Benefits Update- October 2014

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:

Government revises rules for religious employer accommodation for contraceptive coverage, Employee Benefits Management Directions, Issue No. 571, September 9, 2014 — The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Department of Labor (DOL), and Treasury have responded to two recent Supreme Court rulings by issuing interim final and identical proposed regulations allowing an alternative to the use of EBSA Form 700.

IRS releases draft instructions for ACA reporting forms, Employee Benefits Management Directions, Issue No. 571, September 9, 2014 — The IRS has released draft instructions for Forms 1095-A, 1094-B, 1094-C and 1095-C. These forms are used for reporting medical care coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Halbig decision on premium subsidies to be reheard by full D.C. Circuit, Employee Benefits Management Directions, Issue No. 572, September 23, 2014 — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has granted a petition for a rehearing en banc of Halbig v. Burwell, in which three judges on the court reversed the district court’s ruling that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) premium subsidies apply to both state-operated and federally-established Exchanges.

Employers, IRS lay groundwork for Sec. 6056 reporting,Employee Benefits Management Directions, Issue No. 572, September 23, 2014 — The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires applicable large employers (ALEs)—generally employers with at least 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees—to file information returns reporting the terms and conditions of the health coverage, if any, provided to full-time employees. This is known as “Sec. 6056 reporting.”

 

What’s New in Employee Benefits Management:

Contraceptive coverage opt-out — Final regulations on the alternative to EBSA Form 700 are discussed at ¶10,140.

Closely held for-profit entities— Proposed regulations on extending the current religious employer accommodation for nonprofits to certain closely held for-profit entities with regard to contraceptive coverage are discussed at ¶10,140.

Temporary disability insurance — Rhode Island has issued its temporary disability insurance weekly benefit amounts. For details, see ¶30,100.

Qualified health plan issuers —  Final HHS regulations require qualified health plan issuers to provide enrollees with premium and premium tax credit information for the 2015 plan. For more information, see ¶10,097.

 

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

Government revises rules for religious employer accommodation for contraceptive coverage. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Department of Labor (DOL), and Treasury have responded to two recent Supreme Court rulings by issuing interim final and identical proposed regulations allowing an alternative to the use of EBSA Form 700. They are also issuing proposed regulations that would extend the current religious employer accommodation for nonprofits to certain closely held for-profit entities. The final interim regulations regarding Form 700 are effective on August 27, 2014. To find out more about the regulations, see ¶20,051.

IRS issues guidance on pension funding stabilization under HATFA. The IRS has issued guidance on the changes to the funding stabilization rules for single-employer plans that were made by the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-159; HATFA). The guidance provides procedures for electing to defer the use of HATFA segment rates that relate to a plan year beginning in 2013. An overview of the HATFA guidance can be found at ¶12,420.

COBRA still relevant, but purpose is narrow in light of ACA. It’s hard to see why anyone would want COBRA coverage these days, especially since it is often prohibitively expensive, and many individuals can qualify for a premium subsidy, making coverage via the marketplace even cheaper. Is COBRA doomed? Probably not. According to experts Julia Zuckerman and Leslye Laderman for Buck Consultants, COBRA is probably here to stay, though, at least for a while, but it is likely to serve a more narrow purpose than it has in the past. More information about COBRA in light of the ACA can be found at ¶22,810.

Use open enrollment to ensure ACA compliance. Open enrollment presents the perfect opportunity for employers to update their processes and to take action to ensure they’re compliant with an assortment of legal requirements, including those of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Open enrollment is a good time, according to Mercer, to update materials to prepare for 2015 changes, including eligibility terms in those materials that might reflect an employer’s pay or play strategy with regard to the ACA’s employer mandate, and for reviewing processes for offering coverage to employees identified as full-time. Find out more about open enrollment and ACA compliance at ¶40,756.

IRS releases draft instructions for ACA reporting forms. The IRS has released draft instructions for Forms 1095-A, 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C and 1095-C. These forms are used for reporting medical care coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). See the discussion at ¶20,069 for more information about the draft forms.

 

What’s New in Spencer’s Benefits Reports:

Creditable Coverage Certificates. Under HIPAA, employers that offered group health insurance have been required to provide participants with a “certificate of creditable coverage.” Thanks to the ACA, at the end of 2014 that requirement will be eliminated. This report discusses the rationale behind eliminating the creditable coverage certificate (Report 501.-59).

Contraceptive Notice Requirements. This report reviews the notice requirements that employers have to follow if they want to discontinue providing contraceptive coverage to employees following the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hobby Lobby (Report 522.1.-11).

ERISA Sec. 510. ERISA Sec. 510 prohibits an employer from discharging or discriminating against an employee for the purpose of interfering with the attainment of any right to benefits under an employee benefit. This report analyzes several court cases under ERISA Sec. 510 (Report 602.5.-1).

Church Plan Exemption. The long-accepted church plan exemption has been challenged in a series of recent court decisions that suggest that the traditional analysis has been based on a flawed statutory interpretation. This report traces the history of the church plan exemption, and focuses on recent court cases challenging the exemption (Report 101.-13).

Disability-Related Questions. The ADA prohibits employers from asking certain disability-related questions at three stages of employment: pre-offer, post-offer, and during employment. This report summarizes the acceptable procedures for each stage of the employment process (Report 406.01.-1).