Business Insights, Research & Perspectives

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November 9, 2010

2011 Pension and Retirement Plan Limits

The 2011 plan limits, applicable to defined benefit and defined contribution plans, have been issued by the IRS (highlights below).  You will note that there are no adjustments for 2011.  The cost of living index remains unchanged from 2010; thus, there are no increases for 2011.

October 15, 2010

Notice Reminders: Medicare Part D

  • Annual Medicare Part D Notices. The annual notices of creditable and noncreditable coverage to Medicare-eligibles must be provided no later than November 14, 2010.  Notices to be used on or after January 1, 2009, as well as Creditable Coverage Guidance, are all available on-line from the CMS website, or can be viewed from these links:
    • Model Individual Creditable Coverage Disclosure Notice (English or Spanish)
    • Model Individual Non-Creditable Coverage Disclosure Notice (English or Spanish)
  • Disclosure Notice to CMS.  An annual report, Creditable Coverage Disclosure Form, must also be submitted to CMS describing whether the prescription drug coverage is creditable or not creditable.  This filing must be accomplished electronically, and is due within 60 days of the commencement of the plan year.  For details about this notice, see CMS guidance and/or Form Instructions and Screen Shots.


October 15, 2010

Highlights of the Small Business Jobs Act

On September 27, 2010, President Obama signed the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 (“SBJA”, P.L. 111-240).  This law includes a couple of provisions, specific to employee benefit plans.  Following are highlights of this new law:

October 12, 2010

HRB 23 - Agencies Issue PPACA Clarifications

October 12, 2010 --  In an on-going effort to assist employers and plans in complying with the PPACA, the governing Agencies (Departments of HHS, Labor and Treasury) responsible for implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) have issued three sets of frequently asked questions (FAQs).  These FAQs are just that; they are not regulations, but they do give an indication as to how the agencies are interpreting the law. With regard to several PPACA notice requirements, EBSA has released the relevant notices in Spanish.  In addition, the IRS recently released two pronouncements: one relating to the salary-based discrimination rules applicable to insured group health plans, and the other relating to a delay in the mandatory Form W-2 reporting of employer-provided health care costs.

October 12, 2010

HRB 22 - Limited PPACA Exemption for Self-Funded, Non-Federal Governmental Plans

October 12, 2010 --  Since the enactment of HIPAA in 1996, if certain conditions are met, a self-funded or partially self-funded health plan sponsored by a State and local government entity, such as a city, township, or school district, can elect to exempt itself from being considered a group health plan for purposes of the HIPAA portability, preexisting condition exclusion limitation, and related provisions of the law.  This exemption is only available as it relates to the self-funded portion of the plan. 

October 5, 2010

HRB 21 - Early Retiree Reimbursement Program Updates

October 5, 2010 --  The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (ERRP), established as part of the PPACA, is a program designed to encourage employers to establish or maintain retiree health coverage for their retirees, aged 55 to Medicare entitlement.  The ERRP will pay the equivalent of up to 80% of an early retiree’s claim between $15,000 and $90,000.  To be eligible for the program, an application must be filed with HHS; the application process opened on June 29, 2010. 

September 21, 2010

HRB 20 - Mini-Med Plan Relief from Annual Limit Restriction Offered

September 21, 2010 --  One of the requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that becomes applicable to all health plans, grandfathered or not, on the 1st day of the 1st plan year beginning on or after September 23, 2010, is a requirement to remove all so-called “lifetime limitations” and “annual limitations” on essential benefits.  There is a phase-in period placed on annual limits.  From now until January 1, 2014, the following schedule applies to annual limits on the dollar value of essential benefits:

September 9, 2010

IRS COBRA Subsidy FAQs Updated

Recently, the IRS has updated its FAQs relating to the COBRA subsidy (note Q&As AE-36 and AE 38-50).  The COBRA subsidy, enacted originally on February 17, 2009, and extended several times, expired on May 31, 2010.

September 9, 2010

VCP Relief for Sponsors of Pre-Approved Defined Contribution Plans

The IRS, in its Summer 2010 edition of Retirement News for Employers, explains some welcome relief for plan sponsors of pre-approved defined contribution plans that failed to adopt an approved restated document, or file for a determination letter application, by the April 30th deadline.  These types of plans, with some exceptions, were to have been amended for the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA) restatement deadline on or before April 30, 2010. 

September 7, 2010

HRB 19 - Over-the-Counter Medication Prohibition Clarified

September 7, 2010 --  Currently, health plans, including medical flexible spending accounts (FSAs), health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), health savings accounts (HSAs), and Archer medical savings accounts (Archer MSAs), may provide reimbursement for non-prescribed over-the-counter (“OTC”) drugs.  One of the many things that the health care reform law accomplished was to add a new section to Internal Revenue Code, specifically, IRC Section 106(f).  This new Code section states that reimbursement of expenses by these types of health plans for OTC medications is only permissible if the OTC drug is prescribed, or is insulin.  This change in the law does not affect the purchase of OTC items not considered medications, such as crutches, bandages, or blood sugar test kits.
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