Compliance – ACA & Other

What is Creditable Medicare Part D Coverage?

Medicare Part D notices are due before October 15,2020. But what does that mean and how do you know if your coverage is creditable?

If you have any type of group health plan the notice is sent to advise plan participants as to whether their prescription drug coverage is “creditable.”

What is Medicare D Creditable Coverage? – The Medicare Modernization Act made it a requirement that entities that offered plans which included prescription drug coverage had to disclose to all Medicare-eligible individuals whether that prescription drug coverage was “creditable.”

Defining Creditable – For the purposes of this requirement, “creditable” means that the coverage is expected to pay as much as the standard Medicare prescription drug coverage. Among the 2020 parameters for what is considered “standard” under Medicare D are:

  • Deductible: $435.00
  • Initial coverage limit: $4,020
  • Out-of-pocket threshold: $6,350

Determination of Creditable Coverage
The prescription drug plan is deemed to be creditable if it:

  • Provides coverage for brand and generic prescriptions
  • Provides reasonable access to retail providers and mail order coverage
  • Is designed to pay on average at least 60% of participants’ prescription drug expenses

The plan must also satisfy one of the following criteria:

  1. The prescription drug coverage has no annual benefit maximum benefit or a maximum annual benefit payable by the plan of at least $25,000
  2. The prescription drug coverage has an actuarial expectation that the amount payable by the plan will be at least $2,000 annually per Medicare-eligible individual
  3. For entities that have integrated health coverage, the integrated health plan has no more than a $250 deductible per year, has no annual benefit maximum, or a maximum annual benefit payable by the plan of at least $25,000 and has no less than a $1,000,000 lifetime combined benefit maximum.

Notification
The creditable or non-creditable coverage notice must be provided to Medicare Part D eligible individuals who are covered or who apply for the plan’s prescription drug coverage. This includes active, retired, disabled, and COBRA beneficiaries and dependents. The notice must be furnished no later than October 14. The Part D Annual Election Period runs from October 15 through December 7 of 2020.

It is often difficult to determine which participants are Medicare D eligible, so the prudent solution is to send the notification to ALL plan participants prior to October 14. Click here for a guide that  provides a calculator methodology for determining creditable coverage.

There is also a necessary notification requirement for entities to complete the Online Disclosure to CMS Form to report the creditable coverage status of their prescription drug plan. The disclosure should be completed annually no later than 60 days from the beginning of a plan year, within 30 days after the termination of a prescription drug plan, or within 30 days after any change in creditable coverage status.

Penalties
While there are no formal penalties attached to non-conformance of the requirement, the Medicare-eligible individual may incur a late enrollment penalty if notification as to non-creditable coverage exists and that individual then attempts to enroll in a Medicare Part D plan.

 

Employee Benefit Advisors provides employee benefits, tax-advantaged healthcare, compliance guidance for ACA and Health & Welfare DOL Audits, and PEO Advisory & Consulting Services.

OSHA Recommends that Employers Encourage Workers to Wear Face Coverings at Work

As businesses open and employees return to work, large numbers of employees of workers will be required to wear faces masks in the workplace.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published a series of answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the use of masks in the workplace to help employers provide a safer work environment. The guidance outlines the differences between cloth face coverings, surgical masks and respirators.

Guidance includes:

  • Cloth face coverings are not considered personal protective equipment and employers are not required to provide them. (Employee Benefit Advisors believes this is an extremely important as it could provide the employer a layer of liability protection.)
  • OSHA generally recommends that employers encourage workers to wear face coverings at work.
  • Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing measures.
  • OSHA suggests following CDC recommendations, and always washing or discarding cloth face coverings that are visibly soiled; and
  • Employers must not use surgical masks or cloth face coverings when respirators are needed.

Click here for more information.

 

Employee Benefit Advisors provides employee benefits, tax-advantaged healthcare, compliance guidance for ACA and Health & Welfare DOL Audits, and PEO Advisory & Consulting Services.

Small & Midsize Employers – two new refundable payroll tax credits

IR-2020-57, March 20, 2020

The U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the U.S. Department of Labor (Labor) announced that small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits, designed to immediately and fully reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees. This relief to employees and small and midsize businesses is provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Act), signed by President Trump on March 18, 2020.

The Act will help the United States combat and defeat COVID-19 by giving all American businesses with fewer than 500 employees funds to provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members. The legislation will enable employers to keep their workers on their payrolls, while at the same time ensuring that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus.

Key Takeaways

Paid Sick Leave for Workers

  • For COVID-19 related reasons, employees receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave and expanded paid child care leave when employees’ children’s schools are closed or child care providers are unavailable.

Complete Coverage

Employers receive 100% reimbursement for paid leave pursuant to the Act.

  • Health insurance costs are also included in the credit.
  • Employers face no payroll tax liability.
  • Self-employed individuals receive an equivalent credit.

Fast Funds

Reimbursement will be quick and easy to obtain.

  • An immediate dollar-for-dollar tax offset against payroll taxes will be provided
  • Where a refund is owed, the IRS will send the refund as quickly as possible.

Small Business Protection

  • Employers with fewer than 50 employees are eligible for an exemption from the requirements to provide leave to care for a child whose school is closed, or child care is unavailable in cases where the viability of the business is threatened.

Easing Compliance

  • Requirements subject to 30-day non-enforcement period for good faith compliance efforts.

 

Employee Benefit Advisors provides employee benefits, tax-advantaged healthcare, compliance guidance for ACA and Health & Welfare DOL Audits, and PEO Advisory & Consulting Services.

 

IRS Guidelines – Indexed for 2020

FICA
Social Security Tax is 6.2% on income up to $137,700
Medicare Tax unlimited 1.45% to Unlimited

High Deductible Health Plans
Minimum Annual Deductible (Individual/Family) $1,400 / $2,800
Maximum Out-of-Pocket Limit (Individual/Family) $6,900 / $13,800

Health Savings Accounts
Individual / Family $3,550 /  $7,100
Catch-up Contribution $1,000

ACA Plan Limits
Out-of-Pocket Limits Individual / Family $8,150 / $16,300

Flexible Spending Accounts
Health Care Flexible Spending Account Maximums $2,750
Dependent Care Spending Account Maximum $5,000
The dependent care FSA maximum is set by statute and is not subject to inflation-related adjustments.

Mileage & Transportation
Standard Mileage Rates
57.5 cents per mile for business miles driven
17 cents per mile for medical or moving purposes
14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

Parking (monthly) $270
Mass Transit Passes (monthly) $270

Compensation
Compensation Limit $285,000
Highly Compensated Employee Salary Amount $130,000
Annual Compensation for Key Employee $185,000
Defined Benefit Plan Limit $230,000
Defined Contribution Plan Limit $57,000

Retirement Plans
401(k) $19,500
401(k) Catch-up $6,500
403(b) $19,500
457(b)(2) and 124(c)(1) $19,500
457(b) Catch-up $6,500

IRA Limit $6,000/$7,000 for age 50+
Simple IRA Limit $13,500/$3,000 Catch-Up

 

Employee Benefit Advisors provides employee benefits, tax-advantaged healthcare, compliance guidance for ACA and Health & Welfare DOL Audits, and PEO Advisory & Consulting Services.

Proposed Transparency in Coverage Rule vs. American Hospital Association

A proposed rule would require plans and issuers to disclose cost-sharing estimates to participants, as well as post in-network provider-negotiated rates and historical out-of-network allowed amounts on their websites. The rule would apply to group health plans and insurers in the individual and group markets and sponsors of self-insured group health plans. They would not apply to grandfathered plans. The Departments of Labor (DOL), Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Treasury (Departments) issued the rule.

The American Hospital Association and other hospital groups have filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Washington that claims the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rule violates the First Amendment by provoking compelled speech and goes beyond the intended meaning of “standard charges” transparency in the Affordable Care Act.

 

Employee Benefit Advisors provides employee benefits, tax-advantaged healthcare, compliance guidance for ACA and Health & Welfare DOL Audits, and PEO Advisory & Consulting Services.

2020 EMPLOYEE BENEFITS UPDATE

As we head into a new year, there will be some noticeable changes in employee benefits that you and your clients should be made aware of. The following list encompasses a few of the items you may expect to change:

Required Reporting
Effective January 1, 2020, Medicare Secondary Payer reporting will now include prescription drug coverage. Right now, this is an optional procedure. It is handled by insurance carriers and third-party administrators. Employers should be aware that they may get requests for information from those carriers and third-party administrators. A more detailed explanation can be found here.

PCORI Fee Elimination
The PCORI fee will be eliminated for plan years ending before October 1, 2019. If an employer’s plan year ends between October 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018, then the last PCORI fee for that plan should have been paid by July of 2019. This would generally include plans that have plan years beginning November 1, December 1, or January 1. All other plans will make their last PCORI fee payment by the end of July 2020.

Out-of-Pocket Maximum Increase
In 2020, out-of-pocket maximums will increase to $8,150 for self-only coverage and $16,300 for family coverage. This represents an increase of about 3.20% from last year. HHS requires that the individual out-of-pocket maximum be embedded for each individual within the family OOPM. You can refer to the 2020 Benefit and Payment Parameters found here.

Health Insurance Tax
The Health Insurance Tax (HIT) which has been on a moratorium for 2019, will make a return in 2020 unless Congress acts on pending legislation to delay or repeal. This would result in increased premiums ranging from 2.7% to 4% according to actuarial experts.

Employer Mandate Affordability
The affordability percentage used in the safe harbors will be reduced to 9.78% in 2020. Employers should review their contribution levels to make sure they are within the new percentage requirement.

Individual Mandates in the States
Effective January 1, 2020, California and Vermont will have an individual mandate that will require employer reporting to be completed in 2021. New Jersey, which already has an individual mandate in place, will have to complete the employer reporting in 2020.

Self-Funded Plans
Employers that self-fund may have different benefits that cannot be subject to annual and lifetime limits. Self-insured employers should reevaluate which state plan they use as their benchmark for purposes of determining which benefits cannot be subject to annual and lifetime limits.

2020 Employer Mandate Penalties
As they do each year, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) calculates the health insurance premium growth rate. That rate is then used to adjust the amount of the ACA employer mandate penalties. Although not finalized, the 2020 employer mandate penalties could be $2,570 for the (a) penalty and $3,860 for the (b) penalty.

There is a lot of pending legislation that Congress could still take up before the recess. Issues pertaining to a Cadillac Tax repeal, transparency in prescription drug prices (H.R.3), redefining a full-time employee, surprise billing, and employer reporting can all be potentially addressed in the coming weeks.

 

Employee Benefit Advisors provides employee benefits, tax-advantaged healthcare, compliance guidance for ACA and Health & Welfare DOL Audits, and PEO Advisory & Consulting Services.

Preventive Care Benefits Expanded

A new IRS notice expands the list of preventive care benefits that may be covered. Expansion provides coverage without a deductible for some chronic conditions.

“This notice expands the list of preventive care benefits permitted to be provided by a high deductible health plan (HDHP) under section 223(c)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) without a deductible, or with a deductible below the applicable minimum deductible (self-only or family) for an HDHP.”

Carriers / Plan Sponsors can now use a lower than the minimum deductible for the preventive care benefits, but still need a minimum deductible for the other services. The new change doesn’t affect what is generally considered “free preventive” but instead simply allows carriers / plan sponsors — if they wish — to start offering CDHPs which cover these additional items, while not endangering their ability to be combined with an HSA.

Thus, employees could still contribute to an HSA now that these services are considered to be preventive. These services would not need to be “free”; for non-HDHP group plans, it will not make a difference to the participant, but for someone in an HDHP plan who wants to contribute to an HSA, it’s a big deal.

The following treatments have now been classified as preventive care for the chronic conditions indicated.

  • Angiostatin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (for congestive heart failure, diabetes, and coronary artery disease);
  • Anti-resorptive therapy (for osteoporosis and osteopenia)
  • Beta-blockers (for congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease)
  • Blood pressure monitors (for hypertension)
  • Inhaled corticosteroids (for asthma)
  • Insulin and other glucose-lowering agents (for diabetes)
  • Retinopathy screening (for diabetes)
  • Peak flow meter (for diabetes)
  • Glucometer (for diabetes)
  • Hemoglobin A1c testing (for diabetes)
  • International normalized ratio testing (for liver disease and bleeding disorders)
  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) testing (for heart disease)
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) (for depression)
  • Statins (for heart disease and diabetes)

The change is effective July 17, 2019.

 

Employee Benefit Advisors provides employee benefits, tax-advantaged healthcare, compliance guidance for ACA and Health & Welfare DOL Audits, and PEO Advisory & Consulting Services.

Silver-loading

Silver-loading refers to health insurers loading premium increases on the popular silver-level exchange plans to make up for the loss of Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) payments. Loading premium surcharges onto silver plans boosted the size of the premium tax credits available to people with incomes below 400% of the federal poverty level. – The Trump Administration in an effort to end silver-loading has proposed changes to the current regulations.

Employee Benefit Advisor’s blog tends to focus on Human Resource and Benefit group related issues, like our monthly HR & Benefit Advisory publication. However, we believe silver-loading is an issue of interest to all in our field.

 

Employee Benefit Advisors provides employee benefits, tax-advantaged healthcare, compliance guidance for ACA and Health & Welfare DOL Audits, and PEO Advisory & Consulting Services.

2020 Cost Sharing Limits

Out-of-pocket expenses may not exceed $8,150 for self-only coverage or $16,300 for family coverage in 2020. – Ouch!

Employers will need creative solutions to help employees afford these limits. Hint: EBA can help.

 

Employee Benefit Advisors provides employee benefits, tax-advantaged healthcare, compliance guidance for ACA and Health & Welfare DOL Audits, and PEO Advisory & Consulting Services.

AHPs are out – For Now

A federal judge has ruled that two parts of the Department of Labor (DOL) rule expanding employers’ ability to join in Association Health Plans (AHPs) violate ERISA. The DOL AHP rule was formed to allow employers to band together to create health plans based on industry or geography.

The federal court opinion stated that the rule was an “end-run” around the Affordable Care Act, and that the DOL exceeded its authority when it defined “employer” in the rule to include associations of dissimilar employers. The court also struck down a part of the DOL rule that expanded memberships in AHPs to working owners without employees.

The plans at issue allow groups of small businesses and sole proprietors to band together to offer lower-cost coverage that doesn’t have to include all the benefits required by “Obamacare.” The plans also can be offered across state lines. The Judge ruled against AHPs because they go against established definitions of what constitutes an employer under federal law that governs workplace health and pension benefits. In particular, a decision that sole proprietors can be counted both as employers and employees.

The judge ruled treating sole proprietors like major employers “creates absurd results.” For example, said the judge, consider a hypothetical association of 51 sole business owners with no employees. Under the administration’s rule, they would in effect be counted as having 51 employees. Not only that, each of the 51 working owners would also be counted as an “employer” although they have “zero” people working for them. And the association also would count as an employer, for a total of 52 employers.

The Trump administration disagrees with the judge’s ruling on association health plans and is “considering all available options,” including an appeal.

EBA’s opinion is that anything that can help sole proprietors and small companies lower their health care cost is good thing. The judge made a bad ruling.

 

Employee Benefit Advisors provides employee benefits, tax-advantaged healthcare, compliance guidance for ACA and Health & Welfare DOL Audits, and PEO Advisory & Consulting Services.

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