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Business Insights, Research & Perspectives

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June 7, 2011

Health Savings Accounts: 2012 Cost of Living Adjustments

In Rev Proc 2011-32, the IRS released the 2012 cost of living adjustments (COLA) for health savings accounts.  Note, the statutory high deductible health plan (HDHP) minimum deductibles remain unchanged from the 2011 limits.  The HDHP out-of pocket limits, and the statutory HSA contribution amounts, have increased slightly.

June 7, 2011

Accountings for PHI Disclosure: Rules Proposed

HHS’ Office of Civil Rights has recently proposed rules relating to accounting of disclosures.  The HIPAA law, as modified by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), requires certain accounting of disclosures of protected health information (PHI) maintained in a designated record set.  These rules propose to clarify the types of accounting that are required.  Of particular note, the proposal would limit the accounting to the past 3 years. 

June 7, 2011

Plan….Summary Plan Description…Which One Governs?

The U.S. Supreme Court has recently rendered an important opinion relating to the role of a summary plan description (SPD).  In CIGNA Corp. v. Amara, 2011 WL 1832824 (U.S. 2011), the Supreme Court ruled that the SPD is not part of the plan document.  Of particular note, the terms of the SPD that may be in conflict with the plan document, cannot, in effect, amend the terms of the plan.  In other words, the terms of the plan govern.  This is a departure from some lower court decisions. 

May 12, 2011

Update: Wellness Program – ADA Class Action Case

In the April Benefit Beat, a class action lawsuit (Bradley Seff v. Broward County) was mentioned relating to an employer offering financial incentives for participating in a group wellness program.  This case addresses the applicability of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to wellness programs.  Specifically, a group of employees challenged the employer’s imposition of a wellness program that requires completion of a health risk assessment (HRA).  Failure to complete the HRA would result in a financial penalty.  The complainant alleged that this was a violation of the ADA because it impermissibly requested medical information.  Generally, the ADA permits the collection of medical information as long as it is voluntary.  The “voluntary” nature of the medical information collection was in question. 

May 12, 2011

Revised National Medical Child Support Notice Issued

On occasion, an employer may receive a court order directing the employer and/or plan administrator to enroll an employee’s child(ren) listed in the Order in one or more of its benefit programs, including medical, dental, vision, prescription drug, mental health and other benefit programs.  An Order can be received directly from a Court, or by way of a National Medical Support Notice (NMSN) form issued by a State Child Support Agency authorized to enforce medical child support orders. 

May 12, 2011

Medicare Part D Updates

Change in Medicare Part D Annual Enrollment Period plus New Model Notices of Creditable and Non-Creditable Coverage

May 11, 2011

The Outlook for Major Tax Reform: What You Need to Know

A bruising budget battle, near-government shutdown, lightening-rod speech by President Obama, and threatened downgrade in the AAA rating of US debt all added to the momentum for major tax reform in the first few weeks of April 2011. At this point, the calls for tax reform are intertwined with efforts to reduce the federal deficit, and some of the proposals in process are more sweeping than we have seen in decades.

April 18, 2011

HRB 34 - Repeal of Free-Choice Vouchers and Form 1099 Reporting

April 18, 2011 --  Two laws have recently been passed that impact the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).  Both laws relate to the repeal of certain aspects of health care reform law.  One law relates to the repeal of the free-choice voucher provision; and, the second law repeals the Form 1099 reporting requirement.

April 5, 2011

ADAA Regulations Issued – Discrimination is the Focus

The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAA) was enacted September 25, 2008.  This law amended the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which became law on July 26, 1990 (see ADA Amended from the October, 2008 Benefit Beat).  On March 25, 2011, final regulations implementing the ADAA were issued.  These regulations become effective on May 24, 2011. 

April 5, 2011

Financial Incentives for Wellness Program Participation: Employers Beware

The increased use of wellness programs raises issues relating to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (see Health Risk Assessments: Where Do They Stand? from the June 2009 edition of the Benefit Beat).    The potential risk can arise in a couple ways, such as inquiring about non-job related disability, or making coverage under a health plan contingent upon completing a health risk assessment.  The EEOC has not provided formal guidance on this matter; however, have issued two informal opinions. 

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