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July 8, 2009
ARRA’s COBRA Subsidy: Further Guidance
On June 3, 2009, the IRS issued additional Q&As relating to the COBRA subsidy. Following are hi-lights of these Q&As:
401(k) Safe Harbor Plans: Limited Relief
Generally, 401(k) safe harbor plans that include a nonelective contribution provision cannot reduce or suspend the nonelective contributions mid-plan year. In May, 2009, the IRS issued proposed regulations to allow nonelective contributions to be reduced or suspended mid-year, if certain conditions are met. These regulations are in response the economic times in which we find ourselves.
June 8, 2009
Health Savings Accounts: 2010 Cost of Living Adjustments
In Rev Proc 2009-29, the IRS released 2010 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 2009 and 2010.
Health Risk Assessments: Where Do They Stand?
One of the tools commonly used in a wellness program is a health risk assessment. A health risk assessment can take many forms. Generally, it involves the collection of personal medical information, which may include family medical history and genetic information. The purpose of the information collection is generally to target medical conditions that an individual may have, or may be predisposed to have; the goal being, of course, to address the condition before it gets out of hand.
California’s Same-sex Marriage Ban Upheld
In May, 2008, a California Supreme Court decision sanctioned same-sex marriages. The Court’s decision was subsequently challenged on the grounds that it conflicted with the California Constitution that only permits a marriage between one man and one woman.
Investment Advice Regulations Postponed…Yet Again!
A few months ago, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it would delay the effective date of the final investment advice regulations to allow additional time for legal and policy review of the rules (seeBenefit Beat, April 2009). Although the final regulations were to become effective on May 22, 2009, the DOL has further delayed the effective and applicability date of these regulations until November 18, 2009.
COBRA Subsidy Appeals Process Established
If an individual’s request to be treated as a COBRA-subsidy eligible individual is denied (see prior Benefit Beat articles: COBRA Subsidy Guidance from the IRS and COBRA Subsidy - Information Support), then he/she may request a review of the denial from the Department of Labor. One can obtain information and apply for the review of the denial via the DOL’s website. If the continuation coverage is provided through a federal, state or local government plan, or provided in accordance with a state’s mini-COBRA law, then the individual should direct their request for review of the denial to the Department of Health and Human Services.
May 7, 2009
Iowa, Maine and Vermont Allow Same-sex Marriage
As of the date of this publication, the number of states recognizing same-sex marriage has increased to five: Iowa, Maine and Vermont join the ranks of Massachusetts and Connecticut in recognizing same-sex marriage (also see Benefits issues and Same-sex Marriages).
Medicare Part D – 2010 Benefit Limits
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have released the 2010 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.
Pandemic Flu Basics
The swine flu (H1N1) appears to have the potential to create a significant health issue. As of 4/30/09, the World Health Organization (WHO) has raised current level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 4 to phase 5.