tax year 2015 – will not have to retest for tax year 2016; the Tax Year Software Packages will be moved into Production status. New participants need to comply with test requirements for tax year 2016.”

Another Party Enters ACA Enforcement and HIPAA Privacy and Security Enforcement Expands
October 25, 2016 – Winstead PC.
Excerpt: “Effective on and after October 13, 2016, employers need to watch their mail from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) for notices related to ACA retaliation claims under the new regulatory framework for the retaliation claims. An individual can claim that there was an adverse employment action (discrimination up to and including termination) in retaliation for the individual’s claiming a right under Title I of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) or being a whistleblower complaining of a violation of Title I of the ACA.”

January 1st is Quickly Approaching – Have you Reviewed your Health Plan for Section 1557 Compliance?
October 24, 2016 – Jackson Lewis PC
Excerpt: “As we previously noted, the regulations may not directly apply to many employee health plans because neither the sponsoring employer nor the plan receives HHS funding. However, HHS has noted that it may refer discriminatory plans and employers to other government agencies (such as the EEOC), so it is a good idea for all plan sponsors to review their plans to see if any discriminatory provisions need to be amended or removed.”

In Other News:

Health FSA Limit Will Increase for 2017
October 26, 2016 – BB&T Insurance Services
Excerpt: “On October 25, 2016, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released…the FSA dollar limit on employee salary reduction contributions to $2,600 for taxable years beginning in 2017.”

EEOC’s 2016 Wellness Program Regulations, The Saga Continues…
October 26, 2016 – Jackson Lewis PC
Excerpt: “This suit is the first to specifically challenge the EEOC’s 2016 ADA Rule and GINA Rule. AARP, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the needs and interests of people age fifty and older, is concerned that older workers will be disproportionately affected by these regulations because older workers are more likely to have medical issues that would be disclosed to employers by medical questionnaires and could potentially expose these employee to discrimination by their employer.”

IRS adjusts 2017 LTCI and FSA limits
October 25, 2016 – LifeHealthPRO
Excerpt: “The new long-term care insurance deduction caps are given in IRS Revenue Procedure 2016-55, which gives the inflation-adjusted 2017 amounts for many different tax provisions. The 2016 amounts are in IRS Revenue Procedure 2015-53. The maximum amount an employee can contribute to a flexible spending arrangement will increase to $2,600, up 2 percent from the current flexible spending account contribution limit.”

Bay Area Employers Requirement to Offer Commuter Benefits Extended Indefinitely
October 25, 2016 – Wage Works
Excerpt: “On September 22, 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB-1128 making the pilot program, with slight changes, permanent, meaning it DOES NOT expire on December 31, 2016…A Covered Employer is an employer that has 50 or more full-time employees (worked an average of at least 30 hours per week during the previous calendar month) who work within the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Napa, Solano, Sonoma, Marin, Santa Clara, San Mateo, and San Francisco.”