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Business Insights, Research & Perspectives

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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:

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.

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

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).

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.

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.

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.

March 11, 2008

Safe Harbor for Placing Participant Contributions in Small Plans

The DOL has just issued some proposed regulations that would create a safe harbor for small pension and welfare benefit plans (those with fewer than 100 participants); specifically relating to placement of participant contributions in trust.  Generally, participant contributions to retirement plans must be placed in the plan at the earliest time possible; but, in no event, later than the 15th business day of the month, following the month in which the contribution is withheld.  For welfare benefit plans, contributions must be deposited within 90 days of withholding. 

March 11, 2008

Compliance Checklist for Wellness Programs

The DOL has issued a helpful tool, in the form ofField Assistance Bulletin 2008-02, for determining whether a wellness program is subject to the HIPAA nondiscrimination rules. 

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