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Business Insights, Research & Perspectives

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July 9, 2008

Benefits issues and Same-sex Marriages

According to a California Supreme Court decision rendered on May 15, 2008, same-sex couples are able to enter into marriage, beginning June 16th. There is a possibility that this matter will come up for popular vote in the November elections in the State of California.  California is the second state, Massachusetts being the first, to sanction same-sex marriages.  Providing benefits to individuals in either same-sex marriages or domestic partnerships, whether mandated or voluntary, raises many benefit issues. 

July 9, 2008

“HEROES Act” Signed into Law

On June 17, 2008, President Bush signed theHeroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008 (“Heroes Act”, Public Law 110-245), highlighted in last month’sBenefit Beat.  This law, among other things:

June 4, 2008

New Law Prohibits Genetic Discrimination

After several years of consideration, Congress has passed and President has signed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (“GINA”) (Public Law 110-233).  Of interest to employers, this law affects both employment practices and health plan administration. 

June 4, 2008

HSA Limits for 2009

In Rev Proc 2008-29, the IRS released 2009 cost of living adjustments for health savings accounts.  Following are annual deductible amounts for a high deductible health plan (HDHP) used in conjunction with a health savings account (HSA), and limits for out-of-pocket expenses and contributions for both 2008 and 2009.

June 4, 2008

Legislative Watch: “HEROES Act”

As we go to press, President Bush is expected to sign H.R. 6081, the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008 (“Heroes Act”).  This law would, among other things:

May 12, 2008

Economic Stimulus Payment: What To Do?

On an individual’s 2007 tax return, the individual had the right to elect that any tax refund be automatically contributed to a tax-favored account such as a health savings account, an IRA or a §529 education plan, among others. If an individual elected this option, any economic stimulus payment due the individual will, likewise, be made to the tax-favored account.

May 12, 2008

Medicare Part D – 2009 Benefit Limits

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have released the 2009 cost of living adjustments for Medicare Part D prescription drug benefits.  The following are selected modified limits relating to the standard drug benefit and the retiree drug subsidy.

May 12, 2008

HSA Comparability Rules – Finalized

Regulations relating to two very specific aspects of HSA administration were issued on April 17, 2008. These regulations mirror the proposed regulations issued on June 1, 2007. (See HSA Guidance Again: Comparability Rules Re-Visited, from June ’07 Benefit Beat).

April 3, 2008

Employer Coverage? TRICARE? Beware!

Effective January 1, 2008, secondary payer rules similar to the Medicare rules became applicable to group health plans covering individuals entitled to TRICARE, the health coverage available to families of military personnel, (see New TRICARE Provisions Affect Group Health Plans from Nov. ’06 Benefit Beat). The primary goal of this law is to insure that employers do not unduly shift the risk for health coverage to TRICARE. Specifically, employers, whether sponsoring insured or self-funded health plans, cannot, in any way, incent TRICARE eligible individuals to decline or drop employer-sponsored coverage in favor of TRICARE.

April 3, 2008

Retiree Health And Medicare Coordination – The Final Chapter

For the last several years there has been uncertainty about whether employers could coordinate retiree health coverage with Medicare, (see Retiree Health and Age Discrimination … The Final Scene? , Retiree Health Coordination on the Move Again?, Retiree Health Rules Rolling Again, and Coordination of Retiree Health Benefits with Medicare). On March 24, 2008, the United States Supreme Court, by refusing to review the matter, wrote the final chapter.

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