Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Compliance and Benefit News Updates, Sept. 20, 2022

Tools You Can Use

How Employers Should Handle MLR Rebates - The Affordable Care Act (ACA) established medical loss ratio (MLR) rules to help control health care coverage costs and ensure that enrollees receive value for their premium dollars. The MLR rules require health insurance issuers to spend 80-85% of premium dollars on medical care and health care quality improvement rather than administrative costs. Issuers that do not meet these requirements must provide rebates to consumers. Rebates must be provided by September 30 following the end of the MLR reporting year. For the 2021 reporting year, issuers are required to pay rebates by Sept. 30, 2022. Employers that expect to receive rebates should review the MLR rebate rules and decide how they will administer the rebates. For assistance with rebates, please contact your Fantastic McGriff representative.

The affordability percentage for “Pay or Play” purposes under the Affordable Care Act will be decreased for 2023 to 9.12% of household income (from 9.61% in 2022). As a result, some employers will have to contribute more heavily toward the cost of individual coverage in order to avoid penalties. 

Compliance Updates

California Set to Extend COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Until End of Year - California is expected to extend COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL) through the end of 2022, but the leave-extending bill does not require employers to provide a new bucket of leave and establishes a relief grant for small businesses and non-profits who incur costs for SPSL. 

Court Allows GINA Claims to Proceed Against Wellness Program Sponsor - A recent case should remind employer plan sponsors that the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act may limit the information they are allowed to request from employees as part of a wellness program.  

How A Facebook Messenger Chat Can Become a “Usual and Customary” FMLA Notice Procedure For a Company - A Fourth Circuit case highlights the importance of abiding by the company’s written absence policies and call-in procedures. "Because the terminated employee’s manager accepted previous messages regarding absences via Facebook Messenger, the Company’s position that using Facebook Messenger was not its “usual and customary” notice practice for reporting FMLA absences was called into question. The Court found that previous utilization of Facebook Messenger to communicate absences raised a question of material fact for a jury to determine if a Facebook Messenger Chat satisfied the FMLA’s notice requirements."

California Passes Bill Protecting Employees’ Off-Duty Marijuana Use - California’s legislature recently passed AB 2188, a bill that would “make it unlawful for . . . employer[s] to discriminate against a person in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment . . .” for cannabis use while off the job and away from the workplace. 

Benefit News

Employers Project 7.5% Rise in Health Care Costs for 2023 - "As industry experts predict that organizations should brace for increased health care costs in 2023, the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans launched a survey of U.S employers to identify the considerations they are contemplating for the coming year. Results show that corporate employers project a median increase of 7.5% for medical plan costs."

Healthcare Pricing Protected So Far From Inflation, BLS Data Shows - "In July 2022, overall prices grew by 8.5% from the previous year, while prices for medical care increased by only 4.8%. While that’s a reversal from the typical trend, the relatively high rate of inflation seen in the rest of the economy may eventually translate to higher prices for medical care, the analysis found. This may lead to steeper premium increases in the coming years.... Since 2000, the price of medical care, including that of services provided, insurance, drugs and medical equipment, has risen faster than prices in the overall economy. Medical prices have grown 110.3% since 2000, while prices for all consumer goods and services rose by 71% in the same period."

The FDA Is Helping Millions Of Americans Hear Better. Finally - "The FDA finalized a rule that would allow people with mild to moderate hearing loss to buy hearing aids over the counter — no prescription, no haggling with insurance, which usually does not cover the devices, and no audiologist visit. This move will also allow people to bypass complex and unnecessary state-level restrictions, which often limit who can sell hearing aids and when, inhibiting patients from shopping around for the best products and discouraging manufacturers from competing on cost and quality."