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May 4, 2010

TRICARE Secondary Payor Rules: Final Regulations Issued

The Department of Defense issued final regulations relating to TRICARE secondary payor rules (seeEmployer Coverage? TRICARE? Beware! from the April ’08 Benefit Beat, andNew TRICARE Provisions Affect Group Health Plans from Nov. ’06 Benefit Beat). In summary, these rules are similar to the Medicare secondary payor rules.  If an individual entitled to TRICARE is actively working, the employer cannot do anything to incent the individual to choose TRICARE over the employer’s sponsored health plan.  In other words, the employer cannot, in any way, incent the employee to choose TRICARE, rather than the employer’s plan.  This choice strictly rests with the individual.  Furthermore, an employer is prohibited from paying for a TRICARE supplemental plan.

May 4, 2010

COBRA Subsidy Extension: Revised Model COBRA Notices and Other Updated Information

In its ongoing effort to assist with COBRA subsidy compliance, the Department of Labor has just issued several documents that have been updated to reflect the extension of the COBRA subsidy eligibly period through May 31, 2010 (seeCOBRA Subsidy Extended….Again!  from the April ’10 Benefit Beat).  Included among these documents are new model notices, discussed below, Application for Expedited Review of Denial of COBRA Premium Reduction, Fact Sheet, and Frequently Asked Questions.

April 28, 2010

HRB 1 - IRS Guidance: Tax-Favored Status of Dependent Coverage

April 28, 2010 -- As promised, the government is feverishly attempting to issue guidance on the new health care reform law.  Yesterday, the IRS issued guidance relating to the tax-favored status of dependent coverage (IRS Notice 2010-38).  Part of the Reconciliation law (enacted March 30th) provides that reimbursement of health expenses for dependent children who have not attained age 27 by the end of the taxable year (calendar year) is excludable from the employee’s income.  For this purpose, a dependent includes:

April 16, 2010

COBRA Subsidy Extended….Again!

The COBRA subsidy law has been temporarily extended, once again (H.R. 4851, signed by President Obama on April 15, 2010). This is the law that allows individuals involuntarily terminated from employment to pay 35% of the COBRA premium for up to 15 months.

April 15, 2010

New Tax Benefits for Hiring New Workers

On March 18, 2010, President Obama signed the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act (“HIRE Act”, Public Law No: 111-147).  The HIRE Act creates two new tax benefits designed to encourage employers to hire and retain new workers:

April 15, 2010

Dependent Coverage: A Bit of Tax Relief

Effective March 30, 2010, the cost of employer-provided health coverage for dependent children who have not reached their 27th birthday by the end of the calendar year, will not be imputed into the parent’s income.  For 2010, this means that the cost for providing health coverage to a child, who does not meet the definition of qualifying child or qualifying relative, is includible in their employee-parent’s income for the first 3 months of the year, and is excluded from the employee-parent’s income for the balance of the year.

April 15, 2010

Reminder: Triennial HIPAA Privacy Notice Obligation

The sixth anniversary of the HIPAA privacy rules, applicable to small group health plans, is upon us. This means that the requirement for notifying covered individual regarding the availability of the Notice of Privacy Practices and how to obtain one, must be met no later than April 14, 2010.

March 4, 2010

April 30th: An Important Date for Prototype Plan Adopters

Sponsors of retirement plans that use a prototype document must adopt EGTRRA amendments by April 30, 2010.  These plans have been able to comply in good faith with compliance of EGTRRA up to this point.  A prototype document is a plan design pursuant to which a plan sponsor completes an adoption agreement that is supported by a plan document.

March 4, 2010

Medicaid/CHIP Premium Assistance Notice Issued

In 2009, two new HIPAA special enrollment events became available as a result of the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA).  These special enrollment events occur when an individual loses eligibility for Medicaid, or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or when an individual becomes eligible for premium assistance from Medicaid or CHIP.  Premium assistance means that the Medicaid or CHIP program will pay all, or a portion of, premium for the individual’s employer-sponsored health coverage. 

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