Benefits Update – February 2015

From the editors of Wolters Kluwer’s benefits products, here are hot topics from recent Employee Benefits Management Directions newsletters as well as recent explanatory updates in Employee Benefits Management. Also included are recent explanatory updates to the Benefits Answers Now product and Spencer’s Research Reports.

If you have any comments/suggestions concerning the information provided or the format used, we’d like to hear from you. Please contact me at Tulay.Turan@wolterskluwer.com.

 

Hot Topics in Employee Benefits Management:

New year rings in additional implementation challenges for employers possible legislative changes, Employee Benefits Management Directions, Issue No. 579, January 13, 2015 — Employers have been grappling with implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) for several years now. In 2015, the implementation challenges will continue, especially for employers with 100 or more full-time equivalent (FTE) employees who must comply with the employer mandate. In addition, it’s likely that the new Congress will attempt to tweak some of the ACA’s provisions, while the Supreme Court wrestles with the law’s statutory language. New legislation and court rulings could affect employers’ obligations or planning. To shed light on these and other ACA-related issues, Wolters Kluwer interviewed Michael M. Maddigan, partner in the Los Angeles office of Hogan Lovells.

Omnibus funding bill excludes certain expatriate health plans from ACA, Employee Benefits Management Directions, Issue No. 579, January 13, 2015 —  Provisions addressing expatriate health plans were included in the $1.1 trillion spending bill that President Obama signed in December. The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, exempts certain expatriate health plans from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).

IRS employee reviews changes to small business health insurance credit in preparation for filing season, Employee Benefits Management Directions, Issue No. 580, January 27, 2015 — Small employers that plan to claim the small business health insurance credit under Code Sec. 45R for 2014 should take note of several changes to the credit’s requirements that became effective last year, Anita Douglas, IRS senior stakeholder liaison, told practitioners during a recent webinar.

IRS issues guidance on transportation fringe benefits , Employee Benefits Management Directions, Issue No. 580, January 27, 2015 — The IRS has issued guidance related to the enactment of section 103 of the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (TIPA), Pub. L. 113-295, which increased the monthly transit benefit exclusion under Code Sec. 132(f)(2)(A) from $130 per participating employee to $250 per participating employee for the period of January 1, 2014, through December 31, 2014.

 

What’s New in Employee Benefits Management:

SHOP regulations — Proposed regulations regarding the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Exchange are discussed at ¶12,130.

Proposed regulations on SBC — The IRS, Labor Department and the Department of Health and Human Services, have proposed changes to regulations relating to the summary of benefits and coverage. The regulations are discussed at ¶10,240.

2015 PBGC premiums — The PBGC has updated the flat-rate and variable rate premiums for 2015. For the amounts, see ¶2650.

Expatriate health plans — The provisions of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 that address expatriate health plans (see story above) are discussed at ¶10,097.

Employer-provided vehicles — The IRS has released the maximum allowable value of certain employer-provided automobiles, including trucks and vans that are first made available to employees for personal use during calendar year 2015. For the amounts, see ¶150,590 and ¶150,595.

 

What’s New in Benefits Answers Now (BAN):

IRS proposes to amend rules on summaries of benefits and coverage. The IRS, along with the Labor Department and the Department of Health and Human Services, has proposed changes to regulations published on February 14, 2012 (77 FR 8668), that implemented the disclosure requirements under Section 2715 of the Public Health Service Act (PHSA). The changes are meant to help plans and individuals better understand their health coverage, as well as gain a better understanding of other coverage options for comparison.

Included in the proposed regulations are changes to documents required for compliance with the PHSA, including a template for the summary of benefits and coverage (SBC), instructions, sample language, a guide for coverage example calculations and the uniform glossary. If the proposed regulations are finalized, the revised information would be available to consumers for coverage that begins on or after September 1, 2015. To find out more about the proposed rules, see ¶20,060.

Proposed rules on excepted benefits address wraparound coverage. The Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Treasury (Departments) have issued proposed rules that would amend the definition of excepted benefits to include certain limited wraparound coverage.

The proposed rules would allow group health plan sponsors, in limited circumstances, to offer wraparound coverage to employees who are purchasing individual health insurance in the private market, including through the Health Insurance Marketplace. The rule proposes two pilot programs for wraparound coverage. One pilot would allow wraparound benefits only for Multi-State Plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace and another would allow wraparound benefits for part-time workers who could otherwise qualify for a flexible savings arrangement who enroll in individual market plans. Find out more about excepted benefits and the proposed regulations at ¶20,061.

Treasury final regulations establish myRA accounts, DOL says myRA not covered by ERISA. The Treasury Department has issued final regulations that establish the myRA program in response to President Obama’s directive to the Secretary of the Treasury to develop a retirement savings security focused on new and small-dollar savers. The myRA, a Roth IRA, is available to individuals eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA under Code Sec. 408A. This new product will invest in a new nonmarketable, electronic Treasury retirement savings bond, which will be available only to myRAs. See the discussion at ¶10,180 for more information about myRA accounts.

President signs multiple bills affecting pensions at year-end 2014. On December 16, 2014,  President Obama signed into law the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (P.L. 113-235), which includes a package of changes to multiemployer plan funding rules designed to help shore up the troubled multiemployer plan system.  In addition, President Obama on December 19 signed into law the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-295), which temporarily extends over 50 expired tax incentives for individuals, businesses and energy through 2014, including some pension and employee benefit provisions. More information on the changes to multiemployer pension plans can be found at ¶14,560.

 

What’s New in Spencer’s Benefits Reports:

Employer payment plans. Employer payment plans are no longer allowed because they violate the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) market reforms, specifically the annual dollar limit prohibition and the preventive services requirements. This report has been updated to reflect FAQs on these arrangements, including the prohibition of cash reimbursements for the purchase of an individual market policy (Report 352.-15).

Limited excepted benefits. This report discusses regulations that exempt limited excepted benefits from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Report 516.-1).

Transportation benefits. This report includes updated transportation amounts for 2015 (Report 355.-5).

Tax credit for adoptions. This report includes updated adoption credit amounts for 2015 (Report 327.2.-5).